My Family and Other Animadversions

I argued with my parents last night.  It wasn’t a big argument, but it really upset me, as the topic isn’t going to go away.  Actually, strictly speaking I didn’t argue, I just got upset and ran off to my room.  I was so upset I spent a while messaging E. about it.  Then, when I was about to get ready for bed, I was still upset and spent half an hour writing about it to process it.  I was going to post it, but I decided at the end that I shouldn’t because it was talking badly about my parents; also, by that stage I had calmed down somewhat, so I posted it privately for my own records; I also emailed my rabbi mentor about it, partly as there was a halakhic (Jewish law) aspect to the argument, partly as he is a trained counsellor.  I miss not having a therapist at the moment and wonder when I will be able to have CBT on the NHS.

The upshot was that I didn’t get to bed until gone 2.00am and even then I was too alert to sleep until something like 3.30, although being rather congested from my cold didn’t help.

The other thing I did last night was write a list of stuff I would need to write that book people were encouraging me to write about Judaism.  I’m still not convinced I can actually write it, plus I’m not sure how financially secure I need to be before I devote time to it.  I don’t think my parents will be happy if I were to write instead of job hunting (the job I start next week is only a one month contract, with a possible extension for another two), but I if I wait until I’m in a much more stable place, I’ll probably never start.  Plus, if I had a job with longer hours, I wouldn’t have the time/energy to start.  It’s hard to know what to do.  I also don’t like the idea of working on two books at once, and I’m not giving up on the Doctor Who book I’m writing, which is about two-thirds finished, but I’m not sure how to balance them at the moment.

It still feels pretty crazy to even think of writing a Jewish book.  And I’m still not sure it won’t get put in cherem (banned).  OK, it probably wouldn’t get banned, as I’m not that important, but it might get me into trouble in my community.  Although that would assume it at least gets written and published, so I’m probably getting ahead of myself there, as I’m still not sure it will get written.  Writing the list of stuff I need was a way of saying to HaShem (God), “I’m willing to try to write this, but I’m going to need a lot of help, and I’m not sure whether you even want me to do this, so please help me or show me what You want me to do.”  I don’t know whether anything will come of that.  Websites like and are full of stories about amazing things that happened to people when they resolved to do what (they thought) HaShem wanted them to do, but things like that don’t seem to happen to me.

There probably is more to say, but it’s a short winter Friday, Shabbat (the Sabbath) starts in under four hours and I have things to do, so see you on the other side of Shabbat.

Beethoven’s Birthday

I’m still here.  I feel less suicidal, but still not good.  I’m thinking of phoning the Samaritans helpline, but I don’t know what to say.  I’m also somewhat congested from the cold I have, so I’m not sure I could do much talking anyway.

I went for a walk for twenty-five minutes, as I did the last few days and, as with the last few days, it’s pretty much the only effort I’ve been able to make.  OK, not quite true, as I’ve davened (prayed) a bit every day and done a bit of Torah study (from five to thirty minutes) every day.  And today I cooked plain pasta (badly – I forgot to add salt, then accidentally poured in far too much and nearly let the whole thing boil over.  I feel very incompetent in my life) and did some online shopping, which I hate and which went badly.  But it is hard to do anything and I worry about starting my new job next week.  I wonder if I will have to resign before I even arrive.

After my last two jobs, I worry about doing something so disastrously wrong that I get fired.  I think I could cope even with being fired; it’s getting told off in person and realising how much I have disappointed everyone that upsets me.

I’m also not sure what it says about me that, in thirty-five years, only two people have cared for me romantically, of whom one was on the rebound from a boyfriend she still cares about and the other was essentially… I was going to say “using me” but that would be unfair.  But she expected me to drop everything to run halfway across London when she needed me, but ignored my texts for help when my depression was bad (I thought I was being paranoid in thinking this, but then she admitted that she was doing this deliberately) and kept telling me she needed me to drop out of her life for a couple of weeks while she decided if she actually cared about me at all (something she did to me two or three times) and who repeatedly pressured me into doing stuff physically that I wasn’t ready for (not ready for both religious, and I now realise, autistic/touch-sensitive reasons).  So, I don’t know what you would call that, but I haven’t had an actual “normal” relationship of caring for someone who cares about me and both investing similar amounts of effort and emotional energy in the relationship and the other person not trampling all over my boundaries.

(I don’t want to sound critical of E. because she didn’t make me feel that she was still pining over her ex while we were together, it’s just that as we’re still friends I can see that she still misses her time with him and not her time with me, which makes me wonder about our relationship.  Plus it makes me wonder if the reason she ended the relationship, which other people in my life thought was slightly strange, because she didn’t think we would be able to support ourselves financially together, would have been so important to her if she had cared for me as much as she cared for her ex.)

I read two short articles just now, aimed at parents of autistic children (by implication, high functioning autistic children), telling them to have realistic ambitions for their autistic children and that they (the autistic children) may not want to have successful careers (or will define “successful” differently), have relationships, have children and so on.  To be honest, I don’t really care about my career and, as the articles stated is normal for autistic people, I find it hard to think abstractly about what I want from the future in that way at all, although perhaps I would care more if I could find the right field.  I think I do genuinely want to marry and have children.  How much of that is simply a product of childhood emotional starvation and/or peer pressure in a community where family is the norm and single people between the ages of thirty and sixty are few in number and virtually invisible socially is hard to tell.  The latter (social pressure), perhaps not so much, the former (childhood emotional starvation), probably quite a bit, and I feel that’s a ‘wrong’ reason to want to have a family, but it doesn’t do anything to resolve my need to give and receive love.  Then there is also the religious obligation to marry and have children which isn’t so prominent in my consciousness, but is there.  I guess this is all pushing me back towards having pets as a way of giving love and receiving… gratitude for food, at any rate.

I just feel I’ve really let my parents down just by being me, instead of someone else, someone good.  Someone not defective.  Someone more like my sister.  I should say that my parents don’t say this to me.  But I still feel that it would be better for everyone if I was more ‘normal’ like my sister.


I’m reading The Complete Peanuts: 1953 to 1954 and two cartoons I saw today resonated (both on page 237).  In the first, Schroeder can remember Beethoven’s birthday and death anniversary, but can’t remember his own father’s age.  This is me with my knowledge of my special interests (Doctor Who and perhaps also Judaism) versus my knowledge of my family and friends.  In the second, Charlie Brown laments, “Sometimes I think I must be a misfit… I just don’t seem to fit in any place.”  When Schroeder suggests that he joins “a group of misfits”, Charlie Brown remarks that, “I probably wouldn’t even fit in there” which is me with depression, autism and especially social anxiety and my forays into socialising in support groups and the like.


I downloaded an app thingy to Google Chrome to block websites, to try to keep me off Twitter.  I may block other things if it works.  To be honest, it may not work, as when I’ve tried this in the past, it fails because I can always turn it off for a bit.  I’m blocking it not from a productivity point of view (which I think is what it’s primarily intend for, and for policing children’s internet use), but because it’s too triggering (I hate that word too), not just, or not even, the content, just the sheer level of anger and vitriol being sprayed in all directions at the slightest provocation.  I wish it were possible to participate in laid back discussions of Doctor Who and the like on Twitter and see whimsical humorous posts, but even these get politicised half the time and even when they don’t it’s hard to filter effectively.  So, total abstinence seems to be the answer.  I may delete my Twitter account, as I only set it up to promote my Doctor Who blog which (a) I’ve been doing very badly and (b) I’m not writing much on my Doctor Who blog at the moment anyway.


I came across this poem by the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai.  It’s not very relevant to the post, but it reminds me of me so I wanted to share it.

Poem Without End

Inside the brand-new museum
there’s an old synagogue.
Inside the synagogue
is me.
Inside me
my heart.
Inside my heart
a museum.
Inside the museum
a synagogue,
inside it
inside me
my heart,
inside my heart
a museum

The Two Minutes Hate

(I have mixed feelings sometimes about the purpose of trigger warnings, but it’s pretty clear that this needs one for suicidal ideation.)

“I hate myself.  I hate my life.  I hate disrupted sleep.  I hate waking up late every day.  I hate being exhausted all the time.  I hate not having the motivation to do anything.  I hate never enjoying anything.  I hate not understanding my emotions.  I hate making stupid mistakes, particularly at work.  I hate sniping at everyone all the time, even when I don’t mean to.  I hate catastrophising all the time.  I hate despairing all the time.  I hate not meeting my religious obligations.  I hate being lonely.  I hate being sexually frustrated.  I hate being overweight due to medication and I hate hating being overweight.  I hate not being able to cope with basic social interactions.  I hate avoiding social occasions I might enjoy if I wasn’t depressed and socially anxious.  I hate freaking out when people try to talk to me.  I hate being overwhelmed by background noise.  I hate the inward-looking narcissism of mental illness.  I hate spending too long aimlessly surfing online because I don’t have the energy/motivation to do anything productive and because it’s the only form of interaction I can cope with, but ending up just making myself more lonely and depressed.

I hate hating myself and my life.  I hate thinking about hurting myself and killing myself so much.

Above all, I hate being so bleeding miserable all the time.”

This is basically how I woke up today.  I went to bed really late (2.00am) because I felt too awake and depressed to actually get ready for bed; then I couldn’t get to sleep because I was too awake and depressed.  So I slept through most of the morning again and woke up catastrophising about starting my new job in under a week and wondering if I’m actually going to make it there.

I wish I could see an upside to my life, but I can’t.  I know the trend among autistic people is to see high-functioning autism as a difference with certain positives rather than a disability, but I can’t see any positives to my autistic traits and certainly not to my depression and social anxiety.  I really just want to die, but I’m too scared to attempt anything (and vaguely aware there are people who would be upset, but I have to concentrate hard to feel that through the nihilism and pain).

How long is it possible to go on hating yourself and wanting to die?  I’ve been suicidal, on and off, for sixteen years or more.  Not constantly, but at times.  I don’t know how long it’s been cumulatively.  When I feel really depressed, let alone suicidal, it’s hard to remember that I’ve ever been not depressed, but at the rare times I’ve been emotionally OK, it’s hard to remember I’ve ever been depressed.  So it feels like I’ve been suicidal, or at least fantasising about suicide, for years, but it might not be.

I’ve been told I should phone the NHS crisis team when I feel like this, but unless you’re actually literally about to try to kill yourself, they aren’t interested and tell you to phone your GP, who sends you back to the crisis team…  Typical bureaucracy.  I could phone Samaritans, but I don’t feel I have much to say at the moment.  Maybe eat lunch and see how I feel after that, if I feel up to phoning Samaritans.

I’m not going to do anything, I just feel like **** and wish I wasn’t here.

Below Zero Utility

K9: The accuracy of this unit has deteriorated below zero utility.

Adric: You mean you’re worse than useless?

– Doctor Who: Warriors Gate by Steve Gallagher

I have indeed got a bit of a cold, but not much.  I feel very depressed though.  I felt too ill, physically and emotionally, to do anything other than watch TV yesterday.  I feel bad about that.  It didn’t help that most of what I was watching wasn’t very good.  I just feel useless and depressed today.  It takes me so long to get up, get dressed and daven (pray) on non-work days.  I just feel so depressed and unmotivated.

I managed to go out in the afternoon and help Dad deliver some stuff to a charity shop and went to Boots to find out if they have any clomipramine (they weren’t answering the phone).  I felt like Mr Super-Useless-Autistic-Depressive-Socially-Anxious.  I did at least manage to do a couple of things today, albeit fewer than I wanted, but even after a week and a bit off, I’m running on empty.

I forced myself to email my oldest friend (the one  who was my “mentor friend” as a child – the one who was my role model in neurotypical behaviour) who I haven’t seen in years.  I mentioned about my new job, but not about the trouble I had with the previous two jobs.  I did mention autism.  I hope that’s not a mistake.  To be honest, I’ve probably been avoiding him these last few years and I’m not sure why.  Maybe because we were so similar growing up that the differences between us now (in terms of career, family, social networks, perhaps even spiritual fulfilment, everything) are too painful.

Today seems to have been a day of anxiety and miscommunications.  I struggle to communicate well with my parents.  I don’t think they know how to talk to an autistic person.  I’m only learning myself, to be fair.  My Dad changes subjects abruptly, starts pointless small talk conversations that confuse me and overwhelms me with irrelevant details.  My Mum today tried to get me to choose between umpteen different types of shirt over the phone when I don’t really have the executive function to decide, nor do I care that much (she likes to shop around for the best item at the best price; I prefer to just find something suitable at a reasonable price because of lack of executive function and patience).  Then I argued with them because they say I cook pizza too low (we always have pizza on Wednesdays… I’m not the only person obsessed with routine here), so I cooked it higher and burnt it, probably because I was cooking pizza from room temperature rather than frozen.  My Dad said he would eat it and I was torn between feeling I should punish myself by eating the burnt pizza and knowing that he considers burnt food palatable or even tasty, whereas I don’t.

I concede that my problems communicating with my parents are largely my fault: I have not told them much about autism nor am I particularly calm and pleasant when talking to them, although that’s as much from depression as autism.  I don’t mean to sound so grumpy, but depression and autism can both lead to curt replies in a flat tone of voice that sounds grumpy, even without depression making me more irritable than usual.

I left them a leaflet about autism a few weeks ago that I thought was useful, but I don’t think they’ve looked at it.  They don’t like written communication much and I don’t like talking, which is problematic.  They’re going to a workshop for family of people on the spectrum which might help, but it’s not until late February.

Other miscommunications: looking at Twitter, I don’t connect with other Doctor Who fans, who seem to enjoy different things about the programme/different episodes to me – which is fine, but makes me feel lonely.  And online fandom’s obsession with diversity and identity politics annoys me, partly because I’m not into identity politics, but also because the awful representation of Jews, especially religious Jews, on TV gets ignored.  (According to identity politics rules, Jews aren’t allowed to have an identity, or have to have one only on lines prescribed by non-Jews.)  I’m hoping to go to a Doctor Who pub quiz thing in week or two where I only know one person and I’m terrified that no one will like me.

I’m still anxious about my new job next week.  The only real progress I’ve made in the last ten or fifteen years, is finishing two degrees and moving in to work… except that I don’t seem to be able to actually do a job properly.  I just make stupid mistakes.  I can’t work full-time either.  I worry about not being able to support myself without my parents.  If my parents weren’t around, I’d have to try to qualify for state benefits, which would be hard (I’d have to use up all my savings first, for one thing, and it’s very hard to get assessed as needing benefits these days).

Regarding job hunting, I’ve been advised to “Write down a vision of what you want your life to look like (realistically) in three or five or even fifteen years’ time – money, work-life balance, type of work etc.”  I have no idea.  I do not know even vaguely how much I should be earning – and what does “should” even mean?  Based on my age?  Or my experience, which is much lower than most people my age?  “Should” for a mentally healthy neurotypical person or a depressed autistic person?  I don’t know what a realistic work-life balance would look like, what type of work I should be looking for and would enjoy/cope with/get through the day without wanting to hurt myself…  I can see why E. found this aspect of my personality too off-putting.  I’m not proud of it (I’m not proud of pretty much anything in this post).  But it’s hard to know how I can change it, just to function in the world without my parents, let alone to find a spouse.

If I hadn’t got depressed perhaps I could have drifted into academia as I vaguely intended and become one of those people who go to Oxbridge and never leave.  It’s not like there’s a shortage of intelligent, but somewhat eccentric people at Oxford or Cambridge.  Or if I had been better at studying Talmud and had gone to yeshiva (rabbinical seminary), perhaps I could have ended up staying there.  I suspect the yeshiva world is also home to a disproportionate number of very clever, but somewhat unusual people, or at least people who know what to do to function in society purely because it says what to do in the Shulchan Aruch (the primary Jewish law code) and through imitating others in a conformist sub-culture, rather than through innate social intuition.

It’s not that there are just a few things wrong with my life that I need to sort out; my whole life is broken and I don’t know how to get it working (not working again, because it hasn’t ever worked, at least not since I left school).

I don’t like asking for adjustments, although I have done it in the past (for depression).  Sometimes I’ve got them and sometimes I haven’t, but I hate asking for them.  I hate telling people I’m different (where ‘different’ feels like ‘defective’) and I hate showing weakness (probably because of being bullied as a child).  I suppose as a child when I tried to get out of things because of what I would now identify as social anxiety or autism, I was usually told to suck it up, albeit not in so many words, which probably doesn’t help.  There probably is an Aristotlean golden mean (or Maimonidean middle path) between forcing myself to pass as an extrovert on the one hand and hiding in my bed with the duvet over my head on the other, but it’s very hard to find it sometimes.

I’ve gone back to thinking about pets, but I’m procrastinating over it because of the social anxiety in buying them and my Mum’s obvious discomfort with the whole concept.  I wish I didn’t procrastinate so much.  It’s one of my worst character traits, along with self-loathing and fantasising too much about dying.  I do new year’s resolutions for Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) not 1 January, but I ought to try to beat myself up less, somehow.  And realise that when I say my blog is awful, I’m implicitly insulting everyone who spends the time to read it (sorry).

Anyway, I should be thinking about bed, although I don’t feel tired and feel I should be Doing Things…

Dot dot dot. Dash dash dash. Dot dot dot.

Just back from a twilight walk (twilight is about 4.00pm here at the moment).  It was only for twenty-five minutes, but it was a real struggle.

I just feel like a mess today, completely drained and depressed and worried about the future.  I also feel run down, like I’m coming down with a cold, which doesn’t help (it could actually be a cold, but depression can make me feel like this too).  I still have a long to do list, having achieved very little over the “holiday” time before my new job starts, which wasn’t really supposed to be a holiday for me.  I spend time when I should be sorting these things feeling too depressed and drained to care about shopping, bank accounts or pensions, which is wrong of me or at least not good of me.

I probably shouldn’t have sent that email to the agony aunt.

I probably shouldn’t think the internet can substitute for real personal interactions (real world interactions are much harder, though).

I probably shouldn’t think I can get anything right.

I probably shouldn’t be here at all.

I don’t believe I’ll be happy this year, or any year.

I don’t think I want to die, I just want to be happy, but I don’t know how.  I don’t really know how to die either, but it’s certain to happen at some point, unlike being happy.

I don’t want to die, but why does living have to be so painful?

I hate this blog.  I hate my writing.

What does it say about me that the only things I get praised for (my writing, my rapport with children) are things I don’t believe are true and, in the case of my writing, actively dislike?

I’m feeling a lot of loneliness and self-hatred today.  I wonder why anyone reads the trivial, tedious, negative things I write.  I wonder if I will ever be loved, or happy (the two seem to go together, although maybe they don’t).

My Mum is upset by how I’m feeling today, but I struggle to understand what she is feeling.  I cognitively know she is upset, but it’s hard to feel it.  That could be autism or depression.  I blame myself and feel more guilty.  Why do I always have to ruin things for everyone else?

My sister wants me to come and see her new house mid-renovation on Sunday and I’m already feeling upset about it, partly for understandable (I think) reasons that I won’t go into now, but also because I’ve already seen the house once pre-renovation and will see it when it’s all done and I wonder how many times I have to go and see this house and end up feeling terrible that I’m never going to get married and own a house.  And then I feel guilty for feeling that too.

My parents said that 2018 was a good year for me, but that seems to be based mainly on my solo trip to New York.  They think I made the right decision leaving my job in further education, but I’m not so sure.  They’re optimistic about my finding a permanent new job and getting a firm autism diagnosis, but I’m not sure about that either.

I can’t find the words to fit what I feel right now.  Alexithymia is awful when writing is your only release of emotions.  I wish someone loved me romantically.  But I know I probably couldn’t cope if someone did.  I know people care about me in other ways, but I spend a lot of time avoiding them or inadvertently being rude to them because I can’t cope with it and don’t know how to respond.

I don’t know how much of that last paragraph is true.  I really don’t understand my feelings today.  Alexithymia is, indeed, awful.

I can’t cope with my feelings.  They overwhelm me.

I can’t cope with my guilt.  It overwhelms me.

I feel that I’m such a terrible person, that nothing good will ever happen to me, that nothing good deserves to happen to me.  I wish I could explain more (because I deserve to be publicly shamed), but don’t have the guts

The Freak Returns

I sent that email I was threatening to send to the teenage agony aunt at  I focused it on my difficulty talking to people at shul.  It was tempting to send a general “I’m a complete mess” email, but I decided I should be more focused, especially as I shouldn’t really be writing to them anyway.  It was bad enough that it seems that it’s impossible for me to talk about my social interactions without saying that I feel that I’m a “freak” who no one could ever like.  I have no idea what the outcome will be, but the worst case scenario is that someone I don’t know on the other side of the world will hate me for wasting her time and not even trying to pretend that I’m a teenager.

I feel rather edgy and agitated, although not anxious as such.  I watched Sherlock: His Last Vow and ate too much Ben and Jerry’s ice cream (chocolate fudge brownie and birthday cake since you asked).    My parents’ dinner party is generating too much noise for me to consider getting an early night, plus there are fireworks outside, but working out how to get through the night is hard.  I need not to be able to think about things.   Reading is difficult when I’m this depressed (and when there’s so much noise).  I’m trying not to aimlessly browse the internet as sooner or later I see something that upsets me.

I worked on my Doctor Who book for half an hour or so.  Work on that has become slow and painstaking, but necessary, the literary equivalent of painting the miniatures that I posted photos of in my last post.  I’ve got quite a bit more research and writing to do on the companions of the early sixties as well as the 2017 season before I can get to the stage of editing and rewriting purely for style.  The research will probably take about three months, depending on how fast I can watch episodes, but I might pause for a bit as I don’t want to watch much Doctor Who at the moment (which is what the research basically is).  I’m not sure how long the editing and redrafting will take.  It will partly depend on whether I’m in regular work when I get up to it (I’m only contracted until the end of January, with a possible extension until March).  But I’ve never redrafted on such a significant scale (110,000 words and counting), so I don’t know how long it will take or even how to go about doing it, so there will be trial and error.

I feel pretty tired and on edge, so I think should turn off my computer and read Mythago Wood while I wait for the noise to subside.