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…