Today was a “no spoons” sort of day…
1.15pm: I had weird dreams, woke up exhausted, depressed and OCD anxious, had breakfast, still felt exhausted and depressed, went back to sleep and woke up too late to daven Shacharit (say the morning prayers), none of which is good. I still feel exhausted and depressed (I keep going back to bed), albeit less so and at least the OCD anxiety seems to have gone. It’s probably good that I have work to focus on tomorrow.
It’s 1.15pm and I’m still not fully dressed. Sitting half-dressed, feeling exhausted, lonely and overwhelmed. Yesterday I thought that my ‘downs’ were at least better than they used to be, but today I’m not sure. It’s probably that there’s more variation over a day than over several days, that I still dip as low as ever some days, but I get higher up every day too. Right now I can’t do anything, though, just struggling to get dressed. Spent a while lying in bed in a quiet dark room, which suggests I was overstimulated yesterday, even though I was only at the party for an hour. (Of course, today it’s probably good that I’m due to watch more of Doctor Who: The Sensorites as it’s difficult to think of anything less stimulating!) My Dad just said I’m “slow today” which doesn’t exactly help things.
2.40pm: After lunch and an episode of The Sensorites. Still very depressed and drained. Not sure what sort of targets would be realistic to set today. I don’t want to waste the whole day, but not sure what I can do, given that I’ll feel worse if I set a target and fail to meet it.
2.45pm: Yuk. Just came across this post online about why to study in yeshiva. Reason number three is that your children won’t respect you if you don’t go, because you won’t be able to help them with their kodesh (Jewish studies) homework. The number one reason, ahead of even getting spiritual inspiration or study skills, is that it will move you up in the “Jewish marriage market” and you won’t get “a great spouse and a beautiful family” without it (those are exact quotes from the article). So, pretty much all my fears about no one frum (religious) enough for me wanting to marry me because I didn’t go to yeshiva are vindicated. Because marriage is a market and the idea is to marry the “best” person (the most learned man, the prettiest woman (or the one with the richest father)), not the person who is right for you. At least my rabbi mentor disagrees strongly with this viewpoint (and I wouldn’t want to marry someone Chabad anyway, and they wouldn’t want to marry me for more reasons than just that I didn’t go to yeshiva).
That said, I do sometimes wonder if I should have gone to yeshiva, if the experience might have helped me avoid depression or if I would just have been as lonely there as I was at university; or whether it would have helped me fit in to the frum community or if my autistic symptoms and social anxiety would just have been exacerbated in the noise of a beit midrash (study hall, where students debate loudly in pairs) or if the depression would have been exacerbated by the long working days (eight hours or more of study with few breaks and little recreation allowed, plus early starts and late finishes to mess up my sleep pattern) and the communal living with, I think, little opportunity for me to have the time I need alone (unless you go to a yeshiva that encourages meditation, but only Breslov and some Mussar yeshivot would do that).
E. says it’s a shame that I don’t have any distraction/procrastination sites that don’t end up upsetting me (usually about religion or politics) sooner or later. I suspect the problem is more that I get upset really easily even when looking at stuff that shouldn’t be triggering.
3.10pm: struggling to work out what to do today. I still haven’t put on tefillin or davened (prayed) yet today, so I really ought to do that. I would also like to try to go for a walk, as I need exercise. But I think doing my weekly Talmud study is out of the question, ditto cooking dinner or working on my mental health book. I’m just too depressed and drained.
I got a letter from HMRC (the taxman). They wrote to me some months ago saying I hadn’t paid enough tax in the last fiscal year (although I’ve no idea why, as I’m taxed PAYE) and that I owed them about £60. When I queried this they said I still owed them a “small” amount of money (they didn’t say how much), but that I didn’t have to pay because the administrative costs in processing it were too great. Today I received another letter from them saying I do have to pay the £60 after all, and I have to pay in less than three weeks. I do not know what to do.
The money itself isn’t the issue. I can pay £60. I do feel like I’m having money extorted out of me and that there are other tax evaders and avoiders they should be focusing on, but I believe in a mixed market system of capitalism-plus-a-welfare-safety-net and I don’t really begrudge paying towards that, even though I feel I’m not really earning enough to justify treating me as one of society’s wealthy rather than needy.
However, I struggle to understand and deal with things like this and get panicked by them, which troubles me. I don’t know whether it’s because of depression, autism, laziness, stupidity, or something else… It’s worrying, because I wouldn’t know how to cope with these things without my father to help me. I suppose it’s also a blow to my self-esteem, because tax demands feel like a ‘book learning’-type thing that I used to be good at, so it’s disappointing not to be able to cope.
I do wonder how I would cope at school these days, given that the depression seems to have eroded my intelligence and autism-masking skills. I certainly don’t think I could get in to Oxford again if I was seventeen again. Mind you, I suspect that even at the time my academic success was masking practical and social failure. I was certainly often told that “For a clever boy, you can be very stupid sometimes.” It’s just a shame I can’t remember what mishaps provoked that sentiment, as I’m sure it would be useful for my autism assessment.
Actually, I doubt I could lead shul (synagogue) services or give divrei Torah (Torah talks) as I did in my previous shul, although that may be as much to do with feeling inadequate in my new community as to the effects of the depression per se.
6.00pm: A matchmaker from the values-based dating service I applied to last week got in touch to arrange to meet to discuss what I’m looking for in a wife. I feel too depressed to think that it’s a good idea to respond at the moment. I guess I’m scared to do it too. I can’t see trying to have a relationship ending well in any circumstance. There is the problem that anyone frum enough for me would probably think I’m not frum enough for her, while anyone who could accept my geeky interests and non-yeshiva education would probably not want to accept my level of religious commitment. But beyond this, and arguably more problematically than it, I have the problem that I’m just too broken for anyone ‘normal’ to take and while I’ve dated women with issues of their own, that always ends in my getting hurt by them. It’s so tempting to email the matchmaker and say that this was all a huge mistake and/or I’m too ill or to make some other excuse and duck out of this.
Things done today:
- Got up and got dressed (eventually – it was a bad enough day for this to be worth noting);
- davened twice;
- shaved (albeit very late);
- ca10 minutes of Torah study;
- twenty-five minute walk (fairly brisk, but with quite a lot of agitated thoughts);
- cooked plain pasta for dinner for self and parents;
- made lunch and packed for work tomorrow;
- 5 minutes breathing meditation, ten minutes hitbodedut unstructured prayer/meditation;
- watched TV to distract myself instead of some online procrastination (Doctor Who and The Avengers (the British John Steed and Mrs Peel Avengers).
Things not done today:
- weekly Talmud study;
- dealing with tax demand;
- responding to dating service email;
- doing more work on either/any of my books;
- reading any more of The Dispossessed (really struggling to get into this book, even though I can see it’s objectively good. Maybe it’s just not the right time).