I feel exhausted today. Also, I’m quoting Hamlet for my title again, so I must be depressed. I’m not sure why. The meeting with the matchmaker yesterday was stressful, but I thought I had got over it. I did some work on my books (the Doctor Who one and the mental health one) yesterday evening which I usually find restoring, although I procrastinated quite a bit over the mental health one, which might indicate that I should have just gone to bed. Some of it was probably realising that the mental health book isn’t going to be a case of just stitching together old blog posts; it’s probably going to require significant new material. Which is OK, aside from my usual lack of confidence in my own abilities, it just means it’s a bigger undertaking than I thought/hoped it might be.
Still, I slept for about nine hours and didn’t wake up too late today, but somehow I just can’t get going or focus today. Some of it is that I feel a bit physically ill as if I’m coming down with a cold (although I spend a lot of time feeling like that without ever actually having a cold. It’s true that depression can mimic the ‘coming down with something’ feeling indefinitely). But I think the main issue is that I have some anxiety about rearranging work days for the moved psychiatrist appointment and for Purim. If I give in, I’ll start to have the annual anxiety about Purim and Pesach too (tonight is Purim Katan, which means a month to Purim and two months and a day to Pesach, yikes – given how much winter depresses me, I think I’d welcome spring a lot more if it didn’t mean getting through Purim and Pesach again).
Meanwhile, I need to start serious job hunting again, as my contract expires in six weeks. My sister told me that statistically men will apply for jobs that they only meet 60% of the criteria for, whereas most women will only apply if they meet 100% of the criteria. I seem to be statistically female here, as I do the same thing. I also struggle to apply for jobs where I would have to ask to work different hours, either because they want someone who will work on Saturdays or because I want to work part-time and they want someone full-time. My parents and my sister say that I don’t lose anything by applying, but I guess I feel that I’m being ‘difficult’ again. I’m not convinced that the perfect job, or anything approaching it, is actually out there, at least not for me. I have so many, um, issues at the moment (need to work part-time, need to be in an autism-friendly environment, need to be able to take Shabbat and Yom Tov off, don’t cope well with pressure, and some of my professional work skills have gone rather rusty) that I struggle to imagine any employer wanting me. Or me wanting any of the jobs: of the three job descriptions I was just looking at, one was in a law firm’s library (boring) and required working late on Fridays, into Shabbat, as well as a host of law library experience that I simply don’t have; one was so strangely worded that I’m not entirely sure what the job involves except that it, too, requires working on Friday nights and Saturdays; and the third requires a lot of precise skills for a short-term job and turned out to have been filled despite the job advert still being up.
Just looking at the job description and desired attributes on adverts makes me feel anxious and useless; I can’t really imagine being able to do anything. My cataloguing skills have gone very rusty through disuse, as my job interview a few months ago showed. I don’t keep up with CPD; it’s an effort just to work part-time, let alone to do unpaid “work” in my free time. I quiver at the thought being required to show “problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills, teamwork, and ability to deliver work under pressure” and the like. Strangely, I do actually seem to interview well, surprisingly given my autism and social anxiety, which is possibly an unexpected extra benefit of the Oxbridge interview training my school provided (it was a state school, but had a good record of getting students to Oxbridge, at least for a comprehensive school). Half the time I don’t even understand what a job description wants, with silly bureaucratic-ese like “You will enjoy working to effect positive change” (I wanted a job where I could effect negative change, maybe in the oil industry or local government). I wish they could write in plain English (maybe this is autism again).
You might tell from all this that I’m still lacking in self-esteem, with no sign of the CBT to help with it that I’ve been on the waiting list for since early December. I struggle to think of anything I can do well. I’m told I can write quite well, but I struggle to believe it, or to find a way of earning a living through it. Some of my friends say I’m a good friend, but one can’t really live off that (the world would probably be a better place if we could).
The World of an Autistic, Dyslexic, with Depression and Spinal Problems wrote recently about the need to have something to look forward to. I’m struggling with that at the moment. I mentioned about my growing anxieties at this time of year. Plus so many of the things in my life at the moment I’m just trying to “get through”. Watching Doctor Who, which is usually one of my favourite things, is a chore at the moment as I’m just doing it for research for my book without necessarily wanting to watch the episodes for themselves; I really want to just get it over with, so I can focus on redrafting, and watch other things on TV. Likewise, reading The Dispossessed is just something I’m trying to do, even though I can see it’s a good novel; it’s just taken me too long and I’ve lost track of the characters, not helped by everyone having made-up science fiction names. There’s some hopefully-good-but-stressful things later in the year, which inspire hope and anxiety in equal measure, but nothing purely good or in the short to medium term.
Another classic autistic moment today when my Dad said that I could withdraw cash in the post office. I thought he meant there was a cashpoint in there, but he meant for me to go to the counter with my debit card and withdraw that way. I flatly refused to do this because I got so confused and panicked (I’m ashamed to say) until my Dad told me what to say. Then there was another autistic moment as my Dad asked the attendant if it was true that the branch was being shut down soon; the actual meaningful part of the conversation lasted just a few seconds, but they carried on talking about the evils of management for a couple more minutes even though no new information was added and I wasn’t entirely sure they were really listening to each other. This is neurotypical conversing and I can’t do it, and it’s really hard to network or make friends not being able to do it.
Really upset. I can’t explain why. I’m not sure how much of that is depression (I’m too depressed to introspect and speak) and how much is autism (I don’t understand my emotions and can’t articulate them, at least not in person). I spent a while trying to write a job application for a job I probably am not qualified for and definitely could not accept without negotiating different terms (unlikely to happen) because it is full-time and requires working evenings and Saturdays. After a while, I thought I might be better off looking at the Remploy website and seeing what help they could offer me. They have online advisors, but I don’t know what I want to ask. My mind froze up and I was catastrophising and assuming nothing can help me. I tried to ask my parents for help, but it all went horribly wrong for reasons I don’t understand, as it often does, and ended up with Mum apparently accusing me of wanting to do no work for the next year before I get an autism diagnosis when I just meant that legally I can’t legally claim support for autism yet, only depression. I worry that I’m in the wrong career, but I don’t know who I can talk to about finding a more autism-friendly career or about improving my work skills and CPD.
I can write this down; why can’t I say it? Is it autism again? Or what? I guess I want people to make choices for me, because I find decisions so hard. That is autism. My parents are going to a workshop for families of people with autism on Wednesday; I hope they might understand me better afterwards.
The other scary thing is that I go really quickly from “I have a problem” to “I want to kill myself.” Just now having job difficulties made me feel depressed, and then when my Mum accused me of not wanting to work, I ran off to my room and just wanted to kill myself. I have heard that this is a common autistic problem too, a lack of nuance in emotional responses, so you go from nothing to the most extreme reaction really quickly.
In Iyov (Job), Iyov has a repeated fantasy of suing God in a court of law, feeling if only he could do this, he would be vindicated as suffering unfairly. I wonder if wanting to write my mental health book isn’t just an attempt at bring the world to account for being beastly to me. That doesn’t reflect well on me, but more to the point, it isn’t going to happen. There isn’t going to be a day when my family, friends, colleagues, line managers and peers apologise to me, even if they have really hurt me unfairly.