I had the last session of my mental health class today. I think part of the reason I was less excited about the class than the other people in the group, apart from feeling overwhelmed by the noise and the people, is that for many people in the group this was the first time that they had met people with the same issues as them, whereas I’ve been going to various support groups for several years now plus I have a network of friends with mental health issues built up through my blog, so it wasn’t such an eye-opening and validating experience for me. It has at least got me thinking about CBT stuff again and trying to use it a bit while waiting for CBT on the NHS, which could take months, although I still feel a bit like CBT tries to place a little plaster on a wound that really requires many stitches.
A lot of people from the group are planning on meeting in the future. I don’t know whether that will happen. My experience of these things is that people always say they’ll stay in touch, but rarely do. They have started a What’sApp group though. I don’t know if I’ll go to the meet up, but I’ve been added to the What’sApp group.
Today I more or less resolved the mistake I was so worried about on Friday (definitely anxiety) and spoke to my rabbi mentor about a matter that had been troubling me recently (not mental health-related); he gave me some useful advice.
Less optimistically, I’ve been wading through job emails, but most of them are for things I’m under-qualified for (as if I didn’t feel inadequate already) or things I’m over-qualified for (as if I wasn’t worried enough already about many autistic people being underemployed, especially after one of my colleagues said I’m over-qualified for my current job) or require working on Saturdays. I’m applying for full-time jobs because there aren’t many part-time jobs in my field (which surprised me a bit, as I thought librarianship was a job that lends itself easily to part-time work and jobshares); if I get further I will ask if working part-time is possible, although how many days I want to work is harder to work out. I’m not convinced they would employ someone who isn’t willing to work the way they want though. The other problem is working out how many days I should be working. Two probably isn’t enough, four was too much (although that was a punishing environment anyway) so I suppose I should try three days.
I hoped to have an afternoon off after a stressful couple of days, but speaking to my rabbi mentor, dealing with job emails and other chores took up much of the time. I wasn’t even applying for jobs, just reading job alerts and adding potential jobs to apply for to my spreadsheet of potential jobs. As for the chores, they just seem to breed; I have a list and sometimes I can cross things off, but it grows faster than I can cut it down. Similarly, I’m a neat person, but lately bits of paper have been appearing on my desk faster than I can get rid of them. I shove some of them in the drawers, but that is just postponing the inevitable. The worst breeders are emails, not so much rabbits as Tribbles (the Tribbles from Star Trek, it will be recalled, are cute balls of fur that can overrun a starship rapidly because they are born pregnant).
I did manage some work on my Doctor Who book (I hope to have second drafts of two more chapters finished by the weekend) and my mental health book. Work on the latter consists of revisiting old blog posts and copying and pasting passages that look like they might still be coherent, meaningful and interesting out of context into a Word document. I have a bunch of these on topics like depression, OCD, autism, the frum community and so on, about 25,000 words so far (that’s about a quarter of a book already and I’ve still got eighteen months of material to look at, even if I don’t use my old Livejournal), but I worry that I don’t have a clear shape in my head of what the book will look like. I’m just experimenting at the moment, in my head and with my selections, on the various ways a book could look without really knowing what I’m doing. I hope a clearer idea will materialise over time, but it might not. It’s entirely possible that I won’t have a workable idea at the end of all of this. Plus looking at old posts brings up bad memories sometimes or triggers feelings of loneliness and depression.
Lately there have definitely been some better days, in terms of mood at least and perhaps energy, although I still have bad days and even on ‘good’ days I can suddenly hit depression, self-loathing or OCD anxiety, sometimes with an obvious trigger and sometimes out of nowhere. “Out of nowhere” might really be a physiological, rather than psychological, trigger, if I had a full understanding of myself: hunger or tiredness. Exhaustion is a frequent presence too. I think the improvement is mostly down to the arrival of spring (although apparently the cold and wet is due to come back by the end of the week) and feeling comfortable with my current job for the first time in a year or more, which makes it more unfortunate that my contract ends in a month’s time.
Recovery is, as I implied yesterday, more about finding coping strategies for surviving (a) in the world and (b) specifically in the Jewish community with autism, depression, social anxiety and occasional bouts of OCD. I don’t think I’ll ever be ‘cured’ of my mental health issues and it’s impossible to ‘cure’ people of autism. Some days the strategies work and some days they don’t. On the days when they don’t work, there’s not a lot more I can do than struggle through work (or call in sick, but I very rarely do that these days) and come home and just vegetate in front of a Doctor Who/telefantasy DVD.