I got very/even more depressed after posting last night, and very lonely. There might have been anger in there too, I can’t remember. I should probably have phoned Samaritans, but I didn’t think of it and I didn’t have the energy. I eventually crawled into bed about 1.00am, slept for nine hours and had anxiety dreams I can only vaguely remember. I managed to get up fairly soon after I woke up this morning, but I rather than get dressed, daven (pray) and start the day, I sat around in my pyjamas reading. I feel bad about this, a bit, but not as much as I should.
It feels like I used to be clever and competent, at school and maybe even first year at university, but these days I’m just stupid. That’s probably not true. While depression probably does have an effect on my cognition, slowing me down and occasionally making me do stupid things, it’s more that I was high-functioning enough to cope at school, but as studying and later work became less about regurgitating information and more about thinking for myself, and as relationships (in the broadest sense) became less about structured play and more free-form, my autistic deficiencies in executive function and social interactions became more obvious. My low-powered current job means I don’t have to do much of that kind of thinking, so it suits me, but I can feel that I’m overqualified and should be doing something more demanding and higher paying, not to mention something that continues past the end of the month.
On my last post, Ashley Leia commented, “It seems like the effort you put into practicing your religion in spite of the various illness obstacles you’re faced with should “count”, if there is such a thing, as much as someone who’s fulfilling more commitments but without having to climb over barriers each and every day.” I responded, “I would hope so, and there are Jewish sources that would say so, but sometimes I wonder. Do I put “enough” effort in? Sometimes I feel I could do more. And sometimes it feels like good intentions are not enough, I have to actually do stuff.”
This was a slightly disingenuous answer. The Talmud has a long discussion on suffering in Brachot (the volume I’m studying at shul (synagogue)), in which there’s a discussion (Brachot 5b) of Rabbi Elazar being sick and Rabbi Yochanan visiting him. Rabbi Yochanan sees that Rabbi Elazar is crying and asks him why and rhetorically answers, “Why do you weep? Is it because you did not study enough Torah? Surely we learnt: The one who sacrifices much and the one who sacrifices little have the same merit, provided that the heart is directed to heaven. Is it perhaps lack of sustenance? Not everybody has the privilege to enjoy two tables [spiritual and physical success]. Is it perhaps because of [the lack of] children? This is the bone of my tenth son! [Rabbi Yochanan had ten sons who all predeceased him and he would comfort those who lost children by telling them how he coped.]” (Translation lazily copied from here, sorry, first and last square bracket comments by me.)
The interesting thing is that Rabbi Yochanan, in talking about not studying enough Torah, brings a proof-text about sacrifices; the sacrificial service is usually seen as having been replaced by prayer in the post-Temple era, not Torah study. So this would seem to indicate that the principle of “the one who does much and the one who does little are the same, provided the heart is directed to Heaven” applies to both prayer and Torah study.
This should cheer me up, but it doesn’t. I suppose I feel the little prayer and Torah study that I do, I do on autopilot, not with kavannah (mindfulness) and “directing my heart to Heaven”. I don’t feel that I have the connection with HaShem (God) that I would need for that. I also feel that, even if I can’t do as much as other people, I could do more than I currently do, if I just pushed myself harder, but somehow that never seems to work. I do feel that I “should” do more, that I’m not suffering “enough” to do the little I do. I still can’t accept that I do enough even if I accept that I can’t do as much as other people.
I suppose it comes back again to feeling that God hates me and that I can never be good enough for Him.
There is more to say about this, but my brain is in depressive shut-down today and just isn’t cooperating. Perhaps more after Shabbat.