This will be another ‘written across a whole day’ post.
11.15am I’m not sure how long I slept, but I think it was about eleven hours, which was probably too long. I woke up utterly drained and depressed and I’m not sure if that was from sleeping too long or from the pressure of working two consecutive days. Today I still feel that no one could ever love me, but I’m too exhausted to really care any more.
11.45am Today is the Fast of Esther, which I think is the most obscure Jewish fast day (this or the Fast of the Firstborn, but arguably that doesn’t count). I used to assume it dated from Esther’s fast in Megillat Esther (the Book of Esther), which is the key text for the festival of Purim (tonight and tomorrow), but apparently it’s from the Gaonic era (early Middle Ages) although it does commemorate the earlier fast. At any rate, I’m not allowed to fast on lithium except for Yom Kippur, so I’m not fasting today. I think I’ve gone past the point of feeling bad about not fasting. Eating some breakfast and drinking coffee makes me feel a bit better, but not much. I really just want to go to bed and sleep through the next day and a half, although I am sort of looking forward to the Purim seudah (festive meal) I’ve been invited to tomorrow, just as long as no one tries to force me to drink alcohol. I don’t think they will, but it’s hard to be sure.
I want to have a quiet day (afternoon really now – it’s nearly noon) to recover from the last two days and prepare for the Megillah reading tonight, which will be draining for depression, social anxiety, OCD and autism reasons. Not the easiest religious ritual for me, by any means. In the meantime, I want to watch more of Quatermass and the Pit (1950s BBC science fiction serial) and work on my Doctor Who book a bit, if I feel up to it.
2.15pm Thinking again about being single and that no one could love me, albeit that the thoughts aren’t as intense as yesterday. I wonder what the CBT response to these thoughts should be. I suppose to look for evidence to disprove the assertion that no one could love me. Which is hard, as there is really no evidence against. I’ve only had two romantic relationships (and a third thing that perhaps approached becoming a relationship), which ended in ways that make me worry that no one could ever love someone as messed up as me, albeit that they all focused on different elements of my messed upness. To some extent I’m probably manipulating the data to fit my theory; certainly my first relationship ended for fairly complex reasons that were at least partly down to my girlfriend. But it is hard to hold on to that when everything fits my theory at least partially. There isn’t much data to base a theory on, which is one thing to hold on to, but, again, that basically means that I haven’t had much romantic success, which is not encouraging. CBT is hard to do when all the evidence supports your “thinking errors”. I guess I’m catastrophising and jumping to conclusions, but it’s hard when the evidence points that way. I don’t have “proof” that no one would marry me, but I won’t have proof until I either die single or get married and I can’t stop myself worrying in the meantime. I know, worrying doesn’t help either, it just feels as if it should. Also, this is probably my way of expressing loneliness to myself and others. Maybe it would be more fruitful to search for different ways to express loneliness rather than to worry about the future.
3.00pm Moving photo albums from one room to another with Dad. Dad says I’m always irritable with him these days. This is true and it saddens me, but I don’t know what to do. Part of it is that I am under a lot of strain at the moment with work and depression and have been for nearly two years now. I have to mask autism and depression at work, but that makes it harder to keep up appearances at home. But part of it is that Dad tends not to do things in an autism-friendly way. He asks me to help him with things, but he doesn’t tell me when and then expects me to drop anything I’m doing and help, which upsets me because it messes up my plan for the day; autism hates surprises and last minute changes. He’s been nagging me to help with the photo albums for ages, but hasn’t given a time. Last week he asked me and I said let me finish X, but he never came back and then suddenly today he asked me again. I started to move the photo albums, but then he expected me to put them out in order; I got annoyed at this change (although I was probably being autistic and overly-literal here and should have guessed he would want me to put them out) and he got annoyed that I didn’t want to help.
Dad also talks in a very unhelpful way, from an autistic point of view, with too many details and jumping from topic to topic without making it clear what he’s talking about. Then I get annoyed and tell him to stick to the point and things escalate. I don’t like this aspect of myself and my current life, but I don’t know what to do about it. I can’t think how to change things; telling myself to “try harder not to be irritable” doesn’t really help and just undermines my self-esteem even more.
3.30pm I just read two essays by Rabbi Lord Sacks (the former British Chief Rabbi) about finding meaning and being called to something in life. I don’t have a clue what the meaning in my life is or what I am being called to do. Rabbi Sacks says that “Where what we want to do meets what needs to be done, that is where God wants us to be”, but I don’t seem to be able to do anything and my understanding of my own wants is not particularly good. Mostly I want to just avoid certain situations and people. I’ve thought in the past of writing to him about things like this, but his office staff doubtless open his mail and he probably wouldn’t even see the letter, let alone respond.
4.55pm I began redrafting my Doctor Who book with the introduction and first chapter. It was OK, but I’m not entirely happy with it, which may be my immaturity as a writer as much as anything, and while I pruned a couple of hundred words, I probably need to be more ruthless with later and longer chapters.
Feeling exhausted and depressed and not entirely sure why. Some of it is doubtless bickering with Dad before, some is being tired from working on my book, some is general depression, so I intend to watch TV for a bit before I have to get ready for Purim.
Purim is a minor festival, so work is permitted and I can blog. I moved my work days around this week so that I wouldn’t have to go to work, though, which is good. It’s the most carnivalesque Jewish festival, which can be hard for me with depression, autism and social anxiety.
“There’s no point in being grown up if you can’t be childish sometimes!” Doctor Who: Robot
There is a custom to wear fancy dress on Purim. I made my way to shul (synagogue) for Purim dressed as the fourth Doctor. My scarf was the only item that was strictly accurate (a friend knitted it for me years ago according to the official BBC pattern and air mailed it to me from Texas), but I was more nervous about going dressed as a TV character to a shul where lots of people don’t own TVs and look down on TV as the most corrupting and least acceptable of all media. As it happened, no one said anything, except someone who made a joke about the length of the scarf. I don’t know if no one understood who I was dressed as. I don’t really talk to many people at shul anyway.
The Doctor: Well, you’d better introduce me.
Romana: As what?
The Doctor: Oh, I don’t know… a wise and wonderful person who wants to help. Don’t exaggerate.
Doctor Who: The Power of Kroll
I heard once that if one dresses up on Purim, one should dress up as the person one wants to be. I don’t know if this is true (I only heard it once). I’m not sure what it says about me that I want to be the Doctor, or specifically the fourth Doctor, or even if I do really want to be him in a meaningful way, but I wish I had his confidence and his ability to wear his eccentricities on his sleeve and not worry what other people think about him, as well as for keeping his sense of humour when faced with danger and evil.
“Even the sonic screwdriver won’t get me out of this one” Doctor Who: The Invasion of Time
I listened to Megillat Esther (the Book of Esther). One is supposed to hear every word, but there is also a custom to make noise after the name of Haman, who tried to wipe out the Jewish people. This is fertile ground for my religious OCD. I actually did OK. I told myself I wasn’t going to catch up words, let alone go to another reading, unless I was really sure I had missed something. Three or four times I thought I heard a word, but wasn’t sure and wanted to repeat it, but I didn’t let myself because I knew it would just stoke the flames of OCD. It is theoretically possible that I did not fulfil the mitzvah (commandment), but I think I did the right thing.
“You’re a beautiful woman, probably.” Doctor Who: City of Death
At dinner afterwards, my Dad tried again to persuade me to go out with our neighbours’ daughter (or our neighbour, I suppose, as she lives with her parents). I’m not quite sure what to make of this. I don’t know if I have anything in common with her, other than having lived in two of the same communities and being frum. I’ve never picked up any feeling that she is at all attracted to me (although admittedly I’m not good at such things). By coincidence, I passed her while I was on the way to shul this evening and we said hello, but if she spotted the significance of my Doctor Who scarf, she didn’t say anything.
“Failure is one of the basic freedoms” Doctor Who: The Robots of Death
I was having dinner with my parents, everything was going well… and then, suddenly, it wasn’t. Something happened that I can’t talk about here, sadly. But it brought my mood crashing down. I know that people say that you can’t make your happiness dependent on other people, but the fact is that human beings are social animals (even someone as introverted and autistic as I am) and the moods and behaviour of those around us do affect us, especially the moods of those close to us. We pick up other people’s moods just as we infect people with our moods. I’m not sure what I can do for this.
So, tomorrow is the bulk of Purim. I hope I will be OK. I’ve been invited out to a seudah (festive meal) in the afternoon, which will hopefully be good. I’m more nervous about getting to shul in time to hear the Megillah again (one should hear it twice, evening and morning), but I’m less worried about hearing the words as there isn’t usually much noise at the morning reading because there aren’t many children and some people are going to work, so they need to get through it quickly.
For now I’m going to get some retail therapy buying a second-hand copy of the next Complete Peanuts volume (1963-1964), because Peanuts has been keeping me sane recently with it’s resigned acceptance of life’s ups and downs, as well as a second-hand copy of the House of Cards trilogy; not the Netflix series, the original 1990s BBC serials with Ian Richardson as Sir Francis Urquhart. I’ve never seen it, but I need a break from wall-to-wall science fiction.
Chase: What do you do for an encore, Doctor?
Doctor: I win.