(Don’t say I shy away from the big topics here.)
I woke late, later than I wanted. I was going in to work at lunchtime and staying late at an event this evening, but even so I wanted to be up at 9am, whereas I got up about 9.40am. I was slow to get going, feeling depressed. I wondered what I would say to my younger self, about to be diagnosed with depression for the first time seventeen years ago. It was hard to think of anything encouraging. I could say that he/I would at least survive, but I’m not keen on pure survival as a goal.
For some reason that I don’t understand, I thought a lot about my two failed relationships. I don’t know what it is about me that prevents me from forming relationships. Well, I do know, because on some level it’s autism and depression, but it’s hard to know what specifically stops me. To be fair, both my exes had issues about as much as I did, so perhaps I shouldn’t just blame myself. It’s hard not to blame someone, though, and I don’t really want to blame them either (as I said, they had issues too). Given how long it was before I went out on my first date (I was twenty-seven) and the gap between my first and second relationships, I could be in my forties before I get the chance to try again, which is going to make starting a family harder.
I struggled through the early part of the work day (i.e. early afternoon) feeling like the idiot child again. I felt I was making stupid mistakes and not thinking to do things until they were pointed out to me which could potentially be an autistic executive function deficit, I suppose, but that only occurred to me just now, not at the time; at the time I just thought I was being stupid and useless. My boss was nice about it, which somehow just makes me feel worse.
Late afternoon brought the event/exhibition we were running. From my point of view, it was similar to the event/exhibition we ran a few weeks ago, in terms of my curating rare books and trying to remember enough of my history BA to be able to talk about them while secretly hoping that I don’t say anything outrageously wrong. At any rate, radical politics from the English Civil Wars and Interregnum seem popular again. I was actually less affected by the crowds and noise than I had feared, except when someone dropped something on the other side of the room with a loud metallic noise which distracted me even though no one around me seemed to notice. From everyone else’s perspective, this event was different to the previous one as we had food and wine (which I didn’t eat (a) because I was curating and (b) because it wasn’t kosher).
The other, bigger, difference was that we had some guest speakers. They were interesting, but I didn’t take much in because I had been a bit triggered by the political nature of the event – not anything party political, but just general thoughts about protest (the theme of the event) and where I stand. I feel counter-cultural in some ways, but I don’t subscribe to any political party or ideology and feel rather disenfranchised by contemporary politics. I honestly struggle to find anyone I could in good conscience vote for at the next election (unless Elmo from Sesame Street stands against Theresa May again). I fantasise about dropping out without knowing where I would go. In fact, not only do I feel counter to mainstream culture, but also to the main counter-culture (to paraphrase The Avengers, I’m counter-counter-counter-cultural). I feel Orthodox Judaism is strongly counter-cultural too (how could it not be, by far the smallest of the world’s major religions?), but too many Jews miss the point and end up with conformist bourgeois lives. But the revolutionary potential is there. For example, Buy Nothing Day is an established anti-consumerist protest day. I once calculated that Orthodox Jews spend approximately two months not buying anything at all (if you add together Shabbat (the Sabbath) and Yom Tov (festivals) it comes to about two months, depending on whether Yom Tov falls on Shabbat in any given year and on whether you live in Israel and get one day less Yom Tov). Shabbat itself is a very revolutionary egalitarian idea, a sanctuary in time that everyone receives in the same amount, regardless of wealth or status (cf. Heschel and Seeskin), a day when no one can compel anyone else to do anything.
I feel I am drifting from the point somewhat (sorry, it’s 1.30am and I’m drained, but not sleepy and need to get my thoughts in some kind of order before bed). It’s just that whenever politics comes up lately (lately = for the last few years) I feel vaguely guilty for not having firm party political views (my opinions are more emotions or attitudes and not necessarily coherent). But as the frum (religious) community is mostly conservative and my Doctor Who/online friends are mostly progressive, I would offend someone either way, so maybe it’s just as well that I quietly question everything, but say nothing. It just means I always feel ‘wrong’ and under threat of rejection, as if I didn’t feel like that for umpteen other reasons already. (My assumption that people would reject me because I don’t share their political views may be false, but in all the talk in the media of social media echo chambers, it’s hard to think otherwise.)
I got home at 10.30pm absolutely exhausted. I had to “people” some more, as my parents had guests: my uncle’s mother-in-law over from Israel for a significant birthday (a tenuous family connection, but she’s essentially a family friend of long standing by now) and some other friends of my parents who are also friends of my uncle’s mother-in-law, including someone I used to work with. So I had to go in and say hello when I really wanted to crash. But I managed it.
The other thing that upset me a bit today was getting mistaken for a PhD student by the historian guest speaker. Sometimes I feel I should have gone down that route, that I would be happier reading books than caring for them. And high functioning autistics can do well in academia. But every time I go to university, my depression gets bad and I say I will never go back. Plus, if I was doing a PhD, it would probably end up being in the history of antisemitism, which would be hugely depressing, if necessary.
There was something else that was upsetting me, but I don’t want to get into it at 1.30am. Maybe tomorrow. Actually, I am going to go into it, because it’s upsetting me. I feel I’m a really bad person because I get distracted by being attracted to people of the opposite sex. I know most people are like that, but… well, I suppose I feel I should be above it in some way. I worry that it affects my interactions, although I do try hard not to react to people differently based on how attractive I find them, and I certainly don’t flirt with women or anything improper. I just wish it didn’t happen. I don’t like being so aware of how attractive I find some women. Particularly as I don’t think anyone finds me attractive, which makes the whole thing seem one-sided and exploitative.
When I wrote an article on Hevria.com years ago about being scared of my sexuality, someone commented to say I see women as “anxiety-inducing sexual objects” which upset me, probably because I’m scared it’s true. Well, “anxiety-inducing” is true, but I have social anxiety, so everyone makes me anxious. But, given that it seems unlikely that I will ever get married, I just wish I was asexual so I didn’t have to even worry about this craziness (being attracted to people). There’s a story called Liking What You See by science fiction writer Ted Chiang, about whether it would be good if we could switch off physical attraction. I think it probably would be good.
It’s 2.15am and I should get to bed. I am probably coming down from today – not that it was particularly positive, but that social interactions and being busy at work get the adrenaline flowing and I need to unwind. I can’t really crash tomorrow, unfortunately, as in the afternoon I’m speaking to someone from The Network (the local government-run organisation that provided group therapy courses I have recently attended), although I’m not sure there’s a lot more that they can do for me right now.