I slept for about eleven hours again. My Dad woke me about 12.15pm (he sounded rather annoyed that I was still asleep, which didn’t help), but I lay in bed for another hour feeling too tired and depressed to move. I think I was just burnt out from all the things I did yesterday, the Pesach preparation and the stressful experience I had at shul that I blogged about. I think I drifted in and out of sleep for a while.
At some point in the night (or morning) I had a weird, disturbing dream that I can only vaguely remember, something about a Jewish (?) youth organisation which was actually secretly being run as some kind of cult or gang and that young people were being brainwashed into murder and other criminal activities. Aside from maybe picking up on things in the news about radicalisation and “Jihadi brides” in Syria, I guess it reflects the fears I had as a teenager and still do have to a large extent that frum (religious Orthodox Jewish) institutions and communities would want to brainwash me out of my wider interests, particularly Doctor Who, and my friendships with my non-frum and non-Jewish friends. It is a bit silly that I still have these fears when, by objective standards, I am very frum, although I do still feel painfully on the fringes of the community rather integrated as I should be. I feel that I have capacity that I’m not using; I feel I should be going to shul (synagogue) more often and not be put off by depression and social anxiety. Likewise, if I wanted to, I could do more in the community, in terms of leading services and writing divrei Torah (Torah thoughts), but I don’t have the confidence to do it any more because of my feelings of inadequacy compared to other people in the community. I don’t know where I go from here.
I spent much of the afternoon baking biscuits for Pesach. It proved to be good exposure therapy for the OCD, as I had the choice of washing my hands virtually once a minute or accepting that I can touch things and then touch foodstuffs and crockery without transferring invisible amounts of forbidden chametz (leaven) onto them. I even coped with a minor kashering issue without panicking.
My rabbi mentor says that these days before Pesach are harder than Pesach itself. On Pesach, all the chametz is gone, burnt or sold, so the opportunities for mishaps are relatively limited. It’s the days before when we’re still eating chametz, but getting ready our Pesach stuff, kashering utensils and cooking in advance, when the real risk of problems comes.
I feel exhausted after the baking. It seems strange, having slept so long last night, but I guess this is an emotionally draining time of year for me. There’s a lot of stress and anxiety. I think I’m mostly coping OK, but it is taking its toll. I still feel a lot of stress and anxiety even if I am ultimately coping with it better than in recent years. Tomorrow I need to get a haircut, which I always dread in case I start shaking and because I don’t like strangers touching me, and then on Wednesday things shift up a gear in terms of Pesach preparation (again) when I have to kasher the hob.