Another weird anxiety dream last night, this time about being bullied somewhere that felt like a mix of school and my last job and not knowing if my friend was secretly behind it. At least I feel asleep easily last night and got up at 10am, which is earlier than I’ve managed all week, I think. I wish I didn’t sleep for nine or ten hours each night, though. I can’t work out how much of that is depressive hibernation and how much is that I get so overwhelmed by things (from mental health issues, but also autism) that I need to sleep longer than most people.
Some OCD anxiety yesterday and today and emailing of my rabbi mentor late last night, but I’m trying to keep things under control. The full Pesach (Passover) preparation craziness starts today, though, and goes on until 7.30pmish tomorrow, when Yom Tov (the festival) actually starts. After that there is a lot less to do and a lot less risk of something going wrong, although there are still contamination (or “contamination”) fears for the eight days of Pesach.
I’ve got a job interview on Tuesday, on Chol HaMoed Pesach (the intermediate, semi-festive, days of Passover). I’m going to go as one can work on Chol HaMoed to avoid a significant loss, which turning down the interview potentially would be, but I’m not happy about it, especially as lately interviews seem to be a chance for me to humiliate myself. I suppose the experience will be good (this is one of those things people say to make things sound better that doesn’t actually make things sound better). The job is full time Monday to Friday, which I don’t think I can cope with at the moment, plus occasional late nights and weekends (obviously I couldn’t do Saturdays or late on Fridays at all). Working full-time will make it hard for me to go to support groups and will probably lead to burn out. The job specification is very long and terrifies me. Then there is the fact that I’m waiting for CBT therapy and don’t know how I could fit that in. Also, this is a job through an agency, and I haven’t told anyone there about my autism, so I won’t get any adjustments for that. But, I will go, and try to put aside this catastrophisation, and ask if I can make it a job share if necessary.
Strangely, the job interview makes me feel depressed more than anxious. I just don’t feel that I can do the job, but then, I don’t really think I’ll do well at the interview either – one of those situations where the feared outcomes can’t both happen, but I worry about them both anyway.
I find with Pesach there is sometimes a nasty surprise in the last day or two. I think of it as analogous to an October Surprise in the American presidential election. Something where you plan and plan and everything seems to be going to plan, but then a big disruption happens and you have to improvise.
Last year I had a migraine the day before Pesach. I was right the other side of London for a work staff development day and I was supposed to come home (a two hour trip), tidy my flat, then go to my parents’ house, help tidy there, kasher the sink and do bedikat chametz (search for leavened food). I came home with a bad migraine, went back to my flat, took some painkillers, fell asleep for an hour or two and woke feeling a lot better. I got everything done. So it can be done.
This year our cleaner, who was supposed to come today, cancelled at the last minute. For a while it looked like we had to magically find a couple more hours to make up the shortfall, but fortunately we managed to get another cleaner through the same agency. I’m just hoping that that’s the last nasty surprise (I’m telling myself the job interview is a good surprise, difficult though it is to believe it). A few other minor things have happened, but so far nothing major. I’m worried that something will go wrong, though.
Tonight I have my least favourite part of Pesach preparation: kashering the sink. This is to remove any traces of Pesach food taste that might linger. To kasher a sink, you clean it thoroughly, don’t use it for anything hot for twenty-four hours and then pour boiling water all over it, including the taps, followed by cold water (this is a simplification; ask your local Orthodox rabbi if you want to know how to kasher an actual sink). The tricky parts are (a) the water must be boiling, not boiled, which means you only get about five seconds to do this before the water in the kettle is too cool and has to be reboiled and (b) the water must be from the main spout from the kettle or at least a small radius around it, not water ‘downstream’ (so to speak), again so that it stays hot, so no pouring it just at the top and letting it flow down.
The problem is partly that I’m not that dexterous and find it awkward to pour a very full kettle of boiling water quickly at different angles to get all four sides of the sink, but mainly that there is no way to see how much of the sink has been done correctly or if it was quick enough, so my OCD makes me do this repeatedly. I think most frum (religious) people do it in one or two goes, but I take seven or eight or even more. I wish someone would make a sink that changes colour when boiling water is poured on it so I could see what I have done.
This is so triggering to my OCD that when I moved out of my parents house and into my own flat, for nearly a year I refused to put things in the sink itself, because I didn’t believe that I had kashered it correctly. That was partly because I misunderstood a few things about how to do it, but mostly because of my anxiety about the whole process. Even now I ask my Dad to kasher with me, so that he can check I don’t take too long or miss bits… except that then my OCD tells me he is wrong, so I do them again anyway. I know several rabbis who can’t understand why I find this so stressful, they can just do it in a matter of minutes and then move to the next thing, but I find it a nightmare. And we always leave it to the night before Pesach because we need to use the sink for chametz (leavened food) as long as possible, which means it gets done late at night at the same time as searching for chametz (which is fun, but takes a while) when I want to go to bed early to try to get up in time for shul (synagogue) the next morning so I can go the siyum and get out of fasting the Fast of the First-born (not even going to try explaining that, sorry).
Still, I have just made the charoset (one of the symbolic foods at the seder: a sweet brown paste symbolising the mortar the Israelite slaves made and used to sweeten the bitter herbs), which is a job I enjoy more, perhaps partly because my Mum always says it reminds her that her father used to do it. I’m trying to stay calm and focused and just hold on to the fact that so far, things are going according to schedule.