Sometimes it feels that I do actually get almost everything I want, or think I want, if I wait long enough, but then it turns out not to be as good as I hoped. In fact, it usually turns out to be painful. That’s what happened with going to Oxford, being in a more frum (religious) community, getting a job with longer hours and more responsibility, dating and being published on a professionally. It makes me wonder if I should really want anything (career, marriage, children) or is it just going to leave me longing for the days I was so depressed that I did nothing except sleep and watch TV (some people’s dream life, I suppose, although the reality was pretty awful).
Despite feeling that getting the things I want always goes wrong, it’s easy to envy other people, not so much for their money as their lives: the meaningful and sure career, the loving spouse or partner, the beautiful children, the meaningful religious life… all “apparently” of course, as often the reality is different. I suppose most people have to deal with suffering in the end, I’m just getting mine out the way first, although I’m worried that I’m just going to get a double serving. And I’m not sure that everyone gets the same level of suffering. The reward is proportional to the effort says the Mishnah. Well, I hope so, although I’m not sure that suffering is the same as effort. I don’t always feel that I’m putting in enough effort religiously, because I don’t always have the energy, motivation or concentration because of depression and perhaps because of laziness.
The job agency I have the interview through tomorrow sent me interview preparation advice. I was concentrating so much on cataloguing preparation yesterday for the test that I hadn’t really thought about interview preparation. It’s fair to say that I don’t usually do much of the interview preparation they suggest and am failing in ways I didn’t even recognise. There’s some an element of autistic, “Why would I care about that?” (e.g. asking the interview panel about the office culture or why they like working there). There’s often a lot of feeling that I haven’t shown the desired competencies or experience and can’t do anything about that (usually accompanied by, “Why are they even calling me to interview?”) and some autistic “Well, I can’t read their minds well enough to guess what they will ask, so why bother?” and the equally autistic “I can’t describe what I would do, I just do it.” There might also be an element of autistic hyperfocus on things that interest me, but poor concentration (worsened by depression) on things that don’t interest me. There’s a fair bit of feeling that librarianship isn’t the right sector for me any more although I don’t know how I’d fair with an interview for a writing position. I think part of the attraction of writing for me is that I can let my work speak for itself. I suppose there is also the feeling that “Everything goes wrong for me so why am I even trying?” And I don’t know why I would want tomorrow’s job other than I need the money and something to put on my CV. Other things being equal (which they aren’t), why would I even want to work in a law library?
I suppose I don’t actually feel capable of getting and doing a job like most people. There might be a bit of arrogance in there (“I’m above this”), but it’s mostly low self-esteem (“I can’t do this”) and the autistic feeling of, “I’m not like other people, I can’t function the way they can or in the environments they can.” Not everyone with autism feels like that, obviously, so maybe it’s mostly low self-esteem. I was supposed to be doing CBT to work on that, but the NHS seems to have forgotten me. I tried chasing them, but I got fed up sending emails that were not answered and leaving answerphone messages that weren’t returned.
I tried to follow the agency’s preparation instructions, but I froze up. The anxious/depressive “I can’t do this I can’t do this I can’t do this.” Trying to describe how I dealt with a difficult situation (a question which, with variations, has come up a lot for me), I can’t think of anything they would think of as difficult that I handled well. I can think of things I’ve found difficult that neurotypicals would not find difficult, or that I handled badly, or at least not well from an interview point of view (trying established procedures or asking a colleague or superior for help would not be viewed positively by people looking for initiative and adaptability (not very autistic traits) and the fact that some of my decisions were over-ruled by superiors is not great either). I don’t think I coped well with a difficult boss either; I don’t know how I would cope with difficult colleagues, as I’ve never had them, but I’m guessing it would be the same.
It’s hard to remember details from other jobs anyway. I’ve twice been asked in the past about my favourite library management system and failed to give a good answer. It’s the autistic/Sherlock Holmes “It doesn’t interest me so why should I bother to remember?” issue again. I could give them a detailed answer comparing my favourite Doctor Who writers.
Looking at the company website terrified me, the sense of this being a massive multinational law firm and I couldn’t cope with such a large and pressured environment as the job spec stated. When I applied for the job, I didn’t think I’d make it to interview, so I never thought I would really have to deal with this. I was just trying to reassure the agency that I am genuinely looking for a job and putting myself forward for things.
I feel a bit like Icarus. Once I was a high-flyer, but then I started falling, further than anyone had fallen before. It’s very hard to know what to do when your wings have melted. I suppose Icarus got what he wished for too.
Today I was feeling depressed even before the interview preparation email came through. As usual, I woke late, struggled to get going and prayed a very minimal amount of Shacharit (morning prayers). I cried a bit while doing so, I think more from frustration and perhaps despair as much as anything else. I feel OKish now, but the depression and anxiety come and go. This seems to be the “new normal” at the moment: bad mornings and days that are mostly good, but which have negative blips and low energy.