I didn’t get the job I was interviewed for last week. No surprises there. I did send another job application today. Having finished it, I spent some time working on the chapter of fiction I’m still somewhat experimentally writing. It went well for a while, but my energy slumped mid-afternoon, as it often does, and I couldn’t pick it up again later because I went out in the evening (see below). It is very hard work. Writing isn’t usually this draining for me. But it is rewarding. Of course, it’s easy to say that at the moment when no one else has seen it and I’ve barely glanced at what I’ve already written as I press onwards.
I did also try to write an article to pitch to one of the Jewish newspapers, but I found myself struggling to know what to say. I want to talk about my experience of living with depression and autism in the frum (religious Jewish) community, focusing primarily on the practical ways that simple tasks, particularly communal involvement, are very energy-draining for me and using spoon theory as a way to make this concrete to an non-disabled audience, as I feel this is an aspect that is not often discussed. I was assuming a word count of about 700 words. This was an estimate/guess, as none of the newspapers I wrote to for submission guidelines sent me any. 700 words seems too short to say anything meaningful about chronic illness in general, especially as I know nothing about chronic physical illness (for comparison, I think my blog posts are normally 1,500 – 2,000 words). However, it is difficult to write a personal piece with such a small word count without sounding completely self-obsessed, or relating it very narrowly to depression and autism. Maybe that is the way to go, though.
I have switched my blog to “Hidden”, so it won’t usually turn up on internet searches, which gives me some more privacy. I was half tempted to make it private, so only certain people can read it, but my experience is that if you make something password protected, most people you give the password to won’t read it. Also, although it’s not the primary aim of my blog, I do like “meeting” people with similar issues through my blog, even if it can end badly sometimes, especially as I know from experience that there’s almost nothing out there about having high functioning autism in the frum community. And I do need the positive feedback sometimes, otherwise I lose faith in my writing.
In the evening I went to a panel discussion on Jewish philosophy in the twenty-first century at the London School of Jewish Studies. It was interesting and could have been longer. LSJS classes used to be two hours with a fifteen minute tea break halfway through; nowadays they seem to be an hour and a half with no break. I suspect this may be an economy measure, to cut back on tea bags and biscuits. In a way this is good, because I was always too nervous to mingle and talk to people in the tea break, but it’s also bad, because I don’t get pushed out of my comfort zone to talk to people.
I often end up feeling inadequate at the LSJS, partly because of “Jewish Geography” (people in the class always know each other, which makes me feel left out; actually, I knew one or maybe two people there today, but was too shy to talk to them), partly because I always feel that I should have done a PhD and become an academic, as I might have done if it hadn’t been for my mental health (my excuse for everything). The LSJS is more Modern Orthodox than my shul (synagogue) and I feel more at home hashkafically (in terms of outlook), although the average age is usually fifteen or more years older than me. Actually there were a few people who looked around my age, but I am too shy to talk to people. This is why I am single and have almost no friends. I wonder if there are Facebook social groups for frum Modern Orthodox Londoners? But I don’t want to go back on Facebook.
I was able to follow the discussion, which was something of a relief, as I haven’t read much Jewish philosophy lately. It largely focused on the subjects of the panelists’ recent books: Levinas and animal ethics; Judaism and postmodernism; and the unlikely similarities between Nietzsche and Rav Soloveitchik, which are all things that interested me (I’ve read a little Levinas and quite a bit of Rav Soloveitchik and engaged with postmodernism). I scurried off quickly at the end, as I usually do. I wish I was confident enough to talk to other audience members or the panelists, but I don’t have the confidence to do that and doubt I would have much interesting to say.
I struggled to switch off my internal monologue and listen. This usually happens at lectures. I feel conscious of everyone else, conscious of my thought processes, fitting new information into known information, making connections. Trying to feel clever and not inadequate. On the way home, I couldn’t shake the feeling that everything I do other than writing feels fake, or at least affected. Like I’m playing a role, and playing it badly. Maybe I’m playing at writing too. It’s just the words in my head seem more real than anything outside my head and writing is the only way of bridging that gap because I can’t talk anywhere near as coherently and fluently as I write.