Today was a day when I struggled to do anything, primarily because of feeling depressed, but the heat didn’t help. I feel lonely and rather depressed. I feel that there’s no way out for me. I want to work, but I can’t find a job that I feel capable of doing any more, so low has my self-esteem fallen from the problems I’ve had working over the last year or two. I’m acutely conscious of living off my parents, of the fact that even when I was working, I was never earning enough to be self-sufficient in London, but I don’t know what to do about it. I want to write, but I don’t know how to sell my writing. I want to get married, but I can’t see a woman wanting to marry an unemployed autistic depressive. I feel I’m never going to be able to afford to live in a community that is right for me religiously, if there even is such a community, at least in the UK (which I doubt). I worry about losing my few remaining friends; I don’t seem to be able to balance the right amount of contact and opening up. I either don’t see people at all for months on end and/or don’t tell them much about my emotional life or else I overload them with my issues. I’ve never managed to work out this balancing act.
Lots of writers were rejected a lot before being published, I know. Stephen King’s first novel was rejected by thirty publishers. Then he threw the manuscript in the bin. His wife fished it out and sent it to another publisher, who published it. I don’t think I have enough self-esteem to send something thirty-one times.
The world suffocates me. It’s insane. Actually insane. Everyone agrees it’s insane, they just disagree on what bits are insane and should be changed and what bits still have some sanity and should be kept. Like Rebbe Nachman of Breslov’s parable about the objectively totally imperfect chandelier which everyone subjectively thinks has some good features and some bad ones, but no one can agree which is which, depending on their own flaws, everyone thinks the world should be changed “in accordance with how I think, which is objectively true.” I don’t want to change the world any more. I just want to run away before I get corrupted, killed or divine insane. This is not very Jewish. We are supposed to change the world for the better.
Like Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah), I want to leave the world and run an inn in the wilderness. OK, not literally an inn in the wilderness, but to get away from things. When I was dating E. we joked about getting married, living in the countryside somewhere, growing our own food, home-schooling our children and writing. That’s not a terribly feasible dream, sadly. Anyway, to be frum (religious Jewish) one has to live with other people, to belong to a community. If one is looking for a group of frum Jews to live with in a rural setting away from civilisation, you rapidly end up living in a settlement on the West Bank, which I have no intention of doing for a whole host of reasons. There may be some religious kibbutzim in Israel proper, but I’m not sure that there are many. The kibbutz way of live proved not really sustainable.
I doubt I could really cut it as a farmer anyway, getting up at 4.00am to milk the cows or whatever.
I just feel that I can’t find a way to live in the world, rather than just existing. I feel that maybe I am a religious person after all, deep down, but I don’t have an outlet for my religious feelings that isn’t blocked by depression, social anxiety or autism. Not for the first time, I wish I could make Talmud study my autistic special interest, or even just be able to do it. I wish someone had noticed when I was at school that I was somewhat different and had helped guide me in how to function in a neurotypical world, but when I was growing up, high-functional autism was unknown and I suspect that few rabbis would have the insight to guide someone like me to an appropriate religious path even today.
In one of the essays in Halakhic Morality, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik speaks of the need of everyone to develop their own unique religious style. As I recall (it’s a while since I read it), he says to do this by spending time with a religious mentor, observing how they act in life in general. That’s not really an option for me, although one of my big regrets about not having gone to yeshiva (rabbinical seminary) is not having met great Torah scholars and tzaddikim (saintly people). I do wish someone could guide me, though. If I was more Haredi (like the people in my shul (synagogue)?) maybe I would try to take my problem to a gadol (great Torah scholar) and see what his da’at Torah (quasi-supernatural insight from years of studying Torah) is, but I’m sceptical of the existence of da’at Torah, at least in the quasi-supernatural sense, and I don’t believe that scholars have supernatural insight into non-halakhic (non-legal) life problems. I would like to find my “way” though, somehow.
I didn’t feel able to apply for any jobs today, even though there’s one closing on Wednesday that I should apply for, although I’m fairly sure I won’t get it. I just couldn’t face filling in another form.
In terms of actual achievements today, I went for a half-hour walk and managed about half an hour of Torah study. I wanted to do much more, but ran out of time, which is another way of saying I prioritised other things, like my book, over it, which I probably should not have done. It was at least Talmud study. My shul seems to have stopped studying (“learning”) one page of Talmud together a week; we still have the weekly Talmud shiur (class), but we only do a couple of lines in depth rather than trying to cover a whole page. I find this vaguely disappointing, although I can sort of see why they want to study in depth, because I often don’t understand the text when covered quickly (not that I always understand when it’s covered in depth, to be honest). I’m trying to keep going with one page a week at home, but it’s going to get harder as I drift further away from the community and when the passages become more halakhic (legal) and complicated, as at the moment I’m in a stretch of primarily aggadic (non-legal) material, which is easier to understand, at least on a superficial level.
The other big thing I did today was start work on the fourth draft of my Doctor Who book, which will hopefully be the draft I will try to get published. I’ve decided that, since my friends stopped talking to me, there isn’t really anyone I can ask to read some of it, as my other fan friends are super-busy, so I might as well get on with it. I pruned about 650 words from the introduction to get it under 1,000 words, which is good as I think the book as a whole is too long. I wanted to go on to the first chapter, but it was later than I intended and the rewriting took longer than expected so I left chapter one and instead formatted the introduction to go to a publisher (although the notes I have on manuscript format are really for magazine publishing, so this may be wrong), sorting out the title page for good measure.
I do feel good that the fourth/final (hopefully) draft is started, even though I will probably need to do at least one extra draft on the final chapter (on the most recent series), which might entail viewing those eleven episodes again. I hope to get this all done in about three months, to be ready to start submitting at Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year). I need to revise about five chapters a month to meet that target.
It is hard to do anything when I feel so lacking in motivation and concentration, so pessimistic about being able to do anything, and depressed and lonely. I originally wrote “mildly depressed”, but I don’t think that’s true. At times I’m mildly depressed, but at other times, particularly in the mornings and sometimes at other times during the day (e.g. tired, low blood sugar or after triggers) I can be more than mildly depressed.
Depression is… watching Star Trek Discovery while eating dinner and suddenly wanting to burst into tears and I don’t know why.