I just stopped following a site I was occasionally reading. It was for ba’alei teshuva (Jews raised non-religious who became religious later in life). I thought it would be good to find people who share my struggles, but they seem to be on a much higher spiritual level than me. The article that made me give up said that “as long as a person remains outside the world of closeness with Hashem [God], he will never attain it [closeness to God]”. One is supposed to have trust in God and in genuine Torah leaders to attain this. It concludes “If the reader is still doubtful at this point about the words here, then there is no proof we can bring to convince him otherwise. But one thing we can ask of him: For your own sake, and for the sake of the Jewish people, and for the sake of giving your Creator a satisfaction, cry to Hashem every day, hour after hour, and ask Him that he guide you to the truth. If a person really begs Hashem for this, and if he really wants it, Hashem will surely help him get to the truth, that he be able to give a nachas ruach (satisfaction) to Hashem all his life.” I do at least try to cry out to be guided to the truth, despite the depression and exhaustion. Maybe I don’t cry out enough or good enough or I don’t really want it. Maybe, after everything I’ve been through over the years, I don’t believe that things will get any better for me, or that God wants things to be any different for me. That God created me for anything other than suffering and punishment. I don’t know. But I don’t feel satisfaction or love in my life. Apparently if I loved God, I wouldn’t care about being so lonely among people (perhaps – the article actually said that I would give up lust, which may not be the same thing). I wish I could, but it’s not working out for me.
(I also don’t think we can give HaShem “nachat ruach/satisfaction” and that statements in the Talmud and other authoritative texts to the contrary are “speaking the language of man,” but this is me being Maimonidean and is not the main issue (we can’t give satisfaction to God, because this would imply that God has a lack that we can fill, which is not possible).)
My issue isn’t really this post, it’s the entire outlook of the site which is super-frum (religious) and Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) and negative about the wider world and assuming that everyone is on a high spiritual level, which I am not. I wish I was on the level of the writers and commenters for this site, but I am not. I wish I could find people on my level and going through things I am going through to support me, but I can’t. I suspect someone who has been frum for as long as I have isn’t supposed to still be struggling with basic things like davening (praying) and studying Torah every day.
On frum sites like that one, one thing you hear a lot is, “HaShem doesn’t give anyone a test they can’t cope with.” I don’t think I’m coping with my tests. Maybe I’m just lazy or wicked, but I don’t feel like I’m coping with autism, unemployment, loneliness or especially depression at all well. The book Calling Out to You (on depression and anxiety from a frum perspective) did at least say that “coping” is not the same as “functioning normally as if there was no test” and that it’s OK to be sub-par when depressed or anxious. That helps a bit, but I don’t feel like I’m coping at all. I feel that every frum site I come across does this to me sooner or later, leaves me feeling wicked and distant from God and other Jews, who apparently don’t have the issues I have.
I do wish I could find a forum for talking with other frum Jews who have these kinds of issues (mental illness, autism, trouble trusting God because of childhood experiences etc.). I was looking at a frum forum for another issue in the hope that some ideas would transfer or I would see some commonalities, but I couldn’t connect with the attitudes there. They were just frummie attitudes that I can’t imitate.
I felt depressed this morning and while I felt a bit better after lunch, once I tried to do some interview preparation for tomorrow, my mood worsened. I looked over my notes on ‘classic’ interview questions. I still doubt my ability to answer them fluently under pressure. So much depends on feeling confident in the interview despite social anxiety and responding promptly to unexpected questions despite autistic slow processing time.
It’s hard to do anything at the moment and I wonder what will happen if I do get a job. I am largely caught up in depression and loneliness and struggle to be able to do anything. I try to find small tasks (go for a walk, do thirty minutes of Torah study, write a job application for an hour), but it can be hard to do anything. I just went for a walk and did some shopping and I became completely exhausted, even though I was only out for forty-five minutes. (Low blood sugar may have been a contributory factor, to be fair, but it wasn’t that long since lunch.) The job I’m up for tomorrow is full-time and I don’t have a clue how I would cope with that.
It’s tempting to say I just want to watch TV all day, but I don’t think I do. That would show too much initiative, motivation and concentration. I don’t really want to do anything at all. I just have to exist, somehow.
The thing that scares me is being like this forever. I already know that I’ve lost much of my teens, my twenties and half of my thirties to depression. I feel like I will never have any joy in my life, having lost what are considered the most carefree and enjoyable years. Even if I fully recovered, I would be struggling for years to establish myself in a career and to build friendships and relationships, all the things normal people do in their youth and twenties before moving on to build families and taking their career to the next level, things that I will probably never get around to doing. And people have fun when they’re young. I didn’t and now I feel that I never will. It’s all very well saying that true spiritual joy will substitute for fake secular joy, but I’m not getting either.
(The next two paragraphs are about TV science fiction, past and present, so feel free to skip if that’s not of interest.)
I’ve been watching Star Trek Discovery lately. I’m about of a third of the way through season one. It’s very good, probably the best Star Trek since the best days of Deep Space Nine, but it is very, very bleak, full of gore and unpleasant, hard-bitten characters. It is also more an action series than a science fiction one. I have never been particularly interested in Klingon culture and wonder why the writers of Star Trek in all its iterations, have been so fascinated by language them. I would like to see more of the Vulcans.
When I need some non-bleak TV, I’ve been re-watching random episodes of The Avengers and The New Avengers – the British, John Steed and Emma Peel Avengers, not the Marvel one. I’ve been mostly watching The New Avengers, which most fans don’t like. I actually like the first season of The New Avengers (although the second one is mostly not good), possibly because I actually saw some of The New Avengers before the original series, so I’m more nostalgic about it. It’s cheerier than Discovery at any rate.