It is significantly cooler today (currently 21 degrees where it was in the mid-thirties yesterday), but I still feel very uncomfortable. I’m not sure how to tell if this is an autistic sensory overload thing or if everyone feels like this. It’s pretty still outside, which makes it feel hotter. I admit that I didn’t do much today because of the heat. I did some CBT homework (see below) and my usual pre-Shabbat (Sabbath) chores, but I couldn’t face any job applications, especially as the jobs I could apply for are really for someone more senior and experienced than me, so it’s hard to feel that I could get them. I did spend an hour working on my Doctor Who book and got another chapter sorted. I’m halfway through the fourth draft now.
I did some CBT homework today, forcing myself to speak to the assistant in a charity shop to ask for something in the window. I was so focused on the CBT social anxiety aspect that I probably bought some books I didn’t really need. They are on high functioning autism. One looks relevant, but the other is on autism in girls, so are probably less relevant, although they may help me to recognise useful childhood traits before my autism assessment, especially as I feel that in many ways I present as a woman with autism even though I’m a man, inasmuch as I have female-type traits (e.g. ability to “mask” and pass as neurotypical; interest in fantasy worlds as special interests rather than numbers or machines).
The CBT test was to see if I could ask for help without seeming incoherent. As it happened, I did struggle to make myself understood and had to point out the book I wanted physically, but I suppose that teaches me that I can be incoherent without people thinking I’m weird or not being able to communicate at all.
The task for tonight is to shake hands with the rabbi after the service, something I have avoided doing for months for fear I would be nervous and incoherent or shake or that I would be asked a personal question and appear weird or non-frum.
Going less well is challenging my negative thoughts with objective evidence. I think there is objective evidence that my negative thoughts are correct. I feel that there is evidence that CBT might not work for me i.e. my mixed results trying it in the past. I definitely feel there is objective evidence that I won’t get married: lots of autistic people struggle with relationships; ditto for people with long-term depression; I find it hard to talk to people; I avoid social situations; and I don’t know how to meet people like me (in terms of my personality, values and beliefs) within my community. I suppose some people with autism do get married and I have had girlfriends, but ultimately they had issues with me (different religious levels and my low income). I suppose a therapist would probably say to look outside the frum (religious Orthodox Jewish) community if I struggle to find a match within it e.g. at the online autism community, but I just can’t do that, so I’m not sure what to do. I don’t even know if I should be pushing myself regarding dating while I’m unemployed (my parents and rabbi mentor say yes, but I haven’t been able to face it for months).
I’m going to try to be out of communication over much of the weekend. Shabbat (the Sabbath) still finishes very late on Saturday night, but I need to be up early for volunteering on Sunday morning, so I’m going to try not turning my computer on at all on Saturday evening and just concentrating on getting to bed quickly. This might not happen if something super-stressful (or even moderately stressful) happens over Shabbat and I need to off-load. I will probably write something on Sunday, but if I’m tired from volunteering I should probably just crash in front of the TV for a couple of hours rather than spending that time blogging and going over everything in my head, but, again, if something stressful happens then I may need to off-load.
I’m not sure if I made the right decision to write about my novel project, as it is very early days still. I feel if I write about it, I have to follow through with it, which gives me accountability, but if I don’t manage to get it to work, I feel even worse than I would otherwise do. I was having “I can’t do this”-type thoughts this morning, which made me wonder if I’d made a mistake. We shall see.
I’m still not sure whether to skip seudah (the third Sabbath meal, in the synagogue). It would be less stressful for me and potentially less overloading, but as I would want to go to the prayer services either side of it, and as I would need to have a seudah at home instead, I’m not sure that there would be any benefit in rushing home, eating something quickly and rushing out again. Maybe I should skip Talmud shiur this week instead, even though it is less stressful and more useful. It’s easier to see that I overload myself with ‘peopling’ than it is to do something about it, especially while trying to challenge my social anxiety.