I just feel depressed and burnt out again after going out yesterday. I went to bed very late and slept beyond noon. This was not particularly good, especially as I need to be up relatively early tomorrow. My focus for today was getting to autism group this afternoon, at least for a while (more than the fifteen minutes I managed last time). There weren’t any library jobs to apply for, except for one that I’m not qualified for, so I didn’t need to feel guilty about neglecting the job hunt. I tried to work for a little while on my novel, beginning to write a detailed chapter breakdown, but I struggled to cope with depression and despair and ran out of time because I had to leave mid-afternoon to get to autism group, which is in town. I was determined not to arrive late after last time, when I arrived late and people were talking in little groups and I couldn’t join in. I would also need to leave early to get up early tomorrow, which was another reason for arriving on time.
I have a busy few days and am worried about being overwhelmed. Today was autism group, tomorrow I am seeing someone about volunteering, Thursday is CBT, Friday is sort of a quiet day for recovery, but is also erev Shabbat (day before the Sabbath), which means preparations and never quite enough time, even in the summer when Shabbat starts late. Friday night and Saturday are Shabbat, with all that entails and Sunday is the busiest day of all, with my other volunteering in the late morning/early afternoon and then a family barbecue at my sister and brother-in-law’s house. I am worried about getting overwhelmed long before Sunday.
I did at least manage to get to autism group. I felt rather uncomfortable, as the moderator was only one person I had seen before. Every time I go, it seems to be full of different people. I think there’s a quite rapid turnover of people. This makes it hard to build friendships. I did speak to a couple of people. I even initiated some conversations, as per my CBT homework, but I struggle to know what to say after, “I’m Luftmentsch, how are you?” and my conversations tend to peter out. One of my big problems, both with small talk and in job interviews, is giving very closed down answers to questions – answering the immediate question, but not going into detail or developing the topic or asking more questions. This is an autistic issue and I’m not sure that CBT can really help with it; I literally do not know what to say and find it easier to sit in silence, whereas I know neurotypicals who would rather say something obvious rather than let a silence continue. Sometimes I ask people at the group if they work, but I’m wary of saying that in case they’re unemployed (quite a few people in the group are) and don’t want to mention it. Maybe I’m being over-sensitive.
This is problematic at home too; my Dad in particular gets frustrated with my curt responses (although I do not intend to be rude) and tries to ask more questions, which I find intrusive or bizarre e.g. when I go to shul (synagogue) he often asks me how many people were there, which I used to find a bizarre thing to ask, as he doesn’t know the people and the answer can’t make any difference to his life; also I don’t count the numbers, so I usually say something like “A normal amount” which can’t mean anything to him. I know now that he’s just trying to show an interest in my life and fill the silence, but I still struggle not to sound irritated. (I know I try not to write about other people, but my relationship with my parents, while not bad exactly has been strained in recent months or even years. My Dad’s neurotypical way of talking and my autistic way of talking leads to a lot of needless bad feeling and I’m hoping by putting this here, someone might suggest something I can do. I don’t mean this to reflect badly on my Dad.)
The group moderator did try to include me in some conversations, but I’m not sure that it was really that good for me to hear that lots of people are struggling to find work, make friends and find a partner. On one level it is good to hear that, so I know I’m not alone, but if no one has any ideas for how to solve the problems, it just makes them seem more intractable and fuels anxious-depressive thoughts like, “I will never get a job/make friends/get married because I’m autistic.” The only practical solutions suggested were not helpful. I am already trying to widen my job search and contemplating switching sectors as suggested, without much success. With regard to dating, the idea that I should look for a friend rather than a partner and see what develops isn’t really workable for me, as there are minimal opportunities for men and women to meet socially in the Orthodox Jewish world. It’s mostly gender-segregated, other than formal dating opportunities (shidduchim/blind dates, singles events, speed dating (yes, speed dating was invented by an Orthodox rabbi!)).
I stayed for an hour, but that was all I could cope with.
I didn’t get the job I was interviewed for last week, the one at a weird place that I didn’t think would need a library. (It was a dance school. They had a small library.) They said that they picked someone with experience in a similar library. I don’t know if they were just being polite; I certainly felt I fared very badly in the interview.
Something I read online today just increased my belief that I don’t write in the appropriate way for contemporary Doctor Who fans, who are increasingly obsessed with viewing the programme through the lens of cultural studies theory and its source in left-wing identity politics theory (not my cup of tea). Hence, I doubt my book will find a publisher.
I feel lonely again. I’m glad I have E. as a friend, but feel wistful that we couldn’t make things work romantically. I don’t think anyone else could ever understand and accept me as much as E does, but in the end even E. couldn’t accept me as a potential spouse, so I doubt anyone else could. It’s depressing. I tell myself that I can’t face dating at the moment, both the risk of rejection and feeling of inadequacy that comes from being unemployed and having no career to speak of; from being depressed; from being probably autistic, but still in limbo regarding diagnosis; and from not being terribly well integrated into the frum community where I would be looking for a partner. It all seems overwhelming. Maybe in a few years, if I can somehow find a job or (more likely, difficult though that seems) get a novel written and published, things might be different…
9 thoughts on “Doomster and Gloomster”
My mom sometimes asks meaningless questions like your dad does. I don’t have any advice, though, as my response tends to be a snarky “Why do you care?”
Yes, it can be hard not to be snarky sometimes.
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E sounds like a good friend to have.
Yes, she is.
It doesn’t sound like the dance library thing was a good fit, so I hope you’re not feeling any great sense of loss over it. I admire your tenacity.
Yes, I was aware when I sent the application in that it probably wasn’t the place for me, and visiting it for the interview just reinforced that feeling.
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Always good experience for future interviews!
You ask for ideas re: managing strained relationship with parents. This may not just be down to your ASD but the fact that living with your parents as an adult can be difficult. And unfortunately, we often treat family members worse than other people because we know them well enough to risk being offhand with them! Is it possible to make things a little better by apologising later on? Just saying something like: “sorry I know I’m a bit irritable/quiet/unsociable … I’m not feeling great today” — might be very much appreciated. They are probably worrying about you. And have you thought of giving your father something about ASD in adults to read? This might help him to understand you better.
Thanks for this advice. I do try to apologise. I know I’ve put them through a lot over the years, not just with autism, but depression and religious OCD (which fortunately isn’t much of a problem any more). But sometimes it feels hollow apologising so much. Sometimes I can hear that the words coming out of my mouth sound much more irritable than I actually feel, but I don’t know how to sound less aggressive.
My parents went to a workshop for families of people on the spectrum a few months ago and I think that helped. My Mum certainly understands me a lot better, but I think my father has found it harder to internalise what they said.