Today I spent somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half working on my novel and made good progress, writing over a thousand words for the first chapter. I also cooked dinner and managed fifteen minutes of Torah study. However, I didn’t manage to do more Torah study or to go for a walk, so I feel a bit disappointed. I would have liked to write for longer too, although I ran out of both time and energy/brainpower. It is hard to cope with the fact that even on days when I seem ‘well,’ my energy levels can be significantly lower than most people’s. It makes thoughts about working or even volunteering that much harder.
I had an anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach earlier. I’m pretty sure that it’s nerves about volunteering tomorrow. I had a similar feeling every Sunday when I was at secondary school and university. In those days I didn’t understand my feelings so well and was not entirely aware that it was anxiety. I think I did and didn’t realise what it was; I knew I was not looking forward to the working week, but I don’t think I felt that I had Anxiety with a capital A. I had the same feelings on the way to school every morning when I was in my mid to late teens, in retrospect the first sign that my mental health was not great, although we (me and my doctor) did spend fruitless time looking for physical causes of this and other symptoms (disrupted sleep, always the first symptom of any emotional upset in my life).
Despite this, I always insisted to adults that I liked school, mainly because I felt I was the sort of child who should like school. I think I really did like school; it was just the other students who I didn’t like, mostly because many of them were so unpleasant to me.
I associate the anxious feelings particularly with dusk and evening in the autumn and winter, which I guess is where we are heading. School and university were not limited to those times, but somehow Sundays in the summer were less anxiety-provoking because they were lighter. I like autumn and winter in the abstract, but the lack of light and the miserable weather (discouraging exercising) contribute to lower mood every year. Almost all my episodes of depression have started in the autumn or early winter and I worry that I can already feel the gains I’ve made in recent months slipping through my fingers as sunset gradually creeps earlier.
Plus, there are Jewish festivals that mark the big seasonal changes of the year that are difficult for me. Pesach (Passover) at the start of spring can trigger OCD (although thankfully I was OK this year), while the many festivals in the month of Tishrei in the autumn can be difficult with depression, social anxiety, autism and, to a lesser extent, OCD again. To be honest, Chanukah and Shavuot are the only Jewish festivals that aren’t difficult for me in some way because of my mental health or autism and it’s probably no coincidence that those are the ones with the fewest rituals to perform and the least emphasis on shul (synagogue) attendance.
I have an other, big, issue that is on my mind at the moment (in addition to my struggles to find work and a publisher for my Doctor Who book) so I really feel that the summer is over and, if I’m not careful, depression will be back.