I’ve been exhausted all day. I’m not sure how depressed I’m feeling. I struggle to understand my moods a lot of the time. It’s always hard to tell what I feel when I’m not ultra-despairing. I don’t think that I feel good or happy (I’m not sure that I really know what they would feel like), but I’m not sure if I feel mildly depressed or sort of neutral. I did wake up with religious OCD anxieties about Pesach (Passover), which isn’t for another seven months. This was partly the result something that happened recently, which I’m going to have to carefully sort out nearer the time, but I’ve been aware of the issue for a week or more and was able to shelve it for now; the fact that it’s suddenly leapt to the forefront of my thoughts is probably due to other stresses. At least the anxieties mostly subsided during the day.
I got another job rejection today. I did, however, finish painting my parents’ shed, assuming it dries evenly and doesn’t need a third coat (it seems OK so far). It used up whatever energy I had left, but it was the first thing I’ve actually done to earn in the last five months. Afterwards, I went to shul (synagogue) for Mincha and Ma’ariv (Afternoon and Evening prayers) afterwards, which may have been a tactical error as I was very tired. I managed twenty or thirty minutes of Torah study, which was more than I expected given how tired I was after painting, but because of all of this I had no time or energy to work on my novel.
It was a day for finishing things in other ways too. I finished reading
J, a surprisingly bleak conclusion from a novelist (Howard Jacobson) who insists he’s “the Jewish Jane Austen.” It’s a fairly laugh-free book, being about hatred and antisemitism. I am not sure I agree with Jacobson’s idea of Jewish identity as being mostly intellectualism and contrariness. I mean, that probably is a part of it, but he over-stresses it, here and in his non-fiction writings (in three separate essays, I’ve heard him say how disgusted he was with a rabbi and his family who invited him for Shabbat (Sabbath) dinner and spent the time talking about musicals rather than anything more intellectual which seems rather petty to me, going on about it so much).
I also finished reading a not-very-good Batman graphic novel (Bruce Wayne: Fugitive). Jacobson doubtless would not approve (this does get to mental health in a minute, I promise!). I went through a phase of reading a lot of Batman a few years back, off the back of the Christopher Nolan films. I liked many of the storylines from the nineties, but found more recent stories became disturbingly sadistic, with a lot of real world-type violence (people being tortured with power tools etc.) that I found out of place in an essentially fantasy setting (Batman may not be as obviously fantasy as Superman or The Flash, but it is a comic about a man who dresses up as a bat to fight insane master-criminals. I feel there’s quite a large of wish fulfillment fantasy in the premise). Plus, Batman, who is supposed to be The World’s Greatest Detective, hardly does any detecting any more. He just beats people up. Yawn. Watching the two Tim Burton Batman films a few weeks ago on a whim whet my appetite for the Dark Knight Detective, though, and I’m pondering what graphic novels to re-read from my collection or whether to try something new.
The reason I bring this up is that I realised I actually don’t like Batman much as a character any more. I like the characters around him (many of whom have not be presented on screen in detail or at all) a lot more. And I like the idea of Batman as someone who says he is a loner, but actually does have friends. That was actually one point that was handled well in the graphic novel I was reading, where he upsets all his friends by going it alone, but they still stick around because they care about him. I find that comforting, given that I am not good at making or, apparently, keeping my friends (having lost at least three over the last year and a bit).
Awkward: the Head of Employment for the charity I was volunteering for emailed to say he’s sorry I’m leaving and can he do anything to help? My parents think he’s offering to help with my job search, given his job is helping people with developmental issues into work and that he knows about my autism. I think he’s offering to help me stay at the charity somehow, which I’m not so keen on. I don’t know how to politely ask the question, so I’ve agreed to meet and will see what he says at the meeting.
Also awkward: at my parents’ behest, I emailed a couple of job agencies who seem to have forgotten about me. I hate doing stuff like that.
I’ve wanted to write something about my friendship with E. for a few days, but I wasn’t sure what to say. I also wanted to get her permission (given my experience a few months back).
I guess it’s a slightly weird relationship. The background is that we met online through my blog and live on different continents. We dated long-distance for a couple of months, but then we broke up, but stayed friends, because E. couldn’t see things working out while we both had emotional issues and financial problems (which has only got worse since then now I don’t have a job at all). But we still WhatsApp each other all the time. We do basically act like we’re long-distance dating even though “officially” we’re not.
E. does sometimes say I should be trying to look for a frum (religious Orthodox Jewish) wife in the UK, but I can’t really see it happening. Aside from my parents and my sister, I don’t think anyone cares for me like E. does and I think she understands me just as well as they do, maybe better in some ways. Plus, as I’ve said many times, I really don’t fit into the frum community in the UK and can’t see myself meeting anyone or getting set up with anyone any time soon.
Lately we’ve both been open with each other that we’d like to date each other again, but we can’t see it working at the moment. E. is scared of the financial/practical side of things (we can’t afford to support ourselves and neither of us is earning enough to be able to immigrate) and I’m scared that I’m so much more religious than E. (she said she would take on a lot of stuff if we got married, but I worry that that is not a good way to go about things, although lots of people do become frum that way).
Having been in therapy for so long in the past, I can put myself into the therapeutic mindset, and I just know that a good therapist would challenge this. S/he would say, “Are you sure it’s just money/religion you’re worried about?” Because I feel we probably are scared of the relationship on some level. I’ve only had one girlfriend before and have been lonely most of my adult life. E. has been through some difficult stuff too. Maybe we’re both scared of rejection, and maybe we’re both even more scared of acceptance. By which I mean, I’ve certainly got a strong self-image of being “not good enough” or “unlovable” and maybe E. is the same (she is in many ways the female me, which my first girlfriend really wasn’t). It is quite scary to think of being loved romantically, if that hasn’t really happened to you in the past.
It is frustrating that we can’t take the relationship further because of our financial situation/my job situation and the fact that we live on different continents. But I’m glad we do at least communicate so much. E. is super-supportive and encouraging when I’m depressed or anxious.
Related to this, I was thinking about the forthcoming Jewish festivals and what I want for the Jewish new year. I used to think I just needed to sort my mental health. If God would deal with that, everything else would fall into place. Now I realise that I need to daven (pray) for and work on so many things individually: mental health, career, community, friends, spouse… It’s like there’s no end to the things I need. I suppose, logically, or theologically, everyone needs to pray for all those things. It’s just that most people would need to pray for them to be maintained, not to start from scratch, only needing one or two things. However, I am trying not to get too depressed about things. Trying to use the CBT techniques I’ve been taught. Speaking of which, I have CBT tomorrow, so I should really get to bed…