I’m struggling again today.  Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) might not start until sunset on Sunday, but it hit me that the Jewish autumn holidays really start today because of Shabbat (the Sabbath) being so close to Rosh Hashanah.  Sunday will really just be getting ready for Yom Tov (festival).  I just feel totally unprepared.  I had plans for how I wanted my new year to be, how I was going to improve and be a better person and a better Jew and hopefully receive divine mercy and have a good year, but right now I just feel a mess.  I don’t know how to change, I can’t see myself finding a new job or building a new career as a writer; I can’t see things working out with E. (or anyone else, for that matter); I can’t see myself fitting in to my religious community…  Everything just seems a mess.  I’m thirty-six, but I still feel like a messed up teenager.

I got up very late again and struggled to get going because I was feeling so depressed and exhausted, which makes me feel that I’m not going to make it to shul on Rosh Hashanah morning on time or at all.  That bothers me less for the religious aspect of missing davening (prayers) and missing the blowing of the shofar (ram’s horn trumpet) and more for what everyone else will think.  Last year people were concerned rather than judgemental, but I still worry about being judged.

Ashley Leia said on my last post that I’m dedicating a lot of my limited resources towards religious observance.  This is true, but I still feel that so much goes to other things.  I can justify job hunting and I can just about justify trying to write a novel, but I waste so much time on depressed procrastination.  It’s hard to tell realistically how much I could devote to Torah and davening and other mitzvot (commandments) and how much more I could or should be doing.  There isn’t, so far as I’m aware, an easy way of calculating this, not least because there isn’t an easy way of calculating, or predicting, my energy levels from day to day, or even from hour to hour.

Plus, a lot of my fear is not so much about what God thinks of me, but what other people in my community think of me.  It’s easy to say that I don’t care, but I do.  It’s the problem of invisible illness that no one knows is there.  I want to be accepted and liked by at least some people in my community.  My shul (synagogue) may not be ideal for me, but it’s the best option at the moment and I have to work with it.  Working with it includes at least trying to meet the standards of the community, in terms of communal prayer and Torah study.

As for other things, I feel I’m frittering my life away on procrastination.  I’ve done a bit of Torah study this week, but not much and no Talmud study for the first week in quite a while because I was feeling too depressed to concentrate on something so difficult.  I didn’t make it to shul this week.  I didn’t go jogging either.  I’ve hardly worked on my novel this week; having written a whole chapter which I then decided to bin, I’ve restructured my plan, but have only written a little bit more.  I managed to write about 350 words in under an hour today, which is OK.  I also discovered that fourteen years on, my memories of Oxford are fading; I had to google to check some student slang.

And that’s it, really.  I need to go now as Shabbat starts soon.  I want to do more, to write more, but I’m out of time.  Story of my life, really.

6 thoughts on “Pre-Rosh Hashanah Blues

  1. I can see you are having a particularly difficult time at the moment with depression and you are viewing everything through its distorted lens. Just wanted to encourage you to remember that you have had some productive and more positive days — you have completed your book, you have started writing another, and you have certainly worked hard on applying for jobs. I do believe that God looks on the heart and can see the real you and is full of mercy and compassion if only you could feel this! As for immediate returns on your writing … it is well known that creative people often have to wait a long time to be recognized and rewarded for their labour. I can think of so many examples. Try to be kind to yourself, think of how you would view someone in your position, and give yourself credit for persevering.


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