I can admit now that I did manage to do a few things yesterday, even though it felt like a wasted day, but the result was total exhaustion and depression today. I got up late even by my standards today (12.30pm) and felt so depressed and exhausted that I was still in pyjamas at 2.00pm, admittedly partly from reading too much stuff online. Reading a blog post by a friend about the semi-academic book he has published about Doctor Who made me feel a bit useless in not being published and wondering if I ever will be published as well as feeling bad that I couldn’t cope with academia.
Ashley Leia encouraged me to focus on my values rather than “success.” I’m very familiar with values-focus from frum (religious Orthodox Jewish) dating books and articles. In theory it’s a good fit with Judaism, which is values-focused rather than achievement-focused we’re told that “God desires the heart” and that “the reward is according to the effort” rather than objective achievements. But I’m not sure what happens when I don’t live up to my values, as frequently happens.
On Yom Kippur (starting tomorrow evening, yikes), Jews confess their sins (to God, not to a human). There’s a set text that covers all possible categories of sin, and it’s all in the plural because there’s a degree of collective social responsibility; also so if you whisper too loudly and anyone overhears you they don’t know which sins you’re really guilty of. Still, I list specific sins I’ve done to add in privately. The list is reasonably short and certainly a lot of stuff on it is a result of my illness rather than intentional sins. On the other hand, there’s stuff that I’m deeply ashamed of that I do frequently, the whole year round and which is hard to blame fully on my issues. So I’m not sure where that leaves me, values-wise. I feel that I often fall short of my core values.
I did very little in the end today. I just felt too depressed. I tried to write an email to ask for work experience as a teaching assistant, but I procrastinated over it a lot. I got something down, but then my Mum said that her friend (who has been saying for ages that I should be a Jewish Studies teacher in a Jewish primary school) knows the deputy headteacher at a local Jewish primary school and can talk to her, which might be a better way of going making contact, but it will have to wait until after all the Yom Tovim (festivals).
The whole idea terrifies me and I’m really not sure that it’s the right thing for me to do. In fact, the idea of building a new career while I’m struggling to build another as a writer seems silly. I know I have to earn money before I finish writing my novel, but it seems bizarre to be cultivating two completely different careers at the same time, one I want and one I don’t want. But the whole “writing stuff for money” aspect of my writing career isn’t working out. Writing isn’t a problem; getting paid for it is.
I felt a bit better after dinner, so I decided to use what little time and energy I had on writing my novel rather than on Torah study (having managed fifteen minutes or so of Torah study today). I spent about forty minutes on it. It seemed to be flowing well, but I only wrote four hundred words, which was a bit disappointing. The low word count was perhaps because I’m introducing the characters and am having to spend a lot of time deciding what people and buildings look like and describing them, not things I’m good at (when I read a book, I usually don’t have a clear idea of how the characters look except in rare occasions when I “cast” someone as a character, either a famous actor or someone I know in real life). I’m also struggling to work out when to use and translate a Hebrew or Yiddish word and when to use it untranslated and hope the reader refers to the glossary I’m hoping to include at the back. I am glad to be working on the novel, though.
I wrote a big thing here about not fitting in sociologically as much as neurotypically, but I deleted it because it was too schematised. Still, it is true that when I read the news I often feel disconnected to the world. Not just political views, but the worldview that underlies them and says what is newsworthy. But I don’t fit into the frum (religious Orthodox Jewish) world properly either. I guess that’s why I want to write about people like me, because books/films/TV like that is in short supply, but also why I worry that books about people like me won’t sell. The secular people won’t connect with them, but a lot of the frum people won’t connect with them either. I also worry that if I write about (for example) a frum Jew with depression, people (frum and not frum) will read stuff into it and think that I’m saying that Judaism/the frum community causes depression or that coping with depression is worse in the frum community than elsewhere (in someways it might be, but that’s not really the point I’m making).
When anxiety meets social anxiety… I wanted to make a donation to my shul‘s Yomim Noraim tzedaka appeal (my synagogue’s High Holy Days charity appeal). The bank account number is different to the one to which I pay my membership fees. OK, so they have a separate account for regular expenses and charity fundraising. That’s sensible. But the sort codes are different too, which means it’s at a different bank. This probably isn’t particularly bizarre, but I’ve gone into a small panic wondering if my membership fees are going to the right place.
My parents say (a) if I wasn’t paying my fees, they would be chasing me and (b) email for clarification if I’m not sure, but I don’t want to appear an idiot by emailing. So now the anxiety of “Am I paying the right account?” is clashing with the social anxiety of “I don’t want to look like an idiot by asking if I’m paying the right account.” It’s not hard to think of reasons they might have two bank accounts with two different banks (e.g. to keep the account paperwork more clearly distinct; or because when the second account was opened, another bank was offering better terms), but I still worry. I know they changed accounts for their main account some time back, but I thought I sorted all that out correctly.
Tomorrow evening is the start of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, and the only fast day I’m actually allowed to fast on. I’m feeling somewhat apprehensive, both of the emotion of the day (awe, repentance, my difficult feelings about God at the moment) and the fact that fasting makes me quite ill (I usually feel faint and nauseous and get a headache by late afternoon; occasionally I actually throw up). The illness is probably not due to caffeine withdrawal, as it happened even at times of my life when I was drinking little caffeine, but I probably should have cut back a bit recently. Too late now. The problem is more likely to be dehydration; I try to drink more in the day before the fast, but end up just going to the toilet a lot in the early hours of the fast. I doubt I will have time to post tomorrow before the fast starts, so I’ll see you on the other side.