Well, one little excursion and a couple of small “alarum” bells.
I had a meeting with a charity that helps people with mental health issues into work. I was referred to them by my NHS CBT therapist. Most of the session was spent on form-filling and taking details, so I’m still not entirely sure how they can help me. I’m going again in two weeks time and hopefully will get a clearer idea of what they can offer me. I was offered help with job hunting motivation, which might be helpful, as I’m not feeling very motivated at the moment, but the sessions were on Friday afternoons, which is not good now that the clocks have gone back and Shabbat starts very early.
I had some communication issues there which may have been autism-related. There are some questions that people ask me a lot about libraries that I do struggle to answer well. This becomes a problem when I struggle to explain the type of work I want to do and the type of work environment I want to work in, as people are often unclear as to what librarians actually do these days. I did at least manage to explain why librarian skills are not easily transferable to working in a bookshop (not the first time that one has come up). I don’t know how much of this communication problem was autism making me struggle to communicate, particularly in a noisy, open-plan space, and how much was me struggling to understand the other person’s accent (which would also not have been made easier by noise and autistic issues).
The other things I did today were a bit of shopping, Skyping E. for about an hour (which was good) and thirty or forty minutes of Torah study. I feel frustrated that I didn’t achieve much, but I don’t really have much energy at the moment between my cold (which is lingering and turning into a cough), depression (which I’m guessing is lurking in the background even though it’s been displaced from consciousness by physical illness) and the onset of winter, which tends to make me want to hibernate. I have the type of depression that makes me want to hibernate generally, just to eat stodgy food and sleep and watch DVDs (OK, so bears don’t actually watch DVDs when they hibernate…), so winter just makes things worse. I did want to watch some TV today, but ended up online and also doing more Torah study than I expected to do, which was good.
I mostly keep my religious OCD under control, but sometimes it threatens to flare up. The OCD mostly focused on the Jewish dietary laws, particularly those requiring separation of meat and dairy products and utensils. Usually these days I can spot what’s a real issue and what’s OCD, but today there was something I thought was probably OK, but wasn’t sure about. It became a kind of meta-OCD question, where I moved from being anxious about whether the utensil in question was OK to being anxious whether I should ask the question or if that was giving in to the OCD. It’s a problem, as giving in to the OCD fuels it, making it harder to resist next time. In the end I did ask the question, but I am not sure that I did the right thing. I haven’t heard back yet.
My Mum chased my autism referral as we were worried that it has been ten months since I was referred and I have not heard a date for my assessment yet. The reply was that it takes twelve to eighteen months from the referral date, which was 18 January 2019, so we’re looking at an assessment sometime in the first half of 2020 which is a lot later than we were expecting (we were told eight months to a year and we thought the referral went through earlier, so we were expecting any time from September just gone to the end of this year).
I’m more realistic about the limitations of a publicly-funded health service than many people are, so I’m not furious about it being so late, although it is frustrating when my life feels on hold and I’m not sure how to understand my sense of identity, but I do wonder why they can’t be clearer about when it will be. If X is a finite and known number of people in front of me in the queue, and if the Maudsley Hospital can do Y number of assessments a day, then X ÷ Y = Z, the number of working days until my assessment. Call it the provisional date in case you want to cover sickness, unexpected emergencies etc. It is possible that assessments are not on a first in, first out, basis but are triaged (I think this is the case, thinking about it), so the date would be approximate, but it would be something. It would be good to know whether we’re talking January 2020 or June 2020.
My Mum has apparently gone with the triage option too, as she just sent an email asking for me to be seen ASAP, given my depression and the way that the uncertainty is making me more anxious and depressed. It is true that I feel a lot of uncertainty, both over what I can do with my life and what it means for me if I’m on the spectrum and, especially, what it means if I’m not on the spectrum. I’ve become convinced that I am on the spectrum, but given the whole story of my previous assessments, sometimes I worry that I’m not on the spectrum and I feel that if I’m not then I’m just a useless person who has totally failed at building a career and building relationships and friendships.
More books: I popped into a charity shop on the way home to look at their books and DVDs. I do this sometimes to de-stress, as browsing through books calms me. I thought of buying The Plot Against America by Philip Roth, which is a book I’ve wanted to read for a while and I could afford to pay £1 for it, but I have become worried about my habit of buying books faster than I can read them (usually second-hand and cheaply, as in this case, but it still seems a waste), and I feel the cumulative effect of my impulse/bargain purchasing does could add up while I’m unemployed. Maybe that’s not such a worry as I once estimated my book spending amounted to about £1 a week, which isn’t much, but I feel I shouldn’t really be buying anything inessential at the moment. I also thought the book would be a difficult, heavy, depressing read as it’s an alternate history story where Franklin Roosevelt is defeated in the US presidential election by Charles Lindburgh, the latter standing on an antisemitic, pro-Nazi, isolationist platform. I was going to write a satirical joke here about the book and contemporary politics, but actually it’s all too depressing to joke about it.