I’m feeling really depressed again.  I went to bed really late (gone 2.00am) because I had a small burst of energy and not-feeling-awful and did a load of stuff (working on my novel, Torah study, enquiring about a job).  I then slept for ten hours and woke up feeling exhausted and depressed again.  I’m concerned about managing to get to my “second career” conference on Wednesday, especially as I’ll be out late on Tuesday at shiur.

I spend ages procrastinating online, probably because I want to connect with people and to read interesting ideas, but I’m too scared to actually reach out to people or get scared off by the abusive commentariat on “free for all” sites like Twitter, so I read intelligent sites that don’t have comment sections like Unherd and Tablet Magazine.  I don’t know if I’d be willing to interact about religion; the Jewish blogosphere seems to have mostly died or moved to Facebook, so it’s somewhat academic.  I read some mental health blogs and sometimes feel I can connect, but mostly I end up posting here on what was described as my “whiny, self-obsessed blog.”

I went back to bed for an hour after breakfast.  I do this quite a bit.  I tend to think of it as being a depressed thing about not wanting to face the day, but I think it’s also an autistic thing.  Like a lot of people on the spectrum, I like feeling wrapped up tight in my duvet and find that comforting and reassuring.  I think going back to bed in the daytime lets me do that as an autistic comforting thing as well as just withdrawing from the day.  I did just manage to daven Mincha (say Afternoon Prayers) in time (the sunset deadline was 4.07pm today).  This looks set to be another winter where I barely see the sun.

***

I finished the benefits form I was filling in.  It was easier than I expected, as I don’t have to list my medical condition at the moment.  There’s another questionnaire for that later.  I’m dreading that one already.  It’s so hard to make clear how my life is impacted by depression.  If I say “I’m always tired, I can’t get up in the morning, I have negative thoughts about myself and the world, I have no energy, I can’t concentrate, I have no motivation to work…” well, almost everyone feels like that about work.  The difference is that I feel like this on days when I don’t work too, but they don’t ask about that and they certainly don’t pay you benefits for not being able to relax.

Now I need an appointment at a Jobcentre to go through the form and see if I’ll be allowed [sic] to go further with the application.  I also need an appointment with my doctor to get a medical certificate/sick note.  I don’t have one of these as I’ve been out of work for so long, and in my last two jobs I either didn’t mention my illness and hid it (not good, it probably made me worse) or had an informal conversation with my super-understanding boss (I wish that job had lasted longer than three months, but there wasn’t the budget to make it permanent).

***

Over dinner I spoke to my parents again about tutoring.  Yesterday they spoke to one of their friends who tutors teenagers for maths and who may be able to give me some ideas about tutoring.  I’m worried I’m going to essentially have to study again to do it.  I could probably do English language and literature without too much effort; a lot of it is about spelling, grammar, paragraphing, structuring an argument, creative writing and so on that you either know or you don’t.  I could read up on a few set texts; to be honest, as I’ll be marking and giving feedback, not writing the answers myself, I probably won’t need to know the texts that well.  Tutoring history would be harder though, despite it being my BA subject because my BA was a long time ago and, in any case, history is so vast that one can study a lot of history and still have significant gaps.  When I did A-Levels, the curriculum my class did focused on nineteenth century British domestic social change (public health, public education, female franchise etc.) and post-Napoleonic European political history down to World War II, although everything post World War I seemed a bit rushed, or maybe I just wanted to focus on the earlier section.  I just looked up contemporary curricula, and they can cover different periods, with stuff I haven’t learnt either at A-Level or university; to be honest, I’m not sure how much I can remember of what I have studied.  How much detail would I have to remember and how much would it be a case of making sure that my students can structure their answers properly and respond to gobbets of text in the appropriate way?  I’m not sure.

***
Scrolling through my WhatsApp contacts, I see I still have details for someone who I dated years ago and who dumped me pretty darn quickly when I told her I had mental health issues.  Her userpic is now a wedding photo, and her husband looks super-frum (black hat), which makes me wonder why she was willing to date someone like me.  I mean, it’s good for her that she’s married and in a way it proves that she wasn’t right for me, but I’m not sure what it leaves me feeling.  Not really envious and despairing the way it once would because I’ve given up most hope of getting married.  I think E. is the only person who could accept me, and possibly one of very few people who I could accept, but that doesn’t look like going anywhere any time soon and I’m not even going to bother looking for anyone else while I’m unemployed and this depressed.  I just wish I could cope with things better in the meantime.  I mean cope with loneliness and celibacy and worrying what will happen when my parents aren’t here to look after me, particularly if I never work full-time (or learn to drive, a bigger thing than most people realise, or remember from their teenage days).

***

I did manage to work on my novel for about an hour.  It was admittedly interrupted by online procrastination and blog commenting, but I wrote about 500 words, which is my target for one hour.  I also managed about thirty or thirty-five minutes of Torah study.  This all seemed impossible when I woke up today, as I struggled to get going and when I had lunch and tried to do things in the afternoon.  I guess this is positive, but I wonder if I do not push myself too hard sometimes, ridiculous though it seems to say that.

8 thoughts on “Another Difficult Day

  1. Since at least one of the diagnoses that your doctor is going to put on the sick note is depression, obviously what you put on your form about how the illness affects you is going to be consistent with depression. And the things you mentioned are reflective of depression.

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  2. Could you consider getting someone who knows you well to check over your subsequent benefit form as another perspective often helpful. I know so many people who don’t get the benefits they should get because of the way they fill out these forms. Apart from depression you could also mention anxiety, social anxiety, OCD and the undiagnosed but probable ASD (based on the initial screening)– you could say this and put “awaiting confirmatory diagnosis” and state that you have been referred to the Maudsley.

    And on a totally separate issue, what stops you from learning to drive? Is it the cost or it is anxiety? And have you ever had driving lessons?

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    1. I will probably get my parents to check the form. In the past I’ve disagreed with them about benefits forms, because I feel I should be very accurate whereas they feel – not that I should exaggerate, but that I should stress how I feel on my worst days rather than my “averagely bad” days.

      The OCD doesn’t affect me in the workplace, but the anxiety does. The ASD is something that in the past I wouldn’t mention until it was confirmed, but maybe I should mention here.

      Interesting question about driving. When I was a teenager, my response to the thought of driving lessons was “I’m too busy studying for A-Levels/my degree.” Then it was, “I’m too depressed to do it.” I think there probably is a lot of anxiety about driving. I’ve always been anxious about having an accident if I was driving (I used to be OK as a passenger, but I’m a lot less so now. My parents have had a number of accidents in the last few years, including one where I was a passenger and which has led to a court case and I can sometimes get quite nervous in the car as a passenger now). I’m also not sure how easy it would be to drive with ASD. Some people on the spectrum do drive, but I worry my difficulties with spatial awareness and multitasking would make it difficult/dangerous.

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  3. The NAS website has an interesting page on ASD and driving. I have several friends with ASD who are good drivers. There’s also a link to a website where you can locate a disability trained driving instructor near you (and this is not just physical disabilities). Having a few lessons might tell you straight away if you can drive or not. And as for multi tasking — driving becomes pretty automatic once you have learned (like playing the piano). People with ASD often good a hyperfocussing — think of all the different skills you have to hone to paint your models — that is a form of multi-tasking as it involves co-ordination, decision making, planning ahead and focus — all good for driving. (You would probably not be a driver who listens to the radio while driving though!) And finally, did you know that people can drive with one eye? Their spatial awareness and visual field may be compromised but they can still learn to drive well. Sometimes people choose to drive within their limitations as well — I know many drivers who choose not to go on motorways for example. And automatic cars make driving even easier — I’d always recommend a late or nervous learner to go for automatic. You might find driving opens up options for you which could be useful so I’d encourage you not to dismiss it entirely.

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      1. It’s not illegal, to the best of my knowledge. I had a friend with one eye who drove quite well. I’m not sure why you’re concerned about your inability to multitask, though. I’m the same way–can’t multitask at all–but you’re not supposed to multitask and drive. You couldn’t pay me enough to, say, drive and use a cell phone at the same time. Unless by multitasking you mean adjusting the car radio? I even drove Mother somewhere recently, and I told her, “No talking until we get there,” so I could focus on the road. (Did she obey me? Of course not, but that’s beside the point.) Trust me, the safest drivers out there are the ones who aren’t multitasking at all!!

        Spatial awareness is a tough issue, but I’ve got awful spatial awareness too. The best tip is: never parallel park unless you’re hardpressed to find other parking. As a beginning driver, I’d simplify it and try to avoid parallel parking for a while.

        Keep it simple and avoid any directions that involve having to turn left onto a busy street without the benefit of a green light (i.e., from a stop sign instead of a traffic light). I’ve been driving for years, and I still refuse to engage in that driving maneuver. And that’s completely okay. And yeah, I’d take some lessons, ’cause that’s what worked for me.

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      2. Yes you can drive with one eye but only a non commercial vehicle. I have only one functioning eye and I drive. (And I am probably the world’s most nervous driver — passed on my 3rd attempt but not before they had to get the tape measure out because I had difficulty passing the number plate test. Since then I have had regular sight tests and am told I am still OK to drive!) And for the record you can also drive with only one functioning arm — though you need a steering wheel adaptation. You’d be amazed to see who is driving. Some of the safest drivers have disabilities — they tend to be more careful than the average overconfident able bodied person.

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