I didn’t have any insomnia yesterday. I didn’t use my light box either. Hmm. As I mentioned in the comments the other day, there does seem to be a correlation between light box use and insomnia, but I’m not sure if there’s actually a connection. I’m going to have to record this over time and see what happens.
I woke up incredibly exhausted and depressed, which didn’t surprise me after yesterday, but was still a shame. I got woken up at 10.30am by a call from the GP’s surgery saying my medical certificate for benefits was ready for collection, although I don’t think I’m still eligible to use it now I have a job, even if it’s only two days a week. I was sufficiently tired that I feel asleep for another hour or more, and still woke up exhausted and depressed. Apparently oversleeping can leave you as exhausted as undersleeping, if that’s a word, but when I’m depressed I don’t naturally wake up at a sensible time, and usually sleep through alarms if I know I don’t have a major reason to get up (e.g. work).
I felt super-anxious about the new job. I think over the winter break I need to think carefully about what I’m going to do on my first day and how I can go about reorganising the library, albeit that it’s hard to tell having only had a brief look around. Breakfast, coffee and my light box have helped with the exhaustion and depression, at least to some extent.
Feelings of self-hatred kicked in around the afternoon. I managed to do a few things: shopping and collecting the medical certificate, writing my devar Torah (Torah thought) for the week, a few other chores. I was fighting depression and exhaustion. The darkness, cold and wet outside didn’t help. I had no time to work on my novel in the afternoon and by the evening I was feeling tense from going out (noise, people, cold streets and hot shops) and all the odd chores I was trying to cram in before shiur. I decided it was better to use the evening to relax after shiur than work on the novel. I did go to my Dad’s shul (synagogue) for Ma’ariv and then on to shiur. I’ve started to do that, as my Dad’s shul is in the same road as the shiur, right afterwards, so it makes sense, but I felt super-tense while I was sitting in shul.
I did feel better in shiur, even if I still felt a bit out of place religiously. The shiur was about the Jews in exile finding sparks of holiness in the world and radiating holiness out to the world and I while I agree with those sentiments, I think I probably interpret them very differently to the rather Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) rabbi giving the shiur. I want to write novels with strong Jewish themes for a mainstream audience and I think he would not see that as a particular priority for a frum (religious) Jew to do and I don’t think he’d really approve of my reading and watching so much non-Jewish literature and television. I did eat too much junk food there. Feeling tense, it was hard to marshal much willpower, particularly when everyone else was eating so much and there was so much food.
As I’ve said before, most of the year went fast, but December is creeping round slowly and it feels like Chanukah will never get here. In fact, I’m so used to Chanukah not being at the same time as Christmas that I keep feeling like it’s been and gone, or that it isn’t happening this year. That’s partly because my family has scaled down the present-giving now my sister and I are older, and I’m still not sure how many doughnuts I should eat given that I’m trying to lose weight. My sister and brother-in-law are coming round to my parents’ house for the last night and my second-eldest cousin with be here for a few days too. It will be weird for her being in the UK, because she’s Israeli and almost no one celebrates Christmas there.
It’s weird to actually be celebrating something while people are celebrating Christmas, because usually 25 December is just a bank holiday to me (I often find work to do dafka). Increasing numbers of Jews volunteer at hospitals, homeless shelters and the like to let the non-Jewish staff stay at home with their families, which is nice, but I never summon up the courage against social anxiety to do that. Or people go to Limmud, the big multi-denominational Jewish`educational conference that is always around this time (although not usually on the bank holidays), but I get scared off by the sheer numbers there, and the unknown in going for the first time (autism and social anxiety again).
Invisible Sun by The Police is a song I sometimes listen to while depressed, even though it’s fairly depressing, on one level, and usually I prefer lively music when I’m depressed. It’s about people living in war zones (primarily inspired by the Lebanese Civil War as song writer Stuart Copeland grew up in Beirut), but it has an optimistic edge because it’s about the “invisible sun” that helps people in awful situations keep going and gives hope for the future, which seems relevant to mental illness even if that wasn’t the intention. Plus at the moment the sun literally is invisible most of the time, hidden behind clouds and only shining for a couple of hours a day even when not cloudy.
I was going to write some political stuff, but I can’t face. I did observe myself, though, and it’s strange how, as a historian (my undergraduate degree was in Modern History, although “Modern” in the Oxford syllabus means “post-Roman”!) I can see that both sides in a debate can be partly right and partly wrong, but as soon as I look at modern debates, it’s easy to get caught up in the partisanship and wanting one side to be completely right and the other completely wrong. And I’m not even a particularly partisan person: I don’t consider myself a supporter of any party, let alone being a member of one, and I feel rather politically homeless at the moment.