I didn’t mention a dream I had the other day when I was doing my Mum’s job and doing it well. I wouldn’t do my Mum’s job in real life because it’s very much a people person job that I would not cope in due to autism and social anxiety. I don’t know if doing it in the dream was a sign of anxiety that I feel out of my depth with my new job as if it was my Mum’s job, or of confidence that I can do it like I did the dream job. If my unconscious wanted to tell me something, I wish it would speak more clearly.
I led Mincha (the Afternoon Service) in shul (synagogue) on Friday. I shook badly again, but somewhat less severely than last time and I was able to have a bit of kavannah (mindfulness, concentration) on the meaning of the Hebrew words this time, so at least the trend is good. I don’t think anyone noticed the shaking, but someone said something to me that I could only half hear that could have been about it. I’m not sure. It took me about fifteen or twenty minutes to feel calm again afterwards. Gone are the days when I could lead Mincha without breaking a sweat and step down from the bimah afterwards feeling fine. Blame my olanzapine for making me shake when nervous, plus I feel less at home and secure in this shul than in the one I grew up in.
I enjoyed the long winter Shabbat evening, doing Torah study, meditation and recreational reading. I finally got in to the novel I’m reading (a re-read of A Perfect Spy, a semi-autobiographical bildungsroman disguised as a spy novel by John le Carré, which I read for the first time about twenty years ago), which I’ve been trying to read all week without much success. I went to bed early and had mild insomnia, but was probably asleep by 12.30am or so. I did still sleep through the morning and missed shul. It’s still hard to unpick why I can’t get up for shul: is it depression, social anxiety, or an unconscious rejection of the community or at least discomfort with it… ? Consciously I want to go, but obviously a part of me very much does not want to go, and sabotages things week after week.
There was no second Mincha today, so by missing morning shul I missed that too. There was no Talmud shiur (class) either, although it was replaced with another shiur which was OK, but not great being somewhat lightweight and unfocused.
I’ve had a worsening of OCD symptoms lately, some religious OCD (about the Jewish dietary laws), but most non-religious. I’m wary of talking about it here because of what people might think of me, as it sounds pretty crazy, but I basically worry that I’ll commit a crime without realising it and get arrested. I know this is rooted in guilt about stuff I do which is not by any means illegal, but is against Jewish law. No one can arrest me for breaking Jewish law, so my guilty conscience imagines that God will arrange for me to do something illegal without realising it (because I would never consciously do anything illegal) so that I get my just deserts (which is the correct way of spelling ‘just deserts’ by the way).
I don’t know why these feelings have become more frequent recently. Some of it is the increase in anxiety from the new job, I’m sure. Something I saw online on the BBC news website also triggered intense OCD thoughts and fears.
This probably sounds crazy, and sometimes I feel pretty crazy, but my thoughts fall in a recognised sub-genre of OCD thoughts, like people who are worried that they ran over someone in their car without realising it and retrace their journeys looking for dead bodies. This is “pure O” OCD, i.e. obsessions (guilty/anxious thoughts) without compulsions (actions done to try to calm down the obsessions). Normally one deals with OCD by doing things that provoke the obsessions and then sitting with the anxiety without doing the compulsions, but with pure O OCD this can be hard because there aren’t compulsions to control so it feels unfocused; it’s not clear what ‘winning’ feels like. I guess I just need to sit with the thoughts and accept that there isn’t anything I can do about it and accept the uncertainty of life – I can’t guarantee that I will never go to jail for a crime I didn’t commit, or didn’t mean to commit, it’s just very unlikely that I will.
Just to make things worse, I wanted to work on my novel, but that currently involves researching domestic abuse, so I spent forty minutes doing that and inexplicably did not feel full of the joys of spring afterwards. I intend to watch Wallace and Gromit: The Wrong Trousers (as a break from James Bond) and go to bed, even though it violates my rule against watching TV late at night (because the light wakes you up) because I desperately need to watch something silly. (I thought about an episode of Fawlty Towers, but if I’m trying to switch off from domestic violence I don’t really need John Cleese banging Andrew Sachs round the head with a frying pan.)
I can empathise with this tweet I saw tonight: “I still haven’t processed how people with nerdy, bitter, angry, over-analytical pop-culture blogs, like the ones I used to read 10-15 years ago, managed to channel their personality disorders into academic careers.”
To be honest, I hoped to be one of those nerdy, bitter over-analytical bloggers, but I never got the breaks. My Doctor Who book is still languishing on my laptop and I really should have another go at finding a publisher, although there are only half a dozen small publishers who publish books on Doctor Who and none of them want it. I did get over my anger and bitterness which is probably just as well, although I’m still nerdy and over-analytical.