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.

10 thoughts on “Anxiety and OCD

  1. I have pure-O too, and it gets bad for me during January through early April. What works for me–the only thing, as we’ve discovered the hard way–is Prozac. (But of course, it’s different for everyone.) Objectively, I can’t imagine God wants to punish you for being less than perfect, which was impossible even for Jesus. Don’t fret! You’re a very good person, and God doesn’t want to ruin your life, I’m sure of it. 🙂 But I can relate an awful lot. I’m about to go up on the Prozac a week before the new year starts to try to circumvent the same fears from taking over me. They make me completely irrational, so it comes into a scary time of year.

    I’d imagine you oversleep to be less anxious about the socializing. I did that one summer, sort of, when I was supposed to work with kids every Friday. Can’t remember if I already told you, but I got a sinus infection and milked the heck out of it so that I was able to miss three Fridays, and thank God! If it’s that hard, I just don’t think it should be forced. I wish you could duck out of stuff that makes you so uncomfortable! Public speaking, like leading a prayer, would be at the top of my list–geez, I’d shake all over the place. I can’t imagine.


    1. Well, there’s less than perfect, and there’s very less than perfect…

      Prozac isn’t an option for me as I don’t want to change my antidepressant at the moment as it seems to be helping (a bit).

      I used to be OK with public speaking, but not now. I feel like I should push myself to try things, particularly something I want to do, like synagogue attendance.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. What are the benefits of the medication which stop the shaking?

      Good question! We’re not actually sure. It’s supposed to help my antidepressant work better. Various psychiatrists have tried taking me off it, to help with the shaking and weight loss, but every time we try, the depression becomes unbearable, so I have to go back on it.

      Thanks for the offer of help! I need to look into what will be involved.


  2. Well done for leading Mincha!

    The OCD stuff doesn’t sound crazy. It sounds like a pretty logical combination of OCD and guilt. Jewish law sounds very demanding, which makes me wonder if anyone is able to follow it all of the time.

    Interesting tidbit about just deserts. I would not have known that.


    1. Thanks!

      I’m glad it doesn’t sound crazy. It’s hard to tell with some of the stuff in my head sometimes. Jewish law is demanding, but it is accepted that no one follows it all the time. Not in an organised hypocrisy sense, but in that everyone falls short. That’s why we spend so much time around Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement) soul searching and thinking of ways to improve. I’ve even heard rabbis say that mistakes are necessary because we wouldn’t grow otherwise.

      There’s a lot I could say here – I could write a whole essay – but for now I’ll just say that so far as I can tell, other people are not consumed with guilt the whole time. Some of that is probably personality or autism. I’m really bad at rationalising away the bad things I do. Lots of other people don’t seem to have this problem, so I wonder if it’s autistic black and white thinking. The other thing is that I feel conscious of falling short in the area of sexuality, which is not an area spoken about in the religious community, which makes it feel worse somehow. Things like gossiping, judging others badly or even hating people inside are areas that are frequently discussed and where “everyone knows” that everyone does badly in these areas from time to time. It’s socially acceptable, even laudable, to own up to problems in those areas. Whereas with sexuality, it’s not really considered polite even to mention it. Add on top all the frustrations of being a thirty-six year old celibate virgin and a lot of emotions get stirred up.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s interesting that sexuality is kept hush-hush, yet their are commandments related to it. You would think that over the many years that Judaism has existed there have been a fair number of celibate men struggling with the issue.


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