I had weird and disturbing dreams again last night, which set me up for a difficult day.  One was quite upsetting, where I was indoors, possibly in some kind of school.  There was a war going on around me, but I was scared and just hid under some school laboratory-style workbenches while other people around me were heroic .  There was also another, more surreal, dream.  I don’t remember much about it, but there was a bit where my Dad and I were sitting in the car and a purple cockatoo was perched on the side and trying to recite poetry while my Dad kept hitting it and knocking it off in a flurry of purple feathers.  Very strange.  My Dad is not usually cruel to animals, I should stress!  I wish I knew what the cowardice dream was about, although maybe it’s just the obvious: that I don’t think of myself as at all brave or competent.  As if to reinforce this, I then overslept, missed my various alarms and had to rush to be in time for my Skype call with my rabbi mentor.

***

I had a good chat with my rabbi mentor, albeit that there really wasn’t much he could say.  I had emailed to ask if we could chat on the day I forgot to take my medication and so went super-anxious; since then, although I felt somewhat anxious about a number of things, I was also aware that there isn’t much I can do about any of them at this stage; I have to just wait and see what happens.  He did say that getting back together with E. is a good thing.

Unfortunately, I slumped back into depression and anxiety again with a vengeance after lunch.  Sometimes life just seems like an endless list of things to worry about, with the worst possible outcome happening sooner or later, not least because everyone I know and care about will die one day, if I wait long enough.  It’s easy to get sucked into negative thinking about careers, friendships, my relationship with E., my relationships with my family and so on, assuming everything will, or at least could, go wrong sooner or later.  I don’t want to go down that path, but it is scarily attractive on days when many things do not seem to be anchored firmly.

I had several heavy conversations today, with my rabbi mentor, with E. and with my parents and overall they’ve left me feeling as anxious as I was before them.  Life just seems so big and scary so much of the time, and I never seem to get a hold of it the way someone with my privileges (in both the traditional and identity politics senses) should do.  However hard I try, I never quite get a grip on my career, or my community and friendships, or my relationships with family or romantic partners.  I feel I have in many ways been dealt a bad hand, but in other ways it seems more like I’ve squandered my considerable blessings.  And even if I have been dealt a bad hand, what’s the point of complaining?  I’ve never heard of anyone who turned their life around by complaining.  Today I just feel full of anxiety that everything will go wrong, and that there’s nothing I can do about it, which is a horrible, defeatist feeling and liable to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When I was cooking dinner, it all became overwhelming again and I’m surprised I managed to get dinner done at all, let alone that I managed a tricky recipe (bean burgers) about the best I’ve ever managed it.  My life – everything – just seems so hopeless sometimes.  I feel like everything will go wrong, no matter what I do.  I got into another negative thought spiral.  I tried to eat something (kosher pot noodle, seriously not healthy, but I wanted carbs fast), which helped a little and let me finish cooking, but the negative thoughts soon came back again once I’d finished.

While cooking, I felt that I just can’t function in this world, that I belong on another planet.  That’s a fairly common feeling among people on the spectrum; unfortunately, unemployment, failed relationships and persistent mental illness are also common on the spectrum.  I feel that if I can’t manage a career, or a relationship, where am I going to find meaning and purpose in my life?  Religion is an obvious alternative that appeals to many people who also feel marginalised by society, but lately I’ve been struggling with that too, feeling like I’m just going through the motions.  I believe, but Judaism is so much more about doing than believing and right now doing anything is an effort and yields few immediate rewards the way it does for some frum (religious) people.  To be fair, E. said the other day that she’s impressed by the way I keep with even a bit of prayer and religious study each day when I feel so awful (this is what I mean when I say she’s amazing to me).

Then, perhaps because I got so caught up in myself, I forgot to daven Minchah (say Afternoon Prayers).  I seem to do this once a year, at some point in the winter.  If I’d remembered ten minutes earlier today, I would have been OK.  Technically if I could, and possibly should, have said a “catch-up” Amidah (the main prayer) after the Amidah of Ma’ariv (the Evening Service), but I was too depressed and exhausted to feel able to do that.

***

The title of the post, “Living’s in the way we die“, is the only lyric from a James Bond film theme that makes me think of a Hasidic story (I assume coincidentally): that when Rebbe Simcha Bunim of Peshischa lay dying, he comforted his wife, saying his entire life had been a preparation for this moment.  I find it a slightly morbid thought, but also a reassuring one, that death can be a meaningful crescendo to a life well-lived rather than a meaningless extinction.

That said, it’s worrying how easily I can slip into thinking, “Oh well, I’ll be dead one day” for reassurance about many of my problems, even when I’m not actively suicidal (which I haven’t been for a couple of years).  It’s kind of the depressive version of “It will all be the same in a hundred years” which my maternal grandparents used to say a lot.  I just find it really hard to find positives to hold onto.  It’s hard to believe that I could build a career as a librarian or a novelist, get married, have children or fit into the Jewish community; on the other hand, it is absolutely certain that one day I will die, and somehow focusing on that seems less likely to lead to disappointment rather than keep trying to improve my life and constantly being knocked back.

***

I’m sorry, this whole post is monumentally depressing.  I hope things will feel better tomorrow, but, frankly, who knows?  I just feel so lost and adrift in my life.

8 thoughts on ““Living’s in the way we die”

  1. I would be curious to know E’s take on this, but I wonder if you were somehow able to loosen your grip on all the shoulds that you carry around with you, if that would make a positive difference even if everything else stayed the same.

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    1. Maybe, but I’m not sure how I can get rid of the Shoulds. I mean, it probably would make our relationship a bit easier. On the other hand, it would not change my employment situation or other practical issues. But I don’t know how to do it.

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      1. Perhaps Saturday morning services would be a good place to start. It seems unworkable given your current mental health, yet it seems to be using up a huge amount of mental energy because of the “shoulds” attached to it. If you took even the possibility of going to morning service off the table entirely for a period of time, that could leave you with a lot of mental energy that could be used to focus on something that’s more workable.

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  2. For each negative that you discuss, I see your hope that you will figure out a happier path (or paths) through life. If you felt completely hopeless, you wouldn’t be worried about squandering your advantages because you wouldn’t even see them. I like your previous commenter’s suggestion about limiting your “shoulds. ” The weight of those can be crushing.

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    1. I find this interesting, thank you. I don’t really think of myself as a hopeful person, but I maybe in some ways.

      The Shoulds are crushing, but I’m not sure how to challenge them.

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