I had weird dreams last night that I can’t really put into words here, both because they were too personal and also too incoherent and stream-of-consciousness for me to really put them in words at all.  I did my usual thing of drifting in and out of consciousness in the morning, waking up enough to feel I should get up, but feeling too tired and depressed to do so.  I eventually got up when the phone rang, although whoever it was rang off before I could answer.  I somehow managed to stay up after that.

***

Shabbat (the Sabbath) is going to be weird without shul (synagogue).  Orthodox Jewish law is that the ideal for men is to pray three times a day with a community (the Afternoon and Evening Services are usually recited consecutively in the summer so you only need to go out once).  There have been times in my life when I’ve been going to shul two or three times a day, but there have been other times when depression or social anxiety has intervened and I’ve gone far less often.  There were periods when I wasn’t going at all.  Now, everyone is in that situation of not going.  Strangely, I find that I’m missing shul, even though my weekday attendance in recent years has been patchy.  It’s always harder to get back into going after a period of being away because avoidance stokes social anxiety and I worry a bit about what this will do to me when we get to the other side.  I’m glad I’m with my parents for Shabbat as Shabbat alone can get lonely, and I’m sorry for people who will have to experience that this week.  That’s another thing I’ve experienced from depression and social anxiety that the world is experiencing because of COVID-19.

Speaking of Shabbat, I spoke yesterday of not having an emotional connection to it.  On reflection, that’s probably not true.  I definitely feel something on Shabbat, something positive.  Shabbat has a different feel to the rest of the week.  I can’t put it explain it to you if you’ve never experienced it, but it is something I feel at some point each Shabbat and it’s a good feeling.  I just can’t exactly put a name to it, which is perhaps not surprising, given that I have alexithymia, difficulty understanding and processing my own emotions.

***

I remembered one of my rules for OCD, which is that if I’m embarrassed to ask a question, it’s probably OCD and not something real.  I was reminded of this by wanting to ask my rabbi mentor something last night and thinking that I would have to explain that I can see it’s a silly question… so I eventually realised, if it’s a silly question, why am I asking it?

Social anxiety hasn’t been such an issue lately, given that I’ve only really been around my parents because of COVID-19, but I did have some when phoning my GP’s surgery to ask about my medical certificate (the copy they sent me via text wouldn’t download or print properly).  I got vaguely worried that I would be told not to bother with such a trivial thing at a time of medical crisis, but they didn’t say that.

I still have quite a bit of general anxiety, the same worries as before, about my parents getting sick, especially my Mum, and how the situation will impact on our Pesach preparations even if we all stay healthy.  I’m trying not to worry, difficult though that is.  To remember to tell myself it’s OK to be worried, scared, stressed or depressed and that this is an unprecedented event for everyone.

9 thoughts on “Mental Health Under Stress

  1. I think with rituals and routines, they make us feel like we’re at “home,” wrapped in a blanket of security and tradition. When those things are stripped away, there is definitely a sense of disconnection and isolation. We’re all in the same boat here, struggling with this “new normal.”

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  2. Interesting how those of us with a history of anxiety and depression are at a slight advantage in these strange times. Everyone is feeling unsure and worried about the future, and do not have the tools to deal with these emotions like we do.
    It feels like we’re all on a level playing field now. What do you think?

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    1. I love this thought. I was thinking along the same lines. Being clean almost a year and a half now, I’ve been focusing on what I’m feeling and why and how to address those emotions in a healthy way. This is just another obstacle for me that I’m navigating through with as much peace as possible. Some of us can’t afford to get worked up, our lives depend on mental stability.

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  3. I’ve had some weird dreams as well over the last few nights. I think the uncertainty of all that’s going on has our brains going haywire. I don’t seem to anxious while awake but while I’m sleeping I’m having relapse dreams and dreams of food being unattainable.

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