“You’re a loser, Joni, or whatever your name is, because you live in fear and that isn’t really living at all, is it? Now, I don’t live in fear. I’m alive.” – Life on Mars episode 1.4 by Ashley Pharoah
I woke up at 10am today and got up at 11am, which was good. It was late, but earlier than recently. In terms of activity, I tried to work on my novel for an hour after lunch. I made a little progress, but struggled to write light, witty, flirty date dialogue unsurprisingly. I’m not sure how I’m going to get through this chapter. Hard work, I suppose. I wrote about 250 words, which is half of my usual hourly target. I spent a lot of time procrastinating and read a “long read” article on the BBC news website about the US government’s response to coronavirus when I should have been writing.
I felt very anxious and depressed today, which also didn’t help me to get in the writing zone. I had less specific anxiety about coronavirus or Pesach (although a little about the former) and more general feelings of depression and anxiety. I know from my past that anxiety about X can manifest as worrying about Y, even though X and Y are totally unrelated and X may be vastly more important and serious than Y. Some of that may be happening here. I do over-analyse myself, “What am I feeling? Am I feeling the right thing?” As if there’s a “right” thing to feel.
I’ve never had much success with mental health/CBT affirmations, but I’m trying to tell myself “My thoughts are not always my friends” which helped somewhat with controlling my religious OCD in the past. The anxiety and depression fluctuated throughout the day, getting better after my run (see below), but by the evening I was feeling awful, just wanting to curl up and sleep while the world went away. I had a brief Skype call with E., but I felt bad at being in a state, although I know she cares enough to want to see me when I feel like that.
I went on my Officially Sanctioned Single Daily Exercise Session (I went for a run). I added a bit more distance to my usual run, which coincidentally took the time taken up to exactly thirty minutes, which is good. Pace and stamina were pretty good too, at least by my recent standards. There were a few people around, but most looked like they were exercising rather than going anywhere in particular. The run did seem to help with the anxious thoughts, which is good to know for the future.
I joined in with a global simultaneous Jewish prayer meeting. No Skype/Zoom connection, just thousands of people praying at the same time. I stuck with the shorter list of Tehillim (Psalms) and prayers on the Orthodox Union website rather than the longer, more mystical list of prayers sent out by my rabbi (although that list confirmed my suspicions that Tehillim chapter 120 on the OU list should have read 121).
The other virtual community thing I did today was watch a live shiur (religious class) given by Rabbi Lord Sacks via YouTube. I haven’t really been part of a streamed event like that before, so it was interesting to see the number of viewers grow. There were about 770 by the end, which was good considering that it was only advertised today. It’s weird how social isolation is bringing people together. I then spent nearly an hour researching and writing my weekly devar Torah (Torah thought). So it was a fairly solid day from a religious point of view.
Back to anxiety and depression…
Another of parents’ friends had another baby. I just feel… It’s like other people have bad times – illness, bereavement, relationship breakdown, unemployment – and then after a while it goes and something good happens. And with me, I have bad things, and they stick around, and eventually other bad things join them and I feel even worse.
Compared with the quote at the top, I do feel like I’m living in fear, of everything (illness, bereavement, relationship breakdown, unemployment), and it isn’t really living, but it’s all I’ve got. Which leads to all the “Why is this happening to me? Am I a bad person? Does God hate me?” questions.
Anyway, I need to go, or I’ll miss my “No screens after 11pm” deadline.