I’ve been feeling drained again today, and more depressed than the last few days. Although CBT has never worked well for my depression and self-esteem, I started monitoring my self-critical thoughts and feelings today, just out of curiosity, to see how many I had. I had about eleven self-critical negative thoughts (including one sudden self-critical feeling without a clear thought). Six were before lunch and three were while walking, whereas there weren’t any while I was working on my novel (not even “I’m a bad writer” thoughts) and only one while cooking dinner, which suggests that distraction works well for me. “I hate myself” or variants thereof was the most common type of thought by a long way.
That seemed quite a lot of self-critical thoughts considering that I had thought that my depression is currently only an issue in the morning and not later. In fact, nearly half of these self-critical thoughts occurred after lunch. It is also surprising considering that I thought my self-esteem was better these days. On the plus side, I suspect that even a few years ago I would have been having a lot more self-critical thoughts. Eleven was fairly manageable.
That said, my mood was persistently low all day without obvious negative thought triggers. This is probably why I’ve never found CBT helpful for depression or self-esteem. I had anhedonia today too; I was snacking on fruit mid-afternoon and it just seemed… not nice, even though it wasn’t off. It was quite uncomfortable and I had to force myself to eat it as I was hungry.
I’m still feeling lonely. I had a whole long section here that was me speaking about being lonely and thinking I will be single forever because of my issues and where I live in the world (in terms of Jewish community), but I cut it because I’ve said it before and will probably say it again. And I wasn’t even supposed to be thinking about this until I had a job or some kind of income.
And I miss E. I can see it wasn’t going to work out, but I miss her as a friend as much as a girlfriend. We used to text a lot during the days, at least until a couple of weeks before we broke up. Part of me wants to text again, but I’m worried about getting sucked back into a relationship. I’ve always told myself not to get into on/off relationship situations. I told myself not even to think about contacting E. until after my birthday (another three weeks away) to try to get over her. But I wish I had someone to message with.
This article deals a bit with the question I have about how much Torah study I should do. It notes that, theoretically, every adult Jewish man should spend every free moment studying Torah; the reality is that very few people could do that. The article notes that “I suspect that expectations are very much a factor of one’s personal level of Torah accomplishment.”
The problem is I don’t know how much Torah study is right for me. When I’m spending two hours writing a day and nine or ten hours sleeping a night (really) and an hour or two watching TV and reading (largely during meals, to be fair) and goodness knows how long procrastinating, doing thirty minutes to an hour of Torah study a day seems minimal… but it often does feel that I can’t do more. It sounds strange, but an hour of writing for me is often easier than an hour of Torah study, even before you factor in energy levels that are lower than normal and sink faster than normal because of depression. Plus, I see writing as the nearest thing to earning a livelihood in my life at the moment, in that I hope to be able to get my novel finished and published and earn royalties from it, so it seems important. Today I was exhausted by dinner time and doing any Torah study at all seemed almost impossible.
Incidentally, that article mentions Rabbi Nehorai’s comment in Sanhedrin 99a which is the basis for the later literature, but does not quote it. I looked it up and it says, “Rabbi Nehorai says: Anyone for whom it is possible to engage in Torah study and who nevertheless does not engage in its study is included in the category of: “Because he has despised the word of the Lord.”” (From the Koren Noé Talmud edition on Sefaria; bold text is literal translation, non-bold text is contextual explanation). This makes it sound like a lot would depend on what “possible” means for any given person, in terms of time, energy and so on.
Achievements: I spent an hour and ten minutes proofreading the chapter I finished yesterday. I’m more happy with it than I was, but I still think a section will have to be reworked significantly in redrafting. I cooked dinner and went for a walk.
Torah study was hard, as I mentioned. I thought doing it after dinner would be easier, as I would be refreshed, but I felt depressed and exhausted and my brain was just not working. I spent fifteen minutes reading Tehillim (Psalms) in Hebrew and that was it. I wanted to read some of Sacred Fire, but my brain was just not functioning any more.
That was it for today, really. I just felt too exhausted and depressed to do much after that and watched TV, a Star Trek Voyager episode about depression and self-harm (Extreme Risk) that established the situation quite well, but resolved it far, far too easily, and the Doctor Who episode Time Heist to try to cheer myself up.