Oh dear, this is going to be one of those posts again, the very despairing and depressed type.  Sorry.  You don’t have to read it.

I thought I’d used the title of this post before, but apparently not.  The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote about porcupines that want to huddle together for warmth in winter, but if they do, they hurt each other with their spines.  This is how I feel: I want to draw closer to others, yet I find they “hurt” me and I apparently hurt them, not always for obvious reasons.

I woke up feeling very depressed and exhausted today; also rather lonely and “touch hungry.”  I feel a lot that I want to love and be loved.  I also feel a lot that I want to have sex, particularly when depressed.  Neither of these statements are hugely socially acceptable (in Western society, let alone Orthodox Jewish society), but the second is absolutely unacceptable.  I find it hard to live with knowing that I feel like that without being able to express it.  It is hard to know what to do with it for decades on end.

It was hard to get going today.  I just wanted to stay in bed.  Actually, I didn’t really want to be anywhere, but bed was easier than anywhere else.  I’m feeling a lot of self-loathing today and I don’t know why.  I just seem so socially inept.  I also seem pretty useless at living a good or productive life (not the same thing, I know), by either Western or Jewish standards.  It was hard to put on tallit and tefillin and daven (pray).  This is a struggle every morning, yet I do, usually rather late, and in the winter, when the days are short, I often miss Shacharit (Morning Prayers) entirely and have to skip straight to Minchah (Afternoon Prayers), but I do put on tallit and tefillin and daven, after breakfast, but before engaging with the day, yet I never give myself credit for it, I just beat myself up for doing it late.  I wish I could give myself credit for it.

I felt really depressed and exhausted even after lunch, when my mood usually peaks.  I wanted to cry, but didn’t feel able to do so.  I just wanted to curl up and hibernate.  I did very nearly go and do that; at any rate I went and lay on the bed.  I had told myself to do chores today rather than write my novel, but apparently the motivation I had to write the novel, inconsistent as it can be, can’t be transferred to chores.

The main chore opening a new ISA (tax-free savings account).  Dad is always getting me to open new bank accounts and ISAs because I will get more interest in the new one than my old one.  I do it because I am weak and always do what other people tell me to do, especially my parents.  I think the amount of interest I get on the amount of money I have to save is minimal, and probably not worth the hassle.  Also, having so many accounts confuses someone who is increasingly bad with numbers (unbelievably, I got an A* at GCSE maths.  I’ve got no idea how I did that.  I think I’ve become rusty in the intervening twenty years.  Being vague about money is one of the things E. did not like about me).  I can’t work out how to transfer money into this account and I think I may have messed something up.  I think I need to open a savings account with the same building society and then pay money from there into the ISA, but it’s a lot of hassle for what amounts to a relatively small amount interest over two years, which my Dad would probably then advise me to reinvest elsewhere anyway.

And, yes, I know having too many bank accounts is a first world problem, and being able to write off the small amount of interest is a sign of privilege (although the privilege in this case is more that I have practically zero expenditure because I have no life than that I have lots of money).  I’m not even sure what this money is being saved for; notionally to pay a deposit on a house or flat, I suppose, but it seems less and less likely that I’m ever going to be in a fit state to do that.  I can’t drive and am scared of learning, so it’s not going on a car, and I don’t really go on holiday, so it’s not going on that.  I live with my parents, so it’s not going on rent or white goods.  There isn’t much else to spend on it.

So that wasted an hour or two.  Then I wasted more time by going to the post office, which was shut despite saying online that it would be.  I also went to the pharmacist, which didn’t have what I was looking for.  At least I went for a walk.

I tried to do some Torah study, but felt too depressed to concentrate and only managed ten or fifteen minutes.

My main achievement for the day, aside from the walk, was cooking dinner, which I had already decided macaroni cheese, fortunately, as it is very quick and easy to cook.  I also phoned the mental health clinic to check that the appointment I had booked with the psychiatrist for this coming Thursday (from before lockdown) has been cancelled.  I feel I should have had some kind of official cancellation letter, but don’t think I have.  There was no answer when I phoned, so I’m guessing they haven’t reopened for non-emergency mental health yet.

I ended up just watching Doctor Who this evening in lieu of doing anything productive, because I just felt too depressed.  I ended up watching new series episodes for some reason (Asylum of the Daleks and The Name of the Doctor), even though I don’t generally like them as much as the original series.


I get a sort of pressure in my skull when I try to force myself to concentrate on things when I’m too exhausted and depressed.  I’ve never seen that listed as a depression symptom, but I get it quite a bit.  Also, when I get agitated, I start thinking as much in images than words, which I think is an autism symptom, but it would usually be constant for someone rather than only during times of agitation.


I think, far from being nearly over E., I’m only just beginning to mourn the loss of the relationship.  In Heaven Sent (perhaps the definitive Doctor Who episode), the Doctor reflects that the day someone dies isn’t the hardest day – that day you’re busy.  The difficult days are all the subsequent days when they’re still dead.  I think the fact that the relationship is still dead is hitting me.  I still think I did the right thing to end it, not least because I think E. would have ended it soon if I hadn’t, but still…  I miss her.  Or do I just miss having someone to talk to?  Can you even have “someone to talk to” in the abstract?


Sometimes I feel I could die or go mad from how “wrong” my life feels, but I don’t know how to change it, or if the changes I want are even possible (certainly being in a relationship is not possible now, and maybe not ever).  I just want to scream.  And I struggle to let other people understand how wrong my life seems to be, which makes me wonder if it’s just catastrophising, yet their suggestions for change all seem impossible and unworkable.

I just feel sad and lonely right now.  I’m hiding it from my parents again, or trying to (they can usually tell).  I’m not sure why I can’t tell them.  I’m just struggling to cope today.  I don’t feel tired, but I might go to bed because I’m too depressed to read (and reading The Jewish Review of Books today just makes me feel that should have been a journalist, essayist, novelist, academic… something shaping the Jewish experience and the world of ideas).  It’s either that or sit up late watching DVDs.  I feel that I hate myself, my life, my blog… except “hate” is too strong a word for what I feel.  I’m too depressed to feel hate today.

Well, at least today’s post is shorter than yesterday’s.

6 thoughts on “Porcupines in Winter

  1. I’m sorry that it’s been a depressing day. I believe that I’m allowed to write off some days because I know I need to wallow about various things. I try not to feel guilty about that. You seemed to enjoy your long chats with E. so the lack of that must leave a hole in your day/life. I would love to have magic words and advice for you, just like for my older daughter who texted me that she’s “in a mood.” The old adage to take one day at time comes to mind, although we all want to look forward to a better and happier future. Does that have to be planned out or is it mostly random? I don’t really know.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am sorry to hear your mood has dropped again — and after a positive day on the 13th. You seem (like so many of us) at the mercy of quite extreme mood swings and it seems like it’s often very small things that trigger a drop. Maybe your therapist can help you detect triggers and ways of managing these. I understand what you say about the ending of your relationship hitting you now — that’s often the case with any bereavement (or crisis) — we manage to cope through it but the adjustment afterwards is hard. A few thoughts …

    Sexual frustration — I think it is easy to think when you are on your own that everyone out there is happily engaged in rewarding physical relationships. That’s just not true. It is the fortunate minority that are in such relationships. Coping with celibacy, especially when you are young is very hard. There is a lot out there about ways to sublimate sexual energy — here is one link from a Christian psychologist — but there are others: https://www.mynewlife.com/sublimate-your-sex-drive-dont-suffocate-it/

    Future — try to see the positives. The fact that you were able to sustain and enjoy a relationship with E shows that you can make relationships. Most people who do end up in a stable and successful relationship will look back at many failed relationships. We learn from each one. As you have not had many girlfriends the process will be slower.

    You may well find that having been recently hurt your instinct is to withdraw to protect yourself. After all, if you don’t take risks you don’t get hurt — but you also reduce your chances of finding a soulmate to zero. I’d suggest to take some time out to heal, but after this resolve to try again. I cannot see any reason why you would not be able to sustain a long-term relationship– but like finding the right job, it will take time to find the right person. Hope you can work on all the other things in your life that make living meaningful — your faith and your writing for example. It is often when we take off the pressure and just get on with life that what we were so desperately searching for turns up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The low mood may be because of the better day on Sunday. Sadly I’ve found that one good day is followed by a bad one, or sometimes several. I don’t think there’s a specific trigger, just a sense of being overwhelmed. I refer to it as a “mental hangover.” It is hard to cope when I know a good day will be followed by a worse one.

      Thank you for the link. Jewish sites don’t talk about things like that, perhaps from a reticence to talk publicly about sex, or because of the assumption that everyone over the age of 25 or so is happily married.

      My instinct at the moment is definitely to withdraw. Part of me would like to try dating again at some point, but it seems pointless while I’m unemployed, and, to be honest, while I’m depressed.


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