I dreamt about a duckling last night and woke up wondering feeling like the ugly duckling and wondering when I will turn into a swan…
My Dad tried to wake me up at 8.00am so I could phone the GP’s surgery, but I didn’t get up. I think it was partly tiredness, but mostly social anxiety. I don’t like it when my social anxiety is that extreme. I definitely think I’ve gone backwards since lockdown started in terms of social anxiety. At 10.00am my Mum gave up and phoned the doctor, but all the non-emergency appointments had gone by then. Because of COVID, they’re only releasing appointments on a day to day basis, so we’ll have to phone again tomorrow. I asked Dad to phone, as I don’t think I will manage to get up again.
My social anxiety has historically been a lot less of a problem than my depression (or my OCD, when it was at its height), but it has always been there. It has tended to ebb and flow. There was a time when I was able to lead services in shul (synagogue) and give drashot (religious talks). I did lead services a couple of times this winter just gone, but I felt very anxious and only partly did it because I wanted to. Part of me did it because I didn’t like to say no when I was asked, which is partly a social anxiety problem in itself. I did some CBT last year, but in retrospect, I probably didn’t push myself hard enough with the exercises, plus on the NHS I only got ten sessions, which probably wasn’t enough.
Lockdown has made everything worse, because I’ve got used to just seeing my parents, and occasionally my sister and brother-in-law. The thought of seeing other people, or talking on the phone, is suddenly more scary than in the past. Plus, because of COVID, most places have new rules about masks and distancing, so almost everything has autistic “new situation” anxiety as well as social anxiety. I need to do something about this, but it is hard to see what I can do while I still need to shield Mum and when my depression is the bigger impediment. I might try to attend Zoom depression group meetings again. I stopped because it was the same day as therapy and I was too tired for both, but my therapist is away soon. Alternatively, my therapist says she is happy to change days if I want to go to depression group, and that might be sensible.
Home was noisy and busy today. A few days after my Dad’s catalytic converter was stolen from his car for a second time, we got a note through the door from the police saying there was a burglary in a house in our road. My parents became super-security conscious and we had various security devices fitted today. I can see the point, but was worried about some electricity on Shabbat (the Sabbath) issues. We did ask my parents’ rabbi about it some weeks ago and he said it was OK in certain circumstances. It seems to be OK in our case, but this is the type of thing that can trigger my religious OCD to say, “But what if I’m not 100% certain it’s OK?” I’m trying to sit with that doubt and not give in to it, just as I’ve been sitting with another, unrelated, issue where I wanted to ask a question of my rabbi mentor, but decided that deep down I know the answer and it would just be fuelling the OCD to ask. It’s hard, though, because in the frum community one is expected to ask in the case of doubt, but treating OCD involves living with (some) doubt.
The gardener was here this morning too, so there was a lot of noise and a lot of people, albeit mostly outside (necessarily, because Mum is shielding). I do vaguely wonder if we should have waited until after COVID, but I guess the criminals are still working.
Achievements: I split my writing time in two today. It was hard to start the second session, but overall I was more productive than ever, writing about 1,700 words in two hours with relatively little idleness (some idleness is probably necessary for creativity, at least for me).
I watched a series of four short videos by Rabbi Meir Soloveitchik about Jewish survival as an argument for God. I learnt a few things, but I already knew the gist of what he was saying. It was more a history lecture than a religious one. It was similar to a post I started writing, but am not sure whether to finish, about why I’m religious even though I find Judaism very difficult much of the time because of my autism, depression and social anxiety. I wasn’t sure whether anyone would be interested in that, or whether it would offend anyone who isn’t Jewish. Or if I really wanted to hold my beliefs up for comment, to be honest.
I went for a walk. My mood dropped somewhat. I seem to be OK if I’m doing something that engages my brain, but my mood gets worse when I’m not. I saw someone who went to my school and who is now married with children and is a rabbi. I’m not sure if I was because of that, but I ended up thinking about people I was at university with and wondering what they’re doing. In particular, someone who I fell out with while I was there, which has gone into my novel. It was originally a key event in the novel, although as the novel has grown organically, it’s not so important now, which is probably for the best. I ended up feeling quite downbeat. I listened to some music (using the heter (permission) for depressed people to listen to the music during the mourning period of the Three Weeks, which we are currently in), but it was not terribly cheerful music (Donnie and Losing My Religion) and probably made things worse. I spent the first fifteen minutes or so trying not to listen to music, but in the end I decided I was feeling too depressed and it wasn’t worth it.
In the evening, I did a little bit of ironing and some more Torah study; I would have liked to have done more, but I was too tired, as ever. I spent twenty minutes or so writing a review of a Doctor Who story from my birthday present box set, but I don’t think I can engage with Chris Chibnall’s view of the series enough to write particularly positive reviews. If my review of Spyfall, which I did, on some level, enjoy, seems overly negative, I shudder to think what a review of Orphan 55 might look like.
I got sent an email advertising a job as a “lecturer in conservation of easel paintings.” I have no idea why I got sent that. If only I knew something about conserving easel paintings. All I can think of is Thomas the Tank Engine: “Coughs and sneezels spread diseasels.”