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.”

12 thoughts on “Socially Anxious Duckling

  1. I think being part of the depression group meeting is a good step. You are dealing with a lot and doing your best to manage your depression, autism, social anxiety and family worries. It seems like you got quite a lot accomplished today! My grandson loves music and sometimes it’s the only thing that will calm him. (and only if someone dances with him to his favorite songs)

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  2. Social anxiety makes it so hard to get the help needed for depression and other conditions. Sigh… 10 sessions is nowhere enough for chronic mental health issues, in my opinion.

    The GP appointment thing sounds so frustrating. In my country,for the polyclinics, it’s 830am and 12 midnight. and even if you get an appointment, you can wait several hours to be seen.

    About religion and dating, I’m surprised your therapist said what she did. Maybe I don’t understand. To me, although I am not religious, religion is a huge part of your life and it makes sense to want someone similarly devout. When I used to be immersed in church, it was a common topic – people wanted partners who were as devout, or even more so than themselves.

    I’m glad the new writing timing seems to work! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, ten sessions is not enough.

      The GP situation is frustrating, but the one in your country seems worse. Midnight!

      I can understand why the therapist said what she did. The Jewish population is tiny. Really tiny. And then the Orthodox population is a tiny percentage of that tiny number, so I can see why she thought it would be hard to find someone who meets my needs.

      E. was not religious, but I was increasingly worried how that would work out if we were living together. I guess it makes sense to keep an open mind.

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      1. Ah, minority within minority within minority. I understand a little better now. Reminds me a bit about some groups within the lgbtq population in my country…

        People can change though, sometimes dramatically. My grandparents held different religions but got along just fine. They agreed on the core stuff, shared similar value systems.

        My parents didn’t grow up religious but became so. I grew up religious but wandered and left and am coming back to explore again via a very “different from how I was raised” framework.

        Say you agree with your therapist to expand your net. Perhaps it can be a search for someone who holds similar core values and she might be willing to raise children in the faith and convert herself?

        Msybr

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I would want a spouse who is Jewish at least, in the sense of having Jewish parents or formal conversion. As for how religious… at the moment I say I’m open about that. I have red lines and probably another (non-religious) person would have her red lines, and we would have to see if there was common ground. I don’t feel so confident about it, though, as Judaism is a very practical religion, with lots of dos and don’ts and I feel finding that common ground would be hard. That said, it wasn’t a huge obstacle with E., but we never lived together. I was worried towards the end about how that would work.

          Jews can get really specific about this stuff. One Jewish dating site has seven sub-categories just for Orthodox Jews; a matchmaking service I looked at had nine sub-categories of Orthodox Jews. This is not even counting non-Orthodox Jews! I would be willing to look reasonably widely, but I don’t know who would accept me, and I do know that I would feel most comfortable in a pretty narrow band of people who are fairly strict in practise, but open to the modern world in ideology and culture. I’m not really sure how best to meet those people

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          1. I’m glad you know what you want 🙂 While I’m not Jewish, some Evangelical Christian denominations have a lot of rules and it’s often regular in them for people to want a spouse who is the same denomination or sometimes within the same church itself.

            I don’t know how they’d meet though. Good luck 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

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