I woke up early today, at least by my usual standards. I usually wake up in the early morning, but then I feel tired and usually fall asleep again until much later. I decided the other day that I would try to force myself to stay up, which I managed today. I was pretty tired (even though I had about seven hours of sleep), but I managed it. I was OK once I drank coffee and I was glad to get an earlier start on the day and say the morning Shema and Amidah on time.
I did doze for half an hour in the afternoon though.
Achievements (although the above are really achievements too): I spent two hours on my novel and finished another chapter. Only one more chapter to go! I’m up to 72,000 words too, which is novel length, just about. Hopefully the manuscript will grow a bit in redrafting. The time taken to write each chapter seems to be becoming shorter too, even though they chapters are mostly the same length. I have mixed feelings about the quality though. Some of that is probably low self-esteem and it is just a first draft. My English teacher used to say that a first draft is 99% of the work, and for non-fiction I would tend to agree, but I think writing fiction is more organic and individual and I need to redraft more, particularly as I’ve never written something this long before.
I did an hour of Torah study, much of it difficult Mishnah, which was good.
I also went for a half hour walk. My ankle felt a bit strange when I woke up. I’m not sure how to describe it – kind of weak and fragile. It wasn’t painful, but I didn’t want to put too much weight on it. I think something is wrong when I run, but I’m not sure if it’s my trainers or if I’m running incorrectly (it can happen). I don’t really want to go shopping for new trainers at the moment because I’m avoiding shops except for essential items to shield Mum. I could mail order, but my parents have put me off that by saying that returning them would be hard if they’re a bad fit.
I attended depression group online via Zoom. I hadn’t attended for a while because I’ve been having therapy on Mondays and was too tired after that to go, but I’ve moved therapy to Wednesdays so that I can go again, plus my therapist is away this week anyway. I mentioned my novel and people were really supportive, which was nice.
My mood was mostly good today, although it was drifting downwards when I dozed off in the afternoon, so maybe it was just as well that I fell asleep at that point. My mood did dip slightly into self-recrimination and worry while walking, but mostly I was able to focus on the present.
Someone at depression group asked if I find it easier or harder online. I find it harder, but I’m not sure why. I think some of it is feeling that I’m being stared at by the camera the whole time, whereas in person I can see people are focusing on the person speaking, not me. I also think there’s blurred boundaries when Zooming in from home (am I at home or in the group?) and less of a transition from home to group and back again and transitions are really important for people on the autism spectrum. I find it hard to give people my full attention on Zoom, harder than in person, and I was getting fidgety by the end, which I know is autistic stimming and my way of trying to focus (rather than boredom), but I was glad that people couldn’t see that I was tapping my fingers because it might have looked rude.
I didn’t stick exactly to my limits on internet usage/email checking that I agreed with my therapist, but I did mostly stick to them and that does seem to help stay present-focused, not to compare myself with others so much and to avoid negative thoughts. Actually, depression group can provoke comparing thoughts, a kind of procrustean bed where if they’re doing well, I feel I should be doing as well as they are, but if they aren’t doing well, I feel that I should be doing more things as I’m not so depressed. I try not to think like that, but it’s not always easy.
I didn’t feel like I’d done much today, but writing it down I see that I have done quite a bit.
I made a mistake online. Not a major one (it was less something I didn’t know and more something I phrased badly), but normally I would beat myself up about it, but I’m trying not to, which I guess is good. With CBT for social anxiety, one technique is to make deliberate mistakes to become inured to them (one nineteenth/early twentieth century yeshiva (rabbinical seminary) used to get the students to do something similar, and there is an XKCD cartoon with a similar point…). I did not do that when I did CBT for my social anxiety; as I think I’ve said, I don’t think I tried hard enough with CBT for social anxiety, although what I did seemed quite difficult at the time.
This passage in Healing from Despair: Choosing Wholeness in a Broken World (by Rabbi Elie Kaplan Spitz and Erica Shapiro Taylor) resonated with me: “A sensitive child, burdened by his natural physical desires and the emotional and intellectual demands he inherited… Rebbe Nachman entered into depressed periods throughout his life.” My emotional and intellectual demands were not inherited, but came partly from social expectation and partly from my own inner drive for excellence, but otherwise it was very similar to my childhood and adolescence.