I woke up and got up early again (at least by my standards), which was good. Less good was that I woke up from a very disturbing dream, in which I had tried to do something to promote unity between different groups of Jews and instead inadvertently created a situation which led to more division, and the burning of some religious papers by someone else out of spite (religious papers in Judaism should be buried respectfully, not burned). The dream ended with me crying uncontrollably as a rabbi said I had done the right thing, but had been let down by other people.
I think the dream was primarily about my feelings of discomfort with the frum (religious Jewish) community. I feel some (not all) people in it can be divisive and even spiteful, like the people in my dream. However, I also feel that my feelings of discomfort are a product of my own prejudices as much as reality, so I could be the spiteful people in the dream too. It is hard to be objective. I woke up feeling sombre and upset, but I somehow managed to get up rather than just go back to sleep as part of me wanted.
The dream did at least get me up early again today, so I could say the most important morning prayers at the right time, and say more of the morning prayer service than I usually manage.
I spent two and a half hours working on my novel. My main character/narrator just got assessed and diagnosed with high functioning autism. It brought to mind my worries about whether I am on the spectrum and (different question) whether I will be diagnosed as being on the spectrum, bearing in mind I’ve been assessed twice and told that I’m not on the spectrum, but am challenging that diagnosis given that I have now done more research and have observed myself in new work and social environments (my previous assessments were before I had worked or even volunteered).
I started to worry that I’m not on the spectrum. I made myself worried enough that I did an online screening (similar to the one I had in person eighteen months ago) which showed that I probably am on the spectrum, but I wish I didn’t have this kind of obsessive worrying about it. As someone in my novel says, getting a diagnosis won’t change who I am or what I experience, even if it explains it. However, it would change my perception of myself, so it is no wonder that it seems important and anxiety-provoking.
Other than that, today was mostly the usual stuff: cooked dinner (vegetarian kedgeree, because it’s one of my easy recipes), a walk, nearly an hour of Torah study. I lost a lot of the time I had gained by getting up early. I’m not sure where it went.
I did write a letter to E., not to send to her, just to express my feelings to myself. Reading it back, I sounded a lot angrier than I thought I was. Maybe I’ve been carrying a lot of anger around for the last couple of months since we broke up, or even before then. I worry about how E. is doing, but I still haven’t got back in contact with her. I noticed she’s posting stuff on Goodreads (I didn’t unfriend her, I’m not sure why, maybe because I don’t use Goodreads as a social media, only as an online catalogue of my books), so I know she’s still alive and functioning, but I am still reluctant to communicate directly.
My religious OCD has been dormant for a while, but it never goes away fully. Everyone has “crazy” thoughts sometimes; what turns them into OCD is when they won’t go away and you end up obsessing about them (‘pure O’ OCD) or performing compulsions to get rid of them (more stereotypical OCD). I have in the past had ‘pure O’ OCD about the Jewish dietary laws (kashrut), among other things.
Lately there have been a few kashrut issues where I thought on balance they were OK, but I wasn’t 100% sure. When my OCD was at it’s height, I would have asked a question of a rabbi or the London Bet Din (yes, I emailed their food technologist a lot when my OCD was raging a few years ago. I still blush to think of it). I was trying hard not to ask the question, because asking just provokes more questions – the way OCD grows is that you can never be 100% sure of anything, so every answer provokes more questions, as well as accustoming you to asking questions rather than relying on your own judgement. I was fairly sure things were OK and was intent on just leaving it like that.
Unfortunately, today I gave in to ask a question, and then it snowballed. I think I’ve got it under control now, and even for the hour or so that it happened, my anxiety levels were nothing compared with a few years ago. Nevertheless, it’s a reminder of how fragile my mental health can be and how easily things can unravel.
I haven’t got much else to say today. I feel a lot calmer and present-focused now I’ve cut a lot of internet use. I haven’t strictly kept to only using the internet and email twice a day as my therapist suggested, but I’m not doing a lot more than that, except for novel research. I’m also not looking at news and opinion sites much and not at Twitter at all (I haven’t been on other social media sites for years). I feel a lot happier and peaceful, but I worry that I’m becoming ignorant of the world. I guess I feel I can’t change the world much anyway, and the areas where I could change it, I still keep up with. Still, we’re constantly being bombarded with messages about the importance of making a stand, demanding change, “silence is violence” (which I think is a glib and misleading phrase, although it has an element of truth) and so on that not being super-aware of what’s going on seems vaguely immoral.