I had a slight headache when I went to bed last night, too slight to take anything for it, or so I thought. Once I was lying down, it got considerably worse, as sometimes happens to me, so I ended up taking painkillers and waiting until they kicked in and I could lie down again. I watched Star Trek: Voyager to pass the time, but the episode, although well-written and acted, turned out to be very dark and bleak, not the best thing to watch with a headache at 1.00am.
Once I did get to sleep, I had a weird dream. I was at the Biblical Museum of Natural History in Israel, the museum I did a virtual tour of last week. In reality, they have a few small live animals in small enclosures in the museum, but in the dream they were pretty much a fully-fledged zoo. They had a large area for primates. They wanted to introduce an orphan baby orangutan to their orangutan family, but the adults rejected him and they could not keep him in the enclosure for fear they would harm him.
On waking up, I realised that I’m the baby orangutan, or I fear I am. I’m very fond of orangutans and gorillas; when I was a child, I had a big poster of an orangutan over my bed. I fear that my “tribe” (the frum (religious Jewish) community) would reject me if they “really” knew me, just like the baby orangutan was rejected. I’m not sure what prompted this thought right now, as I thought that lately I’d become more accepting of the fact that I’m never going to 100% fit in to frum society, or any other society and that I can still try to make friends there, daven (pray) there and so on. Maybe I still have a long way to go before I can accept it emotionally.
I woke up to find that E. had emailed me. She apologised for what happened at the end of our relationship and is really sorry for it and takes the blame for it. She said that she’s trying to fix aspects of her life that I won’t go into here. She said if I want to get in touch “in any capacity” she is willing too.
I don’t think it’s a good idea for us to get back together romantically, even if I wasn’t already talking to someone on JDate. We had two attempts at that, and I think a third would be a bad idea. In theory I’m open to staying friends. I miss her a lot, as a friend. I think she was a good friend, and I don’t think she gives herself enough credit for that. I didn’t really blame her for what happened. I think it was mostly a product of lockdown and the bad place she was in, literally and metaphorically. However, I worry that the mutual attraction between us is so strong that we couldn’t stay platonic friends and we would end up in some never-ending on/off relationship, which I do not want, not least because it would stop me moving on. So, I need to spend some time to think about this and whether I can manage a close platonic friendship that doesn’t “boil over” into something more dangerous and complicated. To be honest, my gut instinct is that I can’t, which saddens me, but I’m not sure what I can do about it.
Just a few weeks ago everything seemed stagnant. I was feeling a little frustrated, but also aware that a return to movement would be a return to anxiety. Now, movement has come back: JDate, work (the exam I will hopefully have this week), E., the approaching Jewish festival season… From this coming Friday my parents and I go back into very strict shielding for the two weeks before Mum’s operation, so that’s another thing approaching. There is some anxiety at times, particularly late at night. It’s hard to remember sometimes that it’s a good anxiety (ish), from things moving on.
As for today, I felt a bit down initially today, despite saying the other day that my depression is not such an issue and is mainly a reaction to autistic burnout. I felt little motivation and low energy early on today, as well as somewhat low mood, but nowhere near as bad as it’s been in the past. I feel today’s depression is probably primarily a response to anxiety, to things that I’m anxious about and to the experience of anxiety in the last few days. I guess too much anxiety can lead to burnout too.
I tried to fight through the tiredness and lack of motivation to read over more of my novel. I wrote notes to myself for when I’m redrafting, mostly to add or remove words or expand passages (especially “show don’t tell”), but I found myself writing DO NOT LIKE at one passage I particularly disliked. I find it hard to judge how well-written the novel is. I can perhaps tell with individual paragraphs, but assessing the ongoing narrative and character arcs is a lot harder. This is why I’m re-reading the whole novel before really getting to grips with redrafting, to get an idea of the bigger picture.
Working on the novel helped lift my mood a bit, even if I worry that I won’t be able to get it into good enough shape to find a publisher. At the moment, it’s a target to focus on. I am trying to break down rewriting into small, finite, tasks, starting with re-reading the whole novel and listing the major incidents to get a better idea of how the plot is flowing, if it is unfolding evenly or not.
I felt anxious again by the early evening, and I wasn’t sure if it was about dating, E.’s email, or worrying that I would get an exercise migraine if I went for a run. Or maybe something else entirely that I was consciously unaware of. Sometimes it is hard even for me to read myself. I had the sudden horrible worry that all I’ve done is swap depression for anxiety. I guess time will tell.
Some stuff happened in the evening that was very anxiety-provoking, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing it here. I think I navigated it OK, although perhaps not great.
Achievements: an hour or two of working on my novel (I lost track of exactly how long); a 5K run (no exercise migraine, thankfully); about forty-five minutes of Torah study. It doesn’t look like so much, but I was fighting depression and anxiety at times, so it’s a bigger achievement than it appears. I guess even if I think my depression and anxiety are now largely driven by external events and autistic burnout, that doesn’t mean they are going to vanish or suddenly become easier to deal with. It’s a process every day of forcing myself to get up, to get going, to do some productive activities, to make sure I get the food, rest and relaxation that I need to avoid burnout. Just to keep going, trying to live my life as well as I can.