Things are going well, but I still feel a little anxious, although less so today. I spoke a lot about this in therapy today. Things with PIMOJ are going better than I expected, but I worry they won’t work out. PIMOJ is a lot more positive than me, and a lot more active in her life, and I worry she’ll find me negative and lazy (among other things). I’m trying just to sit with the anxiety rather than give in to it and worry, but it’s not always easy. Anxiety can sneak up on you when you’re looking the wrong way.

It could be several years before we overcome the obstacles in the way of the relationship (including, but not exclusively, my lack of income). I guess the difference between me and PIMOJ is that she thinks it might take just a few years whereas I think it could take quite a few years. I guess it’s a difference of presentation rather than substance, and I’m trying to look at it her way, but it’s hard sometimes. I guess I worry how I will get through things sometimes, and the psychological barrier of realising that I’ll probably be over forty before I can marry (PIMOJ is younger than me and potentially would be in her thirties still). Mind you, regardless of what happens romantically, I feel like I’ll probably be over forty before I really feel myself started in a career, whether writing or librarianship. I feel a bit like God is telling me I can have everything I want BUT I have to trust that He will deliver in His own time. Still, it’s good to have found someone who seems so caring and religious when I thought I was going to have to compromise on those things, and if PIMOJ can’t get me to trust God then no one can.

***

When does discomfort become exemption? I hate wearing a mask. I find it hugely uncomfortable. I have a friend, also on the autism spectrum, who has an exemption card because she literally can not wear a mask. It’s just impossibly uncomfortable for her. Do I find it difficult because I’m autistic or because everyone finds it uncomfortable? How long can I wear one for? I’m OK wearing it for half and a hour or so, but I’m dreading going to shul (synagogue) with one or commuting into London. It is hard to know what to do. At the moment I’m trying to comply, out of courtesy to others and to avoid attracting negative attention. Still, I wonder how long I’ll be able to bear it, as the new normal becomes as busy and demanding as pre-COVID, but with masks and other difficulties. But I don’t think I could bear to get a exemption card, particularly before being formally diagnosed, so I would just avoid situations that require masks (which I’m basically already doing).

***

I missed a phone call, and then found I had an email from someone from shul (synagogue) asking me to call him back. I struggled with social anxiety, but I called him back and found out that he wanted to check that we’re still shielding Mum on Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year, this weekend) as the shul is sending a small gift (I’m guessing some kind of food, probably sweet) to people who are shielding and unable to attend services.

I thought this was really nice. I know I don’t always feel 100% comfortable in my shul, but they are friendly and welcoming and the community is small enough that I get noticed even if I don’t really say anything. The thing I was really pleased about was phoning him back with minimal procrastination, which was hard given that my social anxiety has worsened lately.

I also went to Tesco today to challenge the anxiety around shopping at the moment. It was OK, but it was a small Tesco and I couldn’t find reasons to stay there for more than a few minutes. I’m hoping to spend as long or longer in a shop or shops tomorrow.

16 thoughts on “Anxiety, Romance and Masks

  1. Respect for you, especially regarding PIMOJ; I’ve not felt able to start a relationship for eleven years thanks to circumstances of which I think you know. You are dealing with matters very sensitively and rationally, which is a good thing.

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  2. I do sympathise with your feelings about masks. I am surprised so many people don’t seem to mind them much – even wearing them when they don’t have to e.g. outdoors. I find them extremely uncomfortable and irritating – and at times suffocating. Have to wear them at work all the time as I work for the NHS. I must admit, in the admin office I take mine off at my seat though I am not supposed to. I have run through in my head what I’ll say if challenged. Having to wear a mask to see patients is a big deterrent to going back to face-to-face visits. I prefer to do it all be phone. I imagine I may not be the only one. Yes, you can download an exemption badge from GOV.UK or from a charity like Hidden Disabilities. But then you will have the worry of standing out from others, and attitudes of interfering people and jobsworths who stare at you and think you are a selfish, irresponsible citizen, and even challenge you. Having said that, I think you are quite within your rights not to wear a mask – only you can judge how distressed you feel – you don’t even have to have a medical reason for how you feel — it is entirely subjective.

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    1. Yes, the fear of what other people would say is a big deterrent, alongside feeling that I shouldn’t put other people at risk unless I absolutely can’t cope with a mask. At the moment I feel that I can cope for short trips to the shops, but if I get a job in town and have to spend two hours a day commuting, I may reconsider.

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    1. Scotland has confirmed that visor is acceptable instead of a mask as long as it covers both mouth and nose adequately but England has not yet given any official guidance on this. A few other countries have specified that face shields are not as effective as masks and are not allowed on their own.

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  3. I am one of those who doesn’t mind wearing a mask and have several personalized ones that I actually enjoy wearing. (they make me look younger!) However, I generally don’t wear them for more than a couple hours at a time and usually much less. I have two cheap face shields also; I bought them before experts said that they’re not effective by themselves. I was intending to wear the shield with a mask anyway, which does work. I’m happy that your correspondence with PIMOJ is going well, and that you’re envisioning a more positive future.

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  4. Things do tend to unfold in their own time, even when we want to hurry it along. The mask doesn’t give me anxiety (I got used to wearing one during my cancer treatments), but it’s not comfortable to wear for long periods. I’m not going back to shul if we have to wear masks for the entire service and oneg. I don’t see the point. I’ll wait it out or Zoom room. Shana tova u’metukah!

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