I went to bed late last night. It’s hard having E in a time zone behind me, as it makes going to bed earlier hard, although I’m pretty good at staying up too late even without that and indeed was online late yesterday blogging and social media-ing. I wanted to watch an episode of The Avengers yesterday (I’d say the John Steed and Emma Peel Avengers to distinguish from Marvel, but I wanted to watch a Cathy Gale episode), but I ran out of time and ended up reading instead. I recently started Accidental Presidents, a non-fiction book about the eight men who succeeded to the American presidency via the vice-presidency when the elected incumbent died. It’s interesting and not particularly heavy-going, but it assumes a greater knowledge of nineteenth century American politics and history than I have, and the writing verges on the clichéd, with some weirdly anachronistic metaphors (e.g. saying President Tyler’s plans hit a “speed bump”). It probably wasn’t hugely relaxing to read at night, though.
Whether I did too much yesterday or didn’t relax enough or both or neither, I was exhausted this morning. I had to get out of bed at 10.30am to help with the Tesco order and stayed up afterwards to daven (pray) before the time for Morning Prayers was over (now an hour earlier due to the clocks going back). But my mind felt “scattered” and unfocused the way it does when I’m feeling exhausted, and my mood was low. I revised my plans for today, as I didn’t think I had the time or headspace to listen to the hour and a half shiur (religious class) from Aviva Gottleib Zornberg that I wanted to listen to today (the only one of the LSJS’ pre-Rosh Hashanah shiurim that I haven’t listened to yet).
I did manage half an hour or so of novel writing, but I found it hard to focus. I had therapy. It was a good session, but the sadness came back afterwards. I went for a walk and listened to some of a religious podcast in lieu of Torah study, which I really couldn’t face.
I still feel vaguely obliged to help people on the autism forum, and slightly guilty if I can’t. A teenage girl posted something there today, but I could barely understand it and I had no idea what to say to a troubled, possibly suicidal and psychotic (her words), teenage girl with a personality disorder that would help her. Admittedly it’s hard to know how to help someone whose post title is a string of swearwords directed at people trying to help her, but I still feel sad and vaguely guilty.
I’m also beating myself up for general social media use and difficulty knowing how to communicate with people online. I hope this is just another bad day and not the start of depression or SAD.
People write about famous people with autism (supposedly) e.g. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Dan Ackroyd, Elon Musk, Alan Turing, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci and so on (to be honest, I find the historical attributions speculative at best and often fanciful. The fact that someone was clever and a bit eccentric doesn’t automatically mean they were neurodiverse). I find these lists difficult to read, as it suggests I could succeed like them. Which makes me feel that if I can’t succeed, it must be my fault, rather than because autism manifests differently in different people and they got lucky with traits that helped them do what they wanted to do, rather than holding them back.
Related: it occurred to me that many of the frum people I know who had mental health issues ended up not frum. I don’t know if there’s causation there or just correlation, and my survey is certainly not statistically significant, but it makes me feel good (that I stayed frum) and bad (that having mental health issues correlates with leaving the frum world and there’s no guarantee I will stay frum in the future, particularly if my depression comes back). I don’t really know enough Jewish people with autism to tell if there’s a correlation with leaving frumkeit there, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
Reading about the Israeli elections (the likely return of Netanyahu, the success of the far-right) just made me feel worse. I felt I should write something to say that Itamar Ben-Gvir and Betzalel Smotrich don’t represent me, as an Orthodox Jew and Zionist, but really I was too depressed to face up to it. I just felt awful.
It’s extra hard being away from E when I feel like this. I need hugs, really.
The good news: my sleep study apparatus (if that’s the right word) should be sent to me next week, so hopefully that will help me move forward with working out what (else) is wrong with me. It can take up to twelve weeks to get the results. And E’s other birthday present arrived today (I ordered her two books, but only one arrived last week). It really is coincidence that I keep buying E books that I would like to read as presents! Or rather, it’s less coincidence and more a reflection that we do have a lot of shared interests. She was pleased with the present, but she won’t get to read them for a while.
E and I also had a Zoom marriage class in the evening, which this week was about the structure of the Jewish wedding ceremony. I learnt a few things, which was good. I feel less depressed now, so maybe some of it was anxiety. I’m very tired though and going to bed soon. The class did make me marvel again at how allistic (non-autistic) people can often chat and make small talk so easily. Talk about super-powers…