Shutdown

I feel quite depressed today, plus I’ve had some anxiety too.  I had a bit yesterday evening, and today it’s worse.  I’m not sure what triggered it exactly.  I’m pretty sure it’s stuff I’ve seen online as it restarted after being online this morning, but I’m not sure what triggered it exactly.  Tablet magazine ran three stories yesterday on antisemitism in left-wing/anti-racist/cancel culture circles, which was a lot even by their standards, so that contributed to it, but it started before then and I don’t know why it restarted this morning.  There’s the usual despair about being alone and unemployed forever too.  I’m not sure whether I should worry about dying alone and unloved or being killed by antisemites.  I suppose they aren’t mutually exclusive.

I feel I have some creeping ‘pure O’ OCD thoughts again lately.  Not the religious OCD so much as scrupulosity “am I a good person?  Maybe I’m secretly sexist/racist/whatever?” thoughts.  Sometimes my thoughts just seem horrible and polluted and I wonder where they even come from.

I want to be more positive, here and in general, but it’s hard.  While my worst fears haven’t fully come true, it would be untrue to say that none of my fears have ever materialised.  The best I can say is that worrying about being lonely in the future is just contributing to loneliness now, not that I think it realistic that I won’t be lonely in the future.  I wonder if I should try to write less here, to be less negative, but I feel I need to be able to vent somewhere and it’s easier in writing.

I tried to write my novel and just started crying without knowing why.  I went back to bed and wrapped myself in my duvet for autistic comfort for a bit, trying not to think about shoulds (“I should get a weighted blanket”) and then went into a bit of a shutdown (I’m not really sure if I experience autistic shutdowns as such, but I don’t know how else to describe what can happen to me when I’m exhausted and depressed).  Eventually I fell asleep, I’m not sure how long for.

I cooked dinner, because I had promised to, as Mum had chemo today so is too tired to cook.  I also worked on my devar Torah (Torah thought), because I really needed to get that more or less finished today.  I’m a bit happier with than yesterday, but not hugely so.  However, overall, this day has largely been a mental health day.  I haven’t been well enough to do much.  I could do some more work on the novel now I feel a bit better, but I’m wary of doing it, because this evening and tomorrow is Tisha B’Av, the Fast of 9th of Av, the saddest day in the Jewish year, when we lament the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the exile of the Jews from the Land of Israel and the many tragedies of Jewish history.  Pretty much anything enjoyable is prohibited, including (among other things) eating and drinking and Torah study.  I feel I need to relax a bit beforehand or I won’t get through it.  I won’t watch TV tomorrow and unlike Shabbat and Yom Tov (Sabbath and festivals), I won’t read fiction or graphic novels or anything fun.  So I feel that I should relax beforehand.  I’m a bit torn.

It can be hard to fill the day on Tisha B’Av; unlike Yom Kippur, there is a long afternoon to fill with no shul (synagogue) services.  I will be “attending” Zoom services tonight from my shul and hopefully some shiurim (religious classes) tomorrow, depending how I feel.  I have to eat, because I’m on lithium, but I will try to fast until halakhic midday tomorrow (the evening and morning are considered sadder than the afternoon, so it’s better to wait for then until breaking my fast).  I seem to get psychosomatic headaches on fast days as if I was dehydrated.  I don’t know why that happens.  I haven’t decided whether I will work on my novel.  Work is permitted, but “the righteous” are discouraged from doing it.  In the past, I’ve avoided work, but I can get sucked into a huge pit of dangerous despair that is going beyond what is required of the day.  Sometimes it feels like it’s getting harder each year; that each year of Tisha B’Av with clinical depression feels somehow cumulatively harder, like they carry over from one year to the next.  I don’t know what is causing that feeling.

Achievements

I overslept again, had weird dreams that were disturbing, but too confused to relate and I struggled to get going, feeling too drained and depressed.  Feeling tearful at times and not sure why.

I was still beating myself up about things as I tried to eat breakfast and get dressed, albeit different things recently.  I feel like I’m cycling through different negative emotions lately: anxiety, despair, now guilt.  At the moment negative thoughts are sort of blocked out by a stomach ache that I’ve had on and off for a couple of weeks.  I think it’s a medication side-effect, but want to try to get an appointment with a doctor to check, if I can manage to get one (they usually get taken really fast when released at 8.30am (when I’m asleep anyway) and 6.30pm).

I went for a run, did forty-five minutes of Torah study, Skyped E. for an hour and a half or so and spoke to my sister on the phone for ten or fifteen minutes.  I also started to work on self-publishing my non-fiction Doctor Who book (remembering to stress that it’s “unofficial and unauthorised” on the title page so I don’t hear from the BBC’s lawyers).  It looks a bit harder than I was expecting.  Also, it seems that the formatting guidelines I’ve been following for pitching stuff are out of date (is this why I’m having such trouble selling my writing?).  If anyone knows of good online submission layout guidelines, I’d be grateful!

Lulu.com requires the entire book as a single document in a pdf.  I spent nearly an hour and a half late at night (yes, I’m still quasi-nocturnal) copying and pasting chapters saved as separate files into a single document and then adjusting the font.  I’ve still got some stuff to do to take away the notation I thought I should use for layout and italics when submitting to publishers.  I also need to add a few sentences to explain that the book went to press too early to cover 2020’s episodes (I’m too busy with my novel to return to the Doctor Who book for long enough to significantly revise the final chapter).  I’m also publishing as “Initials, Surname” rather than “First name, Surname” to distinguish this non-fiction Doctor Who writing from anything else I might ever publish (hopefully, one day) and might not want to see associated with self-published work in a different genre.

I guess that’s quite a bit done, even if much of it was later than I should really have been working.  I wish I felt more satisfaction and pride in achieving things like this, rather than just blaming myself for not managing more.  I guess that takes me back to guilt and self-recrimination.

***

I finished Penguin Lost last  night.  It was good, but not as good as Death and the Penguin, although maybe after over fifteen years my memory of the earlier book is wonky.  Slightly weird ending though.

I’m glad to say I enjoyed Doctor Who today, even though I didn’t understand it all (I was going to say it made very little sense, but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt) and I still have no idea where the plot-device antidote came from.

Crocodile! Otherwise Boring

I overslept again and woke up after a disturbing dream about being attacked by a crocodile in my old shul (synagogue), the one I went to until we moved four years ago.

Crocodiles aside, I had a productive day, albeit not necessarily doing the most important things.  I guess it was a day for prioritising ‘urgent’ over ‘important.’  I wanted to cook vegetarian bean chilli for dinner (Mum does voluntary work on Tuesday afternoons, so I usually cook), but this required a long walk to Sainsbury’s to buy ingredients.  This was good exercise, but took time away from job hunting and novel writing.  I cooked dinner, by which stage it was almost time to eat and go to my Tuesday shiur (the one where I really like the content, but am too shy to speak to any of the people, most of whom are much older than me and seem to know each other from outside the shiur).

I did at least send off my proposals for the library I was interviewed for/pitched to last week.  I’m rather nervous about where this may go.  I hope it turns out well.

I managed to get half an hour to work on my novel, finishing the first draft of another chapter.

This is not remotely scientific, but the last two days I used my SAD light-box for forty-five minutes a day and I seemed to feel better.  Today I was only able to use it briefly for various reasons, and I felt like I was on the brink of tears for no obvious reason at different times (and not just when I was chopping onions for dinner).  I still very depressed, worried and frustrated about the election, and about antisemitism generally.  There’s not a lot I can do about that though.  Sadly, there isn’t really anywhere in the world where it’s completely safe to be Jewish.  I mean, I know it’s not completely safe for anyone, anywhere, but you know what I mean.

“I am not a number, I am a free man!”

I know I went on a rant yesterday about politics.  I feel very conflicted about politics at the moment.  I know that civil society depends on people campaigning for change, I just feel disenfranchised and not sure what to do.  There was an interview in The Jewish Chronicle with Ian Austin, the former Labour MP who resigned in protest over antisemitism in the party and is now telling people to vote Conservative to keep Labour out because of their antisemitism problem.  I think he did the right thing, but I’m not sure it’s going to make any difference.  There isn’t a party that represents what I think, and I’m terrified by what some of the parties are campaigning for, particularly Labour, which has gone in the space of just a few years from a moderate social democratic party to rabidly antisemitic crypto-Marxist one (maybe not so crypto).  Challenged about antisemitism, the standard response seems to be, “We aren’t antisemitic, there genuinely is a massive international Jewish-capitalist conspiracy that controls all Western governments and owns all the banks and media.”  All said with no trace of irony (English or otherwise).  I just feel a huge dread of what’s going to happen to our country, and the world, in the coming years.

I’m not sure I can really comment on politics objectively at the moment.  I read an article by someone I used to be friends with and my disagreement with elements of his politics blends into my upset at the way he treated me personally, which had nothing to do with politics, but showed up his desire for brotherly love and treating people kindly as a bit of a sham.  I don’t know how much my annoyance with him is political and how much is personal.  Probably a bit of both, as I don’t think I disagree with his politics enough to explain this much of a negative response.  But I don’t know.  Can we ever truly separate the political and the personal?  Should we?  I really don’t know.

I put Twitter back on my blocked sites list for now.  I just needed to get away from it.  I may go and network on there at some point, but not at the moment.

***

I feel that dread in my own life too.  I just can’t seem to get out of the depressed rut.  I know what I should be doing to work on my life and my career, it’s just so hard to do it.  I still feel a lot of social anxiety even after CBT and that’s holding me back along with the depression itself.

I woke feeling very depressed again today.  It took me more than two hours to get up, eat breakfast and get dressed.  I kept going back to bed and it was impossible to have the energy to get going.  I davened (prayed) after lunch rather than before because I didn’t have the energy earlier.  I hope this does not become a habit.  I had a bit of religious OCD today too, wondering if some frozen microwave food in our freezer was really kosher even though I was fairly sure my Mum had told me she I had bought it from a kosher shop.  I worried that I was mis-remembering and checked with her (which I shouldn’t do).  Now I’m worried that the kosher shop made a mistake.  I know my kashrut OCD flares up when I’m under stress, so that’s a sign that I’m not doing well at the moment.

I’ve been sucked into online procrastination again.  I’m trying to apply for benefits, but the form is so dense and off-putting (probably deliberately).  I felt agitated and on the brink of tears.  I would fill in one or two boxes and then feel overwhelmed (by what?) and stop because I want to cry.  I feel that my life is a mess and there’s nothing I can do about it, that the world is a mess and there’s even less I can do about it.  I don’t want to be on benefits, but I can’t see myself getting any kind of job while I’m in this state, but I need structure and activity…  The form asks for when my illness started and I don’t know what to put.  2003?  2000?  Who knows by this stage?

In the end I gave up on the form and went for a twenty-five minute run in the cold and dark instead, which exhausted me, but gave me some respite from my negative thoughts, although I worried about politics most of the time, when I wasn’t worrying that every shadowy passer-by was a mugger (7.30pm is well after dark at the moment).  I was exhausted when I got home even after a shower and dinner, but I worked on my novel for thirty or forty minutes.  My concentration was poor, but I got through a difficult scene.  I also managed ten or fifteen minutes of Torah study.  I ate a Magnum ice cream, partly as a reward for getting through a difficult day, partly to keep me awake long enough to do a bit of Torah study.  I know this will probably put back any weight I might have lost jogging, but I don’t really care.  I had to get through the day somehow.

I do feel like I’ve really tearing myself apart about a lot of things lately, some obviously trivial (like whether it would be a betrayal of my values to watch James Bond films), some genuinely worrying (the election).  I strongly suspect the trivial and maybe even the serious worries are standing in for something else, or are a return of clinical anxiety, which I’ve never been good at identifying in myself.

***

Ashley Leia commented on my last post to say it must be exhausting hiding my life from my religious community, but I’ve been hiding all my life.  At school it was hard to know which of my interests would be OK and which would be a target for the bullies, but Doctor Who was resolutely unfashionable; even at the more mature age of being an undergraduate, people stared at me in amazement or laughed when it emerged that I was a fan (this was before the relaunch of the programme and its return to popularity).

***

In terms of enjoyment, I’m wondering if I’m not enjoying things at the moment or if I’m just reading/watching/listening to the wrong things.  Over the last few weeks I’ve listened to some Doctor Who audio books and audio dramas.  A couple were good, but most weren’t.  I’ve never been able to get into these audios and I’m not sure why.  Some of it is probably difficulty concentrating on audio when I’m depressed, but I’ve been equivocal about these even when not depressed.

I’m also reading volume three of the complete short stories of Philip K. Dick.  Dick is one of my favourite authors, but I’m struggling to connect with the stop/start pace of reading short stories and having to understand a new set of characters and a new world with each story (“new world” literally, given that these are science fiction stories) so I might switch to a novel.

On the other hand, I started watching The Prisoner again, for the umpteenth time.  I don’t know if it’s autism, but I can watch my favourite things over and over without getting bored, but be really apprehensive about watching or reading anything new unless I’m very confident that I’m going to enjoy it and not be upset by it.  Watching The Prisoner is probably a bit dangerous for me.  For those who don’t know, The Prisoner was an espionage/science fiction series from the sixties.  A British spy resigns from his job and wakes up in a strange Village where people are numbers.  He wants to escape, the authorities want to find out why he resigned (that’s just the title sequence).  They only made seventeen episodes, which, alongside star/co-creator/executive producer/sometime writer and director Patrick McGoohan’s significant input gives the whole thing an auteured feel unusual in British TV of that era.

The reason it’s dangerous for me is that it deals with issues of individuality, conformism, freedom and so on and I respond strongly to it, probably too strongly.  While Doctor Who is my favourite TV series, The Prisoner is the one I connect to most emotionally.  I discovered the series when I was at university, when I was at my most depressed, and in my head Oxford and the Village became one, as did the Prisoner’s loneliness and struggle for agency and my own.  As with Kafka and Dick, the casual surrealism reflected the way I experience life, which often seems disturbing and illogical (this may be the result of autism, but maybe not).  The final episode, which suggests the Prisoner may literally be his own worst enemy only adds to my emotional connection with it, as well as my self-hatred.  The reading of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, that “The Prisoner who continues to resist brainwashing may have brainwashed himself into a prison of the mind.  The series’ thesis may thus be that freedom is impossible, as is opting out” is something that resonates a lot with me.  I do wonder if I’m my own worst enemy, and I do want to drop out of society while simultaneously seeing dropping out as both impossible and immoral.

I can see the Oxford parallels with the Village; in the years when I was too depressed to study or work, I could see parallels with the apparently endless therapeutic process and the byzantine bureaucracy of the benefits system; nowadays I can see the parallels with my position in the Jewish community, and the Jewish community’s position in the country.  Watching the first episode, Arrival, tonight, what I noticed more than before is the way the Village infantilises people to make them placid and docile; there are real-world examples with the market and the state, but what resonated with me today was my illness infantilising me.

The Prisoner is a very fun series to watch, from a time when British TV could deal with serious issues in a popular way without becoming condescending or self-important and self-righteous, and was able to question its own values.  There was a six-part American remake miniseries ten years that wasn’t nearly as fun, although it did have its good points.  And that’s without getting into the non-political readings, that the Prisoner is dead and stuck in Purgatory or a cycle of reincarnations.  It’s a series you can really immerse yourself in.

(And I haven’t even mentioned the enigmatic, silent, butler or the weird Rover weather balloon robot guards or the use of diegetic use of music or the jokes or the theme music or the way the Prisoner/McGoohan (never has it been easier to blur the lines between character and actor) loses it at someone or something in most episodes or the fact that it’s a TV programme with it’s own font or, or, or…)

Be seeing you!

Square Peg, Meet Round Hole

I use this blog for daily private journaling as well as this public side.  The private journal is mostly just a list of things I did that day plus a note on how I felt and a link to that day’s public post, but yesterday I wrote a terse note about how I was interpreting my life: “Managed to do quite a lot, but frustrated that I couldn’t do more and that I procrastinated; this level of guilty may be unfair and counter-productive.” (Emphasis added.)  I know it doesn’t sound much, but it’s a big thing for me to note my guilt and suggest it might be misplaced.

***

I had a phone call with my CBT therapist.  It was just to check in and see that I haven’t relapsed in the three weeks since our last session so that she can discharge me.  My social anxiety is somewhat better, but my depression is worse.  She was somewhat concerned about this.  I wasn’t so worried, because I think my depression can’t be cured, only managed (although arguably at the moment I am not managing it well).  I think I’ve learnt some useful CBT tricks with this therapist for dealing with social anxiety and self-esteem, albeit that I still struggle in these areas.  However, the depression is bad, but I think it will always be bad, or at least much of the time.  Certainly CBT has not helped the depression much in the past and I would have mixed feelings about trying it again – it would feel like wasting everyone’s time and money, including my own.

***

I tried to start writing a devar Torah (Torah thought/essay), but rapidly realised that (a) the idea I was hoping to use wasn’t enough for a 1,000 word essay, (b) the idea had no particular point to it and (c) I would have to quote a Midrash from an unpublished manuscript quoted by Aviva Gottleib Zornberg and I wasn’t sure I could get away with unpublished manuscripts found by a modern, non-Haredi scholar (who also happens to be a woman, to make it more shocking).  Maybe one of those things, but not all three (manuscript; modern/non-Haredi; female).  The alternative is to write about the idea I wrote about yesterday, but I don’t know the original source for that idea and, again, I don’t think I could get away with quoting it in the name of a Modern Orthodox Rosh Yeshiva.  It’s a shame, as you could take the “children of Rachel = spirituality in physicality” idea and run with it looking at the way that the Yosef (Joseph) narrative in Bereshit (Genesis) mirrors Queen Esther’s story in Megillat Esther (Esther) – both Yosef and Mordechai (and presumably therefore Esther) were descendants of Rachel.  If you had room, you could then potentially talk about hester panim, the hiding of God’s presence in the latter story but not the former.

My life would be a lot easier and potentially happier if there was a more lively and engaged Modern Orthodoxy in this country in general and in my area in particular that I could engage with.

***

I do feel depressed today, partly because of the devar Torah disappointment, partly perhaps from finishing CBT and wondering if I should have tried to stay in therapy to work on the depression despite my reservations, or even just realising (again) that my depression is here to stay.  I’m also getting concerned that I still haven’t heard when my autism assessment is (I was referred in December with a waiting list of eight to twelve months).  My Mum emailed the hospital; no response.  The GP offered to check and I said yes; no response from the GP.  The charity that did my autism screening offered to check and I said yes; no response from the charity.  It’s getting a bit troubling.  I guess the wet, dark weather and the shrinking amount of daylight don’t help the depression either.

***

I spoke to my parents’ primary school teacher friend about volunteering as a Teaching Assistant.  Actually, my Mum spoke, as I was in full autistic ‘this is big and scary and is an implicit open question and I don’t know how to approach it’ lack of executive function mode.  She said she could probably get me voluntary TA work at the primary school she works in either a secular or limmudei kodesh (Jewish Studies) classes, but there is quite a long commute on the bus.  She thought she might be able to get me into a local Jewish primary school too, which would be better from a commute point of view, but she doesn’t know the school now it’s a state school run by a private company (rather than the state itself).

I’m terrified by the whole idea of working with children.  I really don’t know why so many people think I’m good with young children.  On the other hand, librarianship is not working for me at all, and if I do manage to make a career as a writer, it isn’t going to happen for a long time and I need to earn money in the meantime which means working in another sector, even if I volunteer to try that sector out first.  The fact that so many people (critical people, to be honest) have said I’m good with children must count for something, but, talking to my parents’ friend, I was just feeling that this is going to be yet another thing that I fail at.  By the end of the conversation (only a couple of minutes) I was feeling completely overwhelmed and worried that I was about to burst into tears.

***

I went to my Thursday shiur (religious class).  I feel very out of place now, but I don’t want to attract attention – and potentially discussion of my beliefs – by not going.  The hashkafa (religious philosophy) of the rabbi doesn’t really align with mine.  I don’t know why I used to tolerate that, but find it harder now, maybe because now I feel that the community isn’t right for me, or that I have gone back to reading the Rationalist Judaism blog (although I have big problems with that too).  It’s quite kabbalistic (mystical).  I feel like I’m hiding myself there.  Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad if I did manage to write that devar Torah, but…  Still, I want to write a novel one day (not the one I’ve already started) about mysticism, religious rationalism and religious existentialism in Judaism/the Jewish community, so I guess it counts as research on that.

On the way to shiur I listened to a five minute devar Torah from Rabbi Lord Sacks on Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) which is read on the Shabbat of SukkotKohelet is all about the futility of life and how to give it meaning.  Rabbi Lord Sacks says that Kohelet sees meaning in joy, specifically the joy of honest work, the joy of marriage and the joy of being grateful and living in the moment.  I don’t have the first two; I try to be grateful and live in the moment, but somehow I struggle with it and never get any actual joy out of it.  I don’t know what to do.  Based on what I’ve seen him write elsewhere, I suspect Rabbi Sacks would say I should stop seeking joy and just focus on other people and it will come naturally, but social anxiety makes it impossible for me to come into contact with other people without becoming hugely focused on myself.

Tomorrow the rabbi of my shul is hosting an oneg (a sort of Sabbath party with alcohol, junk food, singing and divrei Torah/Torah thoughts) in his sukkah.  I struggle with these things.  When I was new to my shul, I tried to go to a couple and ended up standing outside literally crying with social anxiety.  I think I would probably get in the door now I feel somewhat more at home in the community, or at least more familiar with it, but I feel I don’t enjoy these things the way I should and I’ve got less chance of getting to shul on Shabbat (Saturday) morning if I go to the oneg, so I should think strategically and stay away.  That would all argue against going, but I feel I should try to be a part of the community and maybe one day I’ll enjoy something like a normal person would…  Life is hard.

***

I feel like a square peg in a round hole.  Some of it is being ‘modern’ in a moderate Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community, but I think it’s deeper than that.  I don’t fit anywhere; moreover, I have to admit that there’s a part of me that actively sabotages fitting in anywhere.  I honestly think that part of my problem is that a part of me wants not to fit in anywhere and finds reasons why I don’t fit in whatever the situation is.  Reasons that no one could accept me if they knew the ‘real’ me.  Reasons to withdraw and stay away.  Call it Groucho Marx Syndrome: “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.”  In my shul I feel too modern, but when I go to Modern Orthodox shiurim, I feel that people aren’t frum (religious) enough.  I am not naive and I can bring kashas (questions based on contradictions and logical flaws) on Jewish philosophy, but I can bring kashas on Enlightenment and postmodern thought too, so I’m staying Jewish and frum.  I don’t have wisdom or understand the meaning of life or how to live it.  I’m not sure that I can even describe myself as a seeker of meaning or wisdom (perhaps.  I hope so).  I don’t know what I am, really and I don’t know who can accept me.

***

It feels like it’s just been a pointless, wasted day that should have been a fun Chol HaMoed day if I was a “normal” person, which I’m not.  I really need a day of nothing to recover from all the Yom Tovim (festivals), but I have more Yom Tov coming next week and then job hunting and then a trip to Israel that I’m dreading, then more job hunting… I just got an email for a training day for people considering changing career that I should (that word again) go to, but I can’t face it.  I wish I could access the hidden positive feelings I recently said I must have about God and Torah and Judaism, because right now they would be very useful, but they’re very hidden.  I try to connect, but I can’t.

***

I had weird dreams again last night, although I can only remember fragments: Boris Johnson, the London Underground, World War I (I think, but maybe World War II, or both) and giving away lots of my books to charity shops and then trying to buy them all back again because I regretted it.  Also raising someone else’s baby, and dying.  All life is here in my subconscious.  I wish I knew what it all means, or could access it in my writing.

Rumours of Death

I don’t know why it’s so painful to think that I’ll never be loved romantically/sexually, but it is.  I mean, there are lots of supposedly-pleasurable experiences that I’ve never tried and have no interest in trying, but somehow I can’t convince myself that this probably won’t make me feel much better either.  Who knows if I would even be any good at relationships?  (Although my exes didn’t seem to complain about my boyfriendness, just about values clashes or my financial situation.)  I’m not terribly good at most things, particularly not things that are emotional or physical rather than intellectual, and I don’t really enjoy many things at all (anhedonia).  E. once suggested that if I slept with someone, I would see that sex isn’t so great and stop thinking about it so much.  I know that I couldn’t cope with casual sex for both religious and emotional reasons, so that’s pretty much a non-starter.  And I suspect my first girlfriend was right about my being frigid, although she didn’t know about the autism.

***

I’m applying for a job with a massive, involved job description and a lot of responsibility, but which is part-time with relatively short hours and low salary.  I suspect this would be a high-stress job.  I suppose they are probably looking for someone at the end of their career, with lots of experience, but looking to wind down a bit and work part-time for a few years before retiring.  I applied anyway.

I started crying again partway through.  I really don’t want to be here (in my life).

***

I had another go at getting my new phone.  It turns out that I hadn’t ordered it on Friday, but I have done so now and the phone should be in on this Friday.  I felt embarrassed a lot while I was there, because I don’t really understand much about the process of getting a new phone and setting up a new contract and so was not properly prepared.  I don’t really care about phones or even use mine that much, so autistically I just ignore them and everything to do with them.  Then, when the salesman did a credit check, I had to admit that I’m nearly thirty-six, but am unemployed and live with my parents.  Why didn’t I get a new phone earlier this year, when I was working?

On the way to Carphone Warehouse (why do they still call themselves that when carphones don’t exist any more?), I got caught up in a group of Haredi mothers and their young children on the way home from school.  I thought one of them looked like someone I was at school with, although it was hard to tell as she was wearing a sheitel (wig), as per the frum (religious Orthodox Jewish) norm.  It would not surprise me if it was her.  I went to a Jewish school, albeit not a very frum one, but I think quite a number of people were “kiruved” (ugly word, half Hebrew, half English, for the process whereby non-religious Jews are encouraged/proselytised to become religious, usually by a formal outreach organisation or movement like Aish or Chabad).  I’ve come across some of the men I was at school with in my shul or the wider Jewish community around here, generally married with children, sometimes with smicha (rabbinical ordination).  I imagine there are more women, as I think more women become frum than men.

It is hard to know how to process this.  For one thing, it is hard to respect rabbis who I remember as not always well-behaved or intellectually outstanding schoolboys.  I suppose that’s a problem a lot of people have when the people they knew grew up.  (I’m sure there are people who were at Eton or Oxford in the seventies and eighties saying, “Boris Johnson?  Really?!”  Mind you, lots of people who weren’t at Eton or Oxford with him are saying that.)  But sometimes I wonder, if I had been “kiruved” in a more formal way, instead of resisting that and becoming frum in my own way, would I be integrated better into the community?  Would I be married with children by now?  (Kiruv rabbis apparently try to marry people off ASAP because early marriage is the norm, but, some say, because if you have a frum spouse, you are socially less likely to backslide, at least not overtly.)  Would I even be a rabbi?  But in order to be kiruved I would have had to have not been resistant to going to Shabbatons and social events, which would probably have meant that I wasn’t autistic (or at least I wasn’t bullied for being autistic), which in turn would trigger more changes downstream and I might not have ended up frum at all.

***

I just feel really lonely.  I try to keep busy, but when I stop, the loneliness comes back.  I feel so depressed and lonely right now and I don’t know why.  I should do some Torah study or work on the books I’m writing, but I just can’t.  It’s not even a question of having enough energy or motivation, my brain is just not working, not even for a few minutes.  I might try to go to shul later, as I don’t have to do much more than I would at home (I would daven at home), just cope with being in a social environment for half an hour.  Plus two twenty minute walks (after two fifteen minute walks earlier).  But I feel a bit agitated, so it will be good to walk.

***

I did a Blake’s 7 marathon recently (does it count as a marathon if you don’t binge-watch, but do one episode a day for months?  I don’t really binge-watch stuff) and I keep thinking about the end of my favourite episode, Star One.  The context is that Blake and his fellow freedom-fighters have discovered that the evil Federation is about to be invaded by alien from Andromeda.  Although they’ve been trying to overthrow the Federation, they decide that the Andromedans would be even worse and determine to take a stand to hold off the invasion force while the Federation brings in reinforcements.  Blake retires injured from the flight deck of the Liberator, leaving the cynical, self-interested Avon in charge.  When Avon doubts whether Blake really trusts him Blake responds, “For what it is worth, I have always trusted you.  From the very beginning.”

I keep replaying this in my mind and wishing that someone would say something like that to me.  That God would say that to me.  No one would, though.  Trusting me would not be a sensible idea (although whether trusting Blake and Avon was sensible is another question – spoilers!).  But still.  I would like to feel that I can do something worthwhile here, but I don’t.

Standing on the Margins

I’ve been up and down again today.  I slept late again, after insomnia last night, which turned out to be because I’d forgotten to take my meds (I fell asleep around 3am, after taking them).  At times today I’ve been OK, but I tried doing some Torah study earlier and started crying.  I still feel very depressed.  There wasn’t an obvious trigger.

I did manage about half an hour of Torah study in the end.  It feels too little, particularly after what I wrote yesterday about “toiling” in Torah study in order to learn anything, but I just don’t feel able to do any more.  Am I being lazy?  Or beating myself up too much?  I don’t know.  My rational brain says I can force myself to do more, but the emotional side of me feels overloaded and unable to go on.  My self-esteem generally is low and I feel that I’m just not doing enough of anything at the moment: I didn’t job hunt today or do much Torah study or work on my books (except for watching Doctor Who: Demons of the Punjab for research for my book; I did work out why I don’t really like it, but that’s not entirely relevant to either this post or the book, although it was oddly mirrored by Michael Weingrad’s article today on Game of Thrones for the Jewish Review of Books).  All I did, aside from that half-hour of Torah study was a few Shabbat chores and some dusting, plus I’m hoping to go to shul (synagogue) in an hour.

I feel jealous of people who love Torah study, particularly men who love, and are good at, Talmudic study.  It must make being frum (religious Orthodox Jewish) so much easier and more enjoyable, just as it seems easier to be extrovert, and especially neurotypical, in such a community-based religion.  The assistant rabbi was speaking last night of spending hours studying with his chevruta (study partner), tearing just a few lines of Talmudic text to pieces and putting back together again in myriad ways until the understand it, and how disgusted he feels afterwards with the simplified “for dummies” explanations in the Artscroll Talmud edition commentary.  I can’t even understand the Artscroll explanations and I certainly can’t function with a chevruta, which is supposed to be the ideal Jewish way to study.

It’s funny, I tend to assume that I have no share in Olam HaBa (the World to Come i.e. Heaven).  Partly it’s that I can’t imagine anything that good happening to me (everything in my life goes wrong sooner or later, usually sooner), but also our images of Heaven – the Heavenly yeshiva where everyone studies Torah with HaShem (God), the great banquet, the circle dance around HaShem – they are all communal images.  True they are only metaphors, there isn’t a literal yeshiva, feast or dance in Heaven, but whenever I try to imagine myself in the images, it’s just awful.  I can’t study yeshiva-style, I get overloaded by the noise and the people and am too shy to say anything even if I understand the subject matter.  I hate parties and avoid them; when I do I’m left standing by the fringes (which I read the other day is what happens if you earn a not-so-good place in Olam HaBa).  And, as I noted recently, I hate circle dancing (not that I like any other type either); again, I leave early on Simchat Torah to avoid it.  I feel that Olam HaBa, if by some miracle I find myself there, will probably turn out to be like a shul Shabbat (Sabbath) dinner: I’ll feel uninspired and lonely while everyone else is having a great time, connecting with HaShem and bonding with their friends and family.

I feel more than ever that I want a frum wife who could help me grow religiously, but there’s zero chance of anyone frum wanting to go out with me.  The last two women I dated were not frum.  I don’t even know how I would even meet someone frum, and I’m sure she would not be interested in me.  My parents just feed my fantasy that I could only marry someone whose previous relationships were severely dysfunctional or abusive by suggesting that I’ll meet someone who isn’t interested in a ‘typical’ frum guy because of a bad previous experience, but I can’t see why she would not want to meet someone frum and a nice person.  Unless she isn’t interested in being frum at all, in which case I still wouldn’t be suitable.  If I make up extreme examples of reasons why no one would marry me, my parents produce equally bizarre and unlikely examples of women who might be interested in me.  I’m not convinced by them.

I’ve been using dysfunctional coping strategies for dealing with difficult feelings.  Doubtless this will include eating too much junk over Shabbat (the Sabbath).  I feel sinful (not for eating, for other things), but feeling sinful just makes it worse because I’m even more likely to react in a dysfunctional way out of guilt, low self-esteem and self-loathing.

Be Careful What You Wish For

Sometimes it feels that I do actually get almost everything I want, or think I want, if I wait long enough, but then it turns out not to be as good as I hoped.  In fact, it usually turns out to be painful.  That’s what happened with going to Oxford, being in a more frum (religious) community, getting a job with longer hours and more responsibility, dating and being published on a professionally.  It makes me wonder if I should really want anything (career, marriage, children) or is it just going to leave me longing for the days I was so depressed that I did nothing except sleep and watch TV (some people’s dream life, I suppose, although the reality was pretty awful).

Despite feeling that getting the things I want always goes wrong, it’s easy to envy other people, not so much for their money as their lives: the meaningful and sure career, the loving spouse or partner, the beautiful children, the meaningful religious life…  all “apparently” of course, as often the reality is different.  I suppose most people have to deal with suffering in the end, I’m just getting mine out the way first, although I’m worried that I’m just going to get a double serving.  And I’m not sure that everyone gets the same level of suffering.  The reward is proportional to the effort says the Mishnah.  Well, I hope so, although I’m not sure that suffering is the same as effort.  I don’t always feel that I’m putting in enough effort religiously, because I don’t always have the energy, motivation or concentration because of depression and perhaps because of laziness.

***

The job agency I have the interview through tomorrow sent me interview preparation advice.  I was concentrating so much on cataloguing preparation yesterday for the test that I hadn’t really thought about interview preparation.  It’s fair to say that I don’t usually do much of the interview preparation they suggest and am failing in ways I didn’t even recognise.  There’s some an element of autistic, “Why would I care about that?” (e.g. asking the interview panel about the office culture or why they like working there). There’s often a lot of feeling that I haven’t shown the desired competencies or experience and can’t do anything about that (usually accompanied by, “Why are they even calling me to interview?”) and some autistic “Well, I can’t read their minds well enough to guess what they will ask, so why bother?” and the equally autistic “I can’t describe what I would do, I just do it.”  There might also be an element of autistic hyperfocus on things that interest me, but poor concentration (worsened by depression) on things that don’t interest me.  There’s a fair bit of feeling that librarianship isn’t the right sector for me any more although I don’t know how I’d fair with an interview for a writing position.  I think part of the attraction of writing for me is that I can let my work speak for itself.  I suppose there is also the feeling that “Everything goes wrong for me so why am I even trying?”  And I don’t know why I would want tomorrow’s job other than I need the money and something to put on my CV.  Other things being equal (which they aren’t), why would I even want to work in a law library?

I suppose I don’t actually feel capable of getting and doing a job like most people.  There might be a bit of arrogance in there (“I’m above this”), but it’s mostly low self-esteem (“I can’t do this”) and the autistic feeling of, “I’m not like other people, I can’t function the way they can or in the environments they can.”  Not everyone with autism feels like that, obviously, so maybe it’s mostly low self-esteem.  I was supposed to be doing CBT to work on that, but the NHS seems to have forgotten me.  I tried chasing them, but I got fed up sending emails that were not answered and leaving answerphone messages that weren’t returned.

I tried to follow the agency’s preparation instructions, but I froze up.  The anxious/depressive “I can’t do this I can’t do this I can’t do this.”  Trying to describe how I dealt with a difficult situation (a question which, with variations, has come up a lot for me), I can’t think of anything they would think of as difficult that I handled well.  I can think of  things I’ve found difficult that neurotypicals would not find difficult, or that I handled badly, or at least not well from an interview point of view (trying established procedures or asking a colleague or superior for help would not be viewed positively by people looking for initiative and adaptability (not very autistic traits) and the fact that some of my decisions were over-ruled by superiors is not great either).  I don’t think I coped well with a difficult boss either; I don’t know how I would cope with difficult colleagues, as I’ve never had them, but I’m guessing it would be the same.

It’s hard to remember details from other jobs anyway.  I’ve twice been asked in the past about my favourite library management system and failed to give a good answer.  It’s the autistic/Sherlock Holmes “It doesn’t interest me so why should I bother to remember?” issue again.  I could give them a detailed answer comparing my favourite Doctor Who writers.

Looking at the company website terrified me, the sense of this being a massive multinational law firm and I couldn’t cope with such a large and pressured environment as the job spec stated.  When I applied for the job, I didn’t think I’d make it to interview, so I never thought I would really have to deal with this.  I was just trying to reassure the agency that I am genuinely looking for a job and putting myself forward for things.

I feel a bit like Icarus.  Once I was a high-flyer, but then I started falling, further than anyone had fallen before.  It’s very hard to know what to do when your wings have melted.  I suppose Icarus got what he wished for too.

***

Today I was feeling depressed even before the interview preparation email came through.  As usual, I woke late, struggled to get going and prayed a very minimal amount of Shacharit (morning prayers).  I cried a bit while doing so, I think more from frustration and perhaps despair as much as anything else.  I feel OKish now, but the depression and anxiety come and go.  This seems to be the “new normal” at the moment: bad mornings and days that are mostly good, but which have negative blips and low energy.

Over-Thinking

This morning:

I’m depressed, anxious and tearful again today.

I couldn’t sleep last night, despite being very tired, and I ended up getting up at 1.00am to work on my Doctor Who book for a while to get something productive done from the time.  When I did finally get to sleep, I dreamt about shul (synagogue) and being embarrassed there because I did not sign up to do the joint Mishnah study this year, and also for doing the wrong thing when called to read from the Torah.  Both these things have happened in real life and make me feel rather useless.  I then overslept this morning and woke feeling exhausted and drained, which persisted after breakfast and coffee.

The shadchan (match-maker) from the values-based dating service thinks she has a match for me.  I’m terrified that dating at the moment is a very bad idea, but am going to go along with it.  I’m catastrophising enormously, though, and blaming myself for dating when I’m not in a good mental health or financial situation.  To be honest, I thought I wasn’t going to meet anyone through the values-based dating service so I didn’t think to say that I am not in such a good situation and am not looking for anyone.   Now it seems too late to back out… plus, I suppose there’s the hope that it might work out.  I’m catastrophising and self-blaming a lot, though.  Dating always seems such a negative experience for me.  I get terrified of getting hurt, but I also get terrified of hurting someone else.  Or of somehow ending up trapped in a dysfunctional relationship out of misplaced politeness and not wanting to upset someone, or out of fear that I won’t find anyone else.

When I was working in a further education library, my boss frequently accused me of “over-thinking” things, which I suspect is true of me in lots of situations, including/especially dating.  This is probably very silly and I wish I could just take things as they come, but I can’t.

I read in The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome of a young autistic boy who was feared to be suicidally depressed because he would repeatedly say that he wanted to die.  On investigation, it was discovered that he was not depressed, he just thought that this was something said on very minor setbacks, having seen it on TV and misunderstood the context.  I wonder if my brain does something similar and goes to ‘I want to die’ as the result of feeling overwhelmed, which can happen with relatively minor things that trigger difficult emotions.  I suppose it’s good that I can recognise these feelings as anxiety, while in the past I think I misunderstood them as depression, although there may genuinely be some despair in there.

I certainly wish I had someone to talk to at the moment, but I can’t get hold of my rabbi mentor, my previous therapist has no free appointments at the moment and my close friends are all busy with major life problems, much bigger than my issues, so I don’t want to bother them.

This evening:

I got through the day somehow.  The shadchan didn’t phone  or email with more information; I don’t know why, so I’m still in suspense, but now I’m wondering if the shadchan also asked the woman if she would be interested in dating me and she said no.  It’s possible.  In some ways that would be a relief as well as a disappointment.

I felt anxious quite a lot during the day.  Usually I write these posts during the day, either whole paragraphs in odd moments or writing notes to myself of things to write in full later, but today I decided not to do that, as I felt it was fuelling my anxiety by making me constantly analyse myself and my emotions.  I tried using some of the coping strategies I was taught on my group therapy/well-being courses.  Challenging my catastrophising helped a little bit (telling myself I’m unlikely to be trapped in a relationship out of not wanting to hurt the other person, although it has to be said that I passed a lot of red flags before I broke up with my first girlfriend); deep breathing helped rather more.

I spent about three hours or more working on a job application, as well as about half an hour of Talmudic study and a brisk thirty minute walk to the shops and back.  This was probably the best thing I could do to distract myself.  The job application was also significantly anxiety-provoking and I struggled to answer a lot of the questions, but I’ve put together draft answers for most of them and I have an idea about how to answer the other one, which is an improvement on earlier this afternoon when I felt completely overwhelmed and unable to complete the application.

I am trying not to worry about dating and what might happen, but it’s hard.  I don’t want to get hurt (obviously), but I don’t want to hurt someone else either.  It’s hard to know what the right thing to do is sometimes.

***

In other, differently anxiety-provoking, news: I’m very worried that Brexit is going to lead to significant civil unrest.  Whatever happens, about half the country are going to be sure that we’ve ended up in a terrible situation foisted upon the country undemocratically by the other half.  That’s the best scenario; if there’s a messy compromise, as seems likely, everyone could be angry.  Respect and trust for politicians and our democratic institutions is sure to plummet.  Easy pickings for a demagogue of either the far-right or far-left.  I’m just glad the UK doesn’t have the USA’s gun culture, that could be very messy.

***

Finally, more anxiety-provoking, news of another kind: while I was writing this, I got an email from my shul (synagogue) stating that not only is the rabbi leaving in the next few weeks (as I already knew), but the assistant rabbi is leaving too.  We have a new rabbi lined up, although not confirmed yet until he gets to meet the community properly this coming Shabbat, but I don’t know if we will be replacing the assistant rabbi.  I wasn’t hugely close to the rabbi and the assistant rabbi, but my relationship with them was better than nothing when my rabbi mentor lives in another country and is not always contactable.  I had slowly opened up to them about some of my mental health issues and now I’ll be starting all over again.  My relationship with my shul was already tenuous; this just puts it under greater strain.  I don’t know where else I could go, though.

***

Autistic people do not cope well with change and uncertainty, and I seem to be going through it on every level today: personal, communal, national.  I guess it’s good that I survived in one piece and even managed to get a few things done.  Still, it’s late and I’m exhausted, physically tense from all the anxiety I’ve been dealing with today.  I need to unwind a bit and go to bed.  Tomorrow hopefully I will be able to make more progress on that job application and go to my autism support group for the first time in some months.

Bleargh Again

I thought I only cried at work, but I started crying while davening Shacharit (saying morning prayers), or at least the tiny fragment of them that I say, about ten minutes out of forty or so.  Then I did it again during Ma’ariv (evening prayers).  I don’t know what triggered it.  To be honest, I don’t think there usually is a clear triggering for my tears.  Just a general sense of pervasive awfulness in life, in my personal life and in the world.

***

Psychiatrists don’t always seem to really believe me or worry about my being suicidal, because I don’t have a plan.  I don’t think I really need a plan.  Because of the clomipramine problems, I’ve ended up with three months worth of antidepressants.  I don’t need a plan just to swallow all my pills, particularly with my parents away for the next week or so.  I’m not feeling suicidal, just to clarify.  But I could become suicidal easily without spending ages working on a plan.  I have strong suicidal ideation/fantasy at times, but because I don’t literally have a plan, I worry I don’t get taken seriously, especially now I’m moved back in with my parents, even though I sometimes get very strong visual images of overdosing, which would be easy enough to act on (unlike other suicidal images/fantasies I have, about jumping off tall buildings or shooting myself, which would probably be impossible to act on in my situation).  But psychiatrists on the NHS don’t always seem to take me seriously in general.  A few have, and one took me seriously for a long time (the one who said I’m autistic), but then flipped and started treating me like a problem patient and bossing me around and not really listening to me.  To be fair, it could be that they do take me seriously, but don’t want to show it.  And I don’t know what they could do anyway.  Changing my meds could make suicidal thoughts worse in the short term, although I think it needs to be done (I must assert myself more next time) and I don’t think I should be in hospital right now.

***

I’m just feeling depressed today and unable to put it into words.  I think my depression has been underestimated by medical professionals at times because of my difficulty even understanding how depressed I am, let alone putting it into words for other people (the same probably goes for my autistic difficulties).  I’m good with words, but not with expressing emotions.  It often seems that outsiders underestimate my depression because I mask it well and try to keep functioning, while other problems are more visible.  When my religious OCD was at its worst, my father in particular thought that that was the main problem, more than the depression, because it had effects he could see (e.g. me preventing my parents using crockery that I thought had become treifed up and contaminated until I checked with a rabbi that it was OK), whereas the depression was in my head and he couldn’t see it.

***

I’m worrying about finding a job.  The jobs I find seem to be ones that I fear I can’t do (although that generally doesn’t stop me applying, but I feel sure I won’t get called for interview) or for which I’m either over-qualified or under-qualified.  Worrying about getting a job (a job I can actually do, unlike the last two) seems to be moving up to rival worrying about getting married, although the two are connected, as my experience with E. convinced me that no one is going to date me until I find a long-term, stable job and some kind of career plan.  I’m worried about just drifting through life, that I’m going to become one of those people with mental health issues or autism who can’t handle careers or relationships and just end up dependent on other people.  I worry what will happen to me when my parents aren’t here, because I don’t see myself being settled even in twenty or thirty years time.

***

I’m still procrastinating about getting guinea pigs.  I feel they would be too much work, and it would be too social anxiety-provoking to go to a pet shop and ask to hold them, but then I feel depressed and lonely and wish I could play with a tame animal.  I wish I didn’t procrastinate so much about things.  I’m pretty sure it’s my worst character trait.  It’s certainly one I wish I could get rid of.

***

I tried to apply for some jobs today.  I don’t think I’m really doing a good job of editing my CV to suit the different jobs I’m applying for, but I don’t really have the energy or concentration to do it properly. How could I actually do a job?  Maybe I’m unconsciously self-sabotaging.  It wouldn’t be the first time.  Or I’m just procrastinating again, to avoid or because I’m too depressed.  The thought of actually getting an interview terrifies me, maybe even more than the prospect of being depressed for the rest of my life.  I’m probably taking too long on finishing my Doctor Who book in order to delay considering it completed and sending it to publishers – the fear of rejection slips (like Snoopy…), but also the technicalities of getting it in the right format, finding publishers’ addresses, sending the manuscript and so on.

I started applying for a job that seemed interesting, but halfway through the form I found a more detailed job description than I had originally found and it requires training and experience with archives than libraries (very different skill sets, although not many people realise this).  I don’t know if I missed the detailed job description initially from my incompetence – or at least depression-induced poor concentration – or if the layout of the job description was poor.  In the end I decided to avoid the sunk cost fallacy and cut my losses; I’d wasted a couple of hours on it, but there was no point continuing to labour over an application for a job I clearly wasn’t going to get and probably couldn’t do if I did get it.  I wanted to start another application, but felt too depressed.  I had at least managed one job application today, for a research assistant role, although I suspect they will say I’m over-qualified as it’s intended for recent graduates.  I don’t feel much further up the careers ladder than most recent graduates, though.

Applying for jobs would be much easier if employers just wanted a CV and a cover letter; instead, most of the jobs I’m applying for have a unique application form with slightly different questions and/or lots of boxes to be filled in manually.  Google Chrome’s autofill helps a bit, but not with unusual questions, and sometimes it puts data in the wrong boxes.  Maybe it’s a deliberate way of weeding out depressives with poor concentration and motivation and low energy?

And how can I take seriously a Russell Group university that doesn’t know how to use an apostrophe on its forms?  About as much as all those over-educated lawyers I come across at work who also don’t know either.  Or the university which apparently wanted to know the names of all my employers down to 2029.  I’d like to know that too.  That university also got the names of both the universities I studied at wrong on their form.

***

This article is very moving.  I wish I could move on from my own negative self-perception like that.  Also, I posted a link to this article last week and I still think it’s a good article, but I still can’t do any of the actions.  I don’t think that I’ve accomplished much worthwhile or contributed to the world, or that I have worthwhile attributes, or that I deserve to cut myself some slack or pamper myself (yuk).  I don’t know how to surround myself with people who reaffirm my value and I don’t think there is anything that I’m good at that I could do.  As for challenging myself to do what’s hard, at the moment everything is hard.  I suppose I could imagine myself doing good, but I wouldn’t know how to convert it into action.

***

I was feeling nauseous just now, which is how anxiety manifests in me.  I don’t know why I feel like this.  Doctor Who (which has just finished) was good, but about unrequited love and coping with difficult workplaces, so was possibly triggering.  I need to force myself to eat something, though, especially as I cooked pasta earlier.

***

People say to hang in there and things will get better, but they just don’t get better for me.  I can’t see things ever getting better for me, long-term.  Things have been bad for so long, it’s difficult to believe I could be happy and competent as an adult.

Anxiety and Comparing

I had quite a bit of anxiety today.  I’m going to have it every day for the next three or four weeks, until Pesach (Passover) is here, if not until Pesach is over.  There’s too much fear of doing the wrong thing in kashering or having an argument with my parents about what we’re doing.

Otherwise I was mostly OK, although I overslept this morning and had to go to work unshaven (which I hate) and get the bus to the station instead of walking (which is more expensive and deprives me of the little exercise I get).  I think there was a bit of depression and maybe of crying this morning, but not too much.  Although it’s probably not a good thing that I can tolerate any amount of crying at work or on public transport.

I was speaking to the temp at work today (actually, I was trying to work and she was speaking to me), so I used the opportunity to mention my mental health issues, as my therapist wants me to do.  She carried on talking without saying anything about it, so I guess the experiment was partially successful in that she didn’t say that I’m a freak, although I’m not sure if she didn’t follow up on what I said because she was scared to or just because she wasn’t interested.

I did struggle at a couple of points.  The temp was complaining that her friends all have houses and children “and all I have is a guy and a dog.”  I pointed out that I’m about seven years older than her and I don’t even have a girlfriend or a dog, let alone a house.  Later, on the way home, the most romantic song I know (Fields of Gold by Sting) came up on my iPod on shuffle; I hurried on to the next track.  And characters kissing in Doctor Who tonight also made me feel lonely and wistful.

I try not to compare myself.  I try to tell myself that life is not a race and Olam HaZeh (This World) is for growth, not for happiness, but it’s hard.  It’s hard when I feel that everyone is happy and I’m not, even if know rationally that it isn’t the case that everyone else is happy, or that I’m the most unhappy person ever, or that there’s nothing good in my life.  I do feel that, compared to most people, I probably have had an objectively more miserable life than most, certainly than most people my age, and I do feel I have genuine reasons to doubt whether I will ever have the life I want to lead.  I want to make something productive out of that, but I don’t have a clue what.  I can’t go down the misery memoir route, for various reasons, and I’m not sure the world needs another misery memoir anyway.  I couldn’t be a mental health campaigner and I can’t think how I could be a volunteer.  I was going to go on the committee of the depression support group I go to, but then I started working much longer hours and that was no longer possible.  I’m trying to learn from the things that went wrong in my childhood how to make things better with my own children… except the problem is that I don’t have children in the first place, and am increasingly scared that I never will (I get really broody at the moment).  It’s all very well to say that if life gives you lemons, make lemonade, but that relies on having water and sugar as well as lemons.  I have lemons, a little bit of water and no sugar.

Sigh, now I’ve just talked myself back down into depression…