Post-Work Slump

I’m not sure what time I went to bed last night, probably some time between midnight and 1.00am, but I slept for hours and hours and then was too depressed, exhausted and anxious to get up.  I finally got up around 2.30pm, just as my Mum was coming home, having cancelled her post-work volunteering because she was ill.  I did feel better for eating cereal and drinking coffee, but of course by then the bulk of the day was gone.

I guess today’s depression/anxiety is mostly centred on work, some worry about a family issue that hopefully will come to a head tomorrow, and also whether E. and I will be able to move our relationship on, as well as general worries about my life as a whole, whether I will ever get it sorted out.  E. was feeling positive about us today, so I felt vaguely bad for being pessimistic (although I know she would say that I shouldn’t judge my feelings), not least because I know nothing has changed objectively since I was feeling positive a few days ago, it’s just that today I feel depressed so everything seems bad.  Plus, I wish she was around in person more than ever on days like today when I’m not able to say much via text but would like just to watch TV together.

I heard a good quote the other day, I can’t remember where, probably on a Jewish website: “Life is a test and most people fail because they try to copy others, not realising that they have a different question.”  It’s probably too wordy to be a truly great quote, but it does refer to what I’m struggling with in terms of thinking that I should doing what my peers are doing (career, family, community) when I that is not realistic and, so far as it is possible for me to tell, that does not seem to be God’s plan for me at the moment.  The problem is, I would like to be doing a lot of that stuff and don’t really see an alternative.  I don’t qualify for benefits (generalisation: I’m going to have to look into this again), so I basically have to have a career.  E. and I want to build a relationship that is more than a long-distance friendship, but I don’t know how – how in practical terms.  I want to have friends and community for my mental well-being, but the process of building those relationships is difficult and highly stressful for someone with social anxiety and autism (and someone not in exactly the right community anyway).  It is very difficult to see what I should do sometimes.

***

So, today I didn’t do very much, just sat around feeling exhausted, depressed and unable to do anything.  The trouble with the benefits system for the mentally ill (leaving aside the question of whether it’s too strictly enforced) is that it is set up for people with illnesses or disabilities that are both visible and the same every day.  If you’ve have a leg amputated, there are not going to be some days when you have both legs and some when you don’t.  Whereas with mental illness (and some physical illnesses), there can be days when you’re fine and so you get told you can work, and then there are some days when you just can’t function at all, but outsiders can’t see why that is.

What I did do was play nurse to my mother for a bit and cook dinner (although Tuesdays is my night to cook even if she is well).  I made macaroni cheese, because it’s a very easy recipe, one of two recipes that I can cook without reading the instructions, although it was far too salty.  I also spent a few minutes updating my CV and interview answer notes to include my experiences in work this year.

I struggled to do some Torah study.  I spent ten minutes reading a not-terribly-interesting or informative essay on The Lehrhaus.com.  I spent another ten minutes (just under) reading a chapter of Tehillim (Psalms), in this case chapter 24, which is very familiar to me as it appears a lot in the Jewish liturgy.  It can be interesting reading prayers as Torah study as I read them in a new way and notice things I don’t notice when davening (praying), but not today.  So about twenty minutes in total, which is not bad considering how I was feeling, but I felt that I had not got much out of it, as is often the case.

I tried to work on my novel, but it was hard and I got distracted by #AddAWordRuinABook on Twitter, my favourites being The Cat in the MAGA Hat and especially Catch-22 Diseases.  I looked at my own books in the search for inspiration to join in and thought of reading Murder on the Leyton Orient Express and its sequel, The Word for World is Nottingham Forrest (I should probably explain to non-UK resident readers that those are jokes on British football teams).  Also A Midsummer Night’s Freudian Dream, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold Storage, Flame War and Peace, Lady Windermere’s Fan ClubThe Crack House at Pooh Corner, Decorating a Study in Scarlet and Green Eggs and Hamlet (OK, that’s cheating slightly).  I would also like to see a film of The Marx Brothers Karamazov.  In non-fiction, there’s Plato’s Coffee Republic, A Brief History of Time Shares and The Blind Drunk Watchmaker although Star Trek fans might not appreciate The Selfish Gene Roddenberry.

Now I don’t feel tired, but should probably go to bed as it’s gone midnight.

***

My depression is sabotaging my diet.  I ate seconds at dinner, more because it was there and I was comfort eating than because I was hungry.  I didn’t eat ice cream yesterday, as I suggested I would, but I did eat Quality Street chocolates.  It’s hard to be on a diet when I’m this depressed.  I don’t generally comfort eat to a huge extent, but when I’m feeling so low it’s hard to feel I should ban myself completely from any junk food that might cheer me up for a few minutes, especially as my weight gain is primarily caused by medication rather than the amount of junk food I’m eating.

***

Another reason I’m depressed today: farewell Nicholas Parsons, alav hashalom (peace upon him), comedy’s greatest straight man, Just a Minute supremo and a fine Doctor Who guest actor.  He will be missed.

“Nothing you can do, but you can learn how to be you in time”

I have had insomnia three days (or nights) running now.  I’m not sure what has brought this on, although my sleep hygiene has arguably become poor lately, with staying up very late watching DVDs and then struggling to sleep afterwards and possibly drinking too much caffeine during the day.

I went for a run, but it wasn’t a good one, as I kept getting out of breath and getting cramp pains in my legs and having to walk for a bit.  Then I accidentally misread and wiped the run data from my iPod exercise tracker, so I’m not sure how my average pace compared with previous runs.

I met an old friend for dinner.  There is a group of four of us (including myself) who were all at university together and met through the Jewish Society and have stayed in contact over the years (although one dropped out of the group for a while when she moved to the USA for several years).  We still stay in touch and meet up every so often to catch up, although it gets harder now that we don’t all live in London and one of our group has got married.  Only two of us were able to make it tonight, but we hope to meet in a larger group in the new year.  The friend who was there said that one of the ones who was not able to make it had had a baby daughter some months ago.  I was happy for him (and not really sad for myself; as I said yesterday, I’m feeling pretty resigned to my fate by now and feeling that I exist in a different universe to most people in terms of life expectations), but sad and a bit worried that I am out of the loop by not being on social media.  This is not the first time I’ve missed a friend’s life-cycle events in this way (although I am aware that on some level at least it’s not my responsibility to continually message friends to ask if they’ve had any babies or other significant life events recently).

I was naughty and ate chocolate volcano cake and ice cream at the restaurant.  This probably negates the weight lost by exercise and avoiding junk over Shabbat and most the last fortnight or so.  It was worth it.

Although I did not do much today, I did not get much time to work on my novel, especially as I had to write a difficult email that took up time.  Even though I only spent twenty minutes or so on it, I wrote over 400 words, close to my daily target of 500 words, which is good.

Other than that not a lot happened today.  I ready an interesting Torah essay on the bus to and from the restaurant that I may blog about at some stage, as the content is relevant here.  I’m slightly upset by the fact that it seems that I can no longer read on buses without becoming travel sick, which never used to be a problem for me.  I used to read a lot on buses, sometimes even while standing up.

Feeling like a Depressive Autistic Freak

I’m mildly snowed in, but I’ve got to go out soon to see some friends and do urgent food shopping.  It has at least stopped snowing now.  I haven’t really done anything all day except sleep and eat.  I feel depressed and lacking in motivation.  I did email the shadchanit for people with health issues.  I will have to wait and see how that turns out.

I did manage to clean the flat.  This doesn’t take very long in a flat this tiny, but it takes a lot of effort to get going, which could be depressive lack of motivation and energy, or autistic poor executive function or plain procrastination/laziness.

I texted my boss to check that college will be open tomorrow despite the snow.  I had to ask, or else risk a long trip across London for no purpose, but I’m worried she will think I’m hoping to skive (again).

Added 8.45pm: I’m just back from dinner with some friends.  I feel the Asperger’s and the social anxiety won out over me.  My friends asked about my sister’s wedding and I was unable to answer the way they wanted.  Things like the food, the decor and my sister’s dress don’t matter much to me and I didn’t really notice much or have the vocabulary to describe what I did notice.  I was surprised that one (female) friend who has never shown much interest in fashion or the like before was suddenly desperate to find out what my sister’s dress looked like (it was white and had a long train and beyond that I neither know nor really care).

One of my other friends who was there recently got engaged and his fiancée came.  I had not known of her existence until I heard they were engaged a few weeks ago, but apparently they have been together for three years.  You may guess from this that most (all?) of my friendships are not close.  I can’t go to the wedding because it’s in another city in term time and I won’t be able to get the time off work, but I didn’t say anything because I’m too embarrassed and ashamed, although I don’t know why.  Maybe because part of me is secretly glad not to have to go to another party.

I tried to make a good impression on his fiancée, but found myself unable to say much; when she tried to engage me in conversation directly, I was unable to say anything other than “yes” and “no,” although I wanted to be more communicative.  My friend pointed out that I was wearing my college scarf (we were at the same Oxford college) and she asked if I’ve ever been back.  I said yes and she asked if I enjoyed going back; I didn’t like to say that I felt terrible when I went back because all I could think of were the places where I was lonely, the places where I was despairing, the places where I was suicidal…  Then I had to run off to catch my bus to avoid waiting in the cold for twenty minutes, which was probably rude.  So she probably thinks I’m a freak (she would be correct).

I’m glad that my friend has got engaged, but I feel secretly envious that he has a pretty, friendly and intelligent fiancée and I’m a freak who will be lonely forever.  I also felt envious that everyone at the table had a good job, whereas I’m a “poor devil of a sub-sub-librarian”.  That said, I wouldn’t want to be a property or tax lawyer, but I did envy the doctor and the academic.  I don’t even work full-time.

The score from the weekend: Luftmentsch 1, depression 1, social anxiety 1, Asperger’s 1.  So Luftmentsch 1, mental health and developmental disorders 3.  And that’s probably being generous to myself.

(I wonder if this bad mood is entirely from feeling I did badly from a socialising point of view or whether the rich chocolate mousse-meringue-cake I had for dessert has led me to have a blood sugar crash?  I always crash when I eat out with friends or family and I always assumed it was from feeling lonely and incompetent (I worry about saying the wrong thing at the meal, eating with people reminds me how rarely I see friends, and seeing couples out makes me feel painfully single), but maybe it’s a blood sugar thing.  In which case I will have to cut back on one of my few pleasant luxuries, the occasional piggy chocolate dessert.  Blast.)