Kill Your Darlings (not your Daleks)

I’m feeling awful again today.  I got up late and kept going back to bed.  I knew it would be hard coming back from holiday, but I didn’t realise just how far backwards I would go.  I know I need structure, but I’m worried about the stuff I have coming up in the next week or two.  I worry about even managing to get to these things on time (I’m basically nocturnal at the moment) let alone get through them.

I’ve got a meeting with a careers charity on Friday, a different one to the one I saw on Monday, not a specifically autism/mental health one, to talk about alternative careers and interview practice, but I’m worried I’m not going to say much and it’s mostly going to be me being told I’m doing everything wrong (that’s how the previous meeting there felt, a bit).  Then it’s going to be hectic to get home in good time before Shabbat.  Then next week I have a day long seminar thing on building a second career (I never really built the first one…).  I just got an email about it; it’s a series of talks over the day, but apparently “Morning and afternoon refreshments, together with lunch, are complimentary, and an important networking part of the day.”  Scary.  I might try to stay for refreshments, but, even aside from kashrut questions (the charity running the seminar is Jewish, but not religious, so it might not be kosher enough for me), I think I will need to get away from everyone for an hour if I am to have any hope of staying in the talks for the whole day.  Oh, and weirdly one of the speakers is the rabbi who was my shul rabbi growing up; he eventually quit the rabbinate and went into finance in which capacity he’s speaking.

***

I’m struggling with concentration and motivation again.  It’s hard to feel that I could be working in this state, yet I feel I should.  I discussed this with someone else online today, that I feel I should be working, even if part-time.  It’s partly that I don’t like being dependent on my parents, partly social expectation, part genuine feeling that I want to do something meaningful with my life.  Plus, although I’m going to have another go at applying for benefits, I doubt very much that I would qualify for sickness benefits.  I’m too functional.  It’s very difficult to claim benefits for mental illness as the system is essentially based around physical incapacity.  If you can see and walk and don’t need constant care it’s difficult to meet the burden of proof for being disabled.  I’m sceptical of whether I will get unemployment benefits, but I need to try and apply while I’m still in a period where I worked significantly in the last two tax years.

***

I did manage to do a few things.  I went for a walk and picked up my blood test form for my next blood test (I have them every three months on lithium tablets).  At the doctor’s surgery I saw someone I dated a number of years ago who dumped me as soon as I said I had mental health issues.  She lives locally, so I run into her from time to time although we haven’t spoken; I’m not sure if I’m good at hiding or she’s good at pretending not to see me.  (I suppose I’m pretending not to see her, really.)

I wrote a devar Torah (Torah thought) for Shabbat (the Sabbath), which took an hour, but I was pretty exhausted afterwards.  I did the slightly naughty rabbinic trick of writing about what I wanted to write about and tying it in to the parasha (weekly Torah reading).  Actually, that’s not entirely true; it’s more that I thought there was a link, and there was, but then when I sat down to write it, the link wasn’t as strong as I thought, but I carried on anyway.  I tried to work on my novel for an hour too and wrote a bit, but then decided that my narrator was acting out of character and the incident should happen later in the chapter, in a different context and perhaps a different way.  So I’m left with a shorter chapter than I started with, and a fragment to be reworked later.  But it’s too late to work on that tonight.  I need to find a way of getting more time to work on my novel, but it’s hard when I’m expected to make job hunting my “job” and still fit in chores, exercise and the like as well as coping with poor concentration and motivation.

***

I mentioned the other day about unfollowing a blog because the blogger said something that I felt was dismissive about mental illness and didn’t respond to my polite response.  Well, she just responded today and said she thought she had responded at the time, but her comment didn’t post properly and she only just realised.  I believe her, because I’ve been reading her blog for years and she’s never struck me as the type of person to casually lie or act rudely, and if she didn’t want to respond at all, why respond now?  (She can’t see that I unfollowed her because she posts on Blogger and it doesn’t show that I was following her on WordPress.)  But I’m undecided about following the blog again as I feel I do seem to end up with differences of opinion with her a lot.  But then again, maybe it’s good for me to see that I can open up to someone with very different opinions to my own, and disagree, and we still stay friends.  In the past we have often disagreed on matters “safely.”  That’s something I do struggle to accept; I usually keep quiet about differences for fear of rejection.

***

It’s also been a day when I’ve wandered into political stuff online again, which just depresses me beyond measure.  The flare-up of fighting in Israel depresses and worries me too; I was within range of some of the 360 rockets fired from Gaza just a few days ago.  Cousin 3 lives in the south of Israel, which is the most dangerous place for rockets.  It’s scary.

Speaking of which, some photos from my trip.

IMG-20191104-WA0000
Yam Kinneret/Sea of Galilee
DSC00800
View from Bental towards Mt. Hermon and Syria
DSC00814
Talmudic-era village, Katzrin
DSC00818
Talmudic-era synagogue, Katzrin
20191105_130906
Goats! Katzrin

DSC00819

 

DSC00824
Arbel National Park. I wish I could go to wilderness more often
DSC00831
Sunset on Kinneret/Sea of Galilee

Still Abroad

Sitting in the departure lounge, feeling bored and overwhelmed – overwhelmed by noise and by depression. I bought my Dad a multi-ink pen that says “I love Israel” but I still wonder why I can’t remember to buy him a present, but on seeing our flight is EZY 2084, I remember immediately that 2084 is the year the Doctor Who story Warriors of the Deep is set in. If I’m not autistic, someone has a lot of explaining to do.

Homeward Thoughts from Abroad

I’m writing from the airport. I feel bad, partly because the holiday is ending and I’m back to job hunting, but mostly because I feel useless.

Last night Mum reminded me to thank Dad for the holiday. I don’t know if I would have remembered otherwise. I forgot to buy him a souvenir to say thanks because usually my sister would remind me. Similarly, today I finished packing and waited for my parents. It didn’t occur to me that Mum and Dad might need help.

I know that inability to “mind-read” is a classic high functioning autism symptom. Likewise for trouble acting on initiative. But somehow I feel I should be “better.” And I worry that I’m not on the spectrum, I’m just selfish and useless.

At the start of the holiday, when things were going well, I was more optimistic about my life and especially about me and E.  but now things seem hopeless again. A real downer to end on.

Arbel and Kinneret

We spent the early afternoon at Arbel National Park, looking at spectacular views over Tiberias and towards Tzfat. The rocky paths were awkward, but not too difficult or dangerous.  I saw several lizards to add to the list of wildlife spotted on this trip.

After lunch we intended to go to Capernaum, which we thought was a ruined Roman city, but when we got there we were greeted by a sign that said “CAPERNAUM – CITY OF JESUS”, signs warning that this was a religious site and prohibiting various things and hundreds of pilgrims being constantly bussed in. So far as I could tell, the main attraction here was the church.

We decided this was not for us and drove to the far side of the Kinneret/Sea of Galilee. We ate ice cream and watched the sun set over the lake/sea and and watched the birds flying past, including some brilliant blue ones.

I have a headache that has come and gone all afternoon, but otherwise it was a good end to the holiday. Tomorrow is the flight home, and a return to the cold and wet.

One thing I have noticed is the huge amount of religious tat: kitsch art and souvenirs with religious themes aimed partly at Jews, but mostly at Christians. Occasionally you do see tasteful pieces, but a lot are kitsch: replicas of the Ark of the Covenant, candlesticks in the shape of Samson pushing the pillars of the Philistine temple, Noah’s Ark models, lots of crucifixes. You see this stuff all over Israel, but particularly at places with religious resonance for Christians. I’m afraid in my head I have an image of pilgrims from the Bible Belt being the main consumers of this stuff. That’s probably me stereotyping; I’m sure there are Evangelicals from Texas or Alabama with a highly developed aesthetic sense, but they aren’t buying this stuff.

To be fair, my parents have a small model of a Hasid that I think my sister and I bought for them on one trip. I think that’s more tasteful, either because it’s very small in comparison with some of these pieces or because it’s not directly religious. There’s something about taking imagery that goes to the core of Western religion and art and using it for cheap, mass-produced tourist-fodder that is inherently kitsch.

Goats!

Today we went to see the ruins of a Talmudic era (2nd to 8th century) village at Katsrin. It was fascinating, with restored or partially restored houses, wine and oil presses, bread ovens and the partially restored synagogue (Beit HaKenneset – no Yiddish shul in Talmudic times!).

Also on site were a large peacock and two rather cute small goats. One was definitely female (no horns, but udders and long ears framing her face like payot/sidecurls). The other, with horns, looked male to me, but one staff member addressed it in the feminine, “Mah at ochelet?” (“What are you eating?”) The answer, apparently, was a piece of string, which in goatish fashion it refused to relinquish. I now want a goat for a pet…

davened Mincha (said Afternoon Prayers) in the ruined synagogue, but it didn’t feel as “connected” as I had hoped. I’m not quite sure what I was hoping for. I got interrupted by a tour group, which didn’t help.

Afterwards we went into town in modern Katsrin to the archaeological museum there, mostly Roman era coins and pots, but some prehistoric artifacts and a carving of a biblical story that connects to me for reasons I won’t mention here.

Afterwards we sat and ate ice cream. I had a Magnum Duet, which isn’t kosher in the UK (most Magums aren’t, sadly). To be honest, it didn’t taste that different to classic or white Magnums, which are kosher (in boxes of four only, not loose).

We’re planning on looking for falafel for dinner, which we haven’t had on this trip yet.

I realise my mood seems better in these posts. The sunlight and warmth help, but I suspect it’s mostly the freedom from responsibility. My parents are dealing with a lot of stuff and I don’t have to worry about job hunting. Even my status as the only family member here who speaks any Hebrew is rarely needed, as most Israelis speak better English than my Hebrew, although I did speak a bit to order dinner last night. Sadly, tomorrow is the last proper day of the holiday.

Bental

I’m trying to type this on my phone. I’m not sure how it will work…

My parents and I spent the day (well, afternoon – none of us are early risers) at Bental, a mountain (hill, really) in Northern Israel from which there are stunning views towards Lebanon and Syria as well as of Mount Hermon, Israel’s tallest mountain. There are remains of military fortifications from the Yom Kippur War, where a small number of Israeli tanks held off a much larger invading Syrian force. There was supposed to be a film about it screened in a kibbutz at the foot of the mountain, but it wasn’t signposted and we couldn’t find it.

Because of looking for that film we ended up at a loose end afterwards. It was too late to start anything new, as all the tourist sites were shutting, but we didn’t want to come home. My parents went grocery shopping in Katsin, a small town. I sat in the town centre and listened to a Doctor Who audiobook. We came home for a bit and are going for dinner soon, either pizza or falafel (hopefully).

I still feel exhausted.  I feel bad that I sleep so late and get so tired as I feel I’m slowing everyone down. Realistically my parents would not be going much faster, but I wouldn’t cope with going on holiday with a partner or children. I also feel bad that my Hebrew isn’t fluent or even conversational, but there isn’t much I can do about that at the moment either.

I’m also worried that I’ve upset another blog friend, although perhaps I’m projecting the fact that she offended me. I seem to have fallen out with a lot of online friends in recent years.

I can’t escape the general election even in the Middle  East as my parents insist on having Sky News on…

Tiberias

Not much to report today. I had lunch with my parents, uncle, aunt and cousins 3 and 5, the others having already left Tiberias to go back to school or university.

In the afternoon, I wandered round Tiberias with my parents. It was nice, but a bit… not lacking exactly, but it seemed… not as old as Jaffa or as bustling as Tel Aviv or as important as Jerusalem. It was frummer (more religious ) than I expected though and fairly easy to find kosher food. I tried to use my Hebrew, but I’m very hesitant and stumbling, and so many Israelis speak fluent English, it seems pointless to try.

I got some nice photos of the Kinneret/Sea of Galilee/Lake Tiberias. I might post some when I get home.  It seems really a lake rather than a sea. It’s very tranquil by the water. I saw some feral kittens on the rocks by the water, and numerous feral cats. Israel is the stray cat capital of the world. There werearly some nice public sculptures and a couple of historic buildings.

Between my parents’ age and my depression, we get tired easily and came home around 5pm to recharge before going for dinner with my sister and brother-in-law at an outdoor restaurant serving steak and the like. I’m vegetarian on weekdays, but they brought in egg noodles from their sister, Thai, restaurant. It was a good evening. The restaurant is on a kind of pier into the sea and a stray dog wandered in which was (a) not so hygienic  (I saw a stray cat too, eating some meat near the kitchen ) and (b) none of us are really dog people and some of us are dog-phobic, so this was not ideal. It was a fairly good-looking dog, though. It reminded me of the dog that used to try and follow me home whenever it smelt (?) me go past in our old house.

That was it really, aside from learning a Mishnah that mentions Tiberias while I’m in Tiberias, which was cool, and listening to another Doctor Who audio book. I will probably go to bed soon and try to get up earlier tomorrow.

The Bar Mitzvah

I’m posting on my Mum’s tablet, which I find awkward so this may be more error-prone than usual.

The flight to Israel was not great. There were a lot of screaming kids and despite napping for a while  (even though I can’t sleep on planes) I had a headache which turned into a migraine and did not completely go all evening. We arrived at the hotel around 11pm, bought bread, cheese, cereal and milk in a supermarket, ate dinner at midnight. By the time I had eaten, showered and tried to relax it was 2am. I struggled to fall asleep and slept badly as I was cold and had a headache.

Most of Friday afternoon was taken up with driving from Tel Aviv to Poriya. I fell asleep again in the car, uncharacteristically.  We arrived shortly before Sabbath and rushed to get ready on time. Shul (in the youth centre where we stayed – everything was on site) was okay.  Dinner was really noisy, with 75 guests of our family and several tables of other people staying there. I got through it and led bentsching (grace after meals) badly, making mistakes. I was quite glad to leave and get back to my room. I stood on the balcony looking over the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), then did some Torah study and read a bit, but by 10pm I was exhausted and went to bed.

I slept for 12 hours or more. I missed Shacharit and my cousin’s leining,  which upset me, but I don’t know what else I could have done, struggling in a very autism- depression- and social anxiety-unfriendly environment. I got through lunch but then fell asleep for another 3 hours. I missed some activities and only just got to seudah shlishit.

I’m skipping a lot of details here for brevity, but I consider it a success that I did what I did. I would have liked to have done more, but I felt uncomfortable so much of the time that I don’t think I could have done more. I would have liked to have seen my family more, but they were mostly mingling or doing stuff. The food was great, though.

After Shabbat we drove down the road to Tiberias where we’re staying until Thursday in a rented apartment. Hopefully more details later this week.

Going Off the Grid

When I woke up, I felt I was only moderately tired and depressed today and not fully burnt out.  My parents had gone out for the day, so I had the house to myself, which probably helped.  Although “moderately tired and depressed” still meant I struggled to get the energy and motivation to actually do things.  I was just procrastinating.

Actually, in retrospect, “moderately depressed” was probably optimistic, although it took me most of the day to acknowledge that I was actually at least on the boundary between moderate and severe depression.  Having to assess my mood each week for CBT has shown me how difficult it is to do that at the moment, so much does my mood and energy levels fluctuate from day to day or even from hour to hour, with my recorded mood being influenced by how I feel at the time I record it.

I guessed I wouldn’t do much in the way of job hunting, Torah study or anything else important, so I worked on my Doctor Who book for a couple of hours, trying to tune out the noise outside.  I went for a walk for forty minutes or so, but that’s all I’ve achieved today.  I hope to do a few minutes of Torah study before bed, but it won’t be much, because I don’t feel well enough.

***

In my last post I forgot to mention something that happened at shul (synagogue) yesterday.  During kiddush (refreshments after the service) someone asked, “What are you learning at the moment?” which is Yeshivish (Jew-speak) for “What Torah books/topics are you studying at the moment?”  This is a fairly standard conversational gambit for frum (religious Orthodox Jewish) people, but I find it intrusive, because I worry that I’m “learning” the wrong things.  He knew about the Talmud shiur (religious class) and the weekly Torah shiur I go to because he goes to them too.  The problem is, they’re a big chunk of what I study, and they shouldn’t be.

I actually had a reasonable answer: as well as the sedra (weekly Torah reading) and the weekly Talmud page, I’m “learning” Mishnah Shevi’it and Tehillim (Psalms) from Artscroll books (Artscroll is a very kosher publisher).  If I was feeling very daring, I could have said an anthology of writing by Rav Kook (who is just about considered kosher by people who, perhaps fortunately, don’t actually read him).  What actually happened was my mind went blank, which was probably autism as much as anything, maybe social anxiety too, and I muttered something about Tanakh (Hebrew Bible).  I completely forgot the Mishnah, although that was the safest answer.  He asked a follow up question of what commentary I am learning on Tanakh and I said something about Artscroll, not mentioning the Koren Maggid series on Tanakh which I think is wonderful, but is rather “modern.”  I wish I didn’t feel I have to hide my whole life from people, to the extent that I even hide stuff that is OK out of habit.  I don’t even really know what is a “kosher” answer half the time and just panic.  I wonder what would have happened if I gave a more honest answer.  As with the assistant gabbai who keeps saying I come to shul late or not at all, I have a good, honest answer, but in the moment when I’m suddenly confronted with the question, my mind goes blank (which may be autism) and/or I don’t have the confidence to give the right answer (social anxiety).

***

It occurred to me over Shabbat that one reason I might have been struggling more recently (by recently I mean the past year) is that my online support network has slowly collapsed.  It happened by degrees over the years and I’ve only just noticed it (aside from the friends who recently stopped talking to me).  I used to read quite a few depression and autism blogs, which I found helpful.  It was reading autism blogs that pushed me towards rethinking my symptoms and thinking that I probably am on the spectrum after all, regardless of what the psychiatrists said.  However, a lot of these blogs have gone silent over time.  I guess the life expectancy of a blog isn’t so long on average.  Also, I stopped reading Hevria.com for various reasons.  To be honest, there wasn’t that much there that made me feel better, and my habit of writing lengthy comments about my issues that were only tangentially related to the post content was not a healthy one, but I had some online friends in the commenter community there who I don’t hear from so much any more.  I think they also stopped commenting there too and their own blogs are rarely updated.  It doesn’t help that I sort of fell out with someone on Hevria too, not as melodramatically as with the friends who stopped talking to me (this person doesn’t even know that he upset me, I just walked away), but it’s still painful.

***
I think Mum wanted me to eat dinner with her and Dad, but I couldn’t face any more ‘peopling’ (despite having had the house to myself all day) and wanted to watch some TV, hoping that I might feel better and up to Doing Things afterwards.  However, I made the unwise decision of watching I Claudius.  I’m enjoying it, but it’s so dark (and confusing.  I still can’t keep track of all the characters and conspiracies).  The episode opened with graphic descriptions of sexual abuse in the imperial palace followed by fairly graphic suicide.  I think at that point I realised it wasn’t the best thing to watch, but I’m not good at changing plans (autism again?) so stuck with it.  I think I might be careful about when I watch the remaining six episodes (and I’ve only just got started on Caligula).  I might watch The Avengers or one iteration of Star Trek before bed to relax after that.

***

Lately I’ve been thinking that I’d like to go off the grid somehow.  Just get away from the internet.  Away from London.  Just go to the countryside.  Work on my writing.  Like George Orwell moving to a remote Scottish island to write Nineteen Eighty-Four or the Romantic poets in the Lake District.  I don’t know what would happen if I did that, or even if it’s a reasonable possibility.  Not using technology (phone, TV, computer) is good on Shabbat (the Sabbath), but I can’t write then and I just get caught up in shul anxiety.  I do feel I have to blog immediately after Shabbat to get the thoughts out of my head, so maybe it’s not such a good idea.  Plus watching science fiction DVDs does help with the depression.  It’s probably just a pipe dream anyway.  I’ve only ever lived in cities (London, Oxford), so I don’t know what living in the country for a month would even feel like, or how feasible it would be for someone who (a) keeps strictly kosher and (b) doesn’t drive (I think (a) would be more manageable than (b)).  But I suppose it’s nice to dream.

Update and New York Holiday II

I was sent a test to do for a job application earlier in the week.  I’ve been trying to do it the last two days, but I had to give up today, partly from depression and genuine difficulties in working out how to fill it in, but also due to technical problems with pasting images into the form as was required.

I feel terrible, despairing, exhausted, lacking motivation, self-critical…  I am seriously considering asking for a referral back to a psychiatrist, because I can’t go on like this, having a mixture of somewhat subpar weeks, where I can do some work/job applications, but feel miserable and other weeks where I feel too terrible to do anything and no ‘good’ times at all.

I’m struggling living with my parents too.  It’s partly my fault.  I admit that I’m not the easiest person to live with at the best of times and the depression tends to knock the positivity and gratefulness out of my voice.  I could make “I love you” sound like an insult at the moment.  But I guess they do have quirks and traits that I need to find a way to tolerate and live with or this is not going to work.

On to something less negative: the rest of my holiday.

Thursday 9 August

I woke up quite anxious and extremely depressed.  I lay in bed a while feeling awful.  E. messaged and we text-chatted for a bit which helped somewhat, as did eating breakfast.  I packed quickly and checked out only fifteen minutes late, which was quite good considering.

I had booked a 1.00pm tour at The Tenement Museum, but I dramatically over-estimated the time needed and ended up an hour early, so I found a park to eat lunch in.  I felt quite depressed again.  The old feeling of never being good enough to get my life together, to get a full-time job, meet my religious obligations, get married and have children… I decided around this point to go back to the CBT therapist I saw about the OCD to see if she can help with my social anxiety in the hope that that will have a knock-on effect on my confidence and depression (not to mention ability to make friends, feel comfortable at shul (synagogue) and date).  E. says I’m off-puttingly negative, which is true, but I don’t know how to change that when negativity seems a logical response to my life and how the world treats me.  Rabbi Lord Sacks’ Torah email this week said that we can choose to be victims living in the past or we can build a better future.  I’m stuck in the former and I don’t know how to change to the latter.  People urge me to change in this and other areas without giving me the tools to do so, then they blame me or get angry with me when I don’t know how to change.

Since coming to New York City I’ve been thinking, as I have done in the past, about what would have happened if my ancestors had gone to New York instead of London.  It would be easier to find geeky and modern frum (religious) people like me if I grew up in New York.  However, if I grew up in the US, I would probably not have gone to a Jewish school, so I could well have ended up an atheist anti-Zionist religion-hater, which would make finding like-minded Jews moot.  (Although such a person would still find it easier to make friends and find a partner.)  I guess this is being trapped in the past again, but I don’t know how to move on.

I had some trouble getting a taxi to take me to Brooklyn, where I’m spending the next few days, but I got one in the end.  It was expensive, but probably easier than carrying luggage on the Subway by myself.

After getting my stuff to Brooklyn, I went back to Manhattan to see a friend I hadn’t seen in fourteen years, since university.  We had a very enjoyable evening and I even fought social anxiety to talk to two strangers, his wife and one of their friends and I read my friend’s toddler son a story.  However, I was torn between my kashrut OCD pulling me one way and social anxiety pulling me the other and trying not to give in to either.  I hope I did the right thing, but in such a situation, with no time to think and no one to turn to for advice, it can be hard even to identify what the right thing is.

The journey home was not good.  Various things went wrong, including getting lost in the dark (one of my big fears for the holiday), but I will pass over these and try to be less negative.  I didn’t get mugged, which was good, and my friends generously insisted on my taking a lot of leftover food for my Shabbat (Sabbath) as well as directing me to a nearby kosher supermarket open late so I could do my shopping tonight and not waste Friday.

Friday 10 August

E. and I wandered around Crown Heights together.  It did seem pretty gentrified and not like its old reputation as a place of drug addicts and gangs.  We had a really good pizza at a restaurant apparently owned, judging by the chalk slogans on the ceiling beams, by a Na Nach.  The Na Nachs are an off-shoot of the Breslover Hasidim, basicallly ultra-religious hippies who emphasise love and joy.  The slogans were obvious, but some resonated anyway, telling me to do my best and trust God to do the rest etc.

Saturday 11 August

I spent Shabbat alone in the apartment.  I slept through my alarms and missed going to shul with the friend I knew in Crown Heights.  I spent the day (when not asleep) reading, mostly religious stuff and the latest Jewish Review of Books.

Sunday 12 August

I was supposed to have breakfast with the Crown Heights friend.  I did see him, but it didn’t really work out well and I felt taken advantage of a bit.  I did something that I thought was generous and friendly of me, but in retrospect I think that I did it to bury my feelings of anger and try to feel closer to him than I actually am, which didn’t work and if anything left me feeling angrier (so much for mussar).  I was supposed to see another friend in the afternoon and he couldn’t make it either, although that wasn’t really his fault.  As my original plans for the holiday, before I met E., was to visit these two friends, this left me feeling somewhat upset and angry.  I think I have to accept, from this experience and others, that they don’t really consider me much of a friend.  Which does not do much for my feelings of being unlikeable and not trusting or getting close to people.  At least I spent a lot of time with E. and, unexpectedly, with my university friend.

I had booked a late return flight and I assumed I would spend the day with friends.  That of course didn’t happen so I was left hanging around with too much time to kill, but not enough to actually do anything.  I eventually tried to order an Uber cab to take me to the airport, but I couldn’t connect my phone to a US phone network.  I eventually WhatsApp messaged the owner of the apartment I was renting and asked him to call one for me, but I felt stupid.  I suppose I should say that I only had his number because I had misunderstood when he wanted to be paid and he had messaged me to complain, so I guess that is one of those ‘There is a God’ hasgacha pratit (Divine Providence) stories that people have that I always complain about not having.

The rest of the trip home was fairly undramatic.  I didn’t sleep on the plane, but I didn’t expect to as I can never sleep on planes.  My parents met me at the airport and I got home without incident.

I’m glad I went to New York, both to see E. and some of the sites and for the experience of travelling alone, but I think I will think carefully before booking future holidays and certainly I know now which friends I can trust to be there for me and which ones I can’t.  I also felt that I didn’t do as much as I would have liked, partly from lack of energy and sleeping too late, partly from assuming that I wouldn’t have the time or energy to do more and booking things at inconvenient times, which I guess is something else to remember for the future.

Slight Update and New York Holiday Part I

Today has been hard.  I tried to take a test for a job I applied for, but struggled with it; I’ll have to finish it tomorrow.  I was depressed anyway, and thinking that I can’t manage to do a PhD after all, then flipped back to having ideas, then to despair again.  I feel like I’ve spent the last two days moving back and forth between agitated/energetic “I can do it” and passive despairing “I can’t do anything.”  Maybe my psychiatrist was right about there being a bipolar element in me, I don’t know.  Then I spent about two hours with my parents cleaning my old flat.  I think I probably had higher tolerance than my Mum for dirt, or less time/energy for cleaning (although she usually has a paid cleaner), which embarrassed me.  I didn’t have much energy or motivation for cleaning today, but struggled through and handed back the key to my landlord, so I guess I’m officially back to living with my parents.

I thought I should really start to write up my notes from my holiday in New York, so here goes:

Sunday 5 August

The flight to New York was OK.  I read quite a bit and tried to write some notes for a book I want to write, but the plane was not really an environment conducive to work.  There was an issue with the shuttle bus to the airport when I landed which worried me, but I got it sorted.

The hotel was fine, but had seen better days.  I had to ask for a safe and a fridge to be put in my room and the WiFi in my room was patchy and I often went to the library downstairs to connect to the lobby WiFi, which seemed to work better.  My room window faced a courtyard with high walls on all four sides, so no natural light came in.  But it was all hygienic and there were no cockroaches or rats, so it was good enough.

Because of US laws about importing food, I had to buy food when I arrived rather than bringing anything in.  The hotel receptionist didn’t seem to know where to suggest other than Whole Foods, which I suspected would be expensive organic stuff and I was right.  However, I desperate, so I got bottled water, fruit, milk and then – joy! – discovered kosher bread, cereal and peanut butter upstairs.

I had some culture shock on arriving in New York, although I’m not sure why.  I’ve lived in London all my life, so a big city should not have been such a surprise to me.  I suppose I live in the suburbs and commute into town when necessary and even when I worked in Canary Wharf, the skyscrapers there aren’t like Manhattan, completely blocking out the sky.  Maybe it was just exhaustion, anxiety, stress and mixed feelings about the thought of seeing E. in person, but I felt close to tears in the shuttle bus, although I did feel better after getting settled at the hotel and having something to eat.

Monday 6 August

E. and I were both running late, but eventually met.  We spent much of the day in Central Park, looking around and chatting.  It felt a bit weird that this was the first time we had met in person.  Afterwards we did some shopping in the area and had pizza for dinner.  It was a quiet day, but I wanted that to deal with jet lag and culture shock.

An amusing story: over lunch, E. told me to believe in myself more.  Then in the afternoon we went into a Jewish bookshop where I picked up a book and opened it to a random page, which was a chapter entitled, “Believe in Yourself”.  I bought the book, although not because of that.

It was a very good day, slightly marred by my getting a bad headache/minor migraine in the evening, possibly from dehydration and I couldn’t take anything because my solpadeine was still in my hotel room and I didn’t know which American painkillers are safe to take with my anti-depressants.

Tuesday 7 August

E. and I went to Ellis Island by boat via Liberty Island, although we didn’t get off at Liberty Island.  I was really disappointed when planning this trip that the Statue of Liberty was sold out, but I think it may have been for the best, as I’m not sure going inside would have added much.  It’s just a statue, really.

Ellis Island was fascinating, though, and I felt it struck a good balance when talking about things like Nativism, slavery, treatment of Native Americans and so on.  It could either have glossed over these things or turned into a politicised privilege-checking fest, but it wasn’t either of those.  I don’t know much about pre-twentieth century American history, so the exhibition about population movements in North America was actually more interesting to me than the one on Ellis Island itself, some of which I had heard elsewhere.

The weather, like the previous day’s, was hot and humid and it really stayed like that for the whole of the trip, although things got slightly cooler and less humid after thunderstorm on Tuesday evening.  The only place I’ve felt so humid is the tropical greenhouse at Kew Gardens (the London one).  It was very tiring being out in the heat and humidity and that perhaps contributed to my getting more tired and doing less than I would have liked over the week.

E. and I went for kosher Mexican food for dinner.  I hadn’t had Mexican food before, so that was a good new experience.

Wednesday 8 August

I woke very depressed and anxious, so anxious in fact that I lay in bed for about two hours thinking that I was physically ill because I felt so nauseous.  Eventually I forced myself to get up, far behind schedule, but I managed to get out on time, if only because I had planned a late start anyway.

I went to the United Nations and had an interesting tour (the General Assembly seemed to have a smaller floor space than it seems on TV), although I was disturbed by the fact they went out of their way to side with the Palestinians against the Israelis even where it was not really necessary.  For example, out of all the international conflicts in the world, there was only one that got its own (big) display, Palestine (it didn’t even say Israel-Palestine, just Palestine).  Then in the gift shop, one could buy postcard of the national flags of every UN member state, with the caption, “Britain”, “India” and so on.  Only one said “State of X,” the “State of Palestine”, even though there is no such internationally recognised state.  It’s just petty, really.

Afterwards, I went back to the hotel to pick up some things, as I hadn’t been allowed to take much with me to the UN.  I ground to a halt for an hour or two, lying on the bed until I got the energy to go out again.

I was thinking of taking a bus tour of New York, but I wanted to see the New York Public Library first, thinking it would not take long, but I ended up staying for a long time.  I have never seen such an ornate library!  I was scared to look around because it is a working library and perhaps I should have been bolder to see more.  I popped in to an exhibition on sixties radicalism, but I found it triggering for me, as all political stuff seems to be these days.  I feel I don’t really fit in anywhere on the political spectrum and that everyone will hate and reject my opinions, one reason why I’m nervous about thinking of doing a PhD in a subject as politically-coloured as cultural studies.

I managed to walk to a small kosher restaurant for dinner.  The food was great, but it was really crowded and noisy.  In fact, I found New York as a whole much bigger, louder and smellier than London.  A  really bad place for autistics/Aspies, in fact.  I’m OK in much of London, which may just be experience and the knowledge that I can go home at the end of the day, but New York was a very difficult experience for me at times in terms of sensory overload.  Still, I navigated my way around the city by myself for the first time and didn’t get lost, mugged or run over, which I think is a win.

To be continued…

Still University Challenged

I went to bed very late last night, or early this morning, really.  I was up late trying to do stuff, then I crashed emotionally and wanted to cry.  I feel so confused about so many things.  I know I still have to write up my notes from my holiday, but suffice to say that I saw E. a lot and enjoyed being with her, but that’s just left me more confused about where we are, wanting to be with her, but scared it could never work out.  I’m also worried about my idea of doing a PhD in cultural studies or communication studies: is it the right degree for me, a question I pose for many reasons, and is my thesis idea sensible or crazy.  Yesterday it seemed the former, today absolutely the latter.

That said, my mind has continued working this morning and has moved from Jewish imagery in Doctor Who (or the lack thereof) to Jewish identity in popular culture/television as a whole, embracing a whole slew of TV shows and films, many of which I know only second-hand, but which might support my thesis that unless produced by or for Orthodox or formerly Orthodox Jews, popular culture never represents  Judaism in a substantial manner, but simply as a vague set of ethical values that are essentially compatible with the tenets of secular liberalism, rather than anything more challenging.  Doctor Who might not even make it into this thesis, or maybe as a chapter noting that Judaism is presented in such a slight manner that an atheist alien Time Lord can feasibly be presented as “the most Jewish character on British television.”  (The Doctor is almost as Jewish as Josh and Toby in The West Wing.)

Of course, it now becomes a question whether this is a media/cultural studies question or a Jewish Studies question (or inter-disciplinary).  I feel the Jewish Studies department would be more sympathetic to explorations of Jewishness, the Cultural Studies department towards the use of film and TV as source material.   At any rate, SOAS’s Jewish Studies department seems to focus on the Arab-Israeli Conflict, UCL’s seems to requires better Hebrew language skills than I actually have (or probably need for this topic) and I had a bad experience with them when applying for my MA (they weren’t sympathetic to my mental health, which was why I ended up doing my MA in a not very good university).  I’m not sure that any other London universities actually offer a PhD in Jewish Studies.  I’m not sure how to resolve this, or whether I’m going too far from my area of expertise (such as it is).

I don’t know who to talk to about these things.  My parents are supportive, but not expert on higher education (neither went to university), my rabbi mentor and my therapist are both on holiday and in any case I was strongly thinking of changing therapist and therapy style.  I might email my friend who is a professional historian and has written cultural studies stuff about Doctor Who about my thesis idea, but I’m worried he’ll say that he isn’t qualified to pass judgement.  I could leave things for a week or two and see if the idea matures further, I suppose, but I really don’t know what to do or even who to talk to for advice.

Of Therapists, Victims and Friends

I’m back from my holiday.  It was really good in the end, somewhat to my surprise.  I had a couple of nasty surprises, but mostly things went to plan.  I didn’t have easy access to my blog, but I have long handwritten blog posts that I hope to type up, doubtless interspersed with contemporary posts, as I have an eventful week ahead.  I’m too tired and jet-lagged to start on that now (I have spent two nights out of the last four sleeping too much and the other two sleeping too little, culminating in no sleep at all for the last twenty-seven hours; I’m trying to stay awake until the evening in the hope of resetting my body clock), but here are a few rambling, free associative thoughts from my holiday that probably won’t fit in anywhere else.

I’m thinking of leaving my psychodynamic therapist and trying some CBT for my social anxiety, low self-esteem and negativity.  CBT worked for me for OCD, but not for depression, so I guess it’s difficult to say if it could work here.  But this seems to be a problem area that attracts other problems, so if I could deal with it, there might be a multiplier effect across all my issues.  The depression stems partly from feeling disconnected to my religious community (and consequently despairing of getting married), which stems partly from low self-esteem and social anxiety as well as fear of rejection.  Likewise my career has been hampered by my problems interacting with others and nervousness about networking and professional development involving others, while my attempt to write semi-professionally about Doctor Who is doubtless impeded by my avoiding conventions and organised fandom.  I was thinking along these lines before my trip, but am now fairly sure it’s the right thing to do, if I can afford the cost (my CBT therapist charges three times the price of the psychodynamic one).

Related to this, Rabbi Lord Sacks’ weekly Torah essay last week dealt with the idea of not being a victim, that we can see ourselves as passive victims of circumstances or other people’s action, or we can see ourselves as people who the ability to make choices about our lives, even if those choices are only about how we respond emotionally and intellectually to unavoidable adversity.  The former leads to learned helplessness and in some cases to self-loathing and revenge, while the latter leads to inner strength.  I think it’s clear I tend to see myself as a victim, even if I blame circumstances or God rather than human beings and therefore feel passive more than vengeful.  I don’t know how to move to a more positive mindset when so much of my life does seem genuinely negative though.  I guess I could try to think of myself as enduring rather than being punished or overwhelmed, but it’s hard.

I’m still in a weird ‘it’s complicated’ situation with E.  We both really like each other and really enjoyed spending time together, but she feels we’re too dysfunctional to work together at the moment and I can sort of see her point.  This was another reason for working on myself with CBT, to be less dysfunctional.  We’re technically just friends, but we message each other umpteen times a day and say how much we miss each other.  It’s probably just as a well that I don’t really have much of a baseline of ‘normal’ relationships and friendships to judge this against.

Of my other friends in New York, one surprised me by how far he went beyond the bounds of what I expected of him, in a good way.  Some of the others… well, I don’t want to go into details because of lashon hara (malicious speech), but I feel very let down by some friends.  One probably had a legitimate excuse, but one actually quite upset me, but I didn’t have the courage to broach the matter.  This is after a history of these people treating me in a way that seems somewhat hypocritical or unfair and I think I have to consider how much I consider these people my friends, or at least how much I’m going to try to stay close to them when they don’t seem to value my friendship or care about my feelings.  Although I guess it’s easy to get drawn into hasty decisions when jet lagged.

Pre-Holiday Nerves

Shul (synagogue) this afternoon was depressing.  I missed shul this morning again because of social anxiety and perhaps a bit of depression.  I forced myself to go this afternoon.  A few things were triggering.  During the Talmud shiur (class) before Mincha (the afternoon service), the assistant rabbi mentioned someone he knew who was a child prodigy at Talmud study, then became very non-religious in his teens (the assistant rabbi would not say how much, just very bad; apparently he owned a casino, which is bad, but I think I do worse things) and then, because so many people prayed for him, in his twenties or thirties he became religious again and got married (because it’s impossible for Orthodox Jews to imagine a good life without being married…).  So that just made me think how wicked I must be and how much God must hate me to leave me unmarried unlike this guy, and how lucky this guy was to have so many people praying for him (although I’m sometimes privately sceptical about praying for other people in that way).

Then in the shuir during seudah shlishit (the third Sabbath meal) the assistant rabbi spoke about the complex series of events that happened for him (the assistant rabbi) to get meet his wife and get married, which just made me feel that God must really hate me not to arrange something like that for me.  The shiur was about all kinds of stuff that seemed relevant to me, about marriage and suffering and death and how God rewards us for what we suffer.  Except that because I was depressed my concentration slipped and I missed the bit where it was all brought together and explained, so I don’t really understand anything of what I heard and don’t feel any better.

In under twelve hours, I should be in the air on my way to New York.  I think everyone else is more excited about my holiday than I am. I just want to get through it and home again in one piece.  I wanted to go on this trip to date E. and to meet some Hevria people.  I’m seeing E., but only as a friend and it’s still questionable whether I will actually get to meet any Hevria people.  I feel if I had taken £2,000 out of the bank and just burnt it, it would have been easier.  I feel I’m going to be in a constant state of anxiety for the next ten days.

I feel I’ve let my parents take over too much with my holiday.  I feel that I’m not an adult because I don’t know how to travel by myself.  I already described how my Mum ended up doing more of my packing than I wanted.  She talked me into taking more reading material than I think I need (two novels (admittedly one half-read), one light non-fiction book, a couple of magazines and some religious reading).  She thinks I’m going to read a whole novel on the plane.  I find this unlikely.  It’s a long flight, but I find it hard to read on planes and, in any case, my concentration and motivation to read at the moment is poor because of the depression.  In recent months, when I go on the Tube, time which I used to spend constantly reading, often I listen to music or just stare into space feeling depressed because I don’t have the energy or motivation to read.  I guess it doesn’t really matter.

The holiday has brought up tensions with my parents, tensions that exist all the time, but are worse now I have to prepare for something.  I feel like my parents treat me like a child at times.  Things like my Dad reminding me to do stuff as if I was a young child or Mum and Dad contradicting my suggestions of what to take with and do.  I feel that I’m mostly going to sites that other people have told me I should go to rather than choosing anything for myself, although as I don’t really want to go to New York in the first place, maybe that isn’t surprising.  Sometimes I feel that if I say something, everyone around me feels the need to say the opposite, just to be different.  No wonder I feel like everything I say is wrong.  Of course, if I say that everything I say is wrong, they contradict that too.

Sometimes it feels that everything I try to do on my own initiative is undermined, then when I exist in a state of learned helplessness I get told that I’m a child (which was one reason E. broke up with me, I think).  I’ve felt like this on and off for years, really since my teens.  Every time I’m either in a position of doing something new and ‘adult’ or being with my family for a long time (and holidays are often both of those things), these issues come to a head and I bicker with my parents, but then afterwards I come home and retreat to my room and avoid them and the issue dies away and doesn’t get properly resolved.  It’s probably going to be worse now I’m moving back in with my parents.  I can’t really see how I can learn to be independent of my parents without doing scary stuff totally by myself.  I guess that’s one reason I want to get married so much, to be independent of my parents, but not totally alone.  I don’t have friends I can travel with or do stuff with, so marriage feels like my only option.

I suppose on the subject of childishness, I put some Doctor Who posters up in my bedroom.  I had (different) posters up in the flat, because after a year living there the stark white walls were driving me crazy and making me think of a padded cell.  At my parents’ house I have a couple of pictures up and a map of Israel and, of course, a thousand books and several hundred DVDs, but I just felt I wanted something to make it a bit more ‘me’ and to make the black wardrobe doors a bit brighter, but now I wonder if it’s too childish to have big posters up, doubly so Doctor Who ones.  I suppose I can always take them down later.

Of I go into holiday mode now.  I still feel that this is going to be the worst holiday ever, but I guess if I come home on schedule and in one piece, it will feel like a victory of sorts, albeit an expensive one.

Ramblings

I got the medication situation sorted eventually.  I had to speak a lot to the receptionist at the doctor’s surgery before I discovered I could just go to the pharmacist and get the prescription made up without the out of stock clomipramine.  I apparently I misunderstood when they said that they could not give me half a prescription; they meant they could not give half a prescription and let me take the form to get the other half elsewhere, but just giving me half and having them keep the form is fine.I wish I had known that yesterday.  I struggled to make myself understood.  I think the receptionist probably thought I was stupid or just being difficult.    I feel stupid.

However, as I couldn’t get all of the clomipramine 10mg tablets yesterday, I wanted to book an appointment for when I get back from New York in case they don’t have any clomipramine at all, in which case I will run out shortly after returning.  I can cancel nearer the time if the pharmacist does get the remaining clomipramine in stock.  However, the online booking doesn’t have any appointments and I don’t dare to phone again.  I’m not sure what to do about that.

I feel sluggish.  I went to bed late because I was doing holiday stuff (I’ve been going to bed around 2.00am most nights since leaving my job, locked in to a nocturnal sleep pattern of oversleeping, cramming stuff into the afternoon and evening (job hunting, clearing out the flat and finding space for stuff in my room, organising the holiday), going to bed late and oversleeping again.  I got up at at 8.30 to speak to the doctor’s receptionist, but I feel asleep again for a couple of hours afterwards.

I also feel anxious about my holiday, and lonely again, the latter perhaps triggered partly by writing an email to a (non-Jewish) friend alluding to my issues with the Orthodox community, saying that while I’ve been praying for her fertility issues to be resolved, I’m probably not the best advocate a person could have right now.  I feel such a freak in the frum (religious Orthdox Jewish) world.  I feel I had my one chance of getting married and being happy and I lost it, not by doing anything wrong, but by just being me, that the things that made me attractive to E. were the flipside of the coin of the the things that made her end the relationship.  I feel like Frankenstein’s monster, like I disgust and horrify my Creator so much that He refuses to make me a mate and allow me to breed.

I just want my holiday to be over if nothing else, except that the holiday being over brings a load of other scary things in its train, including my interview with a careers advisor, the possible return of the medication issue and the build up to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement) with all the soul searching and self-criticism that entails, as if I don’t do that enough the whole year round…

I feel that I can’t cope.  Not just with my holiday, with my life.  I feel, not suicidal, but I don’t want to be here.  That there was a cosmic mistake and I should never have been born.  That I’ll never be happy in this world or the next, whatever I do.  That I won’t have any share in Olam HaBa (the next world), that after I die, my soul will feel guilty for all the bad things it’s done (which amounts to feeling guilty for almost everything I’ve ever done) and then I just won’t exist any more.  I’m glad Judaism doesn’t believe in eternal damnation.  I’m kind of looking forward to not existing, because at least I won’t be miserable and lonely any more.

I don’t even know why I’m posting this, it’s just rubbish and I’ve written it a million times before.

Testimony

I’m trying to think of my blog as a testimony, rather than a “helping” blog.  A lot of mental health blogs have factual information, encouragement or coping strategies, which obviously my blog doesn’t.  I guess some people must like it, even if I think there are only a dozen or twenty people who read it with any kind of regularity.  It helps me to write down my feelings, which I guess is the point.  If anyone else benefits from reading them, then that’s an added bonus.

So, from the point of view of testimony, I have to say that while I’ve mostly been OK this afternoon, there was a period where I felt suicidal for a while.  I basically felt that I was “a shit” (I don’t normally use profanity, but that’s what I thought) and that I didn’t deserve to have any friends and it would be better for everyone if I got murdered in New York.  For years I’ve been terrified of going to New York in the belief that it’s too violent, although I think recently London has overtaken New York for violent crime.  To be honest, I should probably be more worried about being alone in my hotel in the evenings and especially over Shabbat (the Sabbath) when I could get lonely and suicidal.  At least in the evenings I can message E.  Although now it’s looking like I might get to see some Hevria friends too.  I feel a bit bad for complaining so much that none of them wanted to see me.  I guess some people are just very last minute.

I procrastinated a lot over packing today, but I did actually get done, albeit that my Mum ended up helping me, which was not my intention.  I am trying to be more self-sufficient.  This afternoon’s disaster was that I realised that I was so worried today about getting clomipramine that I forgot that there was also lithium and olanzapine on the prescription that I could not get made up yesterday.  The pharmacy can’t make up half a prescription, so I’ve got to try to get another emergency appointment tomorrow for another prescription, which will doubtless make me very popular with the doctors and especially the receptionists.    I feel stupid, but at least I haven’t self-harmed or worse and I feel better.  Anxious that I’m going to get completely lost in New York and maybe ripped off by taxi drivers, but not suicidal.  I have at least got most of the packing done, except for hand luggage and stuff I need over the weekend (which admittedly is quite a bit of stuff).

Also from the point of view of testimony, one other interesting thing happened.  One of the main tests for autism spectrum disorder deals with theory of mind – essentially whether you realise that other people don’t know the same things you do.  The famous theory of mind test is here.  Unfortunately, I read about it in a psychology book long before I suspected I might have autism, so I can’t really be tested with it.  Sometimes I have come across the test and I’ve tried to read through it quickly and answer impulsively before I remember what the correct answer is.  I think I usually get it wrong, but it’s not clear and it could just be because I’m rushing.

Anyway, I was watching an episode of Dad’s Army where Corporal Jones and company had managed to jam a lighthouse light on during an air raid and in an effort to turn it off, Captain Mainwairing and Sergeant Wilson tried to sabotage the local electricity substation.  The episode ended with Wilson worrying about the bill for the damage they had inflicted.  The thing is, I assumed he was talking about the damage at the lighthouse itself; it took a minute for me to remember that he didn’t know anything about that and was thinking of the substation.  It’s hardly a scientific test, but I definitely lost track of what he knew and assumed he knew the same as I did.  I don’t know if that really proves anything, but I do know that when reading a book or watching a TV series with different characters knowing different things about the plot, I do go over who knows what very carefully in my head, although I don’t think I do this as much as I used to.  I remember when watching Babylon 5 for the first time spending time tracking who knew what about the big, epic five year story arc.  I don’t know if that proves anything either, but I think it’s worth recording.

I don’t know what’s normal, whether other people watching TV or reading a book momentarily lose track of which characters don’t know the same things as the viewer/reader or if that’s indicative of theory of mind issues.  I think it’s believed that high functioning people with autism can reason through some theory of mind problems logically and cover their lack of intuitive understanding, which is what I did here: I worked out what was known by whom, but it took me a moment to do so.

The Biggest Almighty Screw Up in the World; or, More Family Tensions

(You probably need to read this post first, if you haven’t already.)

My sister just phoned.  I feel doubly bad because (a) I vented about my parents, which I probably shouldn’t have done (stuff I didn’t put in the previous post because of honouring parents and not gossiping) and (b) we argued a bit.  Actually, we didn’t argue per se, it just felt like that because I’m sensitive and conflict-averse, but she sounded annoyed with me and I was annoyed with her.  I thought, after my previous post, that I would be clever, and ask her not to problem solve, and tell her that my issues were social anxiety and fear of the unknown, not anything she could fix.  When she offered to find someone for me to go to for Shabbat meals, I said I was happy eating alone in my room (OK, “happy” is an exaggeration, but “sufficiently socially anxious for eating alone in my room to be preferable to a roomful of strangers” is a mouthful) and she sounded annoyed and then when she started problem solving my fear of getting lost/mugged by saying get maps I said I have maps and the problem is that I’m terrified of going to New York BY MYSELF!!! not a realistic fear of getting lost and she sounded annoyed about that too.

I don’t know what to do.  I tried really hard to navigate that conversation more successfully and failed.  Admittedly it didn’t turn into an argument, but it was tense.  I literally do not understand my family.  My family literally do not understand me.  Interactions with my family are often triggering (not quite in the PTSD sense, but triggering of depression and anxiety because the roots of my issues are based in stuff that happened in the family when I was a child and that is, in some sense, still happening, albeit in an attenuated way and I can’t talk to them about it because I don’t want to upset them and they would just get defensive and, yes, we have tried family therapy).  I don’t know whether we don’t understand each other because I’m autistic and they’re not or if I’m not autistic but they still don’t get me for some other reason, but right now I feel like THE BIGGEST ALMIGHTY SCREW UP IN THE WORLD.  (And I nearly used a much ruder word than ‘screw up’.  It’s how I feel about myself right now.)

It’s 10.00pm.  I haven’t davened Ma’ariv or done any Torah study today.  I haven’t had dinner, or finished emptying crates from the flat (and hunger is now making me faint, stressed, irritable and depressed).  I haven’t emailed the friends who are finally trying to make arrangements to meet me on my holiday.  I really want to act out in a number of interesting, but unhealthy ways right now, but I’m trying not to.  I haven’t done more than five or ten minutes of Torah study a day most days for two or three weeks now, which makes me feel lousy and that HaShem (God) hates me almost as much as I hate myself right now.

Anyway, I remain, yours etc.

The Biggest Almighty Screw Up in the World

Mostly Bad News

I had a therapy session today to discuss whether to continue therapy.  My therapist says that she was recommending ending therapy less because I made ‘wrong’ decision, more because she felt therapy was not helping me and I was moving backwards into a child state that she thought I had moved away from.  I agreed that I’m not sure if therapy is really helping, although with psychodynamic psychotherapy it’s notoriously difficult to measure any kind of improvement.  I had been wondering whether to try a new therapist with a different approach (although I don’t know what) or a frum (religious) Jewish therapist who might be better placed to help me navigate the Orthodox Jewish community.

Contrary to what my therapist said, I do feel that I am still trying to push outwards, albeit that it is often two steps forwards and one back because, as I’ve said before, the harder I push at the world, the harder the world pushes back at me.  My therapist did at least feel that I’m a lot better than I was when I started seeing her six years ago, which is true.

We decided to leave things for a bit.  We were breaking for a month or so anyway because of my holiday and then her holiday, so we decided to meet again after the break either to discuss how to continue or to do a proper end of therapy meeting.

That was fairly positive.  More problematic was what happened when I tried to get a repeat prescription of my medication.  My antidepressant, clomipramine, was not available in the dosage I take at four different pharmacists, due to undisclosed supply problems (the supplier says there is a problem, but not what it is).  I take 75mg  in the morning and the same in the evening, as a 25mg tablet with a 50mg one.  Neither 25mg or 50mg tablets are currently available.  10mg tablets are available, but you can’t take 75mg with 10mg tablets.  In theory I could split it 70 : 80, if the doctor prescribed it, but that would involve taking fifteen tablets a day even before my other tablets (four psychiatric medications, one hay fever tablet and four vitamin supplements).  I don’t really want to have to take twenty-four tablets a day and I certainly don’t want to have to take all of those to America.

Whatever happens, I have to get a new prescription from the doctor.  My GP’s practice seem to arrange their appointment system to prevent people from seeing the doctor (seriously, I think they told one of my parents that they deliberately make it almost impossible for you to get a quick appointment so that you will have to book one in two or three weeks, by which time you may not need it any more and cancel), but I have a note on my record to say I can book an emergency appointment within twenty-four hours if I need to (in case I’m suicidal).  I thought it was legitimate to use that here, as I need to sort this ASAP as I’m running out of meds and am away from Sunday, but it turns out the note is not on my file any more.  I guess it gets taken off automatically after a while.  Which is problematic as I was getting suicidal last week and nearly needed to use it.  Anyway, the receptionist booked me an appointment for tomorrow morning, but I did feel a bit like a liar, or that I was stuck in an Orwellian world where I was suddenly an unperson.

I suspect the clomipramine may be out of production, as I believe it’s rarely prescribed these days (it’s an old generation of drug), which is a problem for me, as it’s about the only antidepressant that has ever done much for me.  Plus now I may have to go cold turkey over my holiday, which will not be fun.  Maybe it’s just as well that it looks like most of the people I wanted to see while I’m in New York aren’t able to see me.

My OCD is still a bit worse, although not as bad as it was eighteen months ago.  I think I’ve got it under control, but it’s frightening that it can come out of nowhere, both the kosher food OCD and the pure O (obsession) OCD.  I’m trying to remember the CBT coping strategies that I learnt for dealing with the OCD.  I think can control it reasonably well these days (better than the depression or the social anxiety, anyway), but it is worrying whenever it returns, especially as some pure O thoughts never really go away completely.  It just makes me feel that I’ll be messed up forever.

I know the OCD comes partly from stress and upheaval, but partly from anxiety and guilt about my sexuality.  That I feel I have to completely suppress my sexual feelings, which is not easy and probably not healthy.  I guess that probably feels into the depression too.  Unlike some religions, Judaism is strongly opposed to celibacy, but has no answers for what to do about sexuality outside of marriage other than “Get married young (or remarry quickly if you find yourself divorced or widowed).”  It has no answers for someone like me, who is a weirdo freak who no one will marry and who in any case (as I said yesterday) has no contacts in the frum (religious) community to set me up on dates and no confidence for online dating or singles events and certainly not for meeting women casually and asking them out.  I’m just an communal outlier no one really cares about.

I’ve been feeling more lonely.  I feel that things are never going to work out romantically with E., but I can’t see them working with anyone else either.  I find it hard to believe anyone could be as understanding and gentle with me as E. was and even if someone was, I can’t imagine she would be more forgiving of my quirks, flaws and mental health issues (and consequent financial straits) than E.  This post I saw today spoke about the power of love to heal mental health issues, but it’s not really something I have experienced much of, or feel likely to in the future.  E. was supportive, but ultimately couldn’t cope with my issues (for legitimate reasons); my only other relationship ended partly because my girlfriend expected me to deal with her (undiagnosed) issues, but ignored me when my depression was bad.

It’s hard to know what I want from a relationship.  I can’t really imagine what it’s like to be in a stable, loving long-term relationship with someone or to live with someone other than my immediate family, as neither of my relationships reached that point (one lasted eight months or nine months, but was interrupted a couple of times by my girlfriend saying she wasn’t sure she really liked me and could I leave her life for a few weeks while she decided what she felt; my relationship with E. only lasted two months, long-distance the whole time).  Being a virgin, I can’t really imagine what a physical relationship would be like either, though it is perhaps a little easier to try to imagine, though what I imagine may bear no relation to what it would be like.  I suppose what I can imagine is little things, gentle touch, support, shared jokes, feeling comfortable together.  It’s hard to imagine that happening again though and certainly not long-term, as both times it began to happen in the past, the relationship broke down because my partner either got scared or took advantage of the situation.

I feel I’m not coping with living with my parents again either.  It’s partly that their behaviour can trigger the OCD, but also just their habits and interactions can be difficult for me to deal with, partly from depression or autism, but partly from just different personalities.  It’s mostly trivial things that I shouldn’t really complain about (I guess a lot of people develop annoying quirks as they get older), but (a) it’s hard to live with people who have annoying habits when I didn’t choose to live with them and (b) it makes me feel a bad son/person/Jew who would never be able to live with a wife and kids.  Though sometimes I wonder if I am justified in getting annoyed about some of these things.  It is hard to know, or to know what I can actually do about them.  I know I can’t change them, but at the moment, I’m pushing myself to my maximum and I don’t feel I can change myself to be more patient either.

I guess that struggle to imagine things getting better is how I feel about a lot of things right now.  I try to put a brave face on things and for a while I can even genuinely be positive, as I was with my therapist earlier.  But sooner or later, the pessimistic voices start again.  “Do you know how few people with treatment-resistant depression achieve sustained recovery?” (fewer than half, apparently).  “Do you really think you can fit in to any workplace with all your issues?”  “How could anyone ever care for a freak like you – and if she did, how would you actually meet her and talk to her in the first place?”  As I’ve said before, CBT didn’t work for me because it tries to get the depressed person to find evidence against their negative perceptions of themselves and the world, but the evidence seems to indicate that my perceptions of the world are all actually true (my self-perceptions perhaps less so).

Good News/Bad New

I spent about three hours or more yesterday writing a job application for the first job that I’ve seen that I think I actually want to apply for (rather than applying because it’s a job and I need a job).  I ran out of time, though, so I had to send it today.

I ran out of time yesterday because I went with my Dad to clear out my flat.  We spent two hours there and we still didn’t clear it all out.  All my crockery and some of my non-perishable food is still there, plus the stuff in the bathroom.  The flat needs a good clean too, including the perpetual battle with mould in the bathroom.  I also need to empty many of the boxes we brought back yesterday, because I can’t live with them on my bedroom floor, from practical reasons but also because I hate mess.  I’m not sure where all the books I’ve acquired in the last two years are going to go, though, as I’m really pressed for shelf space.  It does really feel like I’ve moved back with my parents now.  Insert miserable face emoji here.

I went to bed late yesterday again.  Because of the job application and clearing out the flat (which was almost a full day’s work in total, but started midday because I overslept again) and because I needed to clear away a load of stuff from the flat that my Dad had put on or by my bed, I didn’t get to bed until 2.00am.  Actually, I fell asleep fully dressed.  I woke up again around 4.00am, quickly changed into my pyjamas and brushed my teeth and went to bed properly a few minutes later.  I have to be exhausted to fall asleep without doing my muscle relaxation exercises (except after Shabbat lunch, strangely).  Then, as usual, I slept for ten hours and even after getting up and drinking coffee, I still felt too exhausted to move.  I felt so exhausted that I felt physically frail and faint.  I guess I’m drained by moving, both physically and emotionally.

E. suggested treating my days like work days to get up earlier, but I find it impossible to treat an artificial deadline for getting up like a real deadline.  It’s not even conscious.  I set alarms, but I turn them off in my sleep or sleep through them (to the annoyance of my parents, as they sound for five minutes at a time, but I don’t hear).  When I had to get up by 7.00am for work, however, even if I slept through my alarms, I would naturally wake at 7.00am, however little sleep I had had.  I don’t know why this happens or how to use it to my advantage.

I feel bad about being tired all the time.  Even people who are understanding about the depression (my parents, E.) don’t always understand this, at least not to its full extent.  I think the equation is often (tiredness from depression) + (tiredness from having to socialise when possibly autistic and socially anxious) = constant tiredness, because one or the other is always there because when I’m less depressed, I’m often forcing myself into social situations instead, even if just work or shul (synagogue).  Depression just leads to a constant sense of exhaustion and I’ve been depressed for so long, I no longer know what my ‘normal’ energy level would be.

I had some OCD yesterday and today too.  I know it gets triggered by stress and upheaval and I have a lot of both right now, and I felt that I did bring it under control fairly swiftly, but I worry that it’s going to get worse again.

On an unrelated note, I was depressed by this article which argues that formal matchmaking by paid matchmakers in the Orthodox Jewish community only works for about 13% of the people who try it.  It seems that most people in the frum (religious) community are set up informally by people known to them.  The problem, as I’ve said many times, is that I keep myself too much to myself, and my parents’ social network is mostly the wrong age (children too young) and/or not religious enough for me to be set up with anyone suitable.  I’ve only ever been set up on four dates that way, two of which never happened because the women weren’t interested (well, one wasn’t interested and one I have absolutely no idea what happened).  So I have no idea how I could meet someone.  I actually got talking to a couple of women a little bit at volunteering on Sunday and I hope to see them next time, but I don’t know if I could ever actually ask one of them out.  I’m very bad at that sort of thing.

The real positive today was going to autism group.  It turned out to be a sort of a cross between a social group and a support group in that we sat together in one group, but spoke to each other in smaller, informal groups.  We spoke exclusively about our experiences of autism/Asperger’s, but in an informal, back and forth way rather than one person at a time to the whole group as in my other support groups.  I enjoyed it, though and found it useful.  I learned something about empathy, which had always confused me.  Autistic people, famously, have impaired empathy, but I know lots of autistic people say that this is not true.  Certainly, I know I feel empathy, even if I don’t know how to respond to other people’s emotions.  Someone at the group said there are two types of empathy, emotional empathy and cognitive empathy.  People on the autistic spectrum have the former, but not the latter, meaning that they can perceive and be moved by other people’s emotions, but don’t know how to respond and take their perspective.  I feel this fits how I am: I can recognise other people’s emotions sometimes quite strongly (I don’t like sad books and films because they make me sad), but I don’t know how to respond to those around me, sometimes to the annoyance of my family.  The person who said this said that both forms of empathy are innate, but looking online, some people seem to feel that only emotional empathy is innate; cognitive empathy can be learned, which may explain why I feel I’ve got better at perspective taking over the years rather than assuming that it means that I am not autistic, as I think some psychiatrists felt.

One other thing that came up was language use.  This is another area where I don’t register as autistic, because I’ve been told (including at the group tonight) that I have good language use.  I don’t know why this is the case, and I guess it is evidence against my being on the spectrum, which makes me feel more confused.  I had hoped to come away from the group with a clearer idea of whether I’m autistic or not, but I feel as confused as before about my diagnosis, albeit that I understand autism in the abstract a bit better.  Still, it was good to meet and flex my social muscles again so soon after volunteering and I hope to go back.

Tomorrow: pre-holiday haircut, unpack some stuff from the flat and sort out holiday stuff IF everything goes to plan, which lately it hasn’t.  I need to try to get some people who live in New York to understand that I’m coming next week and it would be really good if they spoke to me now about if/when they want to meet, as I’m not going to be easy to contact once I’m there.  Especially the landlord of the flat I’m renting for the last few days who still hasn’t told me where the apartment I’m renting actually is.  I’m really annoyed about how that part of the holiday is going, a couple of people have really let me down there, but I’d best not say more.

Incoherent Ramblings of a Deranged Madman

I did eventually calm down and go to sleep last night, then slept through the whole morning, waking at 1.00pm, but being too tired to get up before 1.30, despite the noise from next door (I live in a converted garage; apparently the owners of the adjoining garage are converting their side into a flat too).

I feel exhausted and depressed.  I feel as if the immensity of everything, of possibly endless unemployment, the difficulties of self-employment and the loneliness of possibly permanent singledom (while carrying a torch for someone who just wants to be friends) has really hit me.  That said, I don’t feel any specific anxiety.  Yesterday’s agitation has been replaced with total lethargy and I can’t really think at all.

I just got a spammy email from PayPal telling me that a lot can happen in four months.  Indeed.  In four months I moved from single to in a relationship to single again and from employed and fairly sure I would still be employed in a few months if I wanted to unemployed.  Still depressed, though.

I wonder why I left my job, as it seems impossible even to feel non-depressed enough to find and apply for a job, let alone get one, and the thought of writing for a living, even non-creative writing, seems unlikely – I have no confidence in my writing and certainly not in my ability to network, submit on spec or take editorial criticism.   I just feel utterly drained today.  The heat doesn’t help and it’s worse in my poorly-ventilated flat (one advantage of moving back in with my parents, I suppose).

I feel I underestimated how much the events of recent months would affect me, particularly now I’m off work and have time to think about things.  I suppose this is my normal holiday slump magnified by the doubt and uncertainty and the anxiety of job hunting and career shifting.  I suppose I blame myself for leaving my job and maybe for what happened with E. and I certainly can’t see a way ahead with either.  I feel disgusted with myself for acting out yesterday, although I have no idea how I ended up in such an agitated condition (or what I can do to stop it happening again).

Looking at Hevria stuff online just underlines how far I am from the centres of Jewish life (Israel and America/New York), but even if I was there, I doubt I could get involved.  I want to meet some Hevria people when I go to New York in a few weeks, but it’s hard to find anyone willing to meet with me.  And I feel like I don’t fit in with their frum-but-bohemian lifestyles, either the bohemian part or, increasingly, the effortlessly frum part.  Being frum is increasingly a hard struggle and I’ve never really seen God’s hand in my life the way the others seem to.  And I don’t feel creative, although I’ve been told I’m a good writer (I find that hard to believe).

I’m thinking about moving my Doctor Who blog to WordPress, if I want to try to boost its popularity to try to promote my Doctor Who/science fiction writing/criticism.  Livejournal seems to be fairly dead these days, for English language blogs at any rate.  I need to blog there more often, though.  I think the only way I could keep it separate from this blog (which I would have to as this one is anonymous and the Doctor Who one isn’t) is to set up a paid account, although even then I’m not sure if it would let me separate them (as I only have one email address to register with them).  I don’t really mind paying £3 a month though, and it might be worth it for no ads and a blog title without ‘wordpress’ in it.  I ought to learn to use LinkedIn better too.  Correction: I ought to actually use my LinkedIn account.  (It scares me.)

Procrastinating.  I just think, “I’ll just sit here for a few more minutes.  I’ll just look at such and such a website.  I’ll just check my emails again.”  I used to think this was desire for connection, but I’ve been in touch with friends today.  I just feel lazy.  I hate myself today.

My main achievement today has been to clear my email folders.  I’m good about keeping my inbox under control, but lately my outbox and trash folders had become over-full, plus I still had nearly every email E. had ever sent me, which seemed pointlessly romantic and depressing because it reminds me that no one I can’t get a relationship to work even when I manage to find someone who likes me.  It took longer than I hoped, but less time than I feared.

People keep reminding me about things I need to remember to do for my holiday or job search.  I’m not sure whether to be angry that they think I’ll forget or ashamed that they might be right.  I feel like everyone is treating me like a child, but also that they possibly (probably?) need to do so.  I wonder how well I could function by myself if I had to.  This is part of the reason E. broke up with me.  Of course part of the reason I’m inexperienced at these things is simply that I haven’t been well enough to do them.  I’ve never been well enough to go on holiday by myself before, nor have I needed to do a prolonged job search.  For a long time I was too depressed to work.  My first job came from a voluntary position that I talked into a paid position and my second job I just applied for out of the blue and won without any prolonged searching.  So I’ve never had a prolonged period of job searching before.

I’m trying to think of intelligent questions to ask my friends who are writers and researchers about their careers and I’m really struggling.  Sometimes I feel so useless.  It’s hard to tell if it’s depression, autism, learned helplessness or if I am just genuinely useless.

I feel guilty about not having gone for a run yesterday or today, but I walked over to my parents’ house to pick some stuff up today and I was completely exhausted.  It’s only a fifteen minute walk, but I was really slow.  Every movement was an effort. My legs felt like they were lined with lead.  I hate being this depressed.  I ate ice cream, even though I know I’ve put on a ton of weight with my medications.  Two years ago I was reasonably slim; now thanks to clomipramine I’m somewhat overweight despite probably eating more healthily now than previously.

My Dad says it’s a shame that no one from Hevria wants to meet me in New York.  He says the lesson from this is that people say one thing and mean another.  I think the lesson is more that everyone secretly hates me and wants nothing to do with me.  At least E. is going to spend time with me although I’m worried that will be painful for both of us.  I’m still terrified of getting mugged or lost or missing my plane.  It would help if I had direct contact details for more Hevrians rather than having to go through the two people whose details I do have and who I think have forgotten to tell anyone else that I’m coming despite my asking them to do so.

I will be thirty-five in a few days.  It’s easy to say I just want someone to love me, but it’s not that simple.  For someone to love me and be able to live/cope with me, I need a full-time job or at least some kind of job that pays better than my last one.  I also need to have frum (religious) friends who will set me up on dates.  For that to happen, I need to be better integrated into the frum (religious) community.  For that to happen, I need to have less social anxiety and to be coping better with my religious obligations (prayer, Torah study) and for that to happen I need more simcha shel mitzvah (joy from the commandments).  For any of this to happen, I need some kind of medication or therapy regime or set of coping skills that allow me to cope with my depression, social anxiety, low self-esteem and borderline autism a lot better than I currently am, not just for a few months (as occasionally happens), but consistently for a period of years.  This seems incredibly unlikely, given the events of the last twenty years or so.

I have probably been depressed for more of my life than not now.  At any rate, I’ve been depressed for almost all of my adult life.  I sometimes wonder what I would be like as a person and what my life would be like if I was not depressed.  It is very hard to know.

My life seems both pointless and hopeless.  I’m not suicidal, but I do wonder why I’m here.  I can’t see myself doing anything worthwhile in any sense of the word, and God knows (literally) I’ve hardly enjoyed myself for the last twenty years or more, since I was a child.  I don’t think I’ve grown much as a person either.  It’s hard to get the energy to hunt for work, plan my holiday, meet my religious obligations, become a better person or just do the chores needed to keep my flat/life in order (or look for dates, for that matter, not that I’m doing that) when everything seems to turn out so badly for me.  If I’d spent the entire day in bed today, I’m not sure I would have been a lot worse off…

I Want to Scream

Feeling thoroughly angry and despairing.  My holiday is shaping up to be the worst ever, although I may still get to see one or two Hevria people.  I’ve screwed up the travel insurance, which resulted in my father treating me like I’m a moron.  The two things I can’t stand are being ignored and being treated like an imbecile and I’ve had plenty of both so far with this stupid, pointless holiday.  Why did I ever think (a) that I was competent to do this and (b) that E. would stay with someone as screwed up as me long enough for the trip to be worthwhile?  I did seriously consider cancelling it, but I would have lost too much money and it would have felt cowardly.  I’m going to have to go abroad by myself one day, so I might as well get it over with.

There’s a lot of more general anger too, against HaShem (God) for making me suffer so much with my mental health issues and against the Jewish community, which takes care of its own, but doesn’t seem to consider me its own, in terms of helping me fit in to the community, find meals for Shabbat when I’m on holiday and, of course, find a spouse.

I worry that all this anger and hatred and unjustified self-pity (i.e. I’m not really justified in pitying myself so much, because really I can’t say I don’t deserve this) is going to coalesce and I’m going to turn into some kind of antisemitic (self-hating Jew), misogynistic anti-theist.  I don’t want that to happen, but I’m worried it might.

There’s a metaphor from the Midrash or the Talmud or something about a chamberlain who has the keys to the inner chamber of the royal treasury, but not to the outer door, so he can’t get to the riches inside.  I can’t remember what the original context is, but I feel a bit like that.  It’s no good frum (religious) people telling me that everything God does is for the best, that no suffering is unjust and that if I suffer now, I will be rewarded later, probably in the next world, because I feel I don’t have what I need right now to meet the immediate challenge (get through the out door/cope with my immediate feelings of anger, loneliness, despair, rebellion, hatred etc.) to get to the inner chamber (later reward).

Right now I feel like I just want to curl up on the bed and cry, but I have important stuff to do.  Watching Doctor Who just made me feel worse (The Girl Who Waited, a reasonably good episode, but too romantic and depressing for right now – the perils of watching stuff in order.  Next up is The God Complex, which probably also isn’t such a good idea right now for different reasons).

 

Break Up Breakdown

I feel very depressed today.  I struggled to get up and to get to work on time.  I nearly skipped davening completely, partly from lack of time, partly from anger with HaShem (God).  More on that below.  It’s hard to tell how much of that depression is work rather than breaking up with E.  I’ve been working on the library move for the college reorganisation for more weeks than I can remember now.  It’s hard to remember that my job did once consist of more intellectually-challenging things than scanning books, putting stickers on them and crating them up.  Although I have been wondering lately if, even at the best of times, this job is intellectually-challenging enough for me.  I might make fewer mistakes if I were more engaged, but it’s hard to know what would engage me and be within my depressive/autistic capabilities.  I think I really want a job where I get to read books rather than just catalogue them.  That said, I will accept a renewed contract here if it gets offered to me.

I’m going to New York in August.  It was at the back of my mind during my awful summer break last year to go to New York to meet people from Hevria, but I only acted on the thought because I wanted to see E. and now that’s fallen through, but my ticket and hotel are booked so I have to go.  I am still hoping to see some Hevria people (and maybe E., if she wants to), but from my lack of feedback so far, I’m not sure that anyone really wants to see me (including E.) so this could be the most miserable holiday ever.  I have never travelled alone before, so I’m having nightmares about missing my plane, not finding my hotel, not finding kosher shops and restaurants, getting mugged, missing my plane home…  At least they speak English in America (allegedly).

I have depression group tomorrow.  I should be eager to get this (E. and work, not the holiday) off my chest, but I don’t really feel like sharing it with anyone.  I don’t know if that’s frustration or anger or humiliation and shame.  I blame myself, although I shouldn’t.  I’m really angry with HaShem (God), not for this per se, but for never letting me be happy for more than a short period.  Never letting me enjoy even my religious life.  Never letting me live.  I’ve never even really had simcha shel mitzvah (joy in performing the commandments) which is pretty much essential to be frum (religious) long-term.  I’ve been feeling lately (even before breaking up) that I wonder how long I can stay frum.  I still believe, but I’ve just run out of fuel to keep going with something that consumes so much of me and gives so little back to me.  Not that I think I would have more success finding a serious relationship in the mainstream world and I know I don’t have the emotional capability to have any less formal liaison.

When I look at my life, I get so angry with HaShem.  I’ve been depressed and lonely fairly consistently since my mid-to-late teens with only rare short breaks.  This (young adulthood) is supposedly the happiest time of one’s life, when one has independence, but no responsibilities, so I don’t think I have much to look forward to.  Certainly not to a loving marriage or even any kind of relationship.  I can’t imagine anyone finding me worth marrying any more, unless by some miracle I get a lot less depressed and then rapidly scale the work ladder.  I’ve just got too much going against me, in terms of autism and depression, low income, religious inadequacies and general geeky weirdness.