Well, unlike Alex Drake in Ashes to Ashes, I wasn’t shot, but I did find myself in 1983 when I came into this world thirty-seven years ago.
My birthday got off to a bad start today. Mum had a bad turn soon after I got up and we were worried about her for a while, although she’s fine now.
Then I tried to book my blood test, but failed because of COVID restrictions on where it can be done at the moment. There’s a whole long story here that I won’t go into, but the short version is that I don’t know where I can have it done and am struggling to get hold of my psychiatrist to find out. Typical NHS bureaucracy. I know this sounds a trivial problem, and it is, but it leaves me feeling very flustered with social anxiety about asking people things and autistic confusion about new situations that I’m not prepared for, and being put through to receptionists who are short with me just leaves me feeling worse.
Also, on weighing myself, it looked like I hadn’t lost weight after all.
However, I was cheered up by getting a LOT of birthday messages here! Thank you so much! Also some messages from family during the day. My ankle seems a lot better today too, although I need to work out what’s causing the pain to find a long-term solution. Dad suggested insoles to cushion my feet more which might be a good first step. That said, I did avoid going for a walk today to help it heal.
I did a bit of work on my novel, but between my problems phoning about my blood test, therapy, and decompressing from therapy afterwards, and then having family over for my birthday, I didn’t get much time today. On the downside, I realised that when I sent Doctor Who Magazine a review copy of my Doctor Who book last week, I forgot to put my email address and phone number on the covering letter, although I did put my physical address. I tell myself, I had never sent such a letter before, but it still annoys me that I make sloppy mistakes like that, even though I know it’s the kind of practical/interpersonal thing that you might expect someone on the autism spectrum to get wrong.
I guess it’s frustrating as I never had the organisational issues at school or university that might have flagged up autism. I had a friend at school who was very intelligent, but also not at all organised and (to be honest) rather lazy. He never did his homework or had the right books with him and only engaged with his studies inasmuch as they interested him. He didn’t go to university when the rest of us did, but didn’t really do much in the way of career-building; I don’t even remember if he even had a job when I last saw him, back when I was still doing my BA. My sister knows his sister and ran into him a few years back. He had a girlfriend who was pregnant; I got the impression he still didn’t have much of career, maybe not even a job. His parents always seemed super-permissive and content to just let him coast through life. They were a wealthy family, so maybe he didn’t need to do any more than that to survive.
My point is that in many ways he fitted the autism stereotype a lot more than I do, the stereotype of intense interest in some topics, but complete uninterest in others and total disorganisation and lack of social savvy. I never forgot my books, but perhaps that was only because I was super-careful to follow my routine of packing every evening before bed, checking against the timetable and my diary notes so that I didn’t forget anything and even checking my bag multiple times on the way in to school to see if I had forgotten anything (autism loves routines). The further I get from the organised routine of school and, to a lesser extent, university, the more I make sloppy mistakes and end up blaming myself. My parents help me with some stuff (I’ve mentioned my Dad helping me with money), but they don’t know anything about writing and publishing. I just feel so useless and incompetent at times. I try to tell myself it’s not my fault, but I worry that it is my fault and that when I have my assessment, I’m going to get told I’m not autistic, just useless.
Therapy was good. We spoke about loneliness a lot. I also went back and forth with guilt and anxiety about breaking up with E., which I guess is looking for validation on some level. I spoke about not always being aware of when my inner critic is talking when I’m depressed and not being able to think of practical strategies to beat loneliness when I feel lonely. The therapist suggested making some charts (I guess I could do flow charts) e.g. “If I feel depressed –> ask if it’s my inner critic talking” or “If I feel lonely –> email a friend /or –> phone Samaritans” rather than sit ruminating. I will try to do that this week.
I spoke a bit about dating too. The therapist did say that someone who could cope with my issues is probably going to be a very “special” and kind person, which is something I’ve thought about myself, even down to describing her as “special.” How do I even find such a person? According to stereotype, every frum guy is looking for a kind (and pretty) wife; it’s hard to see how I can stand out from the crowd, especially as, also according to stereotype, every frum woman (outside of the yeshiva world of full-time “learning”) is looking for guy who can support a family while taking prayer and Talmud study seriously, which is not exactly me right now. It would probably also have to be someone who had some kind of issues of her own or the relationship would be unbalanced. I don’t know how I could deliberately find such a relationship with someone with issues, other than wait and hope God will intervene. I don’t think dating is going to happen again for me for a very long time… That may be just as well, as I think I still have a lot of difficult feelings to work through regarding E.
As today was my birthday, my sister and brother-in-law came over and we had takeaway pizza in the garden, socially distanced, followed by chocolate cake and ice cream. It was good, but I always end up feeling vaguely guilty that I get “peopled out” before anyone else gets tired. I always seem to get fidgety a good hour before anyone else seems to.
Presents: Doctor Who: The Complete Twelfth Series DVD from my parents. This was the 2020 series. I know, I was lukewarm about the series when it was broadcast earlier this year, so why did I ask for it as a present? (We don’t really do surprise presents in my family, we just tell each other what we would like.) I admit I did have second thoughts about that. To cut a long story short, I wasn’t sure what could be ordered because of COVID hitting my favourite online bookshop with supply issues. I decided I would rather have something on the day than wait for months. I also know I do often dislike new episodes of Doctor Who on first viewing and then like them a lot more on repeated viewing. I think it’s something about the area where fannishness meets autism that means I need time to adjust to new ideas in my favourite programme. I used to think the 2008 series was absolutely the worst series of Doctor Who ever; now I think that its second half in particular is a really exemplary run of episodes. I didn’t think most of these episodes (the 2020 series) were bad, just so-so (except Orphan 55, which was pants and antisemitic). As Peter Davison (the fifth Doctor) said, if a Doctor Who fan thinks an episode is “bad,” that means he “only” watches it thirty times. If nothing else, reviewing the episodes for my Doctor Who blog ought to be fun; I deliberately didn’t review them on first viewing because I was worried I would be overly negative. And there is still £10 or so in the budget to get one or two books when the supply chain restarts.
From my sister and brother-in-law, I got Minority Report, which is volume four of The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick, one of my favourite authors. (I have volumes one to three of the short stories already.) Also, Muck by Dror Burstein, which is a sui generis modern re-telling of the biblical book of Jeremiah, a “comedy with apocalyptic stakes” that looks fun and also worth checking out if I want to write Jewish-themed fantasy and science fiction. I guess it’s appropriate Three Weeks reading too.
Mum and Dad also gave me a MoonPig birthday card with my picture on it. It’s not such a bad picture, which I saying something as I usually hate looking at pictures of myself.
I’m pretty tired and “peopled out” now. I did some late night Torah study just now (about half an hour, not bad considering how late it is) and I ought to go to bed, but I feel I need to decompress a bit with TV or something to unwind from therapy and peopling.
There’s been a weird, intermittent humming sound from somewhere nearby today, which makes my bedroom sound eerily like the TARDIS. I really would like to be able to take my room anywhere in time and space. But probably not to 1983.