A Month, A Week and A Day

“We got through Pesach (Passover) and we’re not getting divorced!” This has been E and my cry the last half day. We’re joking, I hasten to add. Pesach had its tough moments, but we never seriously considered divorcing our civil marriage and cancelling our chuppah (religious ceremony). The worst was a disagreement between E and Mum on the one hand and me on the other over the time we could halakhically (according to Jewish law) start the final day of Yom Tov (festival), but that turned out to be mostly a misunderstanding of what we wanted and we resolved it OK. E and I are thinking about how we can do Pesach differently next year, though, so she can enjoy it more.

I think E and I are good about resolving conflicts, but we’re both catastrophisers and worry that one day we won’t be able to do so.

Related to this, but far beyond it, is E’s frustration that the kosher food world in the UK is so much more limited than the USA and more complicated to access, as many kosher foods do not bear a visible hechsher (kosher sign) on the packaging. You have to check on an app or just know what is kosher. I feel sorry for her, as food is important to her, but I’m limited in what I can do to help. It would have been a lot easier if I was the one emigrating, but the health insurance situation and gun culture in the US made that impossible.

Otherwise, Pesach was quiet. I didn’t get to shul (synagogue) at all, which is frustrating, but I think shul has mostly drifted off my radar at the moment. I did a bit of Torah study, mostly The Guide for the Perplexed, and read some of Children of Dune, but both were heavy and I didn’t make a huge amount of progress in terms of pages. I think I need a long break from the Dune series after this volume. E and I went for a walk one day, but came back early as it started raining. The other day we napped and didn’t go out at all.


It is thirty-eight days until our chuppah (religious wedding), which works out as a month, a week and a day. I realised the other day that the default position on our chuppah is for it to happen even if there is stuff we run out of time to organise. It would take more effort for it not to happen at this stage than for it to happen. This is reassuring, although part of my brain is still sure that I’m going to fall under a bus or something a few days before it, on the grounds that the universe doesn’t want me to be happy or that my being married violates some fundamental natural law.


Something I realised today is that E and I are both bad at emotional regulation, but in different ways. I can’t notice a lot of my emotions; when I do, they tend to be intense, negative (loneliness, depression or anxiety) and last for days if not weeks. E’s emotions are the reverse. Still intense, but much more changeable and over a wider spectrum. She can go from “Life is going to be awful forever” to doing her happy dance in the space of about ten minutes (not exaggerating). Neither of these is good or bad (well, on some level they’re probably both bad, measured against some unattainable neurotypical, mentally healthy ideal), but we need to find a way for us to work with this situation. So far, snuggles seem to be a good way for both of us to regulate and have the added of advantage of being good for the non-dysregulated (at that moment) partner rather than a chore to help the other.

Number Crunching

I woke up feeling drained today and not sure why except Pesach (Passover) stress and maybe wedding stress, although it hasn’t been on my radar much lately. I love having E here, but I guess we’re going through the “first year of marriage learning to live together and compromise” stuff, even though we aren’t fully married yet. Having worked out our position on the “big” topics, we’re having to find compromises on topics that we didn’t even know existed a few weeks ago, with the added complication that this isn’t actually our home, so we have to organise a whole other set of compromises with my parents too. I wish we were living in our own place, but it won’t happen for a while. E was very homesick this morning too. Married life is hard, and we aren’t even allowed to sleep in the same bed or share very intimate touch yet.

Related to feeling drained, I would like to have more energy, but I’m not sure how feasible it is. Other autistics seem to think there is no real way of boosting energy levels, aside from relaxation and sleep and sleep is not always refreshing to me due to my suspected sleep disorder. You can only manage your environment better to lose energy slower and leave more rest time to allow energy levels to naturally restore. I’m not sure how much I can do that right now, given that I have to go out to work and do a lot of non-negotiable (to me) religious stuff, although I’m trying to find ways to make the religious stuff more negotiable and hope to move completely to work from home one day, although it’s a distant dream right now.

Speaking of sleep, the respiratory department (which weirdly was responsible for my sleep study) finally got back to me today regarding my email about my sleep study results. They asked for my date of birth and post code to try to find my results. I don’t know why it took them over two weeks to write one line. Small steps…

Other than that, I feel like I took advantage of one of the Jewish Facebook groups I’m on to post about how I’m feeling rather than asking a specific question, so now I feel bad about that, and also feeling that no one likes me on the autism forum (I haven’t looked at that much for the last week and don’t feel I’ve missed much).

I’m also struggling to feel the meaning and joy of Pesach, but I feel like that about much of Judaism. I can’t tell if it doesn’t really engage me and I only do it out of abstract belief or if it’s just the alexithymia (difficulty recognising and understanding my own emotions) screwing up my life again. I think Judaism engages me, but that means I can’t reach the positive emotions I have about it and maybe never will, which amounts to the same thing in practice as not having them in the first place. It makes it hard to share the joy and meaning of Judaism with E when so much of my own presumed joy and meaning goes unnoticed by me.

E and I did some cooking together just now and that felt positive, but on the whole I feel slightly down and alexithymically unaware of what my problem is and what I could/should do to fix it, if that’s even how I should be looking at it. I think that some sadness is just part of the human condition and needs to be ridden out rather than changed.


I’m still thinking about the statistic I saw yesterday that there are about 1,380 autistic Jews in the UK. I suspect it must be an underestimate either of the number of autistics or Jews. Looking online, it seems that a little over 1% of the UK population is diagnosed autistic. Assuming that’s the same in the Anglo-Jewish population, the equivalent figure would be just over 4,000 Jewish autistics.

I did a back of an envelope calculation, admittedly with some questionable assumptions, and even with this higher figure, it’s likely that there are just forty or so autistics in this country who are broadly in the observant Modern Orthodox community, and many of them are probably severely autistic (I can’t find statistics on the percentage of autistics who are described as “high-functioning”). This means that the number of people who experience the interaction of autism and Jewish life the way I do in this country is almost non-existent. Even if I widen that to include the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community, I think it would still be hard to actually find people like me, as I’ve encountered almost no Haredi non-severe autistics online or in person and suspect that anyone even vaguely functional in that community is encouraged to keep quiet about any neurological differences as it would be “bad for shidduchim” (finding a partner for yourself and your siblings).

No wonder there’s so little support for non-severe autism in the Jewish or frum community. No wonder I’ve struggled to so hard to find people on my wavelength in the frum community over the years. And no wonder my wife came from overseas!

Pandora’s Box

Today was difficult and I feel rather down. I suppose the background is a week of stress of various kinds and disrupted sleep (too little, too much), as well as meals at different times, and different foods as well as too much peopling. Pesach (Passover), basically.

E and I went to the science fiction exhibition at the Science Museum this morning. Unfortunately, a number of things went wrong for us. They were mostly minor things, so I won’t list them all, but the major ones were that the exhibition didn’t have enough exhibits, many of the exhibits it did have were replica props or costumes rather than originals, and the exhibition as a whole seemed pitched more at children rather than adults, although not quite at either, which was not clear from the advertising. The intellectual level of the signage seemed aimed at children, but the exhibits themselves were probably more recognisable to adults; I’m not sure how many children have seen Forbidden Planet or The Day the Earth Stood Still, let alone Alien (actually, more likely Alien than the 1950s films). We came away feeling we had neither seen anything unusual nor learnt very much and felt a bit ripped off as it was an exhibition we had to pay for, unlike the regular exhibits at the Science Museum. There was a lot of ambient noise in the exhibition too (it was supposed to be set in a spaceship), which, to be fair, they warned us about, but the noise and the people probably contributed to my feeling bad. It wasn’t terrible, but I felt short changed. I would have liked to have learnt more about some exhibits, especially the robot doll with highly realistic facial expressions that teaches young autistic children about emotions.

Afterwards, we found the museum as a whole too busy and noisy and went outside to eat lunch. We found a bench by a memorial to victims of the Soviet Union and ate our lunch until someone sat next to me and started smoking. The smell and fear of secondary smoke put me off finishing my matzahs. We decided we didn’t really feel like going back in the museum and wandered around for a bit, but there wasn’t much to see except a so-so bookshop, so we came home. I did a few odd chores, but lacked concentration and motivation for anything more significant. Anyway, there isn’t much that can be done at the moment for the wedding, which is my main focus. I do feel that I wasted the afternoon, though, aside from a short walk with E to the two local free bookshelves.


I struggled with interactions with Dad again. I feel I should be able to cope with his repetitions and intrusive small talk, but I can’t, certainly not when I’m already feeling down. E struggles with them too, but is more polite than me, or more inhibited. I get sarcastic or just short.

I think part of the problem is that I have an autistic “script” on how to live with my parents, albeit a sometimes dysfunctional one that involves being sarcastic and then apologising, then doing it again. I have no script on how to live with my fiancée/wife, but I am more able to be myself with her and we’re slowly learning how to live together, although it is very early days and we probably won’t really make progress until we’re living in our own space, away from my parents. The problem is that I have no script at all for living with parents AND my fiancée/wife at the same time, even though this is a much more difficult thing to do than living with either parents OR fiancée/wife separately. It feels like being in two plays at once. Added to this is that the family dynamic is changing because of my marriage, so even old scripts don’t apply.

It’s probably noteworthy that E thinks that I’m a very different person, a happier and more functional person, when I’m alone with her than when I’m around my parents. I suspect I’m also happier and more functional with her than at work, but I’m not sure how social situations and volunteering fit in. My Mum texted something today about me being happier with E too.

While E and I are still PG-rated in our behaviour, we are relating to each other more in a sexual way, unsurprising given that we will be married in six weeks. This is probably the first time I’ve really interacted with a woman in such a sexual way, certainly the first time for over a decade (depending on what you think of my behaviour with my first girlfriend, who did not respect my boundaries, unlike E). I think this is bringing up some difficult feelings for me that I can’t articulate to E or in writing and which I wouldn’t share here anyway, but I feel I need to access them in some way before our wedding. It’s fun, absolutely, but I think there’s also guilt, shame and fear in there from decades of sexual repression, as well as the fear that sex is a big Pandora’s box and if I (or we) open it, there’s no telling what might come out, even though I know I’m pretty vanilla.

I feel like I really need a therapy session to help process the last week or so (wedding, Pesach, having E here with my family, sexual maturing), particularly as I haven’t blogged much here lately. Unfortunately, I don’t have another session until next week because of Pesach and my therapist being away.


E picked up a book on Jewish marriage years ago that she didn’t like. She offered it to me, but I looked at it and thought it would upset me and trigger religious OCD, so we left it in a free book box. It takes an attitude to dating that makes me wonder how any frum (religious Jewish) people get married. Dating should be through a matchmaker (professional or amateur), it should consist of serious conversation (interrogation) to see that the couple have identical life aims and key values (if people in their early twenties or even late teens even have clear life aims and values). The conversation should be used to determine whether the other person has good character traits, particularly kindness, charity, patience (in the sense of no anger) and, for women, an indefinable “charm.” They should be on comparable religious levels from “good” (i.e. conventionally religious) families and ideally the man should be a good Talmudic scholar too. It’s acknowledged that no one has all these characteristics, but no guidance is given about how to prioritise those they do have. It feels like every normal person would  have at least one serious mark against them, so I don’t know how anyone gets married in the frum world, particularly as it’s increasingly common to do advance checks of a person through their “shidduch resume” (dating CV) and character references so you can ditch potential dates who you deem inadequate without even bothering to go on a date with them. The boys apparently just judge by the attached photo. I bet some of the girls do too. I guess people just lie and regret it later.


There is an article in the latest Jewish News about autism and youth movements in the Jewish community. Inexplicably, I can’t find it on the website, only in the hardcopy newspaper. It says there are an estimated 1,380 Jewish autistics (in the UK, I assume from context, although this is unclear). However, it is not clear if this includes high functioning autistics. Certainly the article seems to be based on the idea that autistics are excluded from Jewish youth movements because they have learning disabilities as much as, or more than, social impairments. The idea that children of average or above average intelligence can be autistic and still be excluded by other children and struggle to fit in and join in at youth movements is not mentioned. High intelligence in children can be just as isolating as learning disabilities, entitled though that sounds, especially when combined with poor social skills and sensory sensitivities. I stopped going to anything resembling a youth movement when I was twelve, because I couldn’t make friends and was untrusting of children my age from my history of being bullied at school.  As I’ve said before, I think this had a big long-term effect on my socialisation into the Jewish community, from which I’m still suffering today. I’m wondering whether to write in about this.


From a comment I left on a previous post: Yes, I also love the meaning of Pesach, but struggle with the practice. I’m struggling to find where I am with stringencies. I feel that I want to obey “basic” halakhah [Jewish law], not stringency, but that basic halakhah can be hard to find. And I have an ascetic side that tends unconsciously to self-denial and stringency which I don’t always notice until E or my parents points it out to me, by which time I can have upset them. Even without stringencies, it can be hard to negotiate a way through Pesach when there are four of us in this house each with their own take on what the “basic” practice (not the same as halakhah) is for us, or should be, even without taking into account the evolving family dynamic.

Also, with alexithymia (difficulty recognising and understanding my own emotions) it can be hard to tune in to even the spiritual meaning.


It is six weeks, or forty-two days, or less than a thousand hours until the wedding! This still seems far off at times, but too close when I think of all the things that need to be done.

Pesach Update

I haven’t been online much over the last few days, first with a three day chag (Passover plus Sabbath), then doing things with E. I haven’t got time or, really, inclination, to give my usual detailed account of things. After my meltdowns/shutdowns before Pesach, things did improve, albeit with some backward steps too.

The seders went well, albeit they were different: E, my parents and me for the first; the four of us and some family and friends of my parents for the second. We didn’t have much discussion on either, as I hadn’t really had time to prepare. We cut a few things from the first seder and rather more from the second one, although still not a huge amount, so that E (with suspected ADHD) could cope better, although we were both pretty “peopled out” by the end of it, and Shabbat was a drag for both of us when we wanted to watch TV, but couldn’t.

E and I went on a nice walk on second day Pesach, up near the local riding school, where I had never been before, and we went on a different walk on Shabbat. I’ve done some Torah study and some recreational reading, although not a huge amount of either. I’ve also been struggling with stomach issues, which have been a long-term thing for me on clomipramine, but have been made worse by Pesach food.

Today we went to Wimpole Hall, an eighteenth century stately home and National Trust property. We went with my parents, but E and I went around separately to them. We walked through the park, failed to get to the folly, and hurriedly went around the lower stories of the house before it shut (the upper floor was shut today). There was a second-hand bookshop, small, but interestingly stocked, with a surprisingly good selection of late twentieth century science fiction. I picked up God Emperor of Dune, the fourth Dune book (I’m currently reading Children of Dune, the third) and 10,000 Light-Years from Home, a collection of short stories by James Tiptree Jr, as I want to read more books by women. James Tiptree Jr was a woman. She wasn’t trans, it was just that for much of the twentieth century, science fiction was viewed as a male-only genre by editors and readers alike and women often adopted male pseudonyms or hid behind anonymous initials (e.g. D. C. Fontana was Dorothy Fontana).

Pre-Pesach Shutdown

I had a fairly bad day yesterday, alone in the office with nothing to do except stick erratum stickers and re-shelve folders. I was bored and catastrophised a lot. I went to the bank, which normally raises my mood a little, but ended up with sensory and “peopling” overload, which brought my mood down further. The decorators outside were back, with a loud radio. I had to deal with an emotionally difficult series of phone calls which ended up with me going back and forth between three different people and eventually passing it to J, which I felt bad about. By the time I got to the station on the way home, I was feeling faint from low blood sugar, but had to go the GP’s surgery, as the NHS has screwed up again and for some reason not checked my lithium level when I had my last blood test, so I need another one. It took me some time to work this out, as between the COVID screens in front of the receptionist and people talking and a noisy blood pressure machine behind me, I couldn’t really hear the receptionist. E and I think I may be hypoglycaemic. By the end, I felt “defective,” physically (sleep, blood sugar), emotionally (catastrophising) and neurologically (autism).

Unfortunately, I then got in a really bad state (or an even worse one), probably from low blood sugar and especially lack of sleep. I felt incredibly physically ill and anxious. I probably had a major shutdown, maybe with meltdown elements. I didn’t realise this until today, although E and Mum recognised it before me. I left Dad to kasher the sink and search for chametz (leaven), went to bed at 9pm without turning off my computer, turning my TV off standby, brushing my teeth or even finishing dinner (unprecedented!), slept for twelve hours and woke up feeling better, but far from 100%, still somewhat tired and anxious. I didn’t go to shul for the siyum to get out of the Fast of the Firstborn, but I’m not fasting anyway.

I did some more pre-Pesach preparation, but had to go to my bedroom in the early afternoon to have some alone time, just lying in the dark by myself. That seemed to help, although I’m worried about getting through the next few days. I want to try to help my parents, but I’m worried about being overloaded and falling into shutdown again. E is very stressed by everything too and I feel a bit guilty about that. I have spent the last couple of hours helping, but I’m doing a lot less than usual. I probably won’t go to shul tonight. We will probably have a quiet, quick seder this evening, which I think will suit everyone.

I don’t know why the burnout/shutdown situation has been so bad this year. Maybe it’s doing the wedding as well as Pesach, or working two consecutive days (!), or being in the office alone all day yesterday, or maybe it’s that E mirrors some of my own feelings about living with my parents back to me, feelings that I didn’t know I had because of alexithymia. Nothing bad, just a realisation that I find this house too loud and chaotic, especially at this time of year and for years I’ve just been putting up with it and often feeling bad without knowing why. E is constantly surprised about how different I am to my parents, particularly in terms of levels of noise, conversation and chaos.

Pesach will be hard, but I will get through it. I have fiancée/wife who loves me a lot and I’m slowly making positive changes to my life. E says she worries she’s making me less religious, but I see it more as making me more grounded and short-circuiting the tendencies to asceticism that I have when I’m left to my own devices. I wish I could change faster, more consistently and more – “enthusiastically” isn’t quite the right word, but I wish I wasn’t so anxious about changing, particularly religiously. I wish I came with a user manual, for E’s sake as much as for mine, and I wish personal changes could happen faster than they do. It’s also frustrating that E and my parents see the one thing I freak out about, religiously (particularly regarding religious OCD) and not the nine that would have freaked out about a couple of years ago, but now take in my stride, more or less. But I am changing, and trying to find new sources of advice and support for the changes I still want/need to make. It’s just hard, hard being frum and neurodivergent, hard having lots of different reasons for being the way I am (frum, neurodivergent, mentally ill, me) and hard needing lots of different type of support from lots of different types of people and organisations, and hard doing all of this on the go.

E is Here!

I haven’t written for a few days, as things have been very hectic. E arrived on Wednesday! Dad and I collected her from the airport. I also sent out the wedding invitations that day via Greenvelope. Thankfully, only one bounced due to an outdated address, although my Mum’s failed to arrive and we don’t know why. I generally sent only one invitation to couples (I usually only had one address for them anyway), but for close family, I sent individual invitations. Dad’s arrived, but Mum’s didn’t and we don’t know why as the system failed to register it as unsent. It wasn’t in her spam folder. Aside from that, we’ve received a lot of replies already and I’m glad that my rabbi mentor is definitely coming, although sadly his wife is not. My oldest friend is coming without his wife too, in both cases, due to work commitments they can’t get out of.

On Thursday E and I had our marriage authorisation meeting at the United Synagogue. I’m not going to re-open debate on whether this is a good thing; I don’t have a problem with it, although E didn’t like the process, although she found the meeting OK. Anyway, it went without a hitch, although I was quite anxious beforehand. My Mum had told me in advance that she thought I was at kindergarten with the rabbi we were going to speak to. I was tempted to spiral into comparison, but decided I would not devalue myself that way any more. I don’t know how well I will manage to continue this attitude in the future.

The meeting went better than expected, but afterwards we went to Brent Cross Shopping Centre to get a wedding ring, which went a lot worse than expected. The service in the jewellers we went to was very poor. E wanted to discuss rings with an assistant, especially for advice on matching the wedding ring with her engagement ring (which used to be my grandmother’s and is a family heirloom). In the end, we didn’t get a ring. We’re going to speak to one of my Dad’s friends, who is a jeweller, after Pesach (Passover). Hopefully he will give us some more personal advice.

We spent some time in John Lewis looking for things for our gift registry. It was actually OK doing this with E, even a bit fun. I think with anyone else, I would have been bored rigid. I guess that’s true love.

On the way home, I wanted to cheer E up after the ring problem, so suggested we do a detour to the free bookshelf in the hope she would find something good. She didn’t, but I ended up with three books: a translation of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales (which I may not read from cover to cover, but is good to have), the Sherlock Holmes-themed mystery novel Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz and a Bill Bryson travelogue A Walk in the Woods (which E may read, so I guess that was a partial success for her). I have a lot of light books to read at the moment, which I should be reading now at this time of stress, but I’m some way into Children of Dune and don’t want to stop now I’ve started. The problem is I rarely have the time or concentration for it right now.

I’m actually reading a different Bill Bryson book at lunch at work and on the Tube home, as The Great Dune Trilogy, which includes Children of Dune, is too big to take with. This is The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, about growing up in small-town America in the 1950s, part memoir, part social history. I’m enjoying it a lot, for all that I find Bryson’s sense of humour a little off-putting at times, in terms of childhood anecdotes involving bodily functions and the like. It’s certainly an easier read than Children of Dune!


I’ve been feeling very tired this week, even more so than usual. I’ve had to get up early most days, not just by my standards, but by most standards, and I’ve been going to bed late so that I can catch up on things for the wedding and/or Pesach (mostly wedding, I am not doing much for Pesach this year, I just don’t have the time or energy). I wake up most days at the moment with a stress headache. It usually goes once I get up, but it makes getting up harder, and sometimes (like today), it doesn’t go entirely, even with medication. E has also been tired with jet-lag so we haven’t done much more than we need to, it’s just difficult that we’ve needed to do a lot. We’re having a quieter day today and Shabbat (the Sabbath) should be quiet too, although next week will be very intensive in the days immediately before Pesach. I haven’t had any real time or energy for reading or even TV and the lack of relaxation has made it hard to fall asleep at times. When I do, I have weird dreams and wake up more tired than I went to sleep (still no news on the sleep study results. I can’t even find a number to chase). I’ve noticed that marriage conversations can start suddenly and go on for a while, admittedly more with my parents than E, and this can take quite big chunks of unscheduled time from the day too.

I also find balancing the very different personalities of E and my parents a bit tricky, as well as developing my relationships with them. They don’t get on badly, I just need to adjust to the new family dynamic. It’s hard for E and me staying with my parents too. It makes sense to stay before the wedding, but in an ideal world, E and I would move out straight afterwards, but we’ll probably be staying here for some months after the wedding, given that it’s unlikely that we’ll have time to look at flats before the wedding and the process of buying property can itself take months even after finding somewhere.

That said, I’m really glad E is here and the wedding seems closer now, although I would like Pesach to be out of the way as it’s a whole other load of worries, despite my being less anxious and OCD about it than I was a couple of years ago. Actually, my raised anxiety level generally has probably made my Pesach anxiety worse than it was last year and the year before, but not significantly so.


I don’t really want to get political, but I do want to say something about the arrest of Donald Trump. I don’t like him and don’t want him to be president again, but the charges brought against him seem too trivial and politically-motivated, like Al Capone being arrested for tax evasion. They should either have tried to arrest him for the Capitol Riot, which was significant enough to need follow-through, or just left things to the ballot box. This will just inflame his already conspiracy-minded followers and I think it will backfire badly on the Democratic Party. I don’t know if the Democratic leadership actually want this prosecution, but it will reflect badly on them all the same.

It also represents a trend in American politics to disparage election results and try to involve the judiciary in politics in a dangerous way. There was Trump’s riot in 2021, Trump was impeached twice during his term in office, before that was the Florida Recount in 2000 and before that was Ken Starr’s attempts to impeach Bill Clinton in the 1990s. I think these things lead a distrust of the electoral system and an impatience with it that does neither party any good in the long-run and will just lead to further erosion of support for democracy. Except in exceptional cases, bad presidents should be removed by the voters, not the judiciary.

Seasonal Anxieties

I’m going to have to abandon my usual blow-by-blow account of my days for a bit due to lack of time (actually, I’ve wanted to get away from that for a while, I just stuck to it out of lack of imagination). This is really a quick update.

I’ve had weird anxiety and non-anxiety lately. I have plenty to feel anxious about, with Pesach (Passover) a little over a week away and my wedding less than two months away. I feel strangely not anxious about various things I thought I would feel anxious about (I won’t list them), yet I think there is some anxiety there. I noticed that I had various physical anxiety symptoms today (this is alexithymia, not understanding my own emotions, at work again) without being entirely sure why. I think there is a fear that something will go wrong with Pesach preparation or the wedding and also a strange fear that if I’m not anxious, that’s a sign of pride. I have for years struggled with the fact that we’re supposed to trust in God to help us in our difficulties, but it always seemed like pride to me to assume that I’m good enough for God to want to help me, even though I’ve been assured by rabbis that this is not the case.

I find it a time of year where it’s hard to find the time to relax anyway, with Pesach preparation eating up non-work time. This is a problem, given that I need to relax quite a bit to avoid burnout. I think I struggled to sleep last night as a result. It’s also a strange time of year seasonally, with longer days now the clocks have gone forward, but weather that it still often very bad.

I spent a fairly mind-numbing afternoon at work sticking error correction stickers on books. As well as being mind-numbingly boring, is rather humbling. I have two degrees, one from Oxford, and I am being paid to stick stickers in books. Thousands of stickers. Not hyperbole, literally thousands of stickers. And I know I’ve got to this point as a result of struggling so much in more “suitable” workplaces. I don’t mean this to sound entitled, although I know it does, it’s just that I feel I went wrong somewhere and wasted what gifts I have, but I don’t know how I did this.

I made an impulsive decision to go to the charity shop on the way home and ended up buying Back to the Sources: Reading the Classic Jewish Texts. It’s an academic book on understanding classic Jewish texts: Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), Talmud, Midrash, Medieval commentators, Kabbalistic texts and prayer-books. E and I both have a feeling sometimes with Jewish texts of thinking, “What is this trying to tell me? Why should this be relevant to me?” so hopefully this will help us.

“In an outback dimension, somewhere between mythology and madness, the Doctor seeks truth and beauty at the edge of the world.”

The last few days were relatively uneventful, but I still feel the need to get my thoughts in order before bedtime.

I was pretty exhausted on Friday, but now we’re getting towards spring (without quite feeling there yet), Shabbat (the Sabbath) starts somewhat later and I’m not under such time pressure on Fridays getting ready. This meant I had some time to fiddle around with my phone and iTunes. The good news is that I got all my music onto my phone! The bad news is that it took up almost all my free memory, even after ditching various WhatsApp video and audio files and some apps (games I don’t play) on Thursday. If I want to listen to music on my phone, so I don’t have to carry my iPod and so I can potentially get cordless earpods or noise-cancelling headphones, I will have to select whatever music I want to listen to in advance. This is not the end of the world, and as I do often listen to whole albums (I know, very retro), perhaps not as hard as it might be for some people who listen to random songs from different artistes. I’d just got used to the convenience of having my whole music library with me all the time (!) and being able to play on shuffle through every song I own (even though half the time I get something I don’t want and skip on anyway). And, yes, I know this is pretty much the definition of a twenty-first century, first-world problem. But still.

I went to shul (synagogue), even though I was tired and the weather was bad, although it didn’t actually rain in the periods when I was walking to/from shul. After dinner, I did some Torah study (about half an hour as I’m trying to take time to relax) and reading. I’m going through Children of Dune very slowly. I think I’m getting slightly bored with the Dune “universe” (as we have to say nowadays) and the fact that even the likeable characters get corrupted by power sooner or later, which is realistic, but not much fun. And there are another three books afterwards (many, many more if I read the sequels not written by Frank Herbert, but I have no intention of doing that, just as I haven’t read the Foundation novels not written by Isaac Asimov). I re-read some more Doctor Who comics too.

I did go to bed rather late and also got up very late, and felt exhausted when I did get up (after a disturbing dream). The day was another usual Shabbat mix of sleeping, reading and Torah study, except that I got another stress headache and didn’t do much reading or Torah study as a result, nor did I do much after Shabbat either. These headaches tend to be on my forehead and actually in my eye, which I find a horrible sensation. They tend to come intensely for a minute or two, then go before I can take any medication. I don’t like taking painkillers needlessly (and taking medication for minor ailments on Shabbat is a complicated area anyway), so I tend to wait until these are bad until I take anything, which is not necessarily the best strategy. I hope they will go after the wedding, although that’s still nearly two months to get through. Anyway, this one did get bad enough that I took something, and used a cooling strip too.

After Shabbat, I watched Yes Prime Minister while I waited for medication to kick in, and also read Voyager, perhaps the most strange and haunting of Doctor Who comic strips.

Oh, and a mysterious parcel turned up today, addressed to E and myself. I haven’t opened it yet, as I wanted to ask E if she wants me to wait for Wednesday and open it together. I guess it’s a wedding present, but I’m not sure from whom. It’s domestic mail, so not any of E’s family or friends or my Israeli family. Probably not any of my local friends (not that I have many) or my parents’ local friends as they would have saved themselves £2.85 postage and dropped it round personally. That narrows it down a bit, and I know who I think may have sent it, but not with any certainty.

That’s it, really. I’m going to try to go to bed soon, as I’ve got quite a bit to do tomorrow, for Pesach (Passover) and for the wedding, and we lose an hour tonight due to the clocks going forward (groan). I’m glad that E will be coming here this week, although the week as a whole is going to be hectic, again with Pesach and wedding stuff, as well as work. I’ll be glad when Pesach is over and I can concentrate all my anxiety on the wedding!

This Post is so Emotional, It Needs Emojis

…or possibly I’m too stressed to express myself in words.

I haven’t written for a couple of days, and as I probably won’t write publicly tomorrow (a work event that I can’t write about publicly without compromising my anonymity), I thought I would write today even though I don’t have much to say. I’m living a very day-by-day existence, worrying about the wedding (TWO MONTHS!!!😱) and Pesach (TWO WEEKS!!!😱😱😱) and also health stuff – not serious, but annoying, particularly two NHS issues: the ongoing problem of my missing sleep study results and a big mess up with my new prescription. I kept getting prescribed my old prescription, not the new one (lower dose) I started in December. The GP’s receptionist blamed the pharmacy and the pharmacy blamed the GP. I think I sorted it today, but who knows?

Other worries: really annoyed 😡 with a particular rabbi involved in our wedding (not the officiating rabbi) who, after asking for a load of documentation months ago, has now asked for something else that we’re not going to be able to get in time and who suddenly wants to see us next week, after sitting on an email from me for a week, even though I told him E is immigrating next week. I got very anxious about him forbidding our wedding, although after I said it wasn’t possible, he just said don’t bring it. But I do worry about E getting completely turned off Orthodox Judaism from this.

Why do so many Orthodox rabbis act like this? I know they’re all busy, but so many seem not to understand the implications of being in a client-facing role where people have the ability to go elsewhere. I’m sure it plays a big part in turning people off Orthodoxy. I wouldn’t choose to leave Orthodoxy, because it’s the only Jewish denomination that I’m compatible with, in terms of theology and practice, but many people in the Anglo-Jewish world do not think much in terms of theology and are flexible (or minimally-observant) in terms of practice, but respond very negatively to this kind of behaviour (understandably) and go elsewhere. The Israeli Chief Rabbinate is, if anything, even worse. Paradoxically, Orthodox Judaism might be in a better state if more rabbis and synagogue bodies thought of themselves like a business trying to maintain market-share by pleasing customers. I don’t mean interpreting halakhah (Jewish law) extra-leniently, but just being courteous and helpful, replying promptly, being consistent and so on. Then, when people leave Orthodoxy, we just talk about the powerful attractions of the world outside Orthodoxy or cast aspersions on the mental health of those who leave and assume there was nothing we could have done about it. Gah. 🙄Anyway.

I got very anxious because of this and went for a longish walk. I picked up my 25mg clomipramine prescription (I hope that’s sorted now too – the NHS is another organisation that tends to forget the clients are key, not the staff) and went to the park. It was fairly empty (except for the inevitable dog-walkers) and much of it still looks bleak, but there were patches of colour from the daffodils and violets (? I’m not good with flowers).

In terms of doing stuff, I put together a draft invitation for the wedding, but not much else, except emailing back and forth with that rabbi. Maybe it’s OK to focus on wedding at this time. I sent an email to try to chase my sleep study, only to get an automatic response saying not to use that email address for chasing sleep studies, but no indication of who I should email instead (classic NHS).

 I feel bad about not helping much with Pesach, but I’m just struggling with wedding stuff. E and I have said that some stuff (florist, musicians etc.) is going to have to wait until after Pesach, even though that’s just five weeks before the wedding. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. I do still feel a little bad that I persuaded E to have a larger wedding than she wanted, even though our “larger” is small by most Jewish standards (fifty or so invitees for tea instead of a couple of hundred for a four course meal with dancing). E is very stressed about moving to the UK too, understandably, and it’s hard comforting and supporting her long-distance. On the other hand – E is immigrating in one week!🥳🥳🥳🥳🥳

I am trying not to give in to stress and to take time to relax. I’m not pushing myself with writing or heavy reading. I started Children of Dune, but haven’t got very far with it; mostly I’m reading Doctor Who graphic novels: Steve Parkhouse’s time as writer on the Doctor Who Magazine strip (currently on The Stockbridge Horror, which I think is under-rated). Likewise, I finished watching Undermind (underwhelming, overall) and am still watching Yes Prime Minister. I’m not doing much Torah study, although I did manage to listen to an old Orthodox Conundrum podcast on the Pesach seder which gave me one or two ideas of things to say at the seder. I’m not doing much seder preparation at all this year, though. In fact, most of the seder preparation I’ve done has been trying to work out how to make it easier for E, who we suspect has ADHD or AuDHD (autism plus ADHD) and struggled through our long seders last year.


I listened to an Orthodox Conundrum podcast today about anxiety in the Orthodox community. I wrote the following to post on the podcast’s Facebook group, then decided it was too focused on myself and my issues and not really engaging properly with the podcast, but I think it does bear posting somewhere:

This was interesting, but I guess it really addresses people whose situation and problems are “normal” for the frum [religious Jewish] community (let’s call it “Ortho-typical”). As an “Ortho-divergent” person with autism and a history of mental illness, including social anxiety, as well as being a BT [ba’al teshuvah – someone raised less religious who became more religious as an adult] with less-frum family, I feel like I’m often in difficult situations that other frum people wouldn’t be in and making choices that I know other people wouldn’t agree with (some people would say I should just not socialise with less-frum family, for example). This fuels my social anxiety and the intense feeling I have that other people in the community are judging me negatively.

One example related to what you spoke about: my minyan [communal prayer] attendance had been declining for years, based on my declining mental health and exhaustion as my work situation changed, but COVID finished it off. I don’t really get to shul more than once a week now, sometimes not even that, if I’m struggling with autistic exhaustion. I often don’t see any social benefits from going, only negatives, in that I struggle to talk to people, people rarely start conversations with the socially anxious autistic guy in the corner, and even if someone did talk to me in Kiddush, I can’t actually hear anything anyone says as I can’t tune out the ambient noise and focus on what’s being said to me. The assistant gabbai at the shul I used to go to once criticised me for always leaving the Kiddush after five minutes, which only made me more self-conscious and socially anxious about it and less inclined to go.

As I said, I didn’t think it was so appropriate to post this there, but I do feel that “Ortho-divergent” people are marginalised in the frum world. We hide and camouflage ourselves, meaning that we can’t turn to each other for support and advice and, I’m sure, many end up leaving Orthodoxy for lack of support when, with help, and a less judgmental community, they might have found their place in it.

Quick Update

I’m still here! I have been struggling with some family issues around the wedding. I didn’t want to go into them publicly, so I haven’t been posting. I think we’ve reached an equilibrium for now, but certainly the family dynamic is changing/has already changed as a result of E joining the family, our wedding and the birth of Nephew and I’m struggling to adjust. My therapist said this kind of change is normal and I guess most people would struggle to adjust to it, but being autistic and having all the social interaction issues that come with autism seems to make it harder. Part of the issue is that my family aren’t very much like me in terms of personality and outlook. That’s not to blame them (or me), but it does make it harder.

I wrote a post on the autism forum about family issues, but after two hours, I panicked and decided to delete it, but apparently I can’t. Someone responded to it (d’oh!) and said I’ve let my parents control my life because I’ve been unwilling to take control, which isn’t entirely my perspective on things, to put it mildly, although I guess there’s a grain of truth in there or it wouldn’t hurt. And it’s true I let them do some things for me because I can’t work out how to do them for myself or because I struggle to assert myself.

I spoke to my rabbi mentor about some of the things I’ve been struggling with lately, around family, Pesach and the wedding. He said some helpful things about focusing on one step at a time and that stresses are common around these events. I said I was upset that I wouldn’t have time this year to do much religious study with a view to sharing ideas at the Pesach seder. Really the seder should be an educational event; I’m always the person with the most Jewish knowledge at our seder, so I focus on teaching more than learning, but he said I should focus on the family aspect instead of the educational aspect. He also said he struggles with this, which surprised me a bit as he comes from a frum (religious) family, but it made me feel a bit better.

Dad and I went shopping for suits for the wedding. There is probably a lot I could say about this, but as it led to my ill-advised autism forum post, maybe I should not say anything at all. I got a wedding suit, which Dad paid for and he insisted on buying me a second suit (or got talked into it by the salesman), which I don’t actually need. But they are nice suits.


I thought today marked the fifth anniversary of when E contacted me on email via my blog, but it turns out it was yesterday. I missed our anniversary! We didn’t know then that we would get married or even date. We’ve definitely come a long way since then and I look forward to the next stage in our relationship. And it’s ten days until she comes here!

Day of Statistics

I got a message on LiveJournal this morning to say I started my blog there seventeen years ago. My blog there has been defunct and hidden for years, but it means I’ve been blogging for seventeen years, minus eighteen months or so when I switched to writing poetry that I didn’t feel confident enough to share. Other important dates: E comes to the UK in two weeks today. And we’re closer to our wedding than to New Year’s Day.

However, I’m in full-blown negative mood today: pessimistic (not about marrying E, but about everything else, from wedding planning to global politics) and drained. I got up late and it’s been hard to do anything. Mum and Dad have been doing Pesach preparation and I haven’t been joining in, which I feel bad about. Dad and I were supposed to buy suits for the wedding today, but the Tube strike ruled that out. I wanted to start getting the invitations done, but I didn’t manage it. I just felt overwhelmed and unable to do anything. I got a bit of a stress headache again too. I ended up taking the day as a mental health day. I know I’ve had a busy few days and I shouldn’t be too hard on myself, but Pesach and the wedding are going to happen when they happen regardless of what I do and I need to be ready.

Family wedding drama has continued. It’s not actually drama, mostly because I agreed to most of my family’s requests. I just feel uncomfortable about what I’ve agreed to and I worry that E and especially I will be exhausted by the time we get to the wedding day (or wedding night). I feel my family understand autism up to a point, but they don’t really understand autistic exhaustion (e.g. today) as opposed to just being tired and I don’t know how to explain it to them. I’m pleased they accept that autism exists and that I’m autistic (many people on the autism forum don’t have that from their families), but there’s probably an empathy problem of them not understanding how I think and feel and not even realising that they don’t understand. Most of them don’t even know that E may be autistic too, as I haven’t told them, as I thought it was E’s decision to say, not mine.

(Parenthetically, autistic exhaustion is something that isn’t really acknowledged by autism researchers, who are only beginning to research it, yet it’s something that so many autistic people complain of, particularly those who should probably be described as “moderately-functioning” – not super-high-functioning people like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk (supposedly) and not non-verbal severely autistic, but able to do some “normal” activities, but who struggle with them and often suffer afterwards.)

 I don’t know what to do about any of this. Sometimes I feel that I come quite low down the family pecking order, when it comes to making decisions of mutual concern. My therapist says that there’s often someone in a family who isn’t heard, or isn’t heard as much. I think in my family, it’s me. For years this didn’t worry me much. I would either opt out of stuff, citing mental illness, or I would grin and bear it, but I didn’t get much say over what was happening and I guess I didn’t actually care that much. But now I want more say for E’s sake as much as my own and I don’t know how to be heard. My therapist said this is common too, and why so many weddings result in arguments, because it’s when people get married that they try to change the family dynamic for their spouse’s sake, but I know from experience that people don’t like changes in the family dynamic, especially where the less-assertive person becomes more assertive. It’s hard to draw boundaries after so long (I’m nearly forty!) and when I do genuinely need more help from my parents than most people my age. Sometimes the boundary between “willing to compromise” and “not enforcing boundaries” is not clear.


Lately I feel difficulty engaging in autistic special interests that might revive me. I still enjoy the original series of Doctor Who, but the last few years, and the news about the episodes coming later this year, have soured me on the new series, although I’m still looking forward to watching Matt Smith episodes with E when she’s here. We’ve put Doctor Who viewing on hold for the next fortnight, though, as E is busy moving and is going to be living with her parents for a bit.

I don’t know if Judaism counts as a special interest, but I’m too exhausted and lacking in time to engage much with it, and it’s hard working out what I can do, as well as realising that to be a “good frum Jew,” you really have to be neurotypical and mentally healthy, and ideally quite well-off. And I don’t have time, energy or spoons at all for writing (other than blogging), my other hobby. So I feel rather stuck.

I ended up taking some time out for a while for my mental health and maybe think about invitations later today. Watched Undermind and Yes Minister. I’ll probably read Batman before bed. I tried reading Children of Dune before, but it’s heavy-going and by this stage in the series, it seems like all the even vaguely-likeable characters have died or become evil and unlikeable/unrelatable.


Just read a not-very-good devar Torah (Torah thought) from a very prominent UK Modern Orthodox rabbi that said that, if you keep Shabbat (the Sabbath), God will ensure you aren’t out of pocket as a result. I don’t know why rabbis share ideas like this. All you need is to find one person who ended up out of pocket as a result of keeping Shabbat and you’ve disproved it, casting the whole of Judaism into doubt. Plus it sends a negative to people struggling financially that God is not looking after them. It just reinforces my feeling that the Orthodox world is designed for “winners” and not “losers.” Although the community does provide support for the poor, unlike some other minority groups in the Orthodox community.


I also read a very unhelpful article on dealing with wedding day anxiety for autistics. Like a lot of stuff aimed at autistics, it made me feel like a Fake Autistic for not reacting the way we’re “supposed to,” e.g. I don’t have such a problem with bright light, I only stim very subtly and don’t use stim toys. The only thing I took from it was the need to have time away from the crowd during the wedding day, but E and I have basically planned almost the reverse, four or five hours around people and nothing before or after. I guess we can see if we can slip away during the tea, but I worry my parents will want us to mingle the whole time. I hope it works out, especially now the Shabbat the day before has basically been joined to it.

Getting Better All the Time

I got up about 10.30am today, which was earlier than I expected, as I thought I would be exhausted after yesterday. However, I wasted what I had of the morning as I was too exhausted for anything other than internet stuff. I’m not sure if I’m going to go to shul (synagogue). I want to and I don’t feel exhausted to the point of illness, as I have on recent Fridays, but I do still feel exhausted, am getting the “headrush”-type feeling I associate with autistic exhaustion and I am at least trying to notice the signals my body is sending me and not try to push through them in the belief that “doing something” is always better than “doing nothing” (relaxing/reading/watching TV or literally just lying still and recuperating from the noise and busyness of the world).

I had a Pesach anxiety dream last night, but it was a “can we make Pesach in time?” dream, not a Pesach OCD dream, which was good.

It feels like my life is getting better lately, but not uniformly. I don’t think any of it is getting worse.

Good Things

Getting fully married soon is good. Wedding planning is eating up a lot of energy, with less for cooking and housework and none for writing, but I can live with that for a few more months.

Volunteering has become my main social activity. I don’t say much, but do occasionally make a funny remark and people laugh. It’s good being around people. It’s slightly awkward that they’re all twenty years or more older than me and retired (hence time for volunteering), but it means I’m not comparing myself to them. I don’t expect people of my parents’ generation to be living lives like mine. I often get on better with older people anyway.

Work is difficult, but bearable and at least my boss seems to tolerate my mistakes. I do worry that he secretly thinks I’m an idiot, but I’m trying not to care.

I’m trying to give myself more breaks and more relaxation time (at home, not yet at work), as indicated by my remarks about possibly missing shul today. It’s hard. As I said in a comment today on Paula’s blog, since my teenage years, I’ve found it hard to set aside more than half an hour or so at a time for reading fiction or TV; it feels too much like “wasting” time that should be spent on something “productive.” Yet not relaxing means I can sucked into hours of internet procrastination instead (much of it designed to make me feel angry and threatened), because of the addictive “junk food” nature of internet links (“Just one more”).

Getting There

I have a lot to do still regarding proofreading. I want to set up profiles on more sites and chase the person I worked for to get a review, although I think it’s probably too late (I’ve been focused on the wedding). I know I have a lot to do to build my brand before this becomes a significant revenue stream and it does seem that it will take a long time to do, maybe never.

I am accepting that my novel(s) may not ever get published. I would like to write more despite this, even if it’s just for E. I still need to type up notes for my new novel, plus research and actually write the thing. Unfortunately, this all takes time, time I don’t currently have. However, I enjoy just thinking about it, so that’s good!

I feel like I fit in a bit better on the autism forum and am connecting with some people, although it can be hard, especially when I try not spend too long on there. I do wonder how some people can say that they feel an affinity with all autistics and no allistics, which seems very strange and stereotyping (and possibly an example of autistic black and white thinking). I find autistics, even high-functioning ones, to be as varied in personality and interests as any other cross-section of the population, albeit with certain traits or interests that come up perhaps a bit more than in general society.

There is sometimes drama on the forum, but I try to stay out of it. It can be hard to work out what I should post there and what on my blog. I definitely feel that the Jewish aspect of my autism is not really recognised there and there is still some Impostor Syndrome regarding traits that others have that I don’t, whether it’s the fact that I have some ability to make small talk (even though I don’t like it and it’s draining) or the fact that I increasingly think I like reasonably bright light and strong contrasts rather than preferring muted lights as most autistics prefer. Again, the fact that many people on the forum assume their experience is universal for autistics is probably not surprising when you consider that difficulty with perspective-taking is a classic autistic trait.

Still Struggling

Religious life is still hard. Going to shul is draining and I don’t always have kavannah (concentrate) well there. Davening (praying) at home can actually be much better on that score. Shacharit (Morning Prayers) are a lost cause, but the other services can be better, although I’ve got a long way still to go.

I am doing quite a bit of Torah study most days, and fairly difficult stuff at the moment, not fluff (Talmud, The Guide for the Perplexed, Aviva Gottleib Zornberg’s Torah essays which combine traditional Jewish thought with contemporary literary criticism, philosophy and psychology). Even so, I feel like I should do more, although maybe I don’t need to.

I am also aware that I’m going to have to compromise religiously with E when we get married, but I’m trying to keep in perspective the fact that the compromises will largely be on chumrot (stringencies) or, if not, will be for the purpose of shalom bayit (domestic harmony), which is a legitimate halakhic (Jewish legal) concern that can counter-balance some laws, even some biblical ones. I also think that E and I will grow together religiously in ways that I can’t manage alone e.g. I think she will help me get back to going to shul on Shabbat mornings and take more of a role in the community. I am also trying to stay aware that I can legitimately make compromises with myself over religious engagement because of my autism e.g. less shul attendance, pressuring myself less to daven, or daven with kavannah or study Torah when exhausted. I find it hard not to strictly “follow the rules,” (which may not always be actual halakhah, but the customs or even whims of the community) which may be another autistic thing and not halakhically necessary.

I do worry a bit about how E and I will cope if we have children, as we would like, given our respective “issues,” but I think first we need to see how we cope as a couple!

I do still have some Impostor Syndrome in different areas, particularly with my Judaism, but also feeling I’m not autistic “enough” or not coping with life “enough,” but I guess things are getting better overall.

“They think it’s Passover… It is now!”

I haven’t blogged what happened so far during Chol HaMoed (the intermediate days of the Pesach festival when work is permitted if necessary or contributing to the enjoyment of the festival). I was too busy and tired, and used my blogging energy for a password-protected post about Yom Tov that was more important. But I want to quickly catch up here.

For those who didn’t see the password-protected post, E and I mostly had a good Yom Tov, with interesting seders and E was OK meeting some my parents’ friends and family.

On Monday we (my parents, E and I) went to Cliveden, a National Trust stately home. The house is now a hotel, but we wandered around the grounds all afternoon. Thankfully, my parents left E and I to walk alone. E wanted to see bluebells, so we walked through the woodland until we found some big patches. We also walked around some of the more formal gardens on the site. It was the first time E and I really had proper alone time/date time since E came over last Tuesday and we both really enjoyed it.

In a second-hand bookshop on site, I found a Doctor Who book, The Television Companion: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who. Despite the name, this is a reissued and expanded edition of the official BBC Television Companion issued a few years earlier. I was uncertain whether to buy it, as I had read the online version of the first edition, which was on the official BBC Doctor Who website, but in the end nostalgia for the Doctor Who of the wilderness years when it was off TV (1990-2004) won out (the first edition was published in 1998 and the revised edition I bought in 2003). I’m not sure how much extra material there is, but for £2, it was probably worth it.

Yesterday E and I went on a Pesach LSJS tour of the Egyptian galleries of the British Museum. It was fascinating and even though I knew some of what was said (I’ve done my own research on biblical archaeology), I learnt a lot. The rabbi taking it, Rabbi Zarum, spoke to me briefly. I’m not sure if he recognised me or not; I’ve been to a number of his shiurim (classes) in the past, but I tend not to say much and try to blend into the background. He asked me which shul (synagogue) I go to, which is a standard Orthodox Jewish conversational opening gambit, and I explained about going to [Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) shul] but probably transferring soon to a Modern Orthodox one because of E. I probably cut a strange figure as a quasi-Haredi Jew, wearing a Doctor Who t-shirt and holding hands with someone I’d just identified as not married to me. I feel my life would be easier if I just found my “tribe” or community and stuck there, but I seem to have this restless desire to fit into several very different communities at the same time. (Similarly today I think someone from my current shul saw me wearing a Beatles t-shirt and holding hands with E again.)

In the afternoon E and I went to the Stonehenge exhibition, also at the British Museum. This was interesting to me as I know very little about prehistoric society. However, I felt the exhibition lacked context and was confusingly laid out, with the order you were supposed to read the exhibits unclear and poor signage. There was also ambient noise (sound effects and music) that annoyed me after a while. This seems to be becoming a thing in modern museums and galleries. They are super-diversity aware, but apparently have a blind spot when it comes to sensory sensitivity.

Afterwards we walked around Bloomsbury for a little while, but we got a bit bored and a bit lost and came home. We watched Doctor Who in the evening, Planet of the Dead, which E enjoyed more than I did.


Today I was burnt out, perhaps unsurprisingly, given everything we had done (including walking well over 10,000 steps both days – more like 14,000 yesterday). E had to go out for work all day. I wanted to get up to see her off, but failed and slept through most of the morning. I got up when the Tesco food delivery arrived, but went back to bed afterwards. I had weird dreams, but not particularly memorable, except for wanting to move in the dream and not being able to, which I think is an unconscious desire to get up. I also dreamt about snakes, I’m not sure why. E and I are both concerned about this (the sleep/exhaustion, not the snakes). I still don’t know whether I should be looking for help from doctors, occupational therapists or someone else, or if it’s just autistic exhaustion and I have to just accept it, or find workarounds, or if serious energy accounting might help and how I could manage going on fun days out if I know I’ll run a massive energy deficit the next day. All I know is that the exhaustion is very real and not just me being lazy (although I don’t always remember that).

In the afternoon helped Dad with some chores and spent an hour working on my novel, writing about a thousand words, which was extremely good. It was hard, though. My mood definitely declined in the afternoon, despite the good work on my novel, and I felt depressed and frustrated, and missed E even though I knew I’d see her later. I had the usual feeling of wanting to just be able to get up early and do more during the day. It’s frustrating.

I can’t believe tomorrow is Yom Tov again! E and I will be out for dinner at friends of mine from shul. They are really nice people, but I’ve been masking somewhat around them (and everyone else from that shul) and I wonder what will happen when the meet E and possibly see there’s more to my personality and outlook on life than I’ve let on in the past. I also don’t know if anyone I don’t feel as comfortable with will be there.

Just Checking In

The busiest day of the year was… busy. I got to shul (synagogue) in time in the morning for Shacharit (Morning Prayers) and the siyum (feast (although in this case mostly Pesachdik cake and crisps) on finishing a unit of Torah study) that allowed me to avoid having to fast today as a firstborn. This was the first time I’ve done communal eating in two years. It felt a little odd.

I managed to do my usual pre-Pesach chores OK, despite spilling Weetabix crumbs on the covered-for-Pesach worktop. I felt a bit on edge/alert all day for Pesach issues, but mostly kept my anxiety under control, only text my rabbi mentor to ask questions twice, only one of which was really justified (I knew I handled the spilt Weetabix correctly, but everyone else thinking it was a huge problem fed my anxiety made me second-guess myself). But it was pretty good. Overall, so I’ve asked my rabbi mentor a lot fewer questions than usual in the run-up to Pesach, and my general anxiety level has been much lower than usual.

I went for a lie-down around midday, as I’d had only six hours of sleep the night before, and only five the night before that. When I got up after half an hour or so, I had the beginnings of a headache, combined with light-headedness and nausea, that has come and gone all afternoon, notwithstanding medication. I’m probably going to skip shul tonight as a result and just try to be in a good mindset for the seder. I’m going to lie down and relax for a bit now beforehand. I am looking forward to having seder with E! It’s a shame my sister and brother-in-law couldn’t be here though.

Less Anxious

I went to bed earlyish (for me), but woke at 4.20am. It took me a while to work out that it was actually still night and I didn’t have to get up for work. Then I realised that I had a headache. I got up and took some tablets, tried to go back to bed, realised lying down was making the headache worse and got up to read. I had some Pesach OCD thoughts and inadvertently woke Mum up, which turned out to be good (she said), because she realised that the soup she had left cooking overnight in the slow cooker was evaporating. When the headache had gone an hour later, I tried to go to sleep, but it was almost time to get up.

Work was dull. There isn’t a lot more to say about it than that. The task I’m doing is tedious and I’m not sure how necessary. It would be OK if I was doing an hour or so on that as well as other tasks, but there wasn’t a lot else to do today.

Despite the slight OCD thoughts, my Pesach OCD/anxiety was mostly under control until I got home. To be fair, it wasn’t hugely out of control. I really needed some time to relax, and I did stop to snack for a bit, but I couldn’t really unwind as I was too conscious of everything I need to do this evening. Tonight heralds the start of what I think of as the busiest twenty-four hours of the Jewish year, starting with my least-favourite Pesach task, kashering the kitchen sink.

In the end, the kashering actually went OK. Kashering involves cleaning the sink, leaving it for twenty-four hours, then pouring boiling water over it, then cold water. The pouring has to be within a few seconds of the kettle boiling, and the sink has to get covered from an area within a radius of an inch or to of where the spout of water hits the metal. In the past, this was a huge trigger of OCD anxiety. I don’t have the time to look for past posts; trust me, it was awful. But I did it well this year, quite quickly, with relatively little spillage over countertops and floor, fairly confident that I was doing OK in terms of getting enough of the sink and within the time limits. I did worry a bit when I had finished if I had missed one side of the sink, but I decided not to give in to OCD anxiety by redoing, especially as Dad was pretty sure I’d done it and my rabbi mentor says that technically, you only need to hit 51% of the sink for it to be kashered. I’m not sure how much I was doing it better and how much was that, with less anxiety around, I was not seeing non-existent problems. Using only 1 litre of water in the kettle each time is definitely better than a full kettle (it can take 2 litres): it boils faster and is easier to manipulate.

In terms of relaxing, the novel I’m reading, Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon, while interesting, is uninvolving. A history of the human race over two billion years, it doesn’t really have a plot or characters, as I think I’ve mentioned before. It’s interesting, and I want to finish it, but once I’ve put it down, it’s hard to get in the mindset to pick it up again. I may read something more engaging alongside it.

On the plus side, my iPod has apparently survived its ordeal in the washing machine with nothing more than a slightly damaged screen, so things are definitely looking positive overall as we enter the final, and most hectic, stretch of Pesach preparations.

OCD-Fighting Day

Perhaps due to tiredness and/or stress, I took the wrong medication last night. I took my morning dose instead of my evening one (I had them ready in my medicine box, I just went to the wrong hole): clomipramine by itself, rather than clomipramine with olanzapine and lithium. When I realised the mistake this morning I took last nights’ tablets. I haven’t had any serious side-effects, but I have been tired today which may be from taking evening tablets in the morning.

E is here! She arrived this morning. We (Dad and me) collected her from the airport. We haven’t seen so much of each other, as she had a nap when she got here and then we were busy, her with work, me with Pesach (Passover) stuff. We did go for a walk in the park, until it started to rain. I hadn’t been to that park in ages. It looked pretty bleak, to be honest. Some of the trees around here are blooming (our magnolia has been flowering for ages and our pear tree is blooming), but the park still seemed pretty dead and wintry. There were some saplings that were at weird angles. I hope it was from the storm we had recently and not vandalism.

We did get to spend some other time together, mostly little breaks together with each other during the afternoon where we stopped what we were doing for a while. It’s going to be a slightly odd holiday, as E is here for three weeks, longer than we’ve ever spent together before, but we will both have to work as normal (she can work remotely), so won’t be going on so many days out, although we hope to have some. Still, we can spend time together over Pesach and in the evenings. I hope to introduce her to some of my friends.

I had a pretty good day re: OCD. I had some relationship OCD-type thoughts that I managed to push aside, silly things like “Oh, she hasn’t smiled at me for five minutes, maybe she doesn’t love me any more!!!!!!” I also kashered the hob, preparing it for Pesach by heating it (by boiling water on all the burners at once) and covering it with foil. I had some questions about whether I was doing the right thing during this that would normally have prompted “checking” texts to my rabbi mentor, but I just sat with the uncertainty this time and told myself that I thought that I had resolved things correctly and if not, it was a genuine mistake and not like deliberately eating (forbidden) leavened bread on Pesach. That sounds an obvious distinction, but when my religious OCD was at its worst, I really did think that having a slight doubt about whether something was done correctly was equivalent to deliberately not doing it correctly. So, a pretty good day overall.

Anxiety and Possible Shutdown

I didn’t want to write tonight, but I need to offload/process some thoughts before bed.

On Friday I woke up really drained, more or less physically ill and couldn’t do much until mid-afternoon. The afternoon was mostly taken up with pre-Shabbat (Sabbath) chores and a quick trip to the chemist. I went to my parents’ shul (synagogue) inn the evening. I had agitated thoughts there and later about antisemitism and the recent terrorist attacks in Israel. The thoughts were very intense and I couldn’t shut them off. This used to happen to me a lot when my depression was bad. It happens less now, but still sometimes. I guess it was worsened this time by worry about Pesach (Passover) preparations this week ahead of us (basically the busiest, most stressful week of the year) and a family illness that I won’t talk about on an open post.

Now the clocks have gone forward, dinner on Friday is late, meaning by the time we finished eating it was very late. I hadn’t had time/energy to do more than a few minutes of Torah study before Shabbat. I wanted to do some because I needed to connect with something Jewish, but this kept me up very late. I read fiction briefly after that, but not for long, partly because it was very late, partly because the book I’m reading, Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men, is interesting, but not a page-turner that I want to keep returning to.

It’s a science fiction history of the human race stretching millions of years into the future. Of course, it reflects the fears of the time it was written (1930 I think) more than current ones, but parts of it resonate. However there are no real characters to engage with; it’s written as a history book, and one with a broad scope and focus on social and even evolutionary change over thousands or millions of years. It makes it hard to get into. It’s not something I’m desperate to return to when I stop reading.

I also really disagree with the author’s cosmopolitanism, although writing why would take longer than I have to write tonight. It does feed in to why I stopped feeling part of the progressive left, while not feeling part of the political right either. The brief answer is that I think religious and national cultures are not something extraneous to us that can be removed, but something intrinsic in our upbringings that for many people forms part of their makeup even if they reject it. For various reasons (including the Reformation, Enlightenment and two World Wars), some Westerners over the last century or two have found it easier to detach religion and, to a lesser extent national culture from their lives, but it’s much more embedded in people (including me) from other cultures or even from other cultures in the West e.g. the American South. There is a lot more to say, but I’ve set a timer so I only write for thirty minutes tonight.

I slept late, as usual. I didn’t want to sleep after lunch, as I thought it would stop me sleeping tonight, plus I wanted to read and do more Torah study. To this end I went for a walk straight after lunch and when I got home I drank a cup of coffee, in the hope that activity and caffeine would help me stay awake. They did not. I slept for an hour and then spent another hour and twenty minutes in bed, too tired to move or even open my eyes. I wondered if this was an autistic shutdown. I thought of asking on the autism forum, but I’m wary of saying too much about Jewish stuff, and this situation really happens only on Shabbat and Yom Tov (festivals) and I’m not sure how that factors in. I might post a question there tomorrow.

After I woke up, I looked at the haggadah (Passover seder/ritual meal prayerbook) for twenty minutes or so, mostly at the commentary in the haggadah I bought last year. It has questions to ask to prompt debate as well as more detailed exposition. I always feel bad that we don’t discuss things much at seder. I read out ideas, but there is no give and take, and being on the spectrum, I struggle to know how to facilitate such debate. It’s hard on me, as I end up being the only one who doesn’t learn anything on the seder, because it’s just me reading things out (I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I’m usually the most Jewishly-educated person at our seder by a considerable margin). I hope the questions might help. I’ll just ask one or two a night this year and see how they go and maybe choose more next year. I would have liked to have spent more time on this, but I ran out of time.

There was one other thing that upset me a bit, but I don’t really want to write it on an open post and I’m not sure that I should write it at all. I’m also nearly out of the thirty minutes I gave myself to write this. Maybe I’ll post it on a password-protected post at some point, as it’s a long-term issue.

The Stressed Time of Year, Forum Discussions, and Culture in the Frum World

We’re in the busiest time of year, the weeks before Pesach (Passover), when we’re focused on preparations. Think Christmas plus spring cleaning, multiplied by ten (or a hundred). I tend to be OK during the day because I’m busy, but at night I feel stressed and anxious when I’m not doing things, but also lack significant relaxation time to unwind. Yesterday I cleaned the larder for Pesach, but I was too tired to continue to clean the Pesach worktops and sinks in the garage as I had intended. Afterwards, I had difficulty sleeping, being very agitated and anxious (fidgeting/stimming in bed, which is unlike me). I had taken olanzapine that night, but I wonder if it had not got into my bloodstream yet, given that I am taking it every other day at the moment.

Work was dull today and difficult on four hours of sleep, but I got through it. I did a little bit of writing when I got home and went to an online Pesach shiur (religious class). Which is a lot, on four hours sleep.

In between times, I was online. I was on the autism forum quite a bit. There are lots of people in distress there and I can only respond to some for reasons of time, emotional capacity, and knowing what to say without saying the wrong thing. I have some guilt for arbitrarily connecting more with some people than others. I have long had this feeling, that I should like everyone equally, which is not really possible (or Jewish; Judaism is about loving individuals for their individuality as opposed to agape). We just connect with some people more than others; it’s normal. Still, I feel bad that things like typos can influence whether I respond.

I am also less likely to respond to people who are very blunt about being depressed and suicidal and don’t give much of an opening to respond or seem open to conversation/suggestions from other commenters. I feel bad about this, as I’ve done my own share of self-focused blog writing/commenting when severely depressed, but I know that when I was in that mood, I really wanted to vent (or possibly to argue that my life would inevitably be awful) rather than be open to suggestions. I was trying to speak to someone in crisis just now, but I think another user was doing much better.

Elsewhere online, on a Jewish site, I saw an article by a woman I had a crush on years ago (she was the person who rejected me because I didn’t go to yeshiva, which pretty much made me despair of ever finding a frum wife). I don’t have any crush feelings for her now, but I feel an envious kind of feeling that I can’t get paid for my writing or do something with my life the way she seems to have done.

The article was on finding religious messages in popular culture, part of a series of articles on this site. I have argued this myself in the past (e.g. that Doctor Who has Jewish messages), but now I’m sceptical. I think most of it is the residual Judaism in the residual Christianity in now mostly-secular art and much of it is not really significant or profound enough to be worth mentioning. I think it’s OK to like popular culture, but I don’t think much of it is profound, religiously or otherwise.

The debate always seems to be organised around popular culture. There are obviously big things to discuss about religion in writers like Dostoyevski, Tolstoy, Graham Greene and so on, but they don’t get mentioned, possibly because they don’t lead to pat, “And this teaches us to do tikkun olam!” messages (this seems to be the main “Jewish” message of Doctor Who, that and questioning/learning). Years ago I found an article online by Rabbi Dr Alan Brill complaining that Orthodox culture is so bourgeois and unchallenging, and I agree (although I think most culture full stop is bourgeois and unchallenging, pretty much by definition). I know that this is one of E’s biggest reservations about joining the Orthodox world, the conformism and the lack of serious culture, and I share her reservations while not seeing any alternatives for myself.

Zzzzzzzzzz, OCD, and the Countdown to Pesach

I massively overslept again on Friday morning and woke up drained. I’m back to wondering counter-factuals like whether writing late at night after work costs too much the next day. I had some weird dreams that I’m not going to relate here, but shul (synagogue) stress and missing E figured. Also Purim anxiety — my unconscious tends to feed stuff into my dreams a couple of weeks after things have happened, for some reason.

I did my usual Shabbat chores and managed to carve out forty or fifty minutes to work on my novel, which was good, especially as it’s likely to be interrupted now for a few weeks because of Pesach (preparations then the festival) and E being here. In the evening, I went to my parents’ shul (synagogue) with Dad. Their usual chazzan (cantor) was leading the service. I’d forgotten just how much his style of davening (praying) does not fit with my tastes. Very loud and elongated, like opera; even the bits we’re supposed to read silently, he reads loud enough to be heard (and I was sitting near the back), which annoyed me immensely. But I guess we’re back to looking for perfect “unicorn shuls” again.

Dinner with my parents was pretty long, although mostly fun. I did some Torah study afterwards, but it meant I went to bed very late, without much time for recreational reading to relax after a busy day. Then I slept through the morning and napped again after lunch.

I think some of the oversleeping, or going back to bed, is an autistic sensory thing about feeling cozy and ‘held’ wrapped up in my duvet and now my weighted blanket. I’ve always slept wrapped up tight in my duvet, but when I became depressed in my teens and twenties, staying in bed became a way to avoid the world as well as feeling comfortable and held close (by the duvet/blanket). I do wonder if I can use this information somehow – get up and sit wrapped in my weighted blanket?

(It also occurs to me that E and I may need two duvets when we get married to stop me hogging it!)

When I napped this afternoon, I had a dream about my maternal grandparents that I found upsetting, although I’m not entirely sure why. To be honest, I can’t really remember it clearly any more, but I lay in bed for a while coming to terms with my feelings. Then it was time for Minchah (Afternoon Prayers) and Seudah Shlishit (the Third Sabbath Meal) so I didn’t have time for Torah study or recreational reading. It feels like I spent most of the day eating and sleeping with some davening and not a lot else. I would have liked to have gone for a walk as I haven’t had even mild exercise since Thursday.

Today was Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) of the month of Nisan. This is a hard time of year for me. Late winter is very hard, when I struggle from lack of sunlight, so passing the equinox and putting the clocks forward is somewhat helpful, albeit not so much of a difference at this stage. But then we go straight into Pesach preparations. Even if I can avoid religious OCD, it’s time-consuming and tiring, with little time for non-essential tasks like exercise, recreation or fiction writing. And this year E is coming, which makes me feel even more anxious. My brother-in-law found the way we do Pesach somewhat extreme the first time he came, so I worry what E will think. Still, as my Dad says, Pesach comes and goes. Every year it seems hard, but every year we manage it. We even managed it in 2020, when we were in lockdown and Mum was sick from chemotherapy.


I’m reading a book on OCD, not actually for my OCD issues, but there has been some useful stuff in there for me, reminding me that OCD thoughts never go away fully and their return at this time of year doesn’t mean I’m backsliding into OCD. What matters is how you deal with them, not whether you have them. Also, some useful stuff about grieving even during positive life events for “The Road Not Taken“. E and I are both very happy with each other, but I guess there’s stuff about us both that isn’t 100% what we would have chosen in an ideal world (which doesn’t exist!) that we need to grieve a bit. It reminds me of something in William Kolbrener’s Open-Minded Torah: Of Irony, Fundamentalism and Love where he talks about Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik’s idea that moods are simple and unipolar whereas emotions are complex and multidimensional. Judaism wants us to have emotions, not moods, hence our festivals contain sombre moments amidst the joy.

“Marry the freak”

I was looking today at websites for couples therapy for couples where one is autistic and one neurotypical. Some were fine, speaking about difficulties both partners might experience. Others were — I hesitate to throw around words like ‘ableist,’ and maybe this is partly my paranoia, but some definitely felt like, “Well, you could be in a relationship with an autistic person [or man, as female autism hasn’t really registered on most of these sites], but you should know that they won’t love you, care for you, or understand you and you’ll spend your entire life bending yourself out of shape to fit in with their crazy whims. And they probably won’t even want to have sex with you, at least not as often as you want or in the way you want. But, here are some resources if you do still want to marry the freak.” Obviously they didn’t literally say that, but it seemed to be the subtext.

E and I struggle with some things (particularly finances), but we’re both pretty good and communicating our needs and trying to meet each other’s needs (the couples therapy is to help with one very specific topic that we think we might need some objective support with). I know living together will be harder in some ways than living separately, but I’m not really worried about that. Of course, we’re wondering if E is on the spectrum too, which might make a difference.


I don’t think it was because of those therapy sites (although they didn’t help), but I’ve felt somewhat down all day. I’m still wondering if I should up my olanzapine dosage towards what it was previously. I was on 2.5mg twice a day; I’m now on 2.5mg every other evening, so one quarter of what I was on before. I should probably try to monitor that more rigorously and think about increasing to 2.5mg every day if necessary.

I realise that the last year and a bit have seen a number good things for me. I got my autism diagnosis, my family accepted my diagnosis and support me, I got engaged to E, my part-time job was made permanent. Still, I often feel overwhelmed at the thought of all the things I still want/need to do, in both the short and long term.

In the short-term, Pesach (Passover) is getting really close now and the tension is beginning to rise (I had a few Pesach OCD thoughts which I managed to keep under control so far). In the longer-term (in no particular order) I want to: organise a wedding; deal with my exhaustion/burnout/oversleeping/whatever it is so I can do more during the day; try to find a way to work more days in the week and earn more money; learn to drive; investigate whether E is neurodivergent; find a place in the Jewish community for E and me; and find the right balance of work/writing/religion/family/relaxation for me. And more.

There’s a lot of fear of the “will I ever get the life I want: wife, kids, some financial independence, friends, life balance?” Reading on the autism forum can be dispiriting, because, on the one hand, there are people who seem to have got their lives completely together, and I can’t seem to do that, but on the other hand there are parents with young children who are school-refusing or otherwise having extreme difficulty, and part of me thinks: “I could manage school. I was mostly fine at school (bar some bullying and loneliness), even though many people on the spectrum think that school is just Hell for autistics. I coped. So why can’t I cope now, when, in theory, I have more self-awareness and more control over my life?”


I did manage to submit my novel manuscript to two agencies and spent half an hour writing my next novel, so from a writing point of view it was quite good. I’m trying to use fewer Hebrew and Yiddish terms in my second novel than in my first one, as I worry that that has put agents off, but without them, dialogue for frum (religious Jewish) characters sounds ridiculously stilted and unrealistic. Imagine writing a teenage character, but not allowing yourself to use any contemporary slang in case people don’t understand; it’s a similar thing. It just sounds wrong.

I came across a literary agent today who is also a practising lawyer. Last week, I found an agent who is also a dentist (not sure if she’s practising though). Sometimes it feels like other people are living several lives, while I don’t even have one.

I used to feel that “good sense of humour” is a stupid thing to put on a dating profile, as it’s completely subjective and no one in the world thinks that they have a bad sense of humour, even if others disagree. I think “strong storytelling” is the literary agency equivalent. So many agents say they are looking for “strong storytelling.” Are there are lots of fiction writers thinking, “Well, I can’t tell a story at all, but I have beautiful prose”? Perhaps some, but many? I find it a profoundly unhelpful thing to ask for.


Other than that, I went for a walk and did some shopping, but didn’t accomplish much else other than some emails. I wanted to do more, but by the evening, I was drained and very low, bordering on depressed (by which I mean, if I felt like this consistently for two weeks, it would be diagnosed as depression). I thought of posting some of these thoughts on the autism forum to see what response it would get, but I’m scared to admit these complicated feelings about autistic people struggling more or less than I am. I’m also wary of talking about my religious practices and community there, because I don’t know what response I would get (I haven’t seen anyone else talk on there about religion, any religion). I’ve already asked about autistic burnout/exhaustion and no one really seems to have any solutions.

Pesach Preparation Begins in Earnest

Apologies for the rather unsnappy title, but nothing very exciting happened today.

I wasn’t tired last night as I slept so much in the day, so I stayed up late working on my novel, then when I went to bed I couldn’t sleep anyway, which may have been a self-fulfilling prophecy. The clocks went forward, so it was about 5am (British Summer Time) before I fell asleep. I then got up late and was in the middle of late lunch when my sister and brother-in-law made a surprise visit, which was nice, but threw me a bit as I had planned to help with Pesach (Passover) cleaning. I did a little, but my Dad did most of it. I don’t cope with changes of plan well, although I managed OK with this.

This time of year always makes me feel very dependent on my parents. I would struggle to prepare for Pesach on my own, although I would have less to clean and kasher if I was living away from my parents. I guess if E and I were living together, we would have to prioritise what was essential to clean and kasher and what we could leave. I don’t know if we could afford to have professional cleaners to deep-clean the house as my parents are having shortly, although we would probably be living in a small flat, not a big house. I would want to get the oven professionally cleaned if we were kashering it for Pesach use. All this does make me feel inadequate and ill-prepared for life.

I did do some Pesach cleaning after my sister and BIL were gone and then went for a brisk walk (no time for a run, sadly). I also prepared some stuff to read out at the Pesach seders. This year I’m reusing a lot of material from last year, as last year only my parents and I were at our seder last year (because of COVID), so most people won’t have heard it. I feel a bit lazy, but I also feel pressed for time and overwhelmed at the moment, so I’m using the old material.

My mood dipped in the evening, possibly from doing too much, possibly because I didn’t take any olanzapine yesterday. I will monitor my moods and see if I need to go up to 2.5mg every day instead of every other day. The mood dip wasn’t helped by seeing some stuff about antisemitism (classic antisemitic motifs passed off as “political activism” again). This type of thing annoys me, and really I should just ignore it, but it’s there. At least skyping E brought my mood back up again. I have let it get late as I tried to catch up with things this evening. I need to shower and go to bed to be up early for work tomorrow.

The Joys of Spring

Well, I woke up earlier than usual today, but still struggled to get up until the doorbell rang and I realised I was the only person around to take the parcel in. Then I had to go back to bed for a few minutes, as I’d got up too fast and had a ‘blood rushing to the head’ moment and felt really dizzy. I think it’s a kind of progress, though, as I wasn’t in a deep sleep all morning or feeling too anxious to move.

I submitted my novel to another agency! Some agents seem to want things that are so specific, I wonder how they ever publish anything at all. Others want vague things like “strong characters” and “plots that stay with you.” One confessed a fondness for “the enemies to lovers trope” (“My alternative history romance begins in 1944, when Winston Churchill flies to a secret tete-a-tete in Berlin with Adolf Hitler…”). They all seem to have lifestyles and attitudes that are rather alien to mine, although maybe I’m reading too much into the tiny biographies. At any rate, I find it hard to connect, so I’m not surprised my writing doesn’t connect.

I wanted to submit to a second agency, but they wanted a full one-to-two page synopsis, including spoilers and the conclusion. I don’t think that’s a bad idea (I think my novel necessarily takes a while to get going and a full synopsis might sell it better than the first chapter or ten pages), but it will take me a while to write one, so I thought it was a good task for after my job interview on Wednesday, when I’ll probably be too tired for more creative writing.

I started to write down some ideas of things to share at the Pesach seder in a month. It took a lot longer than I’d hoped. It took about half an hour or more to write just one idea (I think it’s a good one, though). I think I will have to chose between seder preparation and devar Torah writing for the next few weeks, which isn’t much of a choice, as the sedra (weekly Torah reading) at the moment is in Vaykira (Leviticus) and it’s very hard to connect with it. Although this week is the death of Aharon’s (Aaron’s) eldest sons, which is a story I connect with; it’s about going too far in the pursuit of spirituality and crossing boundaries that should not be crossed.

I spent a bit of time on novel-writing too, although I didn’t get far. I deleted a couple of paragraphs I’d already written, started something else and didn’t like it (it sounded like the opening narration of a Twilight Zone episode, to the extent that I could hear Rod Serling reading it). I want an opening paragraph that is arresting, but not melodramatic. I think I slip into melodrama easily. E suggested just jump into the narrative and add a proper beginning later, which might be a good idea. I mainly focused on giving names to the main characters, something I hadn’t done during the planning stage. Names are hard, particularly when you have to worry there might be legal repercussions — it might be OK if you say “John Smith is a maths teacher,” but saying “Rabbi Cohen is a kodesh (Jewish studies) teacher and pornography addict” moves into more dangerous territory. If there’s a real Rabbi Cohen out there who teaches kodesh in a Jewish school, and there might well be, then he might sue.

E helped me prepare for my interview on Wednesday, asking practice questions. It does feel like it would be harder to think of a task less-suitable for someone on the autism spectrum than the job interview: a new environment with new people, where you have to process verbal information quickly and under pressure and communicate succinctly and effectively, telling the truth, but not always telling the whole truth. And it often has very little relationship to the day-to-day function of the job. E found me this article on how to talk about leadership experience if you don’t have any, but it just seems to underline that I’m really not a leader.

I went for a walk and had therapy too, where we discussed some coping strategies. I hope they are helpful in the future.

I did quite a lot overall, even though I didn’t get up that early. It’s certainly easier to do more stuff on a spring day like today, when it’s mild and sunny, and the daylight hours are about as long as the night than in the middle of winter when it’s cold and wet and dark.