(A stupid, pointless title, but I’m feeling awful.)
Last night after I blogged my mood went down quite rapidly. I felt like I had been going flat out all week with networking workshop, Jewish Book Week, work two consecutive days and my parents away. I just fell back into despair and lethargy and crawled into bed at midnight hoping I would wake feeling better or at least more alert.
However, I had strange dreams in the night. First I was on the Tube and ended up helping a doctor who was helping a pregnant woman who I thought was a nun, but looked, in retrospect, like she was wearing a hijab. I was aware that she had cut herself off from her community by getting pregnant, but I felt sorry for her. I was worried about not getting home in time for Shabbat (the Sabbath), but was assured by the doctor that it didn’t start until 7.30pm (in reality, that won’t happen until the clocks go forward). Then things shifted and I was in some sort of classroom (although I think I and the friends/other people with me were all adults). A huge and intimidating man, about twice my height, stocky and with a long, thick beard was trying to test me on reading Hebrew aloud; I stumbled on this, but couldn’t convince him that this was due to social anxiety stopping me reading confidently rather than poor Hebrew literacy. We started to daven (pray) the Friday evening service, but the intimidating teacher told us to skip Kabbalat Shabbat as it was too late. At which point I woke up, I think.
I am not entirely sure what any of this means, although I can see that it was an anxiety dream (which may be why my sleep was not restful) with some obvious allusions: the pregnant “Muslim nun” rejected by her community represents my fears of being rejected by the frum (religious) world for being too worldly, but also by Doctor Who fandom for being too religious (she was still a nun even after presumably breaking her vow of chastity); more prosaically, the motif of being late for Shabbat reflects my fears that I’ll run late tomorrow getting ready for Shabbat by myself, plus I do still get occasional anxiety dreams about breaking Shabbat even though I’ve been shomer Shabbat, at least at a basic level, for half my life.
It was fortunate that I woke up when I did, as I had slept for eleven hours, dramatically oversleeping and having to rush out and skip both shaving and davening (praying) to get to my psychiatrist appointment on time, both of which I hate missing. The radio was on in the waiting room and I found it irritating. I don’t know why all NHS and social services waiting rooms seem to have TV or radio on these days. I find it really annoying and it’s not terribly autistic-friendly. It was a new psychiatrist as the one I saw last time is ill. The appointment was OK, but I felt that I was just a statistic on the waiting list being processed. She didn’t ask about my case history or the causes of my problems and didn’t seem terribly aware that I’ve been depressed without cure for most of the last sixteen years or more. Maybe she didn’t know. I didn’t say anything about autism, because the last psychiatrist was dismissive of it, saying I’d already been assessed and told I was not autistic. My GP has sent my autism referral through and I’m on the (very long) waiting list, so there didn’t seem any point talking to this psychiatrist about it at this stage, although I did get vaguely upset when she said that social contact will get easier the more I practise it. For a neurotypical person, maybe, not for someone whose brain isn’t wired to understand people. The psychiatrist was also a bit blasé about my work issues, saying I would find part-time work easily. I didn’t ask for a medication change, as the clomipramine seems to work a bit, sometimes, even though it still leaves me quite depressed and has led to a lot of weight gain. I don’t think it’s particularly sensible to mess around with medication while I’m working if I can help it anyway. I have another appointment for three months time, so I’ll see what happens and maybe ask to change things then.
In the afternoon I did not do much, but was busy with my job application spreadsheet, which I keep up to date, even though I have not actually applied for anything for weeks and have missed a lot of deadlines, alongside a few other chores. I was hoping to work on one or both of my books too, but I didn’t get the chance again. I’m so busy just surviving from day to day that I don’t have time for anything more future-orientated, whether writing books or job hunting. I didn’t actually achieve much today, but I didn’t really relax and get the rest I need either. Maybe I will be able to rest over Shabbat, but who knows?
Looking at job adverts again today brings back my work worries. I know I’m over-qualified for my job, which is not too difficult, and although there are harder elements (choosing appropriate material for exhibitions is difficult but interesting, although it would help if I knew the collection better, but my background in history has been very useful here and won me praise from my line manager). But the whole reason I like my job is because it’s not pushing me too hard right now, when I am struggling with self-esteem and energy and motivation issues as well as confusion about whether I’m autistic and how I should live my life if I am, as well as how to manage my mental health (with or without autism). I don’t know what to do.
The work worries bleed into relationship worries, because I don’t think anyone will date me until I’m working much closer to full-time. I know that I could still get married at some point, but it seems a long way off, which in turn makes having children (which I really want to do and think about a lot) less likely. But it’s the loneliness that is so hard, and difficult to survive. It’s probably loneliness more than anything that has triggered my suicidal times, even if it gets mixed up with despair and hard to isolate. I don’t know how to survive the ten or twenty (or thirty or forty) years that I might have to wait until I’m functional enough to look for love and to meet someone who can see past my considerable dysfunctionality and all the baggage and drawbacks I come with.
I just wish I had people to talk to who understood me. It’s been hard to talk to my parents lately, which is probably my fault. I get irritable and sarcastic when I’m depressed, not to mention focused on catastrophising. But my parents don’t entirely understand depression or autism entirely, although their understanding is greater than some people’s. That’s not their fault, but it makes it hard.
I have friends who understand depression and autism and care about me, but they don’t live locally and I can only communicate via text and email, which is better than nothing, but also lacks something somehow, even to a socially anxious and avoidant person like me. My local friends don’t really know so much about my issues, for various reasons, again, largely my fault.
I just wish there was someone in my life who cared about me and understood me and I could see regularly (and feel comfortable seeing regularly). I know I depend too much on other people for my self-esteem, but I don’t know how to change that and I get annoyed by people who aren’t lonely telling me I have to love myself before anyone else can love me. I could just as easily state that other people have to show me I’m worthy of love before I can love myself, because I don’t see myself as worthy.
On a related note, my sister phoned tonight to see how I’m getting on without my parents. I struggled a bit to deal with the call. I find that usually happens when she phones me. I thought it was because she usually interrupts dinner/Doctor Who, but I wonder if it’s an autistic predictability thing and I would cope better if she told me in advance that she was planning to phone at a particular time on a particular day. Still, I think she takes better care of me than I would be able to do if our roles were reversed. Maybe I couldn’t cope with someone in my life who cared about me and understood me.
About 8pm, I was watching Doctor Who and noticed that I was crying. I thought it was odd, as I didn’t consciously feel depressed. Then about twenty minutes later, I realised I was depressed, painfully depressed and sad. It’s strange how out of touch I am with my emotions.
I read a davar Torah (Torah insight) sent out by my shul (synagogue) for Rosh Chodesh Adar II (New Moon) upset me. I felt I was being attacked and to some extent deserved to be attacked. I don’t really know what ‘spirituality’ or ‘Jewish spirituality’ means any more, if I ever did. I try to study some Torah every day and pray at least a bit of the three daily prayer services (although I often miss Shacharit on non-work days like today). I want to be a good Jew, but I don’t really connect with HaShem (God) or Torah much these days emotionally. I certainly can’t find “authentic spiritual joy” for Purim. It’s just a struggle to get through Purim in one piece. I want to be a good Jew, but it’s hard enough trying to perform the mitzvot (commandments) in my situation without worrying about kavannah (mindfulness), spirituality, meaning or connection to HaShem.
Then shiur (religious class) tonight was about genuine joy being connecting to HaShem via Torah, but we get distracted by false pleasures. This might reinforce my feeling that I’m depressed because I’m a bad person and God hates me, which I hadn’t felt quite so much recently. I think I might have missed the point of the shiur, though, or wilfully misinterpreted it to make myself feel bad.
Whether I misinterpreted things or not, I feel that I’m a bad person and a bad Jew who doesn’t connect with HaShem through davening, mitzvot and especially not through Torah and who is wasting his life on meaningless transitory pleasures like Doctor Who and writing (despite this I am still thinking of cosplaying (dressing up as a fictional character) the fourth Doctor for Purim, but I might not have the guts to do it).
So much of Jewish religiosity is tied up with community, which is problematic for me because of social anxiety and low self-esteem (it’s feeling that people would reject me if they knew the real me that keeps me away more than actual experience of rejection), and with family, which is difficult for me because my parents don’t connect with Judaism in the same way as me and because when Jews say “family” they primarily mean spouse and children (maybe most non-Jews think like that too).
The silly thing is that I really believe intellectually, I just can’t connect emotionally with my religion, perhaps through depression (or autism?).
I can’t believe anyone reads this rubbish I write. I shouldn’t write it, but I need to vent and here you go. I suppose it’s better than hurting myself, at least assuming it isn’t just a very clever and complicated way of hurting myself, which might in fact be the case.