Socialising

I had a rather… combative session with my therapist.  It didn’t help that it was marred by technical problems.  I have therapy over Skype now and Skype had somehow lost my contact list when I logged in so I couldn’t call my therapist, then we had connection problems, so I logged out and tried to log in on my old computer, but it wouldn’t accept the password it had accepted on my current computer two minutes earlier.  We did eventually connect and have most of a session.

We spoke about dating.  My therapist thinks that I try to tell people about my mental health issues too early.  I don’t deliberately try to do that, but it almost invariably comes up by the second date, simply because it’s shaped my life so much that it’s hard to have a conversation about who I am without it coming up.  So, of course, they get overwhelmed and can’t cope and dump me.  We didn’t really have a solution to this, except that I shouldn’t tell people early in a relationship, which is pretty much impossible to do without lying (which I also shouldn’t do).  She wasn’t too happy with me telling a shadchan (matchmaker), but I felt there is a moral obligation; shadchanim do say that you should tell them about long-term health issues and it affects who they set you up with.

Then we got on to socialising with people in general.  My therapist felt that I shouldn’t talk about my issues to people at shul (synagogue) or shiur (class), again because it’s off-putting for people, but she felt I should still be honest and just say I’m feeling sad, lonely, worried etc.  I’m not quite sure how that will work, or that I would have the confidence to do it.  I feel that we’re English, the only acceptable answer to “How are you?” is “Fine, how are you” (or at least “Mustn’t grumble”),  not an honest answer and to be honest about feeling bad without using my mental health to explain that is just inviting trouble.  I actually cope OK with talking to people at work without talking about my issues, because we have work in common to talk about, but I don’t know what I can talk to people at shul about (if I even get the confidence to talk to them at all).  My therapist says not to talk about my mental health, I can’t talk about Judaism because mention of it just makes me feel inferior to everyone else who knows and does a hundred times more than I do (because of the mental health issues which I’m not allowed to mention…) and I can’t talk about Doctor Who because being a total fanboy is embarrassing enough in general circles, but in frum (religious) circles one shouldn’t even admit to watching TV.  So I’m not sure what I can actually talk about, which is why in the two years I’ve been going to this shul, I’ve hardly said a word to anyone.

My therapist says that this is rooted in my childhood experiences, being a brainy and intellectual, somewhat autistic, child who tried to talk about his special interests, particularly history and Doctor Who only to be dubbed an “intellectual elitist” by adult authority figures and bullied and stigmatised by my peers.  My therapist says that I’m not a child any more and people won’t bully me, but I find it hard to believe.  My therapist is insistent that this is the only way forward, and I kind of see her point, but I don’t know what to do to have these conversations, which just bring out the socially anxious autistic child in me.  My therapist also said that I want to be special, so I make out that there’s no one like me, when I’m actually fairly normal, which may also be true.  At any rate a friend implied as much recently.  However, it’s hard to accept that I might be the same as everyone else when so much of my self-esteem is based on feeling myself to be different – better, worse or more intense, but at least different.

So I don’t really know what to do.  I’d like to try to get to shul tomorrow morning, less for the davening (praying) and more to see if I can talk to people at the kiddush, but I’m not sure if this will happen or if depression and social anxiety will defeat me again as they have been doing almost every Shabbat (Sabbath) this winter.

“there is nothing more wonderful than a list”

(Quote from Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose)

My mood was down again today, just to serve me right for telling people I thought my meds were working.  I phoned my parents and said I was fine because I didn’t want to worry them, or field questions about why I feel down.  I feel a bit guilty.

As to why I feel down… well, your guess is as good as mine, but things to choose from are:

  1. making more mistakes at work;
  2. worrying that I’m working too slowly at work;
  3. fear of being told off at work for making mistakes and being slow;
  4. said mistakes making me feel that I’m not competent at my job and maybe not at any job;
  5. remembering that I could be unemployed in a month when my contract ends;
  6. remembering that it’s Pesach (Passover) in less than a month, with attendant stress, work and possibly OCD;
  7. having thoughts that I worried were the return of non-Pesach pure O/OCD and struggling against them;
  8. remembering my therapist wanting me to tell the assistant rabbi of my shul (synagogue) about my worries about not fitting in to the community because I’m too ‘modern’ and geeky later in the week;
  9. everyone I know getting married;
  10. the assistant rabbi of my parents’ shul not getting back to me with the name of the shadchan (matchmaker), making me wonder if there hasn’t been some misunderstanding and he and his wife didn’t have the name of a shadchan for me after all (there was some talk of helping me with my confidence (as if that’s the main reason I’m unmarried) and I wonder if that was the name they were going to give me);
  11. the new temp at the library where I work starting tomorrow;
  12. remembering being told repeatedly over the years that I should marry someone significantly less frum (religious) than myself and pondering this, even though I know it’s not right for me and even though the non-frum women (okay, woman) I’ve liked have never liked me (or possibly were scared off by my frumkeit) and my only real relationship failed when (among other things) my ex started to become less religious and the existing gaps between us became unmanageable;
  13. the fear that my book will never get published;
  14. the return of my negative self-talk;
  15. feeling very autistic in that other people just seem to like talking, without thinking whether the people they are speaking to are interested or even upset by what is being said.  The newspapers are just as bad as people here;
  16. all of the above;
  17. none of the above, which is possibly the scariest, because it suggests my moods swing completely independently of external stimuli.

At school we used to get marked a lot (excessively, some would say), so I always knew where I stood, what I was doing OK and what I needed to work on.  But life doesn’t get marked, so I don’t know how I’m doing with my job or my friendships and other relationships (community, dating) or my religious life or my personal growth… it’s very confusing to someone who likes clear rules and instructions (autism again).

Worst Case Scenario

(The title is another Hoosiers quote.  To be honest, the whole song could be written about me e.g. “You can’t see past the worst case scenario/You’d be happy at this stage if you’d stayed in bed/I pray one day I’ll live to see you break a smile” and especially the bit about the only love you get is unrequited.)

I had a feeling I might have spoken to soon by saying I could post in the afternoon as I was feeling OK.  I sunk back into depression around 4.00pm or 5.00pm.  My flat seems dark and unwelcoming (I did wonder if a light bulb had blown, but it’s just dark).  I did manage to do some chores, but not as many as I would have liked.  Anxiety about Pesach (Passover) and it’s many difficult laws came back, although it has been lurking for a while (I’m worried about practical things – getting the time to help my parents with cleaning and kashering and preparing things to say at the seder – as much as OCD about not kashering things properly).  At least I texted the assistant rabbi of my parent’s shul (synagogue) asking for the details of the shadchan (matchmaker) his wife suggested, but felt depressed about the whole thing.  I also cleaned the flat, albeit not as well as I would have liked; the bathroom in particular needs a more thorough clean than it’s likely to get before Pesach, the fridge drawer could do with washing out and I’m fighting a constant running battle with mould everywhere.  But at least the basic requirements of hygiene have been met.  Dinner had to be couscous (the large kind) and vegetables out of a packet, though, because I ran out of the time and energy to cook anything else.

A friend I haven’t seen for years emailed this morning, and I was pleased and responded, but it also made me feel bad for not getting on with my life the way she had done and other people do, as well as prompting more wondering about my friendships with people that my community might not approve of (women, non-religious Jews, non-Jews, etc.) and my unwillingness either to sacrifice my friendships to gain acceptance in the community or, on the other hand, to boldly state to the community, “This is me, accept me or reject me, I don’t care which, but I know who I am and I’m not changing.”  Both of these options (cutting off friends or deliberately flouting the community’s norms) seem morally wrong, but doing neither leaves me hiding aspects of my life from everyone except my immediate family and my blog and its readers (including a couple of friends who read it).

I feel lonely, but too exhausted and self-hating to contact any friends (aside from the one I wrote to earlier).  I just haven’t got the energy to contact anyone and feel too irritating, annoying and self-centred for anyone to want to talk to me and too scared of upsetting people.  I also feel pessimistic: even if text or email someone, chances are they will be out or too busy to respond.  It’s one of those sorts of days.

It scares me that my mood can plummet so totally like this even when I seemed to be on the upswing.  It just reminds me that I haven’t had more than six months at a time of being psychologically ‘healthy’ (whatever that means) for fifteen years or more.  I suppose the fact that it happens on days when I don’t have work for distraction (chores at home aren’t the same) and am not around other people (I usually spend Friday nights and Saturdays with my parents) indicates that it’s imperative that I should try to find more work if my contract doesn’t get renewed, preferably with other people, and that my father might be right that dating will help me, although it still feels wrong to me to date when I feel like this even some of the time.  But this just makes my fears that I’m unemployable and unmarriable more pointed, as well as heightening my confusion about what line of work I should be in.  Perhaps I will feel better at work tomorrow, although I’m already apprehensive about meeting the new library temp on Tuesday, even though she’s only here for a month and I will only see her on two days a week during that time.

I do feel like I have two lives, my Monday to Thursday life, where I’m completely focused on work to the exclusion of all else (except a little bit of work on my book at lunch) and just plough through my depression and anxiety, somehow, and my Friday to Sunday life, where I try to do chores and frum (religious) things like shul and Torah study, but tend to get overwhelmed by negative emotions.  Only my Thursday evening shiur (Torah class) seems to get the best of both worlds, and I feel vaguely functional and liked there.

At times like this, I sound like various people who have been in my life in different ways at different times, who are overwhelmingly negative, except that while they are negative about everyone and everything other than themselves, I’m negative only about myself, the things I do (or don’t do) and the things I expect to happen to me.  This probably annoys everyone else as much as their negativity drained me, but I don’t know how to change it.

Relationships, Again

The first woman I ever dated (six years ago) is getting married today.  I don’t mind so much, as I’ve long since got over her (we only went on two dates.  I run into her every six months or so as she’s close friends with my sister and her parents are friends with my parents and I’m fine chatting with her) and she had some difficulties finding someone too, so I’m glad she finally managed it, but it does make me feel a bit… not so much lonely as odd.  Well, maybe a bit lonely too.  My sister is bridesmaid and my parents are going too, for the reasons given above, so I feel left on my own a bit, although to be honest I wouldn’t really want to go.

The Jewish Chronicle has a regular ‘ask the rabbi’ section where a Modern Orthodox rabbi and a Reform rabbi answer questions.  This week they were asked how young people can meet their partners.  I was glad to see that even in the less ‘right-wing’ (less strict or traditional) and non-Orthodox worlds people still struggle to find their partner.  I’m not glad people are lonely, but I’m glad it’s not just me, or just my community.  Although I was annoyed that, as well as giving some practical suggestions, the rabbis both went for the “but young people today are also too picky and commitment-phobic” approach.  Maybe some people are too picky, but I’ve always been ready to continue relationships even if it didn’t look like we had a huge amount in common to see where they went unless there was a major values mismatch and in fact got badly hurt thinking I had to keep a relationship going because all problems can be solved with self-sacrifice when it clearly wasn’t working and I was in pain and should have got out of it.

My parents decided that they should speak to the assistant rabbi at their shul (synagogue) about my dating situation (as opposed to the assistant rabbi at my shul, who my therapist wants me to talk to about my feelings of not fitting in to the community – doubtless more about that later in the week).  They felt he is roughly my age and might be more likely to know someone for me than other rabbis I’ve spoken to.  I was a bit sceptical, but these days I generally let them get on with these type of things so that they feel useful and so that I don’t come across as refusing to do anything proactive.  My father didn’t get a chance to talk to the assistant rabbi, but he did talk to his wife and she suggested another shadchan (matchmaker) (I think.  I’m slightly confused about how the conversation went, which could be embarrassing down the line).  My father seems to think that the rabbi’s wife knew about my mental health issues and that she picked a suitable shadchan with that in mind; I think he’s making some big assumptions there (I’m not convinced she even knows about my issues), so I remain somewhat sceptical, especially after my rabbi mentor was very sceptical of professional shadchanim.  Still, I googled the shadchan after Shabbat (the Sabbath) and she is a trained counsellor and her husband, as well as being a rabbi, is a professional psychotherapist, so maybe she will be more understanding and helpful than the others.  However, I am not overly hopeful any more.

I seem to have got in the bad habit of sleeping through most of Shabbat, then staying up late on Saturday night because I don’t feel tired and then sleeping through much of Sunday.  I did at least get a number of chores done last night before going to bed, but 4.00am was far too late to be up.  It’s 2.00pm and I’m still in my pyjamas, having only just finished breakfast.  I have a lot of things to do today, so I’m going to post this now and see if I can get away with not blogging again today, as long as nothing goes seriously wrong or something upsetting happens.  Famous last words?

So Lonely: Jumbled Thoughts from a Lonely Day

I’m off work today, which is probably just as well, as I need to get ready for spending Shabbat (the Sabbath) alone in my flat (usually I stay with my parents).  This can get pretty lonely.  I’ve got stuff to read: Dracula, which I am very much enjoying re-reading, the latest Doctor Who Magazine, and volume two of Vampire Knight (manga comic aimed at teenage girls (vampire romance/school story) which I can’t work out if I like.  I like the main character, but a volume and a half in, the plot is only really starting).  Still, it looks set to be a lonely Shabbat.  Most single people in the frum (religious Orthodox Jewish) community would get themselves invited out if they were by themselves for Shabbat, but I don’t know that many people and I’ve never felt comfortable inviting myself around to people’s houses, even though I know that English and Jewish customs are at variance here and that most frum people would consider it perfectly acceptable behaviour.  Of course, eating at other people’s houses can be just as difficult for me, trading loneliness for social anxiety.

I was in bed for about twelve hours last night/this morning.  I’m not sure how long I actually slept, as I lay in bed for a while feeling too depressed and exhausted to get up and put some cereal and milk in a bowl, even though I knew I would feel better if I ate and restored my blood sugar level, but I must have been asleep for at least eleven hours, which isn’t good.  I somehow slept through the racket of building works two houses away (it’s sounds like they’re demolishing the house brick by brick).  I dreamt about Groundhog Day which wasn’t that surprising as my parents had borrowed the DVD from me and I’ve often reflected that I seem to be in a Groundhog Day-type situation of repeating the same actions again and again without breaking out of the loop, but it was disturbing to dream of myself being in such a situation for millions of years (or was it billions?) without breaking free.  That’s how I feel with my depression and loneliness.  Also some weird stuff about falling into the Thames with someone (someone female, not sure who, but I think I liked her in the dream) and her being rescued without me and (nearly?) abducted while I couldn’t do anything to save her, because I was stranded holding on to a fence that stuck out over the river (?), trying to avoid drowning.  My sister was involved too, somehow, and Jack the Ripper was in there too, for some disturbing reason.  I don’t usually remember my dreams, or only in fragments; maybe this should make me glad.

Today is Rosh Chodesh (New Moon of the Jewish month of) Adar.  The Talmud says that with the start of Adar, we increase in joy, as we head into the month of Purim, the most carnivalesque Jewish festival and then into the month of Nisan, the month of redemption and Pesach (Passover), the festival of redemption.  I, however, feel extra anxious and depressed at this time of year.  The enforced jollity of Purim sets of my depression and social anxiety.  The many commandments of Purim and especially of Pesach, set off my religious OCD.  I find the whole time of year a struggle.  Just seeing the bags of Purim food in the kosher shops just now made me feel anxious and depressed and, I suppose, lonely, knowing that most people don’t feel like this and are looking forward to spending enjoyable times with friends and family (I don’t have friends nearby to spend time with).

It occurs to me that to the lists I made about myself yesterday to try to understand what I should be doing with my life, I could add another matched pair of lists with things that are depleting and things that are restoring to me (I can’t remember where, if anywhere, I read this idea).  In the depleting box goes work, shul and pretty much all socialising.  And more or less everything else, really: housework, cooking, shopping, commuting on the Tube, davening (praying), Torah study.  In the restoring box goes a tiny amount of socialising (unfortunately it’s hard to tell in advance what will be restoring or depleting), possibly writing my blog and certainly writing my Doctor Who book (it’s telling that I work on it in my lunch break at work without worrying about my energy levels).  Also watching classic Doctor Who and some new Doctor Who (which sometimes presses a whole load of my buttons about emotional relationships, love, loneliness and not fitting in, not least when the Doctor turned into one of the kids who used to bully me at school) and watching my favourite vintage TV science fiction series on DVD.  I’m not sure where watching Sherlock fits into this, but it seems to have finished and I haven’t bought any DVDs because I can’t work out if it’s sufficiently triggering to steer clear.  And that’s pretty much all the TV I watch.  I’m not sure about recreational reading.  I do tend to like reading ‘heavy’ books (fiction or non-fiction), but I do enjoy them, even though they can feel like a slog and take ages to read because a lot of the time I don’t feel up to it.  I have some lighter reading piled up on my ‘to read’ pile, though.  Perhaps depleting and restoring in equal measure.

Hmm, looking at this, I’m really not sure how I increase the restoring activities and decrease the depleting ones, as most of the depleting ones are unavoidable and crowd out the time available for the restoring ones.

I’ve pretty much given up on waiting for the shadchanim (matchmakers) to get back to me.  As far as I can see, they aren’t interested in looking for someone for me, whether because of my geekiness, mental illness, ‘modern’ outlook or some other reason.  I don’t know where to go from here.  I could try Shidduch.im, the UK affiliate of Saw You at Sinai, which is kind of a cross between a dating site and a shadchan, inasmuch as they send you profiles each week and if you like the profile you are sent and she likes yours, you can date.  It’s a paid site, so they would be legally obliged to send me profiles each week, but there’s no guarantee they will find anyone suitable (rather than randomly matching me up to see if anything sticks) or that the woman in question would want to meet me.  I’m not sure I’m willing to pay for more rejection.

I went into the Jewish bookshop today and saw various books on dating.  The questions seem pretty remote from me.  Should you start at 22 or 25?  (I couldn’t find someone willing to go out with me until I was 27.)  What should you do if you’re dating someone, but someone else suggests someone even better-sounding to you?  (I can’t imagine that ever happening to me.)  Nothing about, “What if you’re such a freak that no one wants to set you up with anyone, let alone actually date you?”

“Where do I go from here?” is question I keep asking myself about my mental health, dating, my career and my religious practices, and I don’t have any answers at all, which is scary.  I honestly don’t know where I’ll be in one year’s time, except that I will almost certainly still be mentally ill and I hope I will still be frum, but I don’t think I can guarantee even that.  It probably isn’t true that I haven’t felt this hopeless for a long time, as I feel hopeless a lot of the time, but I haven’t felt challenged in so many ways at the same time for some years.  I keep hoping that this is the ‘darkest before dawn’ moment that always seems to come in tales of hasgacha  pratit (Divine intervention), but somehow I just bumble through without really resolving things very much, at least until the next crisis.

I want to go to my parasha shiur (weekly Torah reading class) tonight, as it’s likely to be the only really social thing I’ll manage over the next few days, but I don’t really have the energy, plus I need to cook dinner and clean the flat (which hasn’t been cleaned for weeks).  Also, the assistant rabbi always seems to ask me the hardest questions, or at least expects me to answer them, which is nice on some level (he asked me how I know so much if I didn’t go to yeshiva), but also puts me on the spot on nights like tonight when I don’t really want to be around people very much.  Can you be lonely and withdrawn at the same time?

“There’s a beautiful sadness that runs through him”

You know the drill: bed late, slept more than ten hours, up late, feeling depressed and depleted (low blood sugar after not eating for ten and a half hours doesn’t help).  I should have been doing some thing much more exciting last night than just staying up late writing about (not very good) Doctor Who episodes to end up with this much of a “mental hangover,” the term I use for exhaustion and depression after something fun.  But watching and writing about Doctor Who is pretty much the only enjoyable thing in my life right now (oh, I just started re-reading Dracula.  That’s good too).  Sad.

I feel that there isn’t really anything that I think or do that is uniquely me.  Everything I do is done better by someone else.  Or done to more acclaim, which isn’t always the same thing.  Even my Doctor Who book, which is about the best thing in my life at the moment (pathetic I know) is mediocre at best, especially when compared with other writers who, I feel, vocalise their political biases too much (Doctor Who fandom has long been very political) and don’t do enough research and make whopping mistakes.  Certainly I don’t have a hope of getting so many readers, if I even manage to get published.

I have ideas for stories, or at least images that might be made into stories, but I don’t know what to do with them.  The stories I used to write were really rubbish.  As someone who is probably somewhat autistic and alexithymic (unable to feel or describe emotions), I feel that I could never empathise with a character to accurately describe their mental state.  I can’t even describe my own mental state as well as I would like.

I feel inadequate and inauthentic.  Like nothing I do is really good or really me.  When am I going to see the real, unique, me?  Or is the real me just rubbish?  This blog is, I suppose, as near as I ever get to me, unfiltered, outside of my head.  And it’s garbage (and no one reads it).

I also feel like giving up on ever getting married.  I still haven’t heard back from the shadchanim (matchmakers).  I feel that even professional matchmakers have no hope of my ever getting married and I should just give up and accept that I will always be a lonely single virgin.  I do wonder what I did to make God hate me so much.  Sometimes I wonder if I could have a chance meeting with someone (these do happen, even in the frum (religious) world).   But I can’t really see it happening.  I’d be too shy to talk to some stranger on the Tube anyway.

There’s a real-life story on Aish.com (I can’t find it right now) about a Jewish guy who was not religious, but who went to Israel.  Standing at the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism, he asked God to send him a sign that He exists and immediately a guy tapped him on the shoulder and asked if he would like to learn about God in a yeshiva (rabbinical seminary).  Which he did, perhaps surprisingly.  Then a few months later, while studying in yeshiva in Jerusalem, he saw a Jewish woman in the street who looked “graceful” and prayed to God that he should meet someone like her.  A few months later, he finished at yeshiva, went home and went to shul (synagogue) one Shabbat (Sabbath) and saw the exact same woman.  Turned out they lived in the same city.  They dated (they were allowed to talk to members of the other sex at kiddush?) and got married.  Happy ever after.  Stories like this make me jealous and a bit angry.  I know what I said a few days ago about not having miracles being greater than having miracles, but couldn’t I have something to be going on with?  I believe in God, but I don’t believe in myself and sometimes I feel like I’m holding on to halakhah (Jewish law) with just the tips of my fingers and I don’t care what happens to me any more because whatever I do, God hates me and I have no share in Olam HaBa (the Next World).  Couldn’t I have something to help me?  Or does God really hate me so much that he wants to “make my heart heavy” like Pharaoh to stop being frum so He can destroy me completely?

Anyway, I really hate myself today.  I have a really long to do list, including getting my hair cut, which is pretty much my most hated thing ever (I hate the intrusion on my personal space and then there’s the fear that I’ll start shaking).  I don’t know if I’m going to have the energy or inclination to daven (pray) or do any Torah study.  I’m trying really  hard not to do what I did yesterday and leave a self-loathing comment ruining the blog of someone I respect.  But I really do feel (contrary to what she was writing) that God hates me and wants me to be lonely and miserable forever and it isn’t just a question of waiting for things to go right for me.  After eighteen years or more (possibly much more) it’s clear that things are not going to go spontaneously right for me, but also that I’ve tried pretty much everything and nothing helps.

Like I said, I really hate myself today.

Eeyore

I had a couple of insights into myself and my recent thoughts in the last few days.  One was reading Gold from the Land of Israel, Chanan Morrison’s elucidation of ideas from Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook.  The idea was familiar to me, but hit me with a force that it hadn’t had before.  The idea was that experiencing miracles is not the highest level of righteousness; the highest level is not needing overt miracles because one sees God’s hand in apparently natural events (this is, although he didn’t say it, the meaning of the forthcoming minor festival of Purim, which I am already dreading).  This made me think that I shouldn’t see myself as inferior to those people on Hevria.com or Aish.com who claim to have experienced miracles, except that I don’t know that I really do see God’s hand in natural events; at any rate, it’s hard to think of much that has happened to me that seems unequivocally good in the way that this does.  Usually if something good happens to me, as soon as I let my guard down and give thanks for it, I get whacked with something awful.

The other thing that occurred to me was that a lot of the pressure and anxiety I feel at moment stems from my perfectionism.  I feel I have to be perfect at my job to avoid getting fired (and to prevent my colleagues and the students thinking I’m an idiot).  I feel I have to be religiously perfect in order for God to love me and to have a share in Olam HaBa (the Next World).  Perhaps most of all, I feel I have to be a perfect person in order to be accepted into the frum (religious Orthodox Jewish) community and to get married, and that this perfection basically includes getting rid of my eccentricities and unusual character traits (secular interests, geekyness, mental health issues, autistic traits).  Underlying most, if not all of these things, is a belief that no one will like me for who I am, flaws and all, and that there isn’t anyone else who struggles like me or who has unusual traits like me.

I want to believe there is a frum geeky woman out there who maybe has experienced some difficulties and will be a good match for me, but I can’t believe it is true or, worse, I think maybe she does exist, but we will never meet or even know of each other’s existence because God hates me and doesn’t want to bring us together.  The evidence for my views is mostly that it hasn’t happened until now, so I doubt it ever will, but also from various near misses where I met someone I thought was like me, but then they turned out not to be a good match, or simply not to like me.  In the last year or so I’ve “met” (in real life or online) three frum geeky women who I thought might be right for me, but they weren’t (they didn’t want children, or at least weren’t certain (I very much do) and in some cases weren’t interested in me anyway).  Plus I dated one frum geeky woman years back, but that didn’t work out for reasons I probably shouldn’t mention here, but it left me very hurt and sceptical of finding someone like me or who could at least accept me, feeling that the only person who would accept me would be even more messed up than I am and would hurt me. I don’t know what I can do about these feelings.

To be fair, the frum community is quite old-fashioned and conformist, and rather bourgeois in its outlook.  Then again, I can perhaps over-stress that.  It hasn’t been my experience so much as what I’ve picked up from reading Hevria and other frum blogs, but I suppose they are often written by people with a grievance, real or imagined, so maybe I shouldn’t pay too much attention to them.  The Hevria people in particular are fairly counter-cultural and Bohemian and most of them are ba’alei teshuva (Jews who became religious late in life) who reached Jewish observance via counter-culture, drugs and Eastern mysticism so I guess they were always going to struggle to conform in a way that I wouldn’t necessarily do.

(I’m not really part of a specific counter-culture.  My mental background is a bit like this quote: “Doctor Four and Romana Two… were unfettered by popular culture, adrift in a time-warped world that was a liberal intellectual’s wet dream, a weird wonderland formed from bits of the 1890s, 1960s, the future, a higher plane, a secondhand bookshop, an ivory tower, and the anti-bourgeois underground…”  From The Lovers by Ian Berriman in Purple Haze #1 reprinted in Licence Denied: Rumblings from the Doctor Who Underground edited by Paul Cornell)

It’s going to be a strange week, anyway.  It’s half-term, so I’m supposed to be off, but there’s a major project going on at one of the colleges that my college merged with.  We’re basically setting up a library there from scratch with thousands of books to process in a few days.  I’m going there on two days to help with the job and pay off the time I took off for my sister’s wedding in December and maybe earn some overtime; the other days I’m having off, as I needed a break and have things to do, especially having a long-needed haircut (I hate having my haircut, but I don’t like leaving my hair long these days either).  It’s right the other side of London, even further than my usual commute, so I’ve arranged to come in around 10.00am and leave around 4.30pm, maybe a little earlier.  I still have to leave home almost as early as usual, though, as the commute looks like being anything from an hour and a quarter to two hours each way compared with my usual commute of an hour and twenty minutes, which is bad enough.  I hope to get some reading done, but if I’m tired or depressed or can’t get a seat in rush hour, I might end up just sitting feeling awful.  Ugh, I’m going into full Eeyore mode again.  (Heh, the WordPress spell checker recognises ‘Eeyore’.  But not ‘WordPress’, weirdly.)

In terms of moving my life on, I’ve got in contact with an old friend of mine who works as a researcher to ask if we can meet and discus my options in that field, although he warned me that he might not be the best example, as he doesn’t earn much from it.  I’d like to catch up with him anyway as we haven’t seen each other for months.  I’ve also thought that it might be worth contacting CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Librarians and Information Professionals, of which I am a member, to see if they offer any careers advice or information.  Make them earn their membership fee for a change.  I actually felt a bit positive about this recently, although when I stop to think about it in depth, I start worrying again.

My father asked his rabbi if he knows a shadchan (matchmaker) who works with people with health issues.  He didn’t, but recommended the shadchan his daughter used.  I am sceptical, but have emailed her with my shidduch profile (dating profile).  As I said above, though, it’s hard to believe there’s someone compatible with me out there, still less that the one shadchan I go to will happen to know her.  Hello again, Eeyore.

“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7/All good children go to Heaven”

I spent a lot of time blogging, here and on my Doctor Who blog, last night.  I should have known better than to blog late at night as it always takes longer than I expect.  I’m also frustrated that I get such little feedback on my blogs.  I tried turning off the ‘like’ notification on this blog to stop me obsessing about how many likes I get.  To be honest, I don’t know why so many people seem to follow this blog, as it’s just me moaning about my life.  I’d like to write other things about mental health and the Jewish community, but how I’m feeling on any given day drowns out more objective sociological thoughts.  I guess that’s why I’d like feedback, to try and understand what people who ‘follow’ or ‘like’ this blog think about it.  I’d also like feedback on my other blog to see what people think of my thoughts on Doctor Who as I try to turn some of the posts there into writing that ideally I’d like to have published and get paid for.  Blogging, it has to be said, is not really a medium that suits me.  I’m not good at search engine optimisation and publicising the blog.  I’d rather get a publisher to do that for a share of my profits.

I spoke to my rabbinic mentor today about my guilt and frustration with my religious life.  I’m still processing it, I think.  He felt I’m a good judge of my own level of growth, but my judgement is disrupted when the depression is bad.  I don’t know.  I tell myself that I feel that HaShem (God) hates me because of things in my childhood and my loneliness, but it doesn’t stop it feeling real.  Also, when I’m very depressed or anxious, I act out in different ways.  Nothing really bad or criminal, but I hate myself for the things I do.  I don’t know how much this is me setting too high standards for myself, considering everything that is going on in my life or whether I really should be better.

One thing that occurred to me while I was talking to my rabbinic mentor was that I don’t really know other frum men with mental illness to compare myself with, to see if I’m doing above or below average.  I know a couple of frum women, but that’s apples and oranges a bit because in the Orthodox world men and women have different obligations and it’s not such a bad thing for women to pray less or without a minyan (prayer quorum) or not to learn Torah.  When I compare myself to men at shul, I’m comparing myself to men who are probably much more functional than I am.  The only other frum people I know with mental health issues are some of the Hevria.com writers and they are mostly managing their issues infinitely better than I am even though they’re mostly my age or younger i.e. they have spouses and children and learn Torah and even do crazy creative stuff with a Jewish flavour… it’s not stuff I could do right now and perhaps not ever.  I would like to know how they cope, but I don’t dare to ask.  I guess that’s why the site provokes such mixed emotions in me, aside from the issue of my being rejected as a regular writer.  It makes me feel that it’s saying, “We do all this stuff, Jewish stuff, creative stuff, social stuff, and we have mental health issues.  You have no excuse whatsoever for not doing the same.”  So I feel angry and useless and end up posting comments there going on about how mentally ill I am to justify (to myself as much as to them) the fact that I’m not doing all the things they’re doing.  And then when they talk about the miracles God does for them to intervene in their lives and make them better, I just go to pieces, feeling God hates me and they (the Hevria writers) must hate me and I’m going to be useless and lonely forever.

My only other achievement today has been to cook chilli (which I burnt…), which I’ve been meaning to do for a few weeks.  I feel disappointed, but Sundays at the moment are just a write-off: too dark, cold and wet to shift my mood out of my depression and post-work exhaustion, particularly when, as today, I’m extra exhausted from Shabbat and perhaps also from having a migraine late last night.  As a result, most of today has been a washout with me too depressed and exhausted to really do anything: daven (pray) much or with kavannah (concentration), learn Torah, do chores, exercise or even leave the flat…  I haven’t even bought my friend a wedding present, which I keep putting off, no doubt because I’m upset at being reminded that I’m still single.  Speaking of which, I was planning on emailing the rabbis at my shul and asking if they know of a shadchan (matchmaker) who deals with people with health issues in the UK, but I haven’t got around to that either, presumably because I’m ashamed of having to ask, everyone my age being married already.  They know I have issues, but it’s uncomfortable to have to spell out what a failure I am and of course there is the fear that they won’t get back to me and I’ll be stuck again.

Once again, I feel like I’ve let everyone down.  I’ve let my parents down by being mentally ill, employed only part-time and single, I’ve let my community down by not being involved and helping, I’ve let my rabbis down by not being frum enough, I’ve let God down by acting out and not meeting my religious obligations and I’ve let myself down by all of the above.  It’s hard to see that as depression-influenced judgement and not as an objective reflection of reality.

Misery, Matches and Miracles

I feel very depleted, very depressed and I was quite anxious for a while, although I seem to have become too exhausted to continue feeling anxious.  I spent four hours on the issue desks at two different sites today while covering staff training.  Being on the issue desk always leaves me depleted as does being at our secondary campus, so I’ve had a double blow today.

In the real world, the news is full of murder and child abuse, which depresses me no end.  I would avoid it, but I see other people’s newspapers when I’m commuting.  I have been very anxious/agitated/angry about political antisemitism over the last twenty-four hours or so.  It was so bad last night that I had to take one of the sleeping tablets the doctor prescribed.  I don’t want to make this a political blog, but I feel I want to say, “If you think women should tell their stories without judgement, if you think black people should tell their stories without judgement, if you think transexuals should tell their stories without judgement, why are you too scared to let Jews tell their stories?”  But They wouldn’t listen because They are sure that They are right and we are wrong.  I should avoid this too, but it’s in my head and in my life, so I can’t.

[End of politics]

I emailed the shadchan (matchmaker) for people with health issues again last night.  Still no response.  I will give it until Shabbat (the Sabbath) and then go elsewhere, if I feel well enough to date.  I have a couple of email addresses for shadchanim for people with health issues, but the one I contacted was the only one I had seen other than on blogs and the like, so I’m not sure how reliable they are (particularly after this).  I also don’t know if they deal with people with mental (as opposed to physical) health issues and whether they deal with ‘modern’ people or just Charedim (ultra-Orthodox), nor whether they deal with people in Europe or just the USA (they all seem to be US-based).  I guess there is only one way to find out.  I’m tempted to just email all of them (not a group email, one at a time, but all in one day), because emailing one at a time and waiting to hear is painful.  If they want payment upfront, I can always back out.  As I understand it, most shadchanim either expect payment on results (so to speak) or do it as a mitzvah and don’t expect payment at all (although they do accept gifts, which is fair enough).  The alternative to all this is a site that is something of a mix between a dating website and a traditional shadchan, in that you decide whether to meet based on profiles, but it’s the shadchan who picks out the profiles and sends them to you.  I have mixed feelings about this too, but at least it’s Europe-based.

I found a £10 note on the pavement this morning.  There was no one remotely nearby who it might have belonged to and there were no distinguishing marks on it, so I felt confident in taking it, albeit worried that there might be a hidden camera somewhere.  However, I always feel guilty in claiming found money, even when legally/morally justified (not that I’ve ever found this much before.  I think three pound coins was my previous maximum) and so have resolved to give it to charity, to sponsor someone who is running a marathon for charity.  It occurred to me that this could be one of the miracles that I complain of not receiving and I’m giving it away.  I don’t know if this is a fault with the miracle, so to speak (because I always give found money away, it’s just not usually this much, so there was virtually zero chance of me keeping it) or a fault in myself, that I can’t let good things happen to me.  Although giving £10 to charity is a good deed in itself, so I suppose I am benefiting in some way, if I can accept that my good deeds are meaningful and rewarded, which is difficult.  But it makes me think something that I have thought before when thinking about miracles, that I don’t like to be given things, I prefer to earn them myself.  I just don’t know how to “earn” better mental health, friends, love, etc.  I’ve tried working, not working, diet, exercise, different medications, different therapies, dating, not dating, going to social events, being involved with my religious community… nothing seems to work.

Stuck

My day was going OK.  No real problems at work (one or two small mistakes… it’s possible I over-emphasise ‘mistakes’ here) and I wrote 500 words or so of my Doctor Who book during lunch (on Black Orchid… come back Nick Pegg, all is forgiven), but I had growing anxiety once the day was over and I was leaving, which seemed bizarre, then a torrent of unfocused agitation, anxiety and despair on the way home.  At least, I think that’s what it was.  It was hard to tell.  It was just feelings without words and I’m not good and describing and understanding those.  I felt like I was imploding.  I couldn’t concentrate on the book I was reading, although to be fair it was pretty heavy-going.

The doctor phoned while I was on the way home, a follow-up from last week’s appointment.  I agreed with him that changing medication probably wouldn’t do anything, but I silently disagreed that I would naturally feel better over time.  I probably didn’t stress enough that this episode has lasted for about six months now, long before my sister’s wedding and even before the work stress really started.  However, as I’m not convinced there is much he (or even a psychiatrist) can do for me, I don’t really feel inclined to make another appointment at this time.

I hope to speak to my rabbi mentor on Sunday.  The whole situation is silly.  I want to be a frum (religious) Jew.  According to objective analysis, I’m probably doing at least some of the things a frum Jew should be doing, insofar as I can with my mental health issues.  But I’m convinced that I’m a terrible Jew with no share in Olam HaBa (the Next World/Heaven) and that there is no reason for me to carry on living because I’m just accumulating sins.  It’s hard to disprove a belief that’s so nebulous, but so persuasive.

I feel like I need to do something to fight the inertia and misery that have taken over my life in the last six or seven months.  I’m not sure what.  I don’t have a career as such.  I don’t really have the energy for career-furthering things.  I can barely cope with having a job, let alone a career, and I have no expectation of rising particularly high up the promotion ladder.  Looking at books on childcare at work to decide whether to withdraw them makes me feel broody.  The thought occurs to me that I should chase the shadchan (matchmaker) to whom I sent my dating profile over a fortnight ago without even getting an acknowledgement back, but I’m too ashamed (of what?  Why?  I don’t know) and pessimistic, not to mention convinced that I’m unlovable and half convinced that I’m about to go off the derekh (stop being frum) and shouldn’t go near either frum women for fear that I will end up non-frum.  It’s also painful to feel attracted to women in a normal way when I know that no one could find me attractive, physically or as a person.  That said, I was better when I was dating in spring and early summer of 2017 and breaking up with the person I thought I was building a relationship with (even though we only went on four dates) was the trigger for this episode of depression or at least for an existing episode to worsen.  So that inclines me to try again, but also makes me worry what will happen if (when) I get dumped again.

Actually, it’s very hard to go on in any way when I think I’m going to be stuck forever.  It’s hard to succeed at work or carry on religiously or contact friends or be involved with community or contact family when life seems so bleak and intransigent.  I suppose I carry on somehow, or, at any rate, I have done for fifteen years or more, but I’m not sure how.

Crying for Help

I feel terrible.  Part of me wants to cry, but I feel too emotionally drained.  My brain is just not working; my head feels like  it’s stuffed with cotton wool.  Too depressed and tired to do anything, even cook dinner.  I’m not sure I’ve even got the energy to eat dinner.  I want to go for a walk, but it’s too late and I’m too tired.

I tried contacting friends (well, a friend) and family, but everyone is busy with their lives and no one seems to really understand how I feel.  I don’t seem to be able to explain myself in such a way that anyone can understand me in real life, and probably not here either.  Anyway, I feel I should be able to look after myself without help from others.

I feel my life is falling to pieces.  I don’t know how I’m going to get through the next term.   I don’t know how I’m going to avoid getting fired or at least not having my contract renewed.  Away from work, the shadchan (matchmaker) hasn’t got back to me yet.  I guess two days isn’t that long, but I’m worried it means that I’m too ‘modern’ for her clientele and she’s quietly dropping me.

It’s hard to think of anything in my life that I really enjoy or find meaningful.  I try to tell myself I do have friends and family who care, but they often seem to be far away, literally or in terms of personality, outlook and understanding.  I still feel like the little lost child.

On days like this, just surviving seems a great achievement, but it’s hard to tell other people that.  Depression is supposed to be an easily treatable illness, but I seem to have been stuck with it for fifteen or twenty years.  It’s hard to keep going when everything seems to stay the same, year after year.  Even when things do change (like my job), my mood seems to stay terrible.  I hate my life, but I don’t know how to change it.  I feel like I’ve tried everything short of ECT.  I honestly don’t know what to do any more.

I just shaved, which I hadn’t done since Sunday.  Dinner (plain pasta, that’s all I could make) is cooking.  But every movement feels like walking barefoot on broken glass while carrying rocks.  I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with my life to be ‘normal’/’healthy’ like everyone else.

New Year, Old Habits

We’re 1/365 through 2018!  Roll on 2019!

You might infer from this that I’m not having a good time this year.

Today is my last day of holiday.  It hasn’t felt much like a holiday.  I have done most of the chores I set out to do, but I was so depressed that I have done little else except procrastinate.  I have done little in the way of cooking or Torah study and no exercise.  I have barely been out of the flat for two weeks, which isn’t good, although the weather and the short days hardly encourages anyone to leave at this time of the year and I’ve been sleeping so late that I have barely seen daylight – sunset is before 4pm here; I don’t open my curtains until I’m dressed and even if I get up at 12.30pm, it might (as today) take two or three hours just to eat breakfast and get dressed as I just feel so depressed and lethargic that my body simply won’t cooperate.

I set myself targets, but as they are essentially artificial, it’s hard to stick to them.  For example, I want to cook chilli for dinner tonight, but I doubt if I will, as I feel very depressed and I know that if I don’t cook, I won’t go hungry as I can eat something else that I don’t have to cook.  I don’t have the threat of being sacked, as I do at work.  I feel pretty awful right now and to be honest, I don’t really want to do much more today than just watch Doctor Who (I’m currently up to Earthshock in my research viewing, which is undemanding, but disturbingly macho and probably not the story that I would have ideally picked to cheer me up).  Reading upbeat blogs just makes me feel guilty and inadequate for being mentally ill and generally not getting my life together the way that other people seem to be able to do.  I’ve been depressed for fifteen years straight now (probably longer) with only two or three six month interludes of wellness.

I haven’t even watched a huge amount of Doctor Who as I have been procrastinating and feeling depressed more than actually relaxing, so progress on my Doctor Who non-fiction book has not advanced much more than it had a few weeks ago, although I have finished a second draft of another chapter and have four pages of notes to type up.  I feel pessimistic about the whole thing, though.  I doubt I can say anything original enough to find a place in a crowded marketplace, especially when I’m out of sync with trends in fan criticism.  But I have said all this before, and still I plod on with it.  I’m not sure if I’m persistent or just bad at revising plans.

In terms of social stuff, I did nothing over the holiday except see my parents and my sister.  I even tried to avoid seeing people at shul as much as possible.  However, it looks like I did manage to pay for the shul Shabbat (Sabbath) dinner in a few weeks, so I’m committed to go to that.  I also sent my shidduch (dating) profile to the shadchan (matchmaker) for people with health issues, but I’m sceptical of anything good coming of that either.  I have said most of this before too.  I started reading a CBT book on social anxiety, but haven’t got very far with it yet and am worried that I’m not going to be brave enough to do the exercises in it.

I did read some books on Asperger’s Syndrome over the break and just ended up more confused than ever about whether I’m on the spectrum.  I don’t know if I am neurotypical with some autistic traits or if I’m autistic, but have learnt good coping skills over the years.  I’ve certainly been boring myself by monologuing in my head a lot.  When I say boring myself, that’s not depressive low self-esteem, I really do bore myself with set speeches about politics, antisemitism, religion, society, Doctor Who… I just don’t know how to shut my brain off once it gets going (which may have contributed to insomnia the night I forgot to take my meds).  I’m just glad I’m socially-literate, or more likely socially anxious, enough not to say this stuff aloud.

We might have just started 2018, but we’re already over a quarter of the way through the Jewish year of 5778.  I haven’t really been successful in my new year’s resolutions there: to say the first paragraphs of the ShemaAmidah and bentsching with more kavannah (concentration, meaning), to study one Mishnah a day and to make some improvements in my mental health.  I’ve hardly achieved the first target at all and on non-work days I regularly miss Shacharit (morning prayers) completely (I even missed other prayers this holiday), the second I can do most work days on the commute in to work, but it’s hard to get the motivation on non-work days and on any day concentration and comprehension is usually poor.  As for my mental health, I haven’t even been able to identify a concrete target to focus on.

I don’t feel any nearer to finding my life’s mission, happiness, simcha shel mitzvah (joy in the commandments), community, friendship, romantic/sexual love or any of the other things I want.  I suppose I should be grateful that I have a couple of friends, even if they are largely long distance email/text friendships, and that my parents and sister care about me, even if our different personalities and outlooks can cause friction.  I feel that I’m just selfish for wanting to be happy, fulfilled and loved romantically.

I feel just as burnt out as I did at the start of the holiday, maybe even more so.  Worse, I feel chewed up and spat out, as if I’ve gone through an ordeal and been rejected as inedible.  I’m dreading going back to work and social events (really just shiur (Torah class)) and people asking how my break was and having to lie about it.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m living my life completely the wrong way.  Sometimes I fantasise about going to live on a religious kibbutz somewhere out of the way in Israel, but I know I could never do it.  The upheaval!  The dislocation!  The Aspie-destroying change!  Living in a war zone! (Although it’s probably no more dangerous than any Western city these days.)  And I’m definitely no farmer.  But I do feel I need to change something big in my life, I just don’t know what or how.

Be It Ever So Humble (Picspam and Achievements)

This is basically picspam, but with too many digressions.  Here goes…

I slept for about eleven hours again last night/this morning and woke up feeling incredibly exhausted and depressed after an anxiety dream about work, too exhausted really even to move, struggling to eat breakfast and get dressed.  My holiday is nearly over (I go back to work on Wednesday) and I don’t feel at all rested and relaxed.  I’ve hardly been out the flat for two weeks, which isn’t good.  I didn’t feel up to doing much exercise, which is bad, and I didn’t get any opportunity to socialise, except with family.  I ran into an acquaintance while shopping yesterday; just talking for a few minutes in the street seemed positive.  Unfortunately, virtually all my friends live outside of London.  I’m just struggling to get through all the chores I’m supposed to be doing.  I did at least send my shidduch (dating) profile to the shadchan (matchmaker) for people with health issues yesterday.  I hope that wasn’t a mistake.

I don’t really want to write another repetitive blog post about feeling depressed, so I thought I would experiment with embedding photos in a blog post for the first time.  I took some photos of my flat.  I can’t post photos of myself because of my anonymity, but I thought I could show you what I see while writing these posts or just while sitting and feeling depressed.

I live in a converted garage.  It’s my landlords’ garage, not my parents’, as some people assume, although my parents live about a fifteen minute walk away.  This is the less than enthralling view from my only clear window (the other windows are frosted so no one can see in.

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No wonder I struggle to get up and out in the mornings.

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The inside of my flat.  I’m not allowed to put anything on the walls.  I originally left the wardrobe doors blank too, but it felt too much like living in prison cell or padded cell, just stark white blankness so I put up the posters (Doctor Who and Ghostbusters).  The other papers stuck to the doors are printed off quotes from other people saying positive things about me in emails or blog comments that I periodically print out and stick up to try to boost my self-esteem.  The photos in the photo frames on top of the wardrobe are family photos, except for one photo I took myself of the Kotel (Western Wall in Jerusalem, the holiest site in Judaism) at twilight that I really like.  The big books on top of the cupboard are Hebrew-English and Aramaic-English dictionaries.  Most of my books are at my parents’ house.  About 50 are here, in the cupboard, but I had to take the dictionaries out to make more room for other books.

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All the Doctors!  This poster is already out of date.  Ah well…

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My teeny tiny kitchenette.  I also have a microwave/convection oven, toaster and kettle, not in shot, so I’m more or less OK for any cooking I might want to do, it’s just cramped and I have to think strategically when getting out a lot of ingredients to have enough surfaces.

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This one is for two people who know who they are.

OK, picspam over.

I have at least managed to do a few things today:

  1. Cleaned the flat for the first time in too long.  It took a long time and I had to keep stopping for breaks, but I did it.
  2. Replied to the invitation to a friend’s wedding that I can’t go to because I can’t take time off work.  I was procrastinating over sending this reply.  I’m not sure if it was because I was worried he would be upset I can’t go or because I can’t cope with more people getting married and leaving me alone.
  3. Tried to book for my shul‘s (synagogue’s) Friday night communal dinner in a few weeks.  Something went wrong (internet connection problems?  I had them a while back, had to have my software reinstalled and have had them again since Microsoft ran an update a few weeks ago) and it didn’t work, so I’ve got to try again in a few days, once I’m sure that there was no transaction.  This is frustrating.  Having summoned up the courage to do this (I’ve seen the list of who has booked so far and I’m 99% sure I’m the only unmarried person over the age of twenty going – it’s billed as a “Family” event), it’s frustrating that it didn’t work, but I did at least try.  I will try again soon.
  4. Five minutes of Torah study.  I would have liked to have done more, but my limited energy reserves went on cleaning the flat instead.
  5. Checked online and discovered that I don’t really need to pay more National Insurance contributions for the years I was too depressed to work, which is good.  And I was glad I managed to get the HMRC website to work properly this time, having realised I misunderstood one of the questions they were asking me when I tried this a few weeks ago.
  6. Spent half an hour adding birthdays, anniversaries, yortzeits (death anniversaries), school holidays and Yom Tovim (Jewish festivals) to my 2018 diary, plus notes to buy cards or phone parents where relevant.  If I don’t do this, I forget all this stuff.  I suppose I ought to work out how to put all this on my phone, although I’d still have to enter Jewish festivals and school dates manually every year (I’m running on three calendars: Jewish, academic and Gregorian-with-British-public-holidays).  But I prefer them in hard copy, where I can see them easily when entering things in my diary.
  7. Went into a panic at the amount of time I’m going to need off for Yom Tovim during term-time in September for the autumn festivals right at the busiest time of the academic year and panicking that I won’t be allowed to take them off and will have to resign (the Muslims only ask for one or two days off a year, the Christians get theirs automatically), then thinking I should be more worried that I might not even have a job after my contract expires in April, then worrying about being made unemployed and not getting the time off for Yom Tov even though the two worries are mutually exclusive.
  8. Oh, and spent too long reading about the politics behind Doctor Who Magazine and how it’s probably about to become much less interesting, then feeling bad for searching for gossip.

I’m now feeling awake and reasonably good for the first time today and ready to do things.  The problem is, it’s 11.30pm and I should be going to bed to get in to a better sleep pattern for going back to work…

Confusion

I feel a bit apprehensive writing about being a virgin in his mid-thirties, although I have written several times about it (I’m hoping this post doesn’t just duplicate the previous ones.  I suspect it might, as sometimes I need to work at an inner feeling or thought process for a long time, years even, until I understand it or see the flaws behind it).  I guess it’s considered an embarrassing subject.  In the frum (Orthodox Jewish and religious) community it’s very unusual to be a virgin at this age, as everyone is supposed to be married by now.  In mainstream Western society marriage is not such an inevitable feature of life at this stage, but everyone seems to be assumed to have been sexually active since their teens.  Certainly when I was an undergraduate (back in the era of dodos if not dinosaurs) the assumption seemed to be that everyone was having sex and the discussion, so much as there was any, was about safe sex.  I’m assuming these days undergraduates are exposed to a lot more discussion about what constitutes consent, but either way the assumption is that everyone is sexually active and the only question is how to manage that safely, not whether there are circumstances in which celibacy is acceptable, let alone preferable.  Even at the secondary school I went to, which was Jewish, but not particularly religious, the discussion of sex was fairly minimal and largely limited to the biological facts.  I doubt anyone really wanted fifteen or sixteen year old children sleeping around, but the emotional issues around sex or even dating weren’t discussed in class (I don’t know what the students discussed, because I didn’t get involved in those kinds of conversations).

I don’t know why this is such a big issue for me, although I have made a few suggestions in the past.  I don’t drink, due to fear of alcohol as much as the fact that alcohol is a depressant and that I’m on medication, but I don’t obsess on how much I’m missing out on by not having a whisky with the men at kiddush after shul (synagogue) on Shabbat (the Sabbath).  I want to discuss my sexuality in therapy, but I rarely seem to get around to it and I struggle to find the words, including when I post about it.  I’ve posted about it multiple times because I’ve never been able to really understand or articulate the vague and inchoate things I feel, to the extent that I’m wondering if this is some Freudian mechanism and I’m unconsciously stopping myself from talking about it properly, both on the blog and in therapy.

Obviously, unless you’re actually asexual (which I’m not) sex is going to figure in your life in some way, probably quite a big one.  I read somewhere that sex is like water: if you’ve got it, you don’t think about it, but if you haven’t got it, you can’t think about anything else.  That’s how I feel a lot of the time.   I don’t want to think about sex, but often I can’t not think about it.  It doesn’t help that we live in a highly sexualised society compared with even a couple of decades ago.  I went into Smiths (newsagents/stationery shop) to buy writing paper and as I walked past the magazines the covers were yelling at me that they had tips to improve my sex life (well, I guess it couldn’t get any worse).  I feel very guilty if I feel attracted to someone passing by without my really being able to articulate why I feel guilty.  I guess it’s partly halakhic (Jewish law) reasons and partly feminism, but also that it makes me feel so lonely and unlovable.  And I guess there are a load of subsidiary fears, like if I somehow do manage to get married, will my wife even fancy me, let alone love me, or will she just ‘settle’ for me because I’m not an awful person and she’s lonely and wants children?  I don’t want someone to settle for me, I want to be loved for who I am (which I guess is the downside for going to a shadchan (matchmaker) for people with ‘issues’ – the fear that we’re both settling because we have issues).

Partly, as I’ve said before, it’s about being an adult more than being about sex per se.  Sex is practically the most adult thing one can do, I suppose, aside from having a baby.  So it becomes symbolic of all the other adult things I can’t or don’t do: drive, work full-time, drink, pay a mortgage, have dinner guests…  Doubly so now my (younger) sister is married.  But I think I would rather be sexually satisfied than drive or drink alcohol.  I do often feel like a fraud, someone ‘passing’ as an adult rather than really being one.  When my colleagues at work, all of whom have children and all bar one of whom are married or in a relationship, talk about their home lives with children and significant others, I feel infantilised, as if I’m not truly an adult because I do not have a partner or child.  I actually feel much younger than all of them, even though one of my colleagues is my age and another is only two years older.  That feeling is partly from being the newest one to the team, of course, and the fact that I am still learning the ropes at work, but being unable to join in with discussions about home life in the same way doesn’t help.

Beyond that, I suppose I don’t really know how to deal with my inner drives in general.  I’ve mentioned before that I seem to have alexithymia, an inability to understand my own emotions.  Certainly the emotions around sex are particularly difficult to understand, with it provoking love, lust, curiosity, fear, desire, guilt, shame, despair, anxiety, worthlessness, tenderness, perhaps even anger, a whole cocktail of emotions that I don’t really understand or know how to deal with and which I am not always fully aware of.  Often I just feel bad when I find someone attractive and it’s only lately, now that I’m really trying to probe my emotions to deal with the alexithymia, that I can begi to identify these feelings.

It is doubly difficult when the feelings surround a ‘real’ person I’m crushing on (rather than a daydream or famous person I’m attracted to), because I don’t really know how to express those feelings to someone, particularly if they aren’t interested.  I’ve only ever dated six people anyway, but of those six I was set up on blind dates with two and two approached me on a dating site, so there were only two that I actually asked out myself.  I have asked other women who turned me down, including a couple who I thought liked me (one of whom I had an anxiety dream about last night.  It seems that well over a decade later, I’m not fully over the situation, even though I know she’s married to someone else now), but I still find it hard to ask women out, hence part of the reason I’m going to a shadchan (matchmaker), because singles events are a non-starter for me, even beyond the fact that events in the Orthodox world are increasingly gender-segregated (which I think is a massive mistake and totally unnecessary, but that’s a subject for another time).

Freudian psychology is out of fashion, I think, in academia and certainly Freud and Judaism are seen as opposed (by Freud as well as by rabbis).  But I think there is common ground in a number of areas, from my limited knowledge of each.  One thing Freudian psychology and Orthodox Judaism have in common is the sense of the importance of the libido as a key component of the human psyche (libido in psychological terms is not synonymous with sex drive, but sex is a big part of it).  In Judaism there is an acknowledgement that sex within marriage is a positive, healthy thing, essential for psychological well-being.  There is also an acknowledgement that more highly achieving people tend to have higher libidos, which can get them into trouble if they aren’t careful and that curbing the sex drive is very difficult and it is better sublimated than totally repressed.  Hence the whole machinery of Jewish sexual interactions, both active (e.g. early marriage) and precautionary (e.g. limiting interactions between men and women who aren’t married to each other or close blood relations).

Where this becomes difficult is this sense that I have powerful urges inside of me that I fear that I can’t control.  I guess it’s like waking up and discovering that one is flying a 747 with no knowledge of how to fly even a little glider.  I’m frightened of sex, as I’m frightened by any sense of power that I might have (hence avoiding davening from the amud (leading prayers in shul), showing off my knowledge whether Torah or secular etc.).  It’s hard to know what to do or who I can talk to or how to talk about things I have no vocabulary to talk about.  I have no vocabulary because in frum circles sex is simply not talked about, whereas in mainstream circles it’s not spoken about with a vocabulary I feel comfortable using or in language I can understand (not having experienced it and with alexithymia that means that descriptions of emotions are not always helpful to me).  I wouldn’t know who to talk to about it and I don’t know what I would ask.

I guess a lot of it is ‘unknown unknowns’ again, which I can’t prepare for, the biggest being whether I would be able to give to someone in that way and whether I would feel comfortable being ‘known’ so intimately by someone or whether it would feel uncomfortable or invasive.  My highly limited and tame experiences in this regard in the past are not encouraging in this respect.  I want to be accepted and sex and love might feel like acceptance, but then they might be yet more things that make me feel uncomfortable and which I am incompetent at.  It’s impossible to tell, which I suppose makes it such a scary, unknowable thing.

“I’m fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing”

I had a difficult Shabbat (Sabbath).  I struggled to get to shul (synagogue) on Friday evening.  I just felt too depressed and socially anxious.  I got into a whole load of social anxiety about my kippah (skullcap).  To understand this, you have to understand that in the Orthodox world, one’s style of kippah is often a signal of religious and even political identity, but I just wear things I like without worrying too much about what others think (or trying not to).  I was wearing the kippah my aunt and uncle bought me a few weeks ago, a very large, white crocheted one, which is the style associated with the Religious Zionist movement (with which I do not entirely identify).  I was worried that by wearing this, the rabbis of the shul, who I suspect are non- or anti-Zionist, would think negatively of me.  In the end, I didn’t go up to them after the service to shake hands and wish them a “Gut Shabbes.”  I haven’t done this for about two months, because of social anxiety, so the kippah was not the sole issue here, but it was a contributory factor.  It’s difficult to be frum sometimes when frum people seem determined to make it much harder to fit in that it should be.  Being frum is definitely a lot more than just “Read these books and keep these laws.”  There’s a lot of social etiquette that isn’t written down anywhere and newcomers are expected to learn as they go along, which is probably difficult even if you aren’t borderline autistic and have problems reading and learning social cues.

I spent most of Shabbat wrestling with upsetting thoughts.  I put on a brave face during meals, but before and afterwards I spent a lot of time in bed, feeling overwhelmed.  (It didn’t help that my room was so dark with just the dim Shabbos lamp for company.)  I spent a lot of time thinking about the people on Hevria.com who insist that if you promise to serve HaShem (God), all kinds of miracles will immediately come your way, and thinking as this doesn’t happen to me, HaShem must hate me.  I spent a lot of time thinking about dictators and serial killers and trying to work out if I was better than they were.  Probably, but it’s hard to be sure.  I couldn’t sleep at night, so I had lots of time to lie awake thinking about this.  The insomnia was probably because I forgot to take my medication, which doesn’t do very much except knock me out at night.  To be fair, as I’ve said in the past, it probably does turn ‘unbearable suicidal depression with zero functionality’ into ‘slightly more bearable non-suicidal depression with enough functionality to do boring things like go to work, but not actually enjoy myself or get a life.’  Which I guess is something.  But not much when it’s 2.30am and I’m lying in bed trying to work out who is worse: Jack the Ripper, Hitler or me?  OK, that’s a slight exaggeration, as by 2.30am I’d given up on trying to sleep and was reading about Harold Macmillan and the Cuban Missile Crisis, which probably wasn’t the best thing to make me fall asleep, but was at least more interesting than proving to myself that God really hates me and I won’t have any share in Olam HaBa (the next world i.e. Heaven) for the umpteenth time.  There is a part of me that thinks that this is probably exaggeration and I can’t really be that bad, but whenever I try to look at things calmly and assess how good I am more objectively, the answer always seems to come out that I’m the most evil person ever (or one of them, at any rate) and I can’t find the mistake in my workings.

The other thing I was thinking about was whether I’m the last person from my school year to lose his/her virginity.  Why this seemed so important to me is beyond me, but I do feel inadequate even though I don’t know for sure it’s true (although it’s very likely to be true).  I do feel that I’m not an adult for being perennially single, not fitting in to a frum community and only working part-time in a fairly lowly job (even when I’m not worried about being fired because of some depression-, social anxiety- or Asperger’s-related incident).  I do think I’m going to be the last one from my school year to die, but that’s mostly because I have a feeling I’m going to end up like the Wandering Jew, Flying Dutchman or Ancient Mariner and just end up going on in loneliness and misery long after everyone I know has shuffled off this mortal coil.  This is as irrational as the whole ‘I’m worse than Hitler’ thing, but it feels emotionally true nonetheless.  I do feel so much older than everyone else, even though a lot of my friends are chronologically older than me.  I feel like I’ve been here for centuries.  The world does not improve with age.

I did a little bit of Torah study on Friday night and I got to shul for Ma’ariv (the evening service), but not Mincha (the afternoon service), but I missed shul today.  In fact, I missed Shacharit and Musaf (the morning and additional services) entirely and did truncated versions of Mincha and Ma’ariv at home because I didn’t have the energy to do the whole thing.  I didn’t even have the energy to feel particularly guilty about this.  I do wonder if I should be thinking about dating in this state, though, partly as I’m sure anyone frum enough for me to want to date would want someone more committed to davening and Torah illnesses notwithstanding and partly because I don’t really feel in a good enough state to worry about it.  I haven’t sent my shidduch profile off yet, so I suppose I can always back out.

I had a list of chores to do after Shabbat finished this evening, but most of them had to wait as I had to help with preparations for my room at my parents’ house being redecorated this week.  I’m a bit grumpy about this, as I don’t really want it decorated and resent the work I’m having to put in to get it ready, and the much bigger hassle of putting the books (nearly 1,000, excluding the 150 or so downstairs and another 50 or so in the flat) and DVDs (a couple of hundred) back in the right order in a few weeks’ time.  I’m sufficiently autistic that the upheaval itself depresses me and I only live there one day a week now, as does the thought of books going back in the wrong order and me not noticing.  I suppose in a few weeks time it will look better when I’m there, which will be nice, but I’m not sure that the cost/benefit trade off is really in my favour; as with my sister’s wedding and as with work, it’s another stressful, mental health-triggering thing that I have to do more than I want to do and I have to just get through it as best as I can.

Apology

It’s always questionable whether one should return to a blog post one regrets after finishing it, or if one becomes a fool returning to his folly (like a dog returning to its vomit, according to Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible).  I sort of regret the last post, but I’m leaving it up because I don’t fully regret it.  I regret ending on such a pessimistic and self-loathing note, but I do genuinely think I will be alone forever, and jumping through shidduch (matchmaking) hoops becomes harder when I can’t see a positive outcome.

I don’t know why I got into such a dark place this evening.  It may be that going to the cinema was a mistake.  I always seem to come away from the theatre or the cinema feeling a bit melancholy, but I always assumed it was to do with the content of the play or film or envy of seeing the performers applauded on stage in the case of the theatre and wishing someone would applaud me and my work/life.  But maybe it is an autistic thing about noise and sensory overload or a social anxiety thing about crowds.  I don’t want to cut yet another thing out of my life, though, especially as I only go to the cinema once or twice a year, the theatre probably even less frequently.

Despite this, today I’m thinking that I’m probably not really on the autistic spectrum at all.  I just finished reading another book on Asperger’s (Aspertools) and felt that the advice in there was either obvious things I’ve been doing for years and don’t associate with my possible Asperger’s (break tasks into little steps; write lists) or things that are clearly written for people with much more serious issues than I have which just makes me feel guilty about poor functionality when I might not even be on the spectrum.

Anyway, something overwhelmed me today, whether it was just depression or noise or crowds and I sunk into the usual pit of despair.  I shouldn’t have broadcast it all here though.  When I’m very depressed, I suppose I just look to provoke a response from people, either to tell me that things will improve, or, better, to agree that they are hopeless (better because I don’t believe they will improve).  I shouldn’t play games like this, but I do and have done for years.  I was reflecting today that I have long since forgiven the people who hurt me as a child, but I can’t move on from the feelings of being worthless and hopeless that they created.  I do worry that if I got married, not only would I not be able to feel any better, I would discount the relationship in the way that, when the depression is bad, I find it hard to remember that my parents love me and that I do have a few friends who seem to like me at least a bit.  To be fair, I don’t think I really did that when I was in a relationship or when I was in a semi-relationship this summer.  Also, I find it harder to discount relationships when someone is actually there being friendly or loving to me.  This is why it’s so problematic that most of my friends live away from London.

I ate dinner and watched Doctor Who (which I wouldn’t normally do after spending three hours in the cinema, but I was desperate) and felt a bit better.  I have started to write my shidduch profile.  So far I’ve just done the personal details, which took long enough.  The actual who-I-am-and-what-I’m-looking-for bit will have to wait, although I can just edit from previous online dating profiles.  In the end I decided to leave out a lot of information about my family.  If I’m asked for it, I will give it, but it was intrusive enough having to give my parents’ names and shul affiliation.  I wasn’t going to list their educational background just to feel even more of a useless ba’al teshuva (penitent, but in this context someone raised non-religious who became religious later in life).  I already feel bad that I haven’t got a yeshiva on there and that my secondary school, although Jewish and Orthodox, was not at all religious.   Even going to Oxford seems like a bad thing in this context.  A frum person would have gone to a London university so he could stay with his parents in a frum community – or not gone to university at all, of course.  I do at least have rabbis for references, but it probably looks suspicious that I don’t have any references who are “friends, roommates, chavrusas (study partners)”.  I don’t have many friends, almost none I could ask to give me a reference and almost all my friends are problematic in frum terms, being not frum, not Jewish or not male (I’m not sure which of these would be worst).

On the plus side, I have discovered that I have the contact details for eight rabbis plus one rabbinic trainee.  Nearly a minyan.  If I ever get arrested, I’m going to have so many character witnesses!  Of course, shidduch dating also requires character references, for much the same reason.

Anyway, this was supposed to be an apology post, but it has mutated into another general post, even though I was trying to stop posting twice a day.  Also, it’s twenty past eleven and I was originally planning to get an early night, ha ha.

Prufrock

I went to the cinema today to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  It was difficult.  Just getting the energy to go there was hard enough.  I nearly turned back at the bus stop.  The shopping centre the cinema is in was full of sales shopper, far too busy for me.  The film did not really hold my attention and I suddenly started crying in the middle of it (silently, thankfully).  My mind kept wandering to other thoughts, some prompted by the film, others just coming out of nowhere.  Well, not really nowhere, they are the thoughts I have all the time, but they weren’t directly sparked by the film.

One thing I have been thinking about recently is the concepts of yeud and tikkun (destiny/mission and rectification) in Judaism.  The concepts are particularly associated with kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) and mussar (ethical character development), but are not unique to them.  Yeud is one’s mission or purpose in life and is a positive action to be done; tikkun is a the key character flaw that one has to rectify in oneself and often manifests as an action to be avoided.

I have been thinking about them with regard to dating and more generally.  I don’t know what my yeud or tikkun are.  I have heard that to find your yeud, you should think about what you would do with unlimited time and money.  I honestly don’t know what I would do.  Going by what I enjoy doesn’t help as depressive anhedonia means that I don’t really enjoy anything very much.  I suppose enjoy writing; at any rate, I give up my lunch breaks at work to write (my book or my blog), so I guess it must have some meaning and joy for me.  But I’m a very bad writer and over a decade of practise hasn’t got me very far.  I very much doubt I will ever get that book published, for example.  In any case, I can’t imagine HaShem (God) put me on earth to write about Doctor Who or to witter on endlessly about how depressed and lonely I am.  When I was too depressed to work I had lots of time (albeit with limited money and no energy and poor concentration and motivation) and I did do a lot of writing.  However, it never really got me anywhere, bar getting a couple of readers who are still with me on this blog.  Even then I spent a lot of time just idly surfing the net, looking for something but not knowing what.  I guess this is where a lot of people start looking at religion, to find meaning or purpose, except that I already have religion and it doesn’t help me in these respects.  Maybe it would be different if I could write something decent and meaningful: poetry, fiction, criticism, mental health-related writing – I have tried all without much success (success both in terms of number of readers and feeling I have achieved something/happiness with what I have done).

As for my tikkun, that’s just as hard to find.  I can think of lots of character flaws or religious flaws that I have.  Working out which is the most serious is rather harder.  Maybe if I understood properly I would see they come under a general heading like, “Be accepting of others” or even “Be accepting of yourself.”

I have been thinking a lot recently of Lord Lundy who, according to Hillaire Belloc (a raging antisemite, but we’ll ignore that for now) “was too freely moved to tears and thereby ruined his political career” and not just because I cry a lot at the moment.  It’s this verse I keep thinking of: “‘Sir! you have disappointed us!/We had intended you to be/The next Prime Minister but three:/The stocks were sold; the Press was squared:/The Middle Class was quite prepared./But as it is! . . . My language fails!/Go out and govern New South Wales!”  I don’t think anyone was literally expecting me to be the next Prime Minister but three, but I have long felt myself to be a disappointment to my parents and teachers.  My parents deny this and most of my teachers have probably forgotten me (they could barely remember me when I was still in school/university), but still the feeling persists.  The feeling that I should have done something with my life, more than just being “a poor devil of a sub-sub-librarian” at an FE college somewhere.  That I had the brains and background to make something of my life, and I lost it because of my mental health.  I look at my peers (the few I’m still in touch with) and see doctors, lawyers, rabbis, executives of big charities, civil servants, political speechwriters…  It’s very dispiriting to compare myself.  I know, I shouldn’t compare myself.  But as long as I can’t find my yeud, my mission and be satisfied that I’m doing something worthwhile, in fact what I was put here to do, the best thing that it is possible for me to do, I will keep comparing myself.  And, of course, I fear any woman I might be interested in is comparing me negatively with a lot of other, more eligible, men.

On a somewhat related note: on a whim I decided to email the shadchan (matchmaker) for people with medical issues a second time before going to the general matchmaking site.  I didn’t think anything would come of it, but within a couple of hours she had replied.  She wants me to send a “shidduch profile”.  I was aware that I would have to write one, but I’m only vaguely aware of what goes on it.  Basic stuff I suppose, as on a CV, like age, height, profession, interests.  What one is looking for in a spouse.  I suppose a man should put what yeshiva he went to, but obviously I can’t.  I’ve done this kind of thing before for online dating, but I don’t know if there are specific frummie (religious) things I should be putting on there and I don’t know who to ask.

This page is helpful, but also frightening.  Do they really need to know my parents’ shul (synagogue)?  And my sister’s name and spouse?  I was aware that this sort of thing goes on in the frum world, but somehow I hoped to avoid it.  Do I put this stuff in or wait to be asked for it?  And I guess I count as having a “non-standard background”.  The frum world really annoys me sometimes.

I feel thoroughly pessimistic about this whole thing.  I sat in the cinema today feeling thoroughly lonely and miserable, thinking that no one could ever love me.  On the way home, I got the email from the shadchan, which just made me feel worse.  I’m sure I’m going to fall foul of an “unknown unknown,” some arcane aspect of frum protocol that has no basis in halakhah (Jewish law), but which I would know if I had gone to yeshiva (rabbinical seminary) or if I was better integrated into frum society.  If I somehow fail to do that, my issues and freakish personality will see off anyone who might be interested in my profile.  I feel I shouldn’t even bother writing the profile, but just accept that I’m going to be lonely forever and do something else with my life, something productive.  But, as we’ve seen, I’m not actually capable of doing anything productive.

I suspect I’m going to spend the rest of the evening in a miserable funk.  I’m vaguely sorry for writing such a ridiculously self-pitying post, but I guess it’s my blog and I’m not making anyone read it.  I guess it’s better to write this than go back to self-harming.

On Not Belonging to Clubs that Would Have Me as a Member

I feel exhausted, physically and emotionally.  The last two days have been difficult, and I have a stack of mostly boring chores to do during my thirteen days off (“holiday” if you like, but I’m not going away and probably not relaxing much, between depression and chores, although I intend to enjoy not having to get up around 6.30am).  I can’t go into all the details publicly, but here is what I can say.

I was over-stretched at work yesterday because three people were off sick out of a team of seven, so I spent five and a half hours (out of seven excluding lunch) on the issue desk to cover for them, which was very difficult.  I found it hard to concentrate on my other work: I tried to catalogue while on the issue desk, but it was difficult and cataloguing meant I was less aware of students coming up and asking questions or returning books, so I kept having to respond to coughs as they tried to attract my attention; eventually I gave up on cataloguing there.  I am still having difficulty with some requests and have to ask my colleagues for help or advice, which I feel bad about.  I feel I should be settled in the job by now.  I also tend to mis-hear requests or need to ask people to repeat what they said because I’m so socially anxious that I can’t concentrate on what they are asking at first, because I’m too busy thinking “Oh no, someone’s talking to me!  What should I do?”  I was upset by something unpleasant one student said (not about me, but it was still upsetting to hear), which I had better not repeat here.  One adult student said I’m friendly, though, which was nice and unexpected.

Yesterday was the last day of teaching, but I had a staff development day today before my holiday starts.  It was OK, not really worth talking about here.  We had an activity in the afternoon that has left me completely exhausted, not helped by disrupted sleep the last few nights.  I keep waking up in the middle of the night and when I look at the clock, no matter what time it is, I think I’ve overslept and then think maybe I haven’t overslept after all and can not remember what time I’m supposed to get up and what order the numbers come in.  This isn’t insomnia and it’s not exactly depressive ‘early waking’ either as I fall asleep afterwards.  I don’t know what it is, or if anyone else suffers from it.

I should probably cut this paragraph, because I don’t come out of it particularly well, but here goes: I just saw a post on Hevria that upset me, through no fault of its own.  They are really building up a community there and I feel excluded on multiple counts: because I don’t live in New York to take part in meetings, because I would be too socially anxious to go even if I did live in New York; because I’m not sure I can justify to myself donating the money they are asking for on my current income; and because I really wanted to write regularly for them at one point.  To be fair, Elad did say a while back that he would like me to write more regularly for them, but nowadays I don’t see myself as a Hevria writer.  I’m too depressed and depressing, not creative, radical, optimistic and spiritual.  Anyway, I’m a very bad writer.  And all my writing time (such as it is) goes on my Doctor Who book (which will never get published because it’s a saturated market and, as I said, I’m a very bad writer) or blogging, which is procrastination and venting, really, but necessary to get stuff out of my system and function, like sneezing (and about as literary).  Like this post, really, which is just a blatant attempt to fish for compliments (again).

Still, it upsets me to see this big club which I’ve never quite managed to join, even though I know a lot of the people involved are really nice and I would like to be friends with them, but they live on another continent and they wouldn’t want to know me if they met me in person, because I’m weird and boring and not creative, radical, spiritual, optimistic etc. etc. etc.  I do wish I had a community, though (I also wish someone would pay me for my writing, which is vulgar, but it’s about being valued as much as the money).  My shul is doing  a communal Friday night dinner in a few weeks and I know I should go, but I also know I will feel lonely and depressed because I will be practically the only single, childless person there (it’s billed as a family event) and will probably be too shy to talk all evening and maybe not even able to sit with anyone I like, so I’ve been procrastinating on paying for a space.  I feel such a freak sometimes always.

On a related note, various friends and relatives are trying to persuade me to go to a shadchan (matchmaker) after the one I contacted a few weeks ago did not get back to me.  I feel reluctant to, because the service it makes most sense for me to go to requires a monthly payment (it’s essentially a cross between the traditional shadchan and online dating) and because I’m a freak (I may have mentioned this before*) and not only do I feel unable to mention my Doctor Who geekery, yeshiva non-attendance, mental health issues (and their religious impact) and general religious struggles to a date, I don’t even feel I could mention them to the shadchan because I feel so ashamed of who I am and what I do.  But I don’t have any other way of meeting suitable women, so it’s either go or be single forever.  I do wonder if I’m too depressed to date, too lacking in energy, concentration and time.  I’ve been told energy and so on will come if I start dating, which doesn’t seem very likely.  I’ve also read that one shouldn’t date when very depressed, which would mean never dating in my case, as my non-depressed periods only last a couple of months;  just as I think I’ve “recovered” (whatever that means) and can think about moving on with my life, I start feeling depressed again.

I suppose I might as well admit that I’ve been having vague suicidal thoughts again.  I don’t want to kill myself, but sometimes I fantasise about doing so in an unrealistic way and a lot of the time I just wish that I wasn’t here.  There doesn’t seem to be very much going on in my life that makes me want to look forward to 2018, let alone 2020, 2030 or 2050 and, as I’ve said before, I don’t feel I have the usual religious get-out of reward in the next world, because I think I’ve sinned too much and that God just hates me.  I feel guilty about this as I know I have a few friends and family who would be upset and in any case, I don’t approve of suicide religiously, but I can’t really control where my mind goes (the reason CBT never worked for my depression) and trying to do so just provokes guilt for thinking of ‘forbidden’ thoughts.

This post sounds so adolescent, I can’t believe I’ll thirty-five next year.  I feel like a sixteen year old.  Actually, I wasn’t even this adolescent when I genuinely was a depressed sixteen year old.  Be that as it may, pizza and the start of Peter Davison’s time on Doctor Who beckons, if I can get the energy and motivation to daven Ma’ariv (say the evening prayers) and actually cook the pizza.

* Wasn’t I trying to stop the negative self-talk?  It’s very difficult, because it seems so true.