I've talked a lot about being anxious this last six months, mostly as an excuse, every couple of posts, for not posting more regularly. It's been invading my practice; I don't want to hold ritual or do readings as much as I did, and sometimes thinking about those things makes me feel anxious and I either try to avoid them or end up holding ritual in a paroxysm of anxiety and feelings of failure. I keep waiting for it to end, and it hasn't. The things that used to keep me on an even keel, like exercise, aren't working the way they used to.
It occurred the other day that perhaps this is a problem. Perhaps it isn't my fault at all, and instead of pushing myself to do things and then feeling like a terrible person if I don't do them - or of I do them but do them poorly because I am feeling anxious - I should take more care, and recognise that if I am not in a healthy place, I am not under obligation to push myself into doing things. I don't have to feel terrible about the fact that I haven't been keeping up my practice as much as perhaps I should have; the Gods do understand.
After the realisation that this might be a problem I decided to take steps to address the problem via my general practitioner. This is a decision I made largely because I am just fucking sick of feeling this way; when I reach a point of thinking that something is beyond a pale, that doing something involves less effort than trying to keep on keeping on, it is much easier for me to do something about it - yet I am proud of myself for making the step. This is something that involves, for me, some degree of courage but there's also the sense of meeting matters head-on rather than denying it, for taking steps to solve an issue rather than pretending all is well.
For this reason, though the Gods of the North tend to be pretty gung-ho and one wouldn't necessarily think of Them as being all that tolerant of a person's issues with anxiety, I get the impression that They approve. I feel like I have Their total support in this, that They are behind me. But They are behind me, not in front; I have to go into the breach myself, and take those steps. And that does require some element of strength and courage, and that's why I think the Gods approve. Plus, I'm sure They are more sick of my "sorry I haven't done anything, I've been anxious lately" excuses than you are, Dear Readers. But now I am going to deal with it, I'm taking responsibility and I'm willing to do the work. A lot about anxiety is avoidance, and fear, which are not valued qualities. Facing the realities of the situation and working to change them are. The reality of this situation is that anxiety is illness. It's not enough just to say "no, you will not beat me" because these things are so ongoing, and exhausting; you can say "you will not beat me" to anxiety as much as you like and it still won't go away. No Heathen would look down on another for seeking medical attention for a physical illness; it's not weakness to get help for a broken limb or a ruptured appendix. The same applies for mental illness: one must seek medical attention to fix what is malfunctioning. The enemy is too strong for me to defeat alone, and has skills I cannot counter; I must hire mercenaries to assist me. And I really, honestly think the Gods approve, even though a part of my mind is still chirping away, saying "a real Heathen would just harden the fuck up". It is great reassurance to feel that the Gods think otherwise.
Hopefully that is the last I'll say on the matter. This isn't a forum for my mental problems, and I'm sure you're all sick of hearing about them, but I thought I would mention it as there are a lot of people out there going through the same thing. It's nice to share and reach out. Reducing the stigma of mental illness is an important issue for me and this is something I can do something about just by being honest about things.
Here are some links about anxiety. If you are having issues with anxiety or other mental illness, there is help; you don't have to feel this way and you don't have to do this alone.