Thursday, January 24, 2013

A bit of a personal update

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.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The New Year

I've been MIA for a few weeks, though I'm not really sure what to tell you. I've thought about writing a few times, but right now, I don't have a lot to say. Nothing relevant, anyway. I've felt like I have to start over, to go back to the type of books I was reading when I started, but when it comes to the actual doing, well, that hasn't happened yet. ;-)

It's interesting, the beginning of the year. In many ways I don't feel like the beginning of the year is much of anything by itself. It's always felt incredibly arbitrary to me - like when people make a big deal about the modern definition of a "blue moon" as if when the full moon fell relative to the months actually meant anything. I mean because of the international date line, whether a moon even counts as a blue moon or not differs depending on where you live. I've always felt the same way about the New Year - it's a day the same as any other day. But I don't know.... it felt a bit different this time. I still think the modern concept of a blue moon is a bit stupid (it used to mean something else, but it's a bit confusing and relates to seasons and farming and.... I just can't be bothered with it) but this year's NYE actually felt like it meant something to me. It may be man-made and arbitrary, but that doesn't mean we can't celebrate it, essentially.

And I don't know why I felt differently this year. Maybe it's because of the people I was with, and the environment I was in. Maybe it's because of the things I've done this year, Pagan-wise, and the more I've learned as far as Heathenry goes. It's changed my mindset a little. But it might just be because of 2013 itself. 2013 feels like it's going to be a good year. 2012 wasn't a bad year, it just wasn't a good year. Maybe subconsciously, I'm just very pleased that it is now 2013.

Courage is a Heathen value. I don't think I was very courageous in 2012. It's hard, when you have mood problems and anxiety problems, to be courageous. It's hard to have strength. I mean it's hard for everyone, but when going down the shops is a big drama.... I don't know. I had a hard time with anxiety in 2012, as you may have noticed. I don't really want to do that any more - well, I didn't want to do it at the time, either. But I must remember courage in 2013, and try to be courageous more often. Tyr reminded me to have courage, and I shall try.

I think this blog's anniversary is coming up. I seem to start all my blogs in January. I'd never noticed it before. It may just be a coincidence, of course. Still interesting, though. 

I skipped the Pagan Insights this month. That's OK - I didn't really have anything to say. Next month I may have a little more.

I held my Midsummer blót on the 3rd of January. Late, I know, but it's still in some ways the middle of summer. I know there are people who hold their mid-season celebrations later when the weather's caught up with the sun a little more. Mine was.... good, and also not so good. The cassis liquer went very well with the occasion; it's not something that I'd offer, normally, and to be honest I'm not sure it's the sort of thing the gods would readily accept. But as a Midsummer drink it went very well, and They seemed content. But lord, the weather.... it's been so awful, dear readers. I was in a car heading to the busstop on New Year's Day and I was so hot I started feeling nauseous and my hands and feet started to tingle. I even started to tremble. Thank all the gods the bus had air con; I felt better almost immediately upon sitting down. I didn't expect to be taken quite so with the heat. I'm very very glad I do not live in Australia. But still.... if the weather keeps getting hotter year upon year, I might have to look seriously about moving to a country that is more realistic about its summers. So, when it came to celebrating the season, and honouring Sunna, I felt very conflicted and all but burst into tears while pouring out for Her, which isn't right and isn't fair. But She did not seem cross. All the same, it's not a time of year I enjoy and it is difficult to sit there and declare it wonderful when all I want to do most of the time is sit in front of a fan with the windows open and the curtains drawn, sobbing quietly to myself.

So. The new year. I don't make "resolutions", on the basis that if I really wanted to make a resolution, I could do it at any time I wanted, and further that resolutions made at New Year's seem to have this clause that means you don't actually have to follow through. Instead, I prefer to take on year goals or projects. Last year I did the Pagan Blog Project which lasted until the Ls until I got tired of it. This year I'm doing the 50 Book Challenge and Project 365. I know last year there was some sort of Pagan book challenge, like 20 books or something? I probably won't take that one on as well. But I do hope to keep reading. 

Although, it is sort of tempting to start up with the PBP again. I don't know why. Actually, I don't think I ever did the As. On the other hand, I admit to being a little disappointed when I checked back and discovered the PBP was going with the alphabet again this year. I was sort of hoping they'd have a new theme, a new project, you know? Still. I guess I can always pick it up again when they get around to the Ls! 

So, that's my new year. I'm tense and bothered, but I'm filled with hope and plans. Oh, and I finally downloaded "Zombies, Run!" so I can prepare myself properly for the imminent zombie apocalypse. Cardio, you guys! It's rule 1 or something. 

Happy New Year!