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2281Re: [Asatru-U] Here's a thread...

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  • arlie@worldash.org
    May 1, 2006
      Hi Lissa,

      It's always good to exchange email with you. Like many of the people
      particularly drawn to this list, you _think_.

      On Apr 30 2006, Lissa wrote:
      > On Sat, 2006-04-29 at 21:18 -0700, arlie@... wrote:
      >
      > > First of all, dealing with things includes using whatever tools are
      > > available. Refusing to use available tools - because one "should be
      > > strong enough not to need them" _isn't_ dealing with things. To make
      > > an analogy, some of us are stronger than others, physically. There are
      > > things I can't carry any distance - so I use a cart, or a wheelbarrow,
      > > or a helper. I don't leave them sitting there, because I ought to be
      > > stronger. I also don't (if I have sense) risk injuring myself by
      > > attempting to lift and carry things too big for me, except perhaps in
      > > an emergency.
      >
      > I agree, but, Arlie, I think you could have picked a more efficient
      > analogy in this case. Depression is a chemical imbalance. I have to take
      > thyroid hormone or I will die (painfully). This is because my thyroid
      > doesn't pump out the right chemicals.

      I tried to avoid making any statement about the correctness of the
      diagnosis and the potential treatment, partly not to muddy the waters
      about the religious question, and partly because I am *not* a doctor
      or therapist, so my misgivings about the effectiveness and general
      suitability of anti-depressants is merely one lay opinion. I have,
      personally, refused to take them.

      When my depression was at its worst, I was incapable of navigating the
      medical maze to acquire a prescription, except perhaps by presenting
      myself in such an extreme way that I'd probably have been hospitalized
      involuntarily. On a good day - which was the only time I could cope
      with doctors - I appeared too functional to need anything but a pep
      talk. On a bad day, I couldn't work, couldn't eat, and had trouble
      getting out of bed - but managed to drag myself to work and fake some
      amount of efficiency, sometimes pulling myself out of it in the
      process, at least briefly. And on _no_ day could I communicate my
      situation as clearly as I just have, being enmeshed in it emotionally
      - and incapable of doing the research to learn the language, or what
      part of my experience would be seen as relevant (symptoms).

      I gave up trying after two or three attempts - I apparently "didn't
      need" anything but talk therapy, which didn't work. I eventually got
      sick of paying for it, and dropping the therapy got rid of one more
      stressor, thereby contributing to my recovery.

      These days I'm less depressed - and unwilling to have yet another
      influence on my emotional state. Whatever is wrong with my
      biochemistry is bad enough, without some drug that I'm pretty sure
      will neither put things 100% right nor even move backwards on a
      familiar trajectory. Meanwhile, I recovered to the point of being able
      to find a decent regular doctor - and get several years of unattended
      medical problems addressed. She promptly offered me anti-depressants,
      when I pointed out the problem with mood swings - but I'm afraid that
      unfamiliar would be _worse_, and I'm no longer desperate. (Also,
      identifying the migraine problem has made me much less afraid and
      hopeless...) So no anti-depressants for me, and a very skeptical
      attitude.

      > Does this make me a bad heathen? Well, it happened before I got roped
      > into this circus, so either the gods wanted a broken heathen, or they
      > don't care. It is simply a chemical imbalance that, if I take the pill
      > every day, doesn't affect how I live or what I am.
      >
      > Now, when I found out I was going to have to take medication or die, I
      > was really angry. I also started worrying about things like how I would
      > survive if civilization collapsed. But, at the core of I, I felt weak
      > and impotent because I had to take medication. This was irrational, but
      > it was (and is, on the very occasional bad day) real. Thinking it
      > through helped me to realize I was being irrational, and that helped,
      > but, basically, I had to just get used to it.

      Ditto, but I *also* feel that way about not being able to be a mighty
      teenage hero. Aging hits a lot of people that way. I don't like having
      to ask for help with things I could once have done alone, and a lot of
      my identity is/was tied up in being physically strong and fit,
      probably beyond the level that was ever true. (I fantasized about
      being a mighty warrior as a child...) Aging has forced me to face up
      to being what I see, emotionally, as a weakling, and I really don't
      like it. And that's a _physical_ weakling; the depression doesn't bug
      me in the same way.

      > Thordis' actions imply to me that Egil was left to his depression to see
      > if he could work it out himself, and, when he couldn't, the family acted
      > to help him. I suspect this was both because they cared for him, and
      > because he was a needed member of the community.
      >
      > My own sense of the way Icelanders worked was that Thordis would have
      > gone charging in with a bottle of Prozac or Ativan if she'd had it or
      > been able to steal it.

      I think you are quire right.

      > > But that's the smaller part of this. The real question is whether
      > > heathens are required to be supermen. Is this a way of life for
      > > everyone, including not just heroes and the potentially great, but
      > > also their more ordinary families, neighbours, and friends?
      > >
      > > My experience, cynically speaking, is that modern heathenry too often
      > > attempts to be a religion for supermen, and ends up instead with a
      > > collection of poseurs, each trying to show themselves worthy, with
      > > emphasis on "show" - rather than _be_.
      >
      > Oh, gods, yes. And, if the phrase "religion for supermen" doesn't run
      > chills up your spine, you don't know your history.

      *grin* Nietzsche himself seems to have been an example of much of what
      I was alluding to - not a superman himself in any way but fantasy.

      Now I really sympathize with those fantasies, and tend to share them
      myself. I do, however, flatter myself that I can tell the difference
      between day dreams and reality, and don't usually make decisions based
      on day dream logic. This superman stuff makes a great story - and much
      of it leads to seriously dysfunctional behavior in real life. This is
      partly because most of these superman fantasies ignore actual human
      nature, abilities, etc. (I'm currently reading a fantasy series by
      S.M. Stirling which falls into a lot of these problems - but makes a
      lovely escapist yarn.)

      --
      Arlie

      (Arlie Stephens arlie@...)
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