A few weeks ago, I announced that I would be taking a break indefinitely. I did not go into detail about the reasons why, but asked for your understanding and patience as I worked through some things on my own. Now, adventurers, I wish to reward your patience. I’m ready to talk a little bit about what’s been going on over the past few weeks and to make some concrete statements about the future of Adventure Rules.
For the past six months, I have been experiencing a mental health phenomenon that I believe to be depression. I don’t have an official diagnosis, as it were, but to varying degrees I have experienced many of the classic symptoms. At different times I have either consoled myself via eating or stopped eating altogether. I’ve experienced a significant amount of anhedonia, or lack of motivation to participate in activities that I normally enjoy. Intrusive negative thoughts are a regular part of my day and lead to reactions of varying intensity, from as mild as a momentary distraction that breaks my focus to as intense as a full-blown panic attack. I’ve also been a bit short-fused and had times where feeling overwhelmed led to an outburst of anger instead of withdrawing into sadness or fear.
I have dealt with these symptoms to varying degrees since the month of November, but in March I hit a new low that made it very clear that outside help was a necessity for me. I got that help, but it took a month to get there, so I spent that month doing as much research on my own as I could to understand my mind and to develop techniques to help me get it under control. This, in a nutshell, is why I haven’t been blogging. My writing time was replaced with meditating, journaling, reading books on mindfulness and depression, and various other forms of self-care that I have experimented with to try and get myself into a place where I felt happy most of the time.
As I write this post, I’m feeling pretty good. This morning I woke up before my alarm and wrote down three things about myself that I’m proud of, and three reasons I’m grateful for my spouse. I wrote a list of all the little ways in which I have made progress – moments where a thought that previously caused anxiety drifted by with no effect, or times when I wanted to lash out in anger but instead considered the other person’s perspective. I thought about how my inner monologue is more positive, how I look at myself in the mirror and smile instead of recoiling in displeasure. I’ve been happy now for a few days in a row, not because these days are any different or inherently better than the ones I had a week ago but because I’m looking at them in a different light.
It’s been a journey and a half. In a correspondence with a friend, I explained that I could feel myself going through a crucible. I am acutely aware of the fact that I am being refined and changing, and right now I’m not even 100% sure the kind of person who is going to come out the other side yet. As I handle my mental health, I’m finally coming to terms with other changes in my life that I was struggling with, accepting myself and my situation as it is rather than pining for what was or what could be. Getting to this place hurt like hell, and I imagine that I am in for more discomfort along the way. But unlike before, I feel now like I have the tools to help me get through it and be better for it.
To pretend that I went through this journey alone would be foolish. While solo meditation and journaling my thoughts have been key pieces of my success, I cannot begin to explain how significant my friends and family have been in my recovery. My mother gave me a place to stay when I hit rock bottom, made sure I ate, and helped me make the call to start getting professional help. My friendship with my brother gave me a place where I could relax and be separated from the pressures in my life that I later learned were pressures that I created for myself. My wife has patiently endured all of the times where I needed to go meditate or journal instead of doing chores or helping with our son, and held me when I felt like the world was falling to pieces around me. I’ve had many friends reach out to tell me how important I was to them, to check on how I am doing, or just to talk about tabletops when I felt alone.
Though I needed this time to take a break from the world of blogging, my fellow bloggers have been an essential part of my recovery process. FlameFlash from Monk of Mists and Athena of AmbiGaming helped me keep my house clean at my lowest moments with advice and words of encouragement. Heather at Just Geeking By recommended a book which has been incredibly helpful for me in applying meditation effectively to address my mental health. Jett from In Third Person kept collaborating with me on a project and has demonstrated incredible patience while I got my act together. Teri Mae from Sheikah Plate shared advice from her own life that helped me to work through some of my self worth struggles. Folks like Chris at Overthinker Y and The Gaming Diaries have taken time to talk, not necessarily about my depression but about all the things that make life worthwhile. There are countless more who have helped me with encouraging words on tweets or blog posts. The adventurer community has been a key part of helping me through this difficult time, and I will always be grateful for what you amazing people have done.
Now that I am well and truly on the mend, I’m able to slowly move away from the phase I affectionately refer to as “triage” and instead focus more on building long-term habits that will help me to have a strong, positive life. Blogging has been that strong positive thing for me for a long time – it’s a hobby that is intellectually stimulating, builds valuable skills, and connects me to amazing people who have become meaningful friends. And while I needed to step away for a time to take care of myself, the time is coming now where I am beginning to feel ready to come back and start building up Adventure Rules once again.
In other words: I’m back!
I’m going to take this slow and ease my way back into the habit of writing. After almost a month straight with no article writing, I’m a bit out of practice. Not just at the actual craft of writing, but in setting aside the time to get writing done and building good discipline to help me keep on a schedule. So in order to build those skills again, I’m gonna start just like I did in 2017: one day a week until that feels good, and then we’ll climb up from there until I find a pace that feels healthy. As far as what kind of posts you can expect in the coming weeks, let’s dig into that a bit!
When I’m going at full swing here on Adventure Rules, I tend to dedicate one post per week to my beloved hobby of tabletop roleplaying games. I recently wrapped up a six-month Ryuutama campaign and am now in the preparation phase for a new tabletop, one in which I will be a player instead of a game master. For this game, I’m going to be diving deep into an RPG about which I have had few kind things to say: Dungeons & Dragons.
I had one D&D experience back in college with 3.5 edition and it was not good. The mechanisms felt archaic, my creativity felt stifled, and my character felt powerless. I’ve avoided the game like the plague since then and mainly hung around in the indie TTRPG community, but I have a friend who is eager to run D&D and of course the others in the group are quite excited to dig into the most popular roleplaying game. So I’m doing my best to set aside my concerns and to give 5th edition a legitimate chance to impress me. My plan is that once character creation begins in full swing, I’ll walk through the process of creating my character start to finish here on the blog, so look forward to that in the coming weeks!
The best part of blogging is the other people I blog with, so naturally I want to jump right back in to some collaborative posts now that I’m feeling more like myself! I fortunately have a mostly-done collab with Jett that I mentioned earlier in the post – that one is basically just waiting on me to get my act together so it should be ready to unveil to the world shortly after this post, perhaps even the same week if I’m feeling real spicy. I also declared that I’ll be participating in Blogovision, an event created by the aforementioned Overthinker Y as well as Pix over at Shoot the Rookie, so I’m going to be putting a little something-something together for that before the May 10th deadline.
Those are the only two confirmed collabs right now, but there are some others brewing behind the scenes that I’ll talk more about when they are ready to announce. Collaborative posts might break the “once a week” rule since I don’t work on them by myself, so as these projects get finished up they’ll add to all the goings-on here and help fill out the week. As I continue to improve, I’ll try to get Charming and Open going again in its monthly format, and of course Blogger Blitz is still coming in August and September with the sign-ups going live in July!
ADVENTURE RULES AUDIO ARCHIVES
Just before my untimely descent into misery, I unveiled a brand new segment on Adventure Rules where you can hear my dulcet tones speak aloud the text of my blog posts. I got about two of those posts done before I stopped writing, and of course I’ve not made any efforts during my break to get more recording done. This will probably be the part of coming back that will roll out most slowly, partly out of practical concerns – I realistically don’t have many opportunities to record in a quiet environment.
I do have a time coming up in about three weeks where both my wife and son will be gone, leaving me alone in the house for nearly a full week. During that time, my evenings will be my own after work, so I might set aside a night or maybe even two to do some recording of posts both new and old. I honestly cannot promise that I’ll get any more audio archives done before that time, but I’ll do what I can to keep my eyes open for opportunities to record. Adventure Rules is a blog first, so I’ll be focusing on that aspect of the site for my legendary comeback.
UH, SO WHAT ABOUT VIDEO GAMES?
Yeesh, you folks act like this is a gaming blog or something. I will most certainly return to posting about video games, but what am I playing right now? I’ve actually returned recently to a little game called Breath of the Wild – it was the first game to break my anhedonia during my struggle with depression and while I haven’t been able to play as often as I would like recently, I may find inspiration in that game to do some writing. I’ve also been watching a playthrough of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, so I might discuss that game from a story perspective even though I haven’t experienced the gameplay for myself. That one I’m a bit less sure about, though.
I have some games I was working on before my blogging break, but I’m not sure right now if I realistically have any interest in revisiting them. I was loving the opening hours of Baba is You but the game took a harsh difficulty curve that I’m having a hard time pushing through. Starlink was kind of an impulse purchase because the deluxe edition was on sale, and while I like the gameplay alright there’s not much happening in the story to pull me back in. And I think I can say with confidence that I flat out do not like Wargroove – I thought I simply played it too close to Into the Breach to appreciate it but time and distance have done nothing for my feelings toward the game. So while I would love to jump back into covering these different titles that I never shared my final thoughts on, I may be sticking with familiar ground until the next game that I am really, truly excited about.
That’s gonna be it for this update, adventurers. Once again, I thank you for your patience during my absence and for those who reached out directly to offer me support, you have been an essential part of my journey to recovery. Adventure Rules will start back nice and slow, and I imagine before long things will be back to normal. Or perhaps, after everything that I’ve been through, we’ll establish a new normal that is even better than before. Either way, I look forward to having you all on that journey alongside me.