Recognizing the Lie

But its a lie that we are taught is real, and it to some of us it can do more damage than good.

Today is almost a week since I had a bit of an emotional tumble, and I wanted to reflect on that a bit.  Tomorrow will be a week since I fell down a small hole of depression, it caught up with me and luckily i was able to pull myself out with the help of some very kind very wonderful people in my life.  What happened?  Why did this happen?  I let that little gremlin in my head win, it’s the easiest way to describe it.

I live alone, all the people I consider friends exist on the internet.  I don’t get to hang with them, I don’t get to hug them, I can’t just invite them over and sit next to them sharing our thoughts, jokes and innuendos.  Even though I am mostly okay with living alone, i think i am really the kind of person who likes just having someone around near me.  I am bad at small talk but I just like to have people close.

To make matters worse Skype reminded me of my mortality with the birthday notice for a friend who died 4 years ago. He was my age and we worked together at PetsMart when i was younger. We developed a very strong friendship but lost touch when i moved to Hawaii for college. however in 2012 we had found each other again through Xbox live and started to talk nightly and made plans to play Mass Effect 3 together and much more.  Then one morning after having talked late the night before I got a call saying that he had been found in his bathroom dead.  I spent the next few weeks having panic attacks and heart attack symptoms as my mortality was questioned and I lost a friend.  Naturally this reminder had me look back on my life and compare it to others.  That devious gremlin then spent the entire time reminding my how i haven’t lived up to any goals i set for myself and told me everyone was better off than I was.  And I had lost the will to fight back.

It was also the anniversary of breaking up with my last girlfriend, nearly 10 years ago.  I have not dated since that time.  And once again i compared myself to those around me. My coworkers, my college friends are all paired off, they live these happy lives and share their days with someone else.  I let my gremlin tell me that I was nothing because I wasn’t like them.  I let myself feel guilty for my insecurities, i told myself that no one would want me because I am not like those people on TV.  I am a chubby balding man in his late 30’s and who wants a George Costanza when the can have a Tom Hiddleston or something like that?

As expected listening to these voices, letting the lies win, its much easier to just give in.  Sometimes constantly fighting them makes you tired, you are not perfect, no one can expect you to hold up against an onslaught forever right?  Well my friends last week I lost for just a little while.  I got to work on Tuesday and felt like a ball of black matter was inside me, slowly draining any energy I had. I couldn’t stand up.  There were times where the waves of hopelessness and despair consumed every once of myself, so much so I had to lean against walls for fear of falling and screaming in the frustration of it all.  Somehow I made it through work, i don’t know how i did, and i dont know how no one noticed that all i wanted to do was cease to exist.

That night I closed all my windows, turned off all the lights got in bed and stayed there for hours, wide awake and bawling my guts out. Trying, in vain, to expel the blackness, to make it go away so I could be myself again.  To be honest guys I hadn’t had an episode like this in a long time and I was scaring myself.  Somewhere in the night I had decided that all of you would be better off without my weak emotional stupid ugly face around and I decided I would delete all the social media apps.  I spent Wednesday in basically the same state and well into Thursday.

I will not lie when I said part of me reveled in the pain, the part of me that wanted to win, and it was trying to take hold.  Then something happened that could have gone a lot worse.  At work someone responded not very nicely to something I did and in my state I took it very, very personally.  When i got back to my office I found myself wanting to hurt myself, the pain, the shame and the dark thoughts were so much that i had to make them quiet, and the only logical reaction was to make all this emotional pain physical.  That was the first step to reminding myself of how far I have actually come.

There was a time in my life where I would self harm, its long ago and I haven’t done it since my teens, but to have those feelings again were not as welcome as they once used to be. I immediately went across the hall and told my coworker. She helped me call my doctor and set up an appointment, one that I will be going to this week.  You guys i cant tell you how happy i was that i recognized something even in the pit of despair i was in and made a decision to stop it.

It was that little victory that slowly turned me around, later that night naturally I tried to ignore CR and everyone, but part of me couldn’t and by the end of the night I had started to engage with people again.

Now I know people deal with all of this stuff differently, some don’t get just a couple of days, but I just wanted to share my little hiccup to remind the gremlin that it doesn’t have power over me, that I will continue to fight, because even as I write this I can feel that I am still not entirely better, and I probably wont ever be better because this is just how my brain is wired, but i can recognize that I am not perfect, and no one else is either.  But if i stay engaged and keep pressing on I can feel better with you guys beside me.

Welcome to the Dungeon, Master

Well I did it, I ran my first game.  It was scary, and fun, and I recall almost none of it, but that is the nature of my brain, thank goodness its on YouTube forever!

It is here that I would like to chronicle the rise to DM and what I thought about my first time running a game.

I had been toying with the idea of running a game since the start of my D&D fandom, which was over a year ago with Critical Role. However I shied away from it almost constantly.  Even once i realized that my own initials were DM i was still cautious  about attempting something i felt that i had no creativity for, or skill in.  However despite my brains own intentions many of my friends expressed thoughts of support in the idea that i turn to the DM side of the game.  They constantly commented on my RP ability and my creative story telling in my characters backstories.  Yet i was still unconvinced that i could pull off something as complex as running rules and playing as NPCs.  I did however enjoy the idea of the story telling aspect, that is what kind of always appealed to me, like a tiny piece of metal in a river on a sunny day. There in the peripheral glinting wildly, always tempting, always teasing. So I would occasionally pour over the DM guide and ponder philosophically about the idea of running a game at some point.

Enter October of 2015.  Some spark finally took root in the dry recesses of my mind and the flame of inspiration burned bright.  I had decided i would run my current group, the marvelous Half Assed Crew in a spooky Halloween one shot inspired in a world i was creating on the side.  Pretty much all at once they were dancing with excitement and encouragement at the process, and i would tease them with little bits of the things i was working on.  I will admit that this made me very happy, and their enthusiasm helped me continue and actually think that I could do this thing that i secretly wanted to do, but let my brain constantly talk me out of.  However the wonderful “A Sinister Invitation” was not to be.  My work was rapidly approaching its busy season and my prep was slowing to a turtles pace.  Then as the game was pushed to November and we were about to finally play, my job suffered a ransom virus attack the day of the game, i had to stay and work an almost 16 hour shift to fix it and my first DM game was postponed indefinitely.

DM’ing was put on a back burner as our own campaigned slowed down and life events kept D&D squarely on the back burner for a bit.  Then Matt Mercer’s DM tips videos hit Geek & Sundry and his simple straightforward tips seemed to help reignite the flame in my belly and I longed for at least a chance to prove my mettle in the forge of a game.  At the time I had started working on a world of my own, and Sunday nights would stream map drawing on twitch, it was crude but relaxing and people showed an interest in playing in the world I was slowly building. Right on the heels of my new-found excitement and Mercer’s tips came Matt Colville and his tips.  After listening to Colville i was 100% convinced that I could do this and that with some work I might actually be good at it.  I had decided that not doing it and pining away would get me nowhere and i immediately set out to create my first adventure and grab some people to play.  Obviously life always has other plans but i did find some groups of people and set to working on the world, its settings and the first adventure in between work and my other campaigns.

As time went on and the campaign building slowed because of work I decided that i need to cut a few things to accommodate more time for my own creative endeavors and so making the hard decision to drop out of a game i had been in for 6 months i set myself to a more firm direction. DM or die.  An opportunity arose last month when, as the Half Assed Crew were planning our future games I blurted out that maybe id run a one shot based on the Acquisitions Inc training ground for some of the members if the could make it.  It caught me by surprise but I can only assume it’s because my brain had enough of putting it off and knew that if there was a fire under my ass i might actually get it done.  So i set out to tailor the module to my tastes and added a bit of flair as it would be my wonderfully ridiculous Dwarf bard who would be running the show.

Planning was a blast and I thank a few special critters for allowing me to bounce ideas off of them and fine tune my weaknesses.  i will admit it was hard work and maybe by the time of the game i wasnt as prepared as i would have liked but it might not have been played if i had waited until i thought i was ready.  Eventually i had no more time and the game was afoot, er on rather.

The game was fun, and it looked like my players were having fun as well.  I remember feeling very intimidated at the start and worried that what I had prepared would not work but once I started and fell into the groove I think i did okay.  It was probably not the best module to start with as it was mostly a skill run, with little combat and some out-of-place things that i either forgot to add, tweak or remove but it worked for the most part.  I remember being frustrated when i forgot to do something, or lost track of my notes, but i don’t think my players ever really noticed. The stress of trying to keep everything moving and remembering rules did make it so that i don’t really recall most of what happened in the game and when i critiqued myself later the ending was a little sloppy, but we had played, no one quit and everyone had fun so honestly all that means it was probably a success.

I know where my weaknesses lie, and I know where to bolster the walls so to speak.  All in all I had a blast and imagine that if I ran something that i wrote myself and built from scratch i would have a better handle on the minutiae.  I do know that i should have plenty of water, because talking for 3 hours is rough, and that trying to keep all those rules in your head and adjust on the fly is something i will need a lot more practice at.  Overall it did not discourage me from continuing and in fact gave me the confidence to at least keep going for now.  It will be nice to see how a steady campaign feels.

To DM’ing…..and BEYOND!


and if your are curious you can watch my first DM attempt here