World of Warcraft and Mental Health

About four or five years ago, I went through something that turned my life, and my head, completely upside down.

It started with, of all things, a migraine.

I was used to them. I got them all the time. I had them for days at a time. I pushed through. I got things done. I ignored the pain, and mostly, that worked. Admittedly, as things progressed, the amount of days I spent enduring migraines lengthened, until I quite possibly had less than a week out of every month where I wasn’t in pain… but it happened so slowly that by that time, I had adjusted. I persevered.

Until one day, my body decided enough was enough.

I had a migraine so severe I was screaming in pain. We rushed to the hospital, where they struggled to help. Eventually, the pain faded, and we went home… where I couldn’t forget what had happened.

The anxiety and fear of both the pain, and not knowing what had happened to me, or why, eventually led to another screaming migraine.

And another.

Finally, I was in such a state of constant vigilance, I couldn’t cope with even my normal migraines. I started having dreams of dying.

I had a dream of walking out into traffic… and I woke up completely numb – I felt nothing about it. I understood, my subconscious was speaking about my desperation. I wasn’t suicidal, but when you’re experiencing trauma coupled with pain, your brain does a funny thing. It grabs onto any idea for relief.

When I was a child, I was hit by a car, and I died. While I was dead, I experienced not light, but darkness. Pure, empty darkness. There was no pain, there was no fear, there was no hate, there was NOTHING… and it was the most beautiful, quiet experience of my life. When they brought me back, I cried for days, because I didn’t want to leave that peace for a life that was nothing but horror.

So of course, when I was again experiencing something I couldn’t cope well with, my brain remembered what it was like to be dead… and suggested, through dreams, that solution.

This is actually quite common in trauma patients. This does NOT mean they are suicidal. It means that their subconscious is reaching for a way out. That doesn’t mean they have any intention of acting on it… it just means they’re nearing the end of their endurance.

Realizing what my dream signified, I knew I needed medical assistance to get my pain under control. I had my mother take me to the hospital, where I TRIED to explain to multiple medical professionals about my pain, and the dream, and what I needed.

THEY decided I was suicidal, and stopped listening to me. They sent me to an inpatient psychiatric facility for a week, where I experienced even more psychological trauma. The only person I met during that week who DID understand was a paramedic who was an Iraki war veteran. He had shrapnel in his head. He lived with pain daily. He understood the difference between wanting to die, and your brain trying to find solutions to situations.

The end result of these experiences was an anxiety disorder, severe depression, and PTSD.

I sat on the couch for two years. I barely spoke. I wasn’t really aware. People spoke to me, and I honestly felt everything they said meant nothing. Their questions were all obvious, and clearly rhetorical. I stared at the world, and felt nothing, thought nothing. I was empty, at the bottom of a deep well. The world was very dark, and I didn’t care. The only time I experienced any emotions, I would be having a panic attack.

Eventually, we realized that the hospital’s solution of drowning me in medication I didn’t need had exacerbated my situation. My doctor took me off every medication she could.

I was unmedicated for a little over a year…. and slowly, I started to live again. I wasn’t my old self, by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t think I’ll ever get that person back. She died – that’s how I look at it. We found out that I have a sensitivity to sugar. I’m not diabetic – it’s a different issue. If I have too much sugar, I get migraines. We also found out I needed glasses, which clearly contributed to my issues. Dehydration and forgetting to eat definitely contribute, but the main cause is sugar. I stopped drinking gatorade, which I had been drinking because of chronic electrolyte deficiencies, and got an app for my phone that reminded me to drink, and to eat. My migraines and my anxiety both cause me to become very scattered and forgetful. I needed those apps.

Because I was home, and unwell, I had a lot of spare time. I read a lot, but even someone for whom reading is a passion can become tired of reading when that’s ALL you do… so I started playing games from Google Play. I played mystery games – games with a story line, where you would have to find objects, and use them to complete tasks to get to the next section of the game.

I bought a LOT of games. It was becoming expensive.

My husband suggested I try creating a character on WoW. When we first met six years ago, I had tried to play, but I had this tiny Vista hybrid laptop. It had a flip around touch screen, and the latency on the thing was so bad, I couldn’t see what had killed me… It was so bad, that I got very frustrated and just decided that I wasn’t a gamer. I didn’t blame my tech… I blamed myself. After all… I’d played console games with friends. I knew I was bad at games. Shoot – I died during RPG’s.

However, he convinced me to give it another go. I had a newer computer, and he’d played on it. It wasn’t awful, so he thought I would be able to play. He was right, for the most part.

Because I have a lot of social anxiety, I didn’t run any dungeons. I just quested. Despite that, I leveled a toon to 100 in under four months. For a new player, that’s pretty good. He bought me Legion as a present, for making it that far.

The thing about Warcraft is that it gives me goals. Small, achievable tasks, for which I gain rewards. Slowly, my mental health improved, because my confidence in my own ability to solve problems grew. I started running dungeons with my husband and his best friend. I joined a guild and ran some content with them.

My new laptop couldn’t handle Legion. I had latency issues. I had lag issues. Loading into dungeons and scenarios took too long, and I frequently dc’d and spent a lot of time catching up to groups… and dying.

We started saving for a computer that could handle Legion. I got The Beast as a Valentine’s Day present this year. I LOVE my Beast.

After I got The Beast, and realized that a large part of my problems WERE in fact technological, I started feeling confident enough to pug dungeons. We moved to a higher population server (we’d been on Moonguard, which is an RP server, and not really our style) which was progression based, because I finally felt ready to move forward. To challenge myself.

I found a WONDERFUL guild. I can’t even begin to express how helpful and understanding they’ve been. I was clear from the start about my issues, and the reason we click so well is that they are a group designed to support people with my health issues.

Because of Warcraft, and a strong support system, I’ve begun to enjoy being challenged. I still get frustrated if I die a lot. I feel like I’ve failed my team. It just pushes me to learn more.

I’m working, right now, to gear a new character, because I want to get into the higher level dungeons, the mythic plusses, and into the Nighthold Raid. I want to run the heroic Guldan battle, and get my Ahead of the Curve achievement.

I want to be ready for when Tomb of Sargeras comes out. I want to be in the front lines. I want to be part of the team of guildies who run mythic challenges for the guild weekly.

A friend dragged me into battle ground scenarios last weekend. It was the first time I’ve done real PVP stuff. I didn’t die as often as I expected. It was chaotic, and confusing… but I learned a lot. I think I’d like to do more, because I know things about my toon I didn’t know before.

 

I have gone from someone who, when I couldn’t log into my bank account, ended up curled in a ball under a coffee table, completely hysterical, to someone who is actively looking to challenge herself. To push. To grow.

World of Warcraft saved me. I am reborn, and I am ready to face the World… and the world.

Thank you, Warcraft, for teaching me that I Can. And thank you, my husband, for insisting I try it. You’re right… it’s cheaper… and a lot more fun.

 

Spell to Protect another Spell from Damage or Destruction

“Neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor air,
Nor any element between,
Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night,
Nor sun, nor sprite, nor meddling God,
Nor demon, angel, or denizen of places between spaces,
Shall stay this spell from the swift completion of its appointed purpose…
I bind this spell by might of Three…
By Spirit, Astral and my own Body.”

Written by K. Christmas.

Deck Interview Spread

This reading was adapted from a reading first posted to Aeclectic Tarot, which I actually discovered here. Please note that I have posted the original question, and then in parentheses, the question actually answered by the cards. I used The Gilded Tarot, and this is my first reading with them. They actually functioned the way my guides have told me that this deck should — they answered the question by telling me Work Information — the deck is supposed to be used for clarification of channeled information, if I’m confused about how to move forward on a Job — here, the deck told me what my Job is. I have six decks right now, and each one does something different… but that’s another post entirely. Oh, and my paraphrasing, or explaining the meanings of the cards is in ITALICS, but direct quotes (mostly) are in regular type. 
The spread didn’t do what it was supposed to do, obviously – the reading is actually supposed to be a simple six card spread that allows you to meet your new tarot deck and get to know it. It’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s personality. It will show how it can help you grow, become a better reader and a better person. My deck decided that instead of being interviewed, it would interview ME. 

1) Tell me about yourself — what is your most important characteristic? (Who am I and what is my most important characteristic?) 
9 of Swords — The nightmare I posted last was literally saying that I feel completely closed off and alone, but it’s partly my fault because I feel the need to protect my heart. I’m troubled by my inability to trust, but also by how all-pervading my spirituality has become. I’m searching for comfort from wisdom and truth, too much the Hermit, but I’m unwilling to reach out for help, even if it’s near at hand. I’m agonizing over my loneliness, but I don’t trust anyone to help guide or comfort me. It’s not pride that keeps me from asking for help… it’s my knowledge that either the people I might ask will think I’m nuts, or they won’t know how to help me – so I struggle on, alone and isolated. My most important characteristic is my lack of trust in others, and my resignation to work through it, as always, alone.

2) What are your strengths as a deck? (What are my strengths?)  
Ace of Cups — My gift of empathy, which allows me to love with a purity of emotion, is my greatest strength. Empathy is the spirit of emotion, which offers me guidance and allows me to guide others. Because my eyes are firmly on spirituality, I can more easily see my way through the wide range of human emotions, though there were times in my past where I was manipulated by other people’s emotions, which led me down some rocky roads. I am drawn by my feelings along my path, by a series of spiritual epiphanies. However, because of my illness, I often run from my own personal emotional experience, fearing, discounting, and avoiding the intensity of my feelings. I have trouble identifying and expressing my own emotions. 

3) What are your limits as a deck? (What are my limitations?) 
2 of Cups — Faced with the opportunity to partner with someone, whether it is a romantic union or a business venture, I have trouble honoring the gift of the moment and enjoying it, even when the potential for creating something special is there. I am aware of my unrealized potential, but though I am fully cognizant of my incredible loneliness, which is created by my trust issues, I am unable to move beyond them. All the elements of a strong partnership might be in place, but no forward movement happens, and the moment is lost, because of my lack of faith in anyone other than myself. I can never truly enjoy the moment, because I only see it as a form of enslavement. 

4) What do you bring to the table — what are you here to teach me? (What do I bring to the table – what do I teach others?) 
3 of Wands I teach people what they are sending out into the universe, and what will return to them. I teach them how to have patience, and how to have faith that the right outcome will happen. I teach them that all moments are moments of gestation, not action or control. I make choices, and then wait for the results. I am the embodiment of patience and control. (Wow… really? Weird. You guys don’t know me really well.) 

5) How can I best learn from and collaborate with you? (How can others best learn from and collaborate with me?) 
The Hanging Man — "More than any other figure in the Major Arcana, the Hanging Man represents the Fool. By turning himself upside down, by behaving in a manner not consistent with society, the Hanging Man may be judged a fool by many. The difference between the two is important, though. The Hanging Man has come through a challenging experience that gives him a sense of peace and understanding that only people who’ve successfully faced great trials have. The stylized sun above him represents his vision of himself and his place in the universe. He may flounder at times, but he knows who he is and from whence he gets his strength. He is willing to sacrifice society’s approval in order to be true to himself. The message of the Hanging Man is knowing when and what to sacrifice. I am clear about who I am and I let all my actions and decisions hang from that vision. Even if my actions feel clumsy or out of sync with others, I sacrifice their favorable opinion rather than be untrue to myself. I do not put more stock in what other people think than in what I believe to be right." (I’m thinking that the two cards above, The Hanging Man and the 3 of Wands, should be reversed, but my guides say NO.)
So basically, the best way to learn from me and collaborate with me on anything is to understand that I don’t really care about your opinion of me, as long as I’m being true to myself… and I expect you to be true to you, also – and whatever you need to do to be true to yourself, I will be OK with, unless it harms you, me, or someone else. 

6) What is the potential outcome of our relationship? (What is the potential outcome of a relationship with me?) 
6 of Wands — A hero’s welcome, a celebration of a great victory, and the Glory and Joy resulting from wise and balanced choices. Your achievements could only be the result of such well-made choices. You would be in the position to receive outwards congratulations for your actions. You will have done well, and will deserve to be recognized. Enjoy the accolades. So… work with me, end up with a happier life. I knew that, actually. 😛