Tag Archives: anxiety

How Crochet Saved My Life

Standard

(This particular post may be triggering to some people with a history of depression, abuse, or self-harm — please proceed with caution.)

My grandmother has been trying to teach me how to crochet for most of my life.  I’d always thought it was just a lame thing that old ladies did to pass the time while watching their soap operas, and I’m terribly impatient, anyway, so I never had much success with it.  I can’t tell you how many times I heard her wail about not being around forever and that if I didn’t learn, no one would be left to pass it down to the children she assumes I’m going to produce someday like her mother did to her, and her mother’s mother and so on, so forth.  Then both crochet and knitting had an explosion of popularity among the crafting community, specifically with people my own age who figured out how to parlay ancient doily patterns into more modern (and often nerdy) areas, and several friends of mine, like the beautiful Tiny Leviathan and award-winning Crystal of /knit, really managed to pique my interest.  Without them, I doubt learning to crochet, knit, or otherwise transform yarn into something fancy using nothing but sticks would ever have made it onto my New Year’s Bucket List.

Technically, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now, either.

Fear and depression are, sadly, regular guests in my life.  The past few weeks have been slowly adding on layer after overwhelming layer of stress, culminating in a sudden need to face one of my past traumas — admittedly one of the “minor” ones, if there is such a thing as a minor trauma, but still enough to send me into an awful spiral to rock bottom.  I spent a whole day shuffling around the bedroom, barely able to drag myself to the computer to check emails.  Most of the time I was laying in bed sobbing and thinking of how I should just file for divorce and allow The Husband to go on with his life, maybe find a wife who wouldn’t be so sad all the time.

Then came the terrifying nothingness, the same state I was in all those years ago when I attempted suicide.  I’ve tried to think of good ways to describe exactly what that kind of mental state feels like, as it isn’t quite the near-hysterical sadness most people picture it to be, at least not for me.  It’s more like lucid dreaming, where nothing seems real and you’re completely convinced that anything you do will be free of any consequence.  Despair turns from a tumultuous ocean to still waters.  You’re still trapped on that vast, black sea with no end in sight, but you can’t find a reason to scream or flail anymore.  It almost feels as if your very existence is running out, like a reel of film nearing the end.  This is how it’s supposed to be.  This is where the end comes.

I don’t remember exactly what led me to pick up the crochet.  One minute I was slumped against The Husband, listening to him ask me if we needed to go to the hospital so I could be put on watch.  “I don’t know,” I said, and suddenly I was sitting at my desk with a skein of cheap white yarn and an aluminum crochet hook — I must have asked my mother for them at some point, since these aren’t things I keep in my craft bin.  The first of Naztazia’s tutorials for beginner-level crochet was up on the screen and somehow my hands were following along.  I counted each chain, each stitch.  I kept counting until 3 in the morning, when I had half of a dishcloth finished and a completed TV series on Netflix.  The next morning I got up and did it again.  I finished the dishcloth, a horribly uneven thing with at least a handful of dropped stitches and haphazard tension towards the beginning.  But the rows near the end… hey, they actually looked pretty good.

Everyone who saw it praised me.  Several people with crochet experience were surprised at how comparatively well my first project turned out.  The Husband held it in his hands for  a few seconds, then hugged me tightly and told me he was proud of me.  I was caught off-guard by this.  Why would he be so proud of something so riddled with mistakes, something I knew for certain I could have done better?

“Because you’re still here,” he explained.  “And because you accomplished something.”

I’ve quickly determined that crocheting is an almost instant cure for any awful  feelings I may be experiencing.  Stitch, stitch, stitch — my hands are too busy to harm myself.  My brain is keeping track of what row I’m on and how many I have left to go instead of how hopeless the future is.  It’s something I apparently do well, something I can be proud of, something that reminds me that yes, I am capable of things.  Being able to touch and squeeze the soft yarn in my hands has a soothing effect, one that brings me back into the here-and-now when I start to drift, something not altogether dissimilar to the grounding therapy I was taught as a way to counter flashbacks from my PTSD.  Leaving a project unfinished overnight ensures that I’ll have a purpose, a goal for the next day.  Even managing to add a single row is a step closer to accomplishing the whole, which is, in and of itself, an accomplishment.  In just a few days I’ve gained new friends from the crochet and knitting communities, all of whom are incredibly welcoming and eager to share tips and tricks, and to encourage me so thoroughly I’m finding it impossible to feel bad when I make a mistake.  It’s empowering to know that if I mess up, I can just pull gently and undo a little bit of work.  Sure, it means a little extra time spent to complete the project, but seeing a bad stitch corrected to a good one, and knowing that was the one to improve upon it fills me with indescribable pride.

And maybe part of my newfound love of crochet is due to my grandmother after all.  If you asked me to picture her in my head, it’d be with a crochet hook and yarn in her hands.  As a small child I was always surrounded blankets, sweaters, hats, even doll clothes that she had painstakingly crocheted for me.  Even as an adult, I’ve got at least one fuzzy scarf and a gorgeous Gothic Lolita-style capelet she made for me.  My grandmother’s house was always full of crocheted works in progress, and it was also a safe haven for me when things got bad at my house, especially after my parents divorced.  I remember running for my life through our backyards with my biological father chasing me down, ready to beat me to a pulp (or worse) for some perceived slight.  She heard the gate slam and knew what was happening.  The back door was already open when I got there.  I blew past her into the room I slept in when I stayed there.  I grabbed a baseball bat from the closet and locked the door, eyes clenched shut and tears running down my face, waiting for the door to be kicked down, mentally practicing my swing for the kneecaps.  Except the door never opened, not until I was the one to turn the knob.  While I was hiding, my biological father had discovered that an extremely overweight five-foot-nothing old Mediterranean woman with two bad knees was a more formidable sparring opponent than any cage fighter out there.  I moved in with my grandparents shortly afterwards, but the association between my grandmother’s house and safety had already been chained onto the association between crochet and my grandmother’s house.  With every stitch, I feel like I’m back in my room there with the ancient avocado-green shag carpeting, those same four walls that served as my bastion of safety on so many occasions.  Nothing and no one can get to me as long as I have the yarn in my hands.  I am like my grandmother.  I am unstoppable.

I called her yesterday to tell her I’d finally learned to crochet.  The only other time I’ve heard her so happy was when I announced my engagement.

There’s still a lot for me to learn.  I’ve got a laundry list of projects I want to make, some of which will undoubtedly end up in my still-empty-and-badly-in-need-of-a-new-style Etsy store once I get a few more of the fancy stitches under my belt.  But now I know for certain that I’ll be around to practice them.

The Convention-Going Introvert’s Lament

Standard

Before I go any further, I’d like to thank everyone who came out to my Extra Life charity stream this past weekend.  Thanks to you, I more than doubled my initial goal and raised over $500 for All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL!  Now that I’ve gotten the hang of streaming, I hope to be doing it way more often, so you can probably go ahead and bookmark my Twitch channel or follow it or do whatever you kids do nowadays (except for that, you weirdo).

The Fiance recently leveled up to The Husband, so now that he’s level-capped, we get to experience the joys of our honeymoon, which thus far have included meeting Thor at Disneyland and picking up antibiotics for him from the pharmacy following an emergency tooth extraction that took place on the day before the wedding.  Still to come is the much-anticipated BlizzCon, which is a deliciously nerdy way to wrap up our already-pretty-nerdy celebration — today is Day 2 and we’ve pretty much spent it gaming and cuddling up to watch the original run of Battlestar Galactica.  He’s so excited he can barely contain himself.  I’m both anxious to go and anxious because I’m going.

What most people don’t realize about me is that I am actually a pretty huge introvert.  I may be active on the internet within the gaming community, but when it comes to facing large groups of people in person, I’m typically operating off of complete and utter terror.  Sometimes my “autopilot” kicks in and I start cracking jokes that mask how nervous I actually am.  Just as often, though, I’ll end up sitting in a corner by myself with my headphones on or my nose buried in my Kindle so that I can completely block out the action around me.  The worst part about this kind of reaction is that nine times out of ten, people mistake it for rudeness.

I’m not a celebrity by any means.  At best, I might use the phrase “internet celebrity,” complete with quotes, to show how very much non-applicable such a moniker is for me.  I have more Twitter followers than most, but I’m nowhere close to being Felicia Day, and I don’t pretend to be.  Even still, I’m in the public eye, and that means I’ve got a metaphorical stack of invitations to parties and meet-ups that I’ve had to come up with excuses to decline, not because I don’t want to meet these people or because I think I’m better than anyone, but because the idea of being surrounded by strangers and expected to actually interact is enough to make me hyperventilate.  For example, I did not attend today’s BlizzCon fansite mixer, nor am I going to be present at the WowInsider or World of Podcasts events, despite receiving invitations to all of them.  I’m sad that I’m not there because in my heart of hearts I really want to be able to shake hands and hug a bunch of people whose work I follow, and heck, I’d love to be able to represent HearthPro at WoP, but the truth of the matter is that there is no conceivable way I could handle that much social interaction without bursting into tears.

Here’s the part where I’m sure a lot of people are saying “But Bunny, just throw back a few drinks before you go, and you’ll be fine!”  I won’t lie.  I used to party pretty hard in my youth.  I could spend hours talking about hilarious things that went on during those days (at least, the ones I remember).  What never gets talked about, though, is the absolutely horrendous after-effects of those shenanigans as far as my health is concerned.  Alcohol and I are not friends.  I can do a bottle of Angry Orchard or a beer with a meal, but that’s about it.  Any more and I risk all sorts of maladies, ranging from my kidneys going on strike to severe stomach pain to throwing up so violently it starts coming out of my nose.  By “any more,” I mean “sometimes two beers in one day is enough to do this.”  I don’t get buzzed and I don’t get drunk; I get horrifically ill with no payoff whatsoever.  Partaking of alcohol in a public setting like that would actually add more anxiety to what I’m already dealing with, because on top of everything I’d have to worry about getting sick.

This also makes attending parties, especially the type that usually break out at conventions, pretty boring for me.  I’m almost always the only person not drinking, and that makes everyone else feel really awkward.  I will hear all of the following things at some point during the night:

  • “You’re not drinking? Are you pregnant?”
  • “Wow, I feel really bad for you.”
  • “So you’re like… straightedge or something?”
  • “Why’d you go to a party if you didn’t want to drink?”
  • “Are you sure? Come on, just one drink. It can’t be THAT bad.”

Truth is, the forced sobriety doesn’t bug me.  What does bug me is that it often puts me at the center of people’s attention, and that’s about the last thing I want at a huge gathering of people I don’t know.

I also chose not to get a hotel room for the convention because I knew that there’d likely be a ton of room parties going on and that it’d mean no sleep for me.  Part of having PTSD is hypervigilance, which for me means not only jumping at every loud or unexpected noise during the daytime, but snapping awake with my adrenaline running at max at the slightest change in background noise.  I use a fan to give me a constant flow of white noise to help with this, but should something happen in the middle of the night — say a power surge, or The Husband changes the speed on it — I will instantly wake up.  In addition, a hotel room is unfamiliar territory for me, so in order to feel safe enough to sleep without risking a night of constant panic attacks I have to be used to where I’m staying.  Having The Husband with me might mitigate some of that, but there’s still the chance I’d spend the entire night having nightmares or freaking out and interrupting both of our sleep cycles.

Nor do I plan to pass out business cards or network heavily while I’m at BlizzCon.  The temptation is there, of course, but it’d be too much to juggle with focusing on keeping myself calm while dealing with the crowds.  I’ve got this terrible fear that not introducing myself to every dev there will be the one deciding factor in my not getting hired at Blizzard, but the logical part of my brain tells me that I’m being irrational there.  If anything, they might actually appreciate not getting chased down by an awkward girl in a bunny hat!

That’s no drinking, no partying, and no real networking — why am I going to BlizzCon then?

BECAUSE IT’S FREAKING BLIZZCON!

I may be an introvert, but I’m still a gamer.  I love Diablo, StarCraft, Hearthstone, and World of Warcraft.  I’m 99.9% certain that I’ll be squealing over Heroes of the Storm, too.  I spent long enough hiding inside the confines of my house, too terrified to even go to the grocery store and pick up a loaf of bread.  In that year or two where agoraphobia got the best of me, there’s no telling how many amazing moments I missed out on.  I will not let that ever happen again, even if it requires some special techniques to get through the day.  It’s sort of like that “Part of Your World” song from The Little Mermaid (and exactly why listening to said song causes me to tear up — it can apply to anyone feeling like an outsider due to anxiety just as well as it can to disobedient teenage fish-people).  I have a million games and tons of creative outlets for my writing, but that’s not enough.  I want to be where the people are, even if I’m not terribly good at being there.

So if I see you at the Anaheim Convention Center this weekend, there’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t be offended if I’m quiet or seem uncomfortable.
  • If you invite me somewhere and I decline, please don’t feel bad or try to press the issue.
  • Don’t sneak up on me or surprise me with tackle-hugs… but the sentiment is appreciated!
  • Despite all of this, DON’T BE AFRAID TO INTRODUCE YOURSELF!

Besides wandering around the convention floor, I’ll be at the BlizzPro Meeting Stone event on Saturday between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., during which I should be much more talkative, since it’s a somewhat controlled and less chaotic environment that’ll give me a chance to focus on actually meeting you lovely people instead of pure survival!

Help, I Am Drowning In The Iced Tea Of Sorrow

Standard

In what is clearly by now nothing short of a stunning turn of events, I’m depressed.  Severely depressed.  The kind of depressed where I’m honestly not so much functioning as I am “using my autopilot abilities to perform some semblance of functioning.”

Allie of Hyperbole and a Half, who happens to be an idol of mine, recently updated her blog for the first time in months with a beautifully-illustrated tale of her own struggles with depression that have kept her away from the clicky-clacky thing that makes words show up on the computer.  I enjoyed it as much as you can possibly enjoy reading about another human being’s suffering, and it was interesting how it manifested itself for her in a way that’s simultaneously the same and different than the show it’s currently putting on in the West End of my brain.  (The costuming sucks, but Catherine Zeta-Jones is doing great with her portrayal of Primary Depression Blob #2.)

Unlike Allie, I am feeling things besides the obvious overwhelming sorrow.  They’re there under this terrible numb-feeling that I guess is kind of like what she went through, except even if I’m only mildly aware of them to begin with they still pop up from time to time, just in these horribly superficial versions that I know lack the depth of relative normalcy.  I can giggle at an episode of 30 Rock and really mean that giggle, but there’s something plastic about it, some vital component of it that would say “hey, this is a legit emotion” that’s just not there.  It is the Uncanny Valley of feeling.

I am getting out of bed in the morning.  I am trying to play the I Win game but every victory seems hollow, even the one where I put something in the microwave and run to the bathroom to pee and then make it back before my food’s done, which up until this point has been one of my proudest achievements.  There is this voice, you see, that isn’t actually there, but likes to wait until I’m really high up there in Not Feeling Like Complete Shitville before kicking me in the ribcage and fist-pumping while it watches me crash back down into Blerghsburg.

I mean, I’m in California.  I am back in my home, a place that I have missed for a very long time.  But whenever I try to reflect on this to bring myself up out of the gloom, that voice pops up again:

“Yay!  I’m in beautiful Southern California!  I live less than ten minutes from the Blizzard campus!  I can walk down the street without having to worry about getting mugged!  Life is pretty awesome!”

Is it?  I mean, you still don’t have a job or anything.

“Well… yeah,  but I’m still applying to Blizz and to jobs in the meantime!  Look at all the shiny opportunities here!”

How many callbacks have you gotten?

“…None yet, but that’s okay, it’s going to take them time to sort through all the app–”

Open up your email inbox.  How many rejection letters are there?

“…Okay, like 12 or 13, but that’s just inspiration to do better next time!”

Ever thought that maybe they just don’t want you because you’re still the same weird kid you were all through school and nothing you do is worth anything?  I mean, if you had any talent at all, you’d have a job by now.

“I have talent!  I mean, I didn’t go to college, but…”

Yeah, think about how much easier it’d be for you to get in if you could go back to school to learn coding instead of trying to teach it to yourself.  Oh wait, you can’t because you can’t afford it and considering that you can’t even pay your cell phone bill anymore, you don’t have the time.  You had your chance and you fucked it up.  You can’t do shit.  You can’t even get Target to call you back.

“At least I’m not homeless, right?  My mom’s letting me stay with her till I get on my feet.”

Great job, you’re a grown-ass woman who’s burdening your family yet again because you can’t get your shit together.  You should have stayed in Florida.  At least you had friends there… well, people who pretended to like you, anyway.  Look, kid, the only reason anybody gives you the time of day is because they feel sorry for you.  They secretly think you made a stupid move coming back out here.  They know you can’t do it.  You know you can’t do it.  Fuckup.”

It’s usually at this point that I end up staring at myself in the mirror and coming to the realization that everyone would be better off without me.  It’s this burning desire not to take my own life, but to just throw some clean underwear in a bag and run away in the middle of the night without telling anyone where I’m going.  I feel like I’m never going to amount to anything.  I feel like I’m just one of those people who doesn’t belong anywhere, that there’s no place for me in this world or the next.  I feel like just giving up and fully embracing twenty-six years of utter failure at life by devoting myself to laying on the couch and watching Netflix until I eventually choke on my 10-cent ramen noodles and die alone, let The Fiance find some way better-looking chick with fewer problems than me, let my mother and stepfather have their house back, and watch anything that might prove that I ever existed in the first place fade into oblivion.  I was never here.  It’s better that way, isn’t it?  I keep trying to argue with myself that it’s just the voice of depression trying to drag me down again but I’m starting to wonder.

I’m at a crossroads.  I could go back onto the same medication that crippled me and just deal with the fact that the physical pain I’m still struggling with is going to get worse again.  Or I could keep pushing on through, numbly, hoping that something will eventually give and that after all of the suffering I’ve had to deal with in my life — there’s a reason I’ve got PTSD, you know, and it’s shit that even the writers for Law & Order: SVU wouldn’t touch on the grounds of it being “too messed up” — there’s going to be sunshine.  Not even pure sunshine because expecting everything to be perfect all the time is stupid, but at least mostly sunshine with scattered showers, where the good outweighs the crap for once.

To be honest, I’m not even sure why I made this all into a blog entry.  I meant to just put up a standard disclaimer that I wasn’t feeling well and a review of patch 5.3 would be forthcoming, but it just turned into… I don’t even know what.  I guess I feel worse than I thought I did.  I can’t explain any of this stuff to the few people I do have in my life without them either getting frustrated/angry at me because they don’t understand what I’m dealing with or telling me that it’s all in my head (no shit, that’s kind of the primary location of mental illness) and that all I have to do is think positive or whatever and everything will magically be fine.  Even when I do have the opportunity to talk to other people I push everything to the backburner because holy shit, I’m the Bunny Overlord, I have a solemn duty to be random and quirky and funny and upbeat all the time, otherwise what good am I to anyone, right?

I think I’m going to have ice cream for dinner tonight.  I deserve it.

Overlord Bunny And The Podcast Extravaganza (And Some Other Words About Words)

Standard

Today I was present as a guest on LowPopWow’s sixth episode, which focused on community-building.  It’s available for download/listen on their Twitch channel, and should be uploaded (along with a few other episodes) to Stitcher and iTunes fairly soon!  I really enjoyed the experience a lot — it was a much different interview style than I’m used to, extremely structured, more like an actual panel at a convention than anything.  Practice, maybe, for the future?  Hathorr is a fabulous host with a voice that’d make any NPR broadcaster feel woefully inadequate.

About halfway through our recording I got an email from Ghemit of the Let’s WoW! podcast asking if I could fill in for his co-host Dae for the evening, since real life apparently crit her for like 74692764 and prevented her from being able to do the show.  How could I turn down an offer like that?!  Though Dae was sorely missed, we had a great time with Rongar of Hearthstone Cast fame talking about Hearthstone and what excited us all the most about its impending release, as well as delving into the wonderful world of roleplaying in World of Warcraft.  There’s a rough/temporary version of it up on the Let’s WoW! Twitch channel, though Ghemit will undoubtedly have it up on Podbean, Stitcher, and iTunes within the next couple of days.  He’s an industrious sort like that!

I really can’t wait to do more podcasting.  I’m toying with the idea of a “Let’s Play”-type Twitch channel for myself, where I could really go through all of the various zones and instances and apply a designer’s perspective to them, highlighting details, bugs, et cetera, but in the meantime, I’d love to be back on LowPopWow and Let’s WoW! again!  There’s also a laundry list of other podcasts I’d love to be a guest on, and I’m hoping that in the very near future I’ll have more announcements for everyone about my guest appearances!  And maybe I won’t be all hopped up on Nyquil by then!  (Seriously, I am so sorry to anyone who had to listen to my gravelly/more nasal than usual rambling today.)

I actually did a little bit of listening to the recordings today and was somewhat disheartened to hear that the aphasia I’ve been having to deal with as a side effect of my old medication hasn’t resolved itself as completely as I thought it had.  There’s a few instances where I can hear myself struggling for words, slurring my speech, and flat-out using the wrong verbage.  Aphasia is a neurological issue that messes with the speech and/or language centers in my brain and occasionally makes me sound like a dolt, something I certainly don’t need any help with in my day-to-day life.  Imagine being onstage in front of a thousand people and without ever having read the script, so you have to think as fast as you can to cover up for it and ad-lib your way through the play you’re in.  You’ll probably get some of it right, but you’re also going to screw up a bunch of it by spouting off random nonsense because to you, it sounds like it maybe fits the scene.

That’s a pretty complex analogy, I know, so here’s an example: I want to say “I insist upon it,” but what comes out is “I exist upon it.”  The word is close, but definitely not correct.  I know the definition of “insist” and “exist” and if you asked me to write the sentence down on a piece of paper, I could do it perfectly.  It just gets messed up when it goes from my brain to my mouth.

I know that it’s not something I can really control, so I shouldn’t be upset with myself, but it’s a terribly embarrassing issue to have.  Those not in the know usually think that I’m a.) drunk or b.) unintelligent and trying to sound smart by using words I don’t know the meaning of.  When I slur the pronunciation of a word, most people will laugh and ask “You mean ___?” and though I’m pretty sure they aren’t trying to be dicks about it, I want to cry every time.  I know how the word is pronounced.  My brain is just not cooperating.  And should I have to stand there and struggle to come up with a word, they just assume I’m not paying attention or that I’m an airhead.  It’s common for people to not be able to think of a word once in a while.  For me, it’s more like I can’t think of any words because part of my brain has just decided to turn all the lights off for a while.  As a writer and hopefully soon-to-be game designer, it’s mortifying, because good communication is part of the job description.  I am a good communicator, I really and truly am, especially when it comes to writing, I just have a temporary setback right now while the damage that the Lamictal did to my body and my mind undoes itself.  Trying to explain this to people and desperately hoping that they’ll understand and not hold it against me is a terrifying thing.

The aphasia gets worse when I’m under stress, tired, or taking medication that spaces me out, such as — you guessed it — Nyquil.  There’s always a certain level of anxiety I deal with when verbally communicating with people, mainly because I have to think a little harder to sound “normal.”  On top of that baseline, this weekend my mother managed to drill through her hand while working on a DIY project which resulted in an emergency room visit, one of the mice passed away of unknown causes, and just this morning I was startled awake very early by a crashing noise in the living room that ended up being the cat getting into the mouse cage and killing another of the mice, who happened to be the sweetest, cuddliest, most loving of the bunch.  My weekend, as you may have gathered, has been a fairly large pile of shit, not even counting all of the sleepless nights and highly uncomfortable days I’ve spent before that with The Plague.  It’s like a perfect storm of failure on my end.

I’m not trying to make excuses or get pity, more that I’m troubled by it to the point that I really feel the need to explain myself and maybe educate a few people here and there on some of the weirder things that can go haywire with the human brain.  And to a degree, I think I just need to talk about it for my own sanity rather than trying to pretend like losing partial control of my faculties doesn’t scare the everliving crap out of me, even if it is a problem that should eventually go away on its own.  But until it does, purple monkey dishwasher, I suppose.

It Burns When I PvE

Standard

It’s hard for me to admit to this, but I’m starting to get burnt out on playing World of Warcraft.

There’s a lot of guilt because of it.  My career goals haven’t changed — not one bit.  Warcraft team, I will be in you.  Designing stuff for the game hasn’t lost its shine in any way, shape, or form.  Just because I’m finding myself out of things to do in-game doesn’t mean I don’t want to keep imagining and planning out things that I wish I could do.  But even still, I feel like a traitor, or like the entire dev team is sitting there shaking their head right now and saying “oh man, Overlord Bunny, you’re on the blacklist 5-ever” which is longer than 4-ever, don’t you know.  Azeroth has been a second home to me since three months after the release of vanilla.  Now it feels almost like turning my back on an entire community.

The good news is that I’m fairly certain it’s not a permanent burnout.  I’ve done this once or twice before, taken a month or so off and focused on other games and hobbies, only to get The Urge™ and end up logging back in.  The longest hiatus was between the end of Wrath of the Lich King and the tail end of Cataclysm, and even then I couldn’t resist its siren call, because quite frankly, Everquest II wasn’t cutting it.

In the meantime, I’m left to wonder what exactly triggered the change of attitude, from being excited to log in and spend an entire Saturday pew-pewing to practically needing to give myself a pep talk just to log in and harvest my farm.

To begin with, I’m still a little out of sorts from my 2600-mile move from Florida to California.  I totally stuck the landing and am happier being here again than I ever could be anywhere else, but there’s still an adjustment period to contend with.  It’s been nearly 10 years since I was last in California and a lot has changed (for the better, in my opinion).  I have a real family again, since my mother and stepfather are both here.  The Fiance has gone from living four hours south of me to sleeping next to me every night.  And for the first time in a very long time, I actually have the energy to do things.  My days of staying up till 6 a.m. and waking up at 2 p.m. are over.  Nor am I afraid of leaving the house anymore; I try to find any excuse to go somewhere at least once per day.

Then there’s the job hunt.  I’ve still got a load of applications in with Blizzard, but in the meantime, I’m looking for something temporary and part-time that I can actually do.  Though I’m no longer taking the meds that basically poisoned me, I still have some pain when walking or standing — not crippling like it originally was, but still severe enough that if I can’t sit down periodically it will reach that point.  This takes retail jobs off the table, and desk jobs around the area seem to be universally full-time, which means I won’t have enough time to work on what I need to work on in order to get my dream job.  It’s on my mind constantly.  As it stands now, I’m likely going to end up doing nerdy crafts and baked goods on Etsy and some local markets and hope that it brings in enough income to cover my cell phone, mercifully the only bill I have right now.  Getting the Etsy store set up, however, requires inventory, and inventory requires crafting my little fingers down to the nub for the greater part of the day.

Within the context of gaming, I did a fairly stupid thing by shotgunning five characters to level 90 back-to-back.  Yes, I have my Quintessential Quintet to shove in people’s faces in lieu of a wang, but when thinking of leveling yet another alt, I want to curl up in the fetal position and whimper “no moooooore!” for a week and a half.  I haven’t yet experienced all of the revamped content from Cataclysm with either faction, this is true, but the idea of having to redo Hellfire Peninsula ever again is killing me, which is part of the reason that my Ultimate Fantasy Project would be to handle the redesign of all Burning Crusade content.  Seriously, just shove me in front of a computer and pay me in tacos and nerdy T-shirts, and I will be your revamp-monkey.  At least it’s still got more replayability than SWTOR, but that’s kind of like saying that cancer is better than AIDS.

I’ve maxed out my rep with all of the Pandaria factions.  I’ve had Pandaren Ambassador since before 5.1 and its delicious commendations were released.  I had exalted with Dominance Offensive and the Sunreaver Onslaught about two, maybe two and a half weeks after they came out.  Sure, I could go back and farm my way to exalted with the pre-Pandaria reputations that I’m missing, but it’d require facing that old content that makes my eyes cross.  I’ve done at least LFR for everything up to Thunder King, but I honestly don’t feel like I have the patience right now to continue on with it, even though my gear more than meets requirements.  A big part of that is because I always loved raiding with friends, and right now a good chunk of my “minions” are on hiatus, so I’m stuck playing with strangers.  I joined a raiding alliance with an awesome guild on Thorium Brotherhood after having a really great experience with them a few weeks back, but while I’m still getting settled in here, it’s hard to devote that time to sitting down and raiding, no matter how badass of a group of people they are.

Another huge part of my “meh” attitude towards raiding, to be honest, comes from my own guild.  When I started Torchwood Institute, it was supposed to be for me, The Fiance, and our friends and family.  Our attitude towards raiding was pretty much “we’ll get to it eventually.”  It wasn’t going to be progression-based, attendance wasn’t going to be mandatory… Hell, we weren’t even sure if we’d be doing it every single week.  But then a couple of old gaming buddies started getting a little more into the idea of raiding than the rest of us.  I found myself watching them pull their mains out of Torchwood Institute to join progression-based guilds and suddenly the feeling became “Oh shit, if I don’t start trying to throw raids together, I’m going to completely lose them.”  There’s a certain level of pressure on me now that’s started to tip the scales from “fun pasttime” to “job.”  Now, under more pressure from other guild members to open up recruiting, we have a bunch of strangers in the guild who barely talk and give the impression that they’re just there for the XP and rep bonuses.  One guildie in particular is constantly hounding me for special favors and titles because he’s the one who brought them in to begin with.  Many nights I’ve sat there, finger hovering over the “character transfer” button, and thinking about just leaving the guild in his hands and running away to Kil’rog or Lightbringer or Proudmoore where I could start over fresh, or just give up on guild leadership for a while and join up with some friends of mine there.  But then in comes that pesky guilt thing again.  I convinced a handful of people who I really wouldn’t want to leave behind to re-up their accounts and transfer characters in the first place.  Running out on them would be, for lack of a better term, a “bitch move.”

The server we’re on, to be honest, never felt like home to me.  I rolled there in the first place because a friend of mine recommended it, swearing up and down that he’d come play with us, and then promptly cancelled his account for good before I was even finished setting up my first new toon.  Uldum is apparently notorious for being a “dead server” with a crappy economy, none of which he bothered to mention, and I sometimes wonder if he was trolling me when he told me to transfer there in the first place.  None of us can afford to simply transfer all of our toons off, so we’re kind of stuck where we are.  There’s even more guilt now because I feel like a horrible guild master for not researching the server more thoroughly before roping everyone in instead of just taking someone at their word.

In the meantime I’ve been trying to clear out the backlog of games that I’ve got downloaded on my computer.  Last year I dropped about $200 on the Steam Summer Sale, only to neglect the whole library in favor of World of Warcraft.  The Fiance bought me Skyrim and all of the DLC for it at Christmas which I’ve just started to delve into in the past couple of months.  I finally finished Wings of Liberty and am working my way through Heart of the Swarm.  With our peripherals combined, my stepdad and I have a complete Rock Band setup, which I expect will be put to good use plus a few bottles of Shock Top.  And maybe I should feel a bit more heartened over the fact that even with non-Warcraft IPs, my designer’s eye is still wide open, breaking down and absorbing everything I play and finding inspiration in the most seemingly obscure of places.

Work, work.