Wednesday, August 31, 2016

I AM Mental

A slight diversion from our normal content, here. It's semi-political, if my mental health is political. 

Content/Trigger Notice: mental health, depression, bipolar, and similar illnesses are all discussed/specific mentions of binge drinking, suicide, and self-destructive behavior. 

I was going to write about Are You Mental? and its Kickstarter when I got home today. I don't need to, because there's this excellent post by Kate Bullock, who is wonderful. I'm going to say shit anyway.

I know I do problematic things in relation to mental health and representation, I totally do, but I'm also extremely aware of how my literal crazy is heavily misrepresented by media and fiction crazy. See, here’s the thing. I live my crazy in public. I don’t think there has ever been a day when someone has asked me about my mental health and I’ve denied them an answer. I joke about it, occasionally, but not often. Often, I’m too busy with it. 

For reference, I have bipolar disorder, anxiety (generalized and social), mild obsessive/compulsive behaviors, issues with seasonal depression, a history of emotional abuse, and have many panic attacks.

Somewhere around 2013ish, I’m not sure when, I started a spiral into an incredibly tragic and damaging mixed/manic episode in which I destroyed friendships, professional relationships, had abusive relationships and may have been abusive myself, wasted more money than is reasonable, experienced massive physical health issues in part because of the irresponsible and self-destructive behavior, and I did a lot of wrong things, including some things that other people would never admit to.

If you ask me? I will try to tell you honestly what happened. There are some times I don’t really know. The funny thing about being so crazy is that you don’t always remember the worst things. Or the best things. Like, I remember drinking an entire bottle of vodka after my then-partner screamed and shook the dinner table for half the meal and tried to hit me. That was not my crazy, nope, but there it was, nestled in the situation my crazy put me in. I don’t remember seeing some of my best friends at conventions where I was so manic, so close to breaking, that I didn’t really sleep for almost 72 hours, and barely ate, and talked so fast I don’t even remember how I managed to talk. I crave those moments. Those moments, at a gaming con, as a gamer, where I was crazy.

I am well medicated, doing therapy, and thankfully with access to good healthcare to keep those things. (No worries, potential employers!) Not everyone has that. Even having it doesn’t mean you’re safe. Everyone who watches me on social media sees these ups and downs of my moods, my bleak moments of depression, my hypomania. Lithium is great, but it does not cure me.

If you sit down and play a game, and you play a mad character, a crazy character, oh, it’s so exciting, isn’t it? To be crazy? To be INSANE? You can do whatever you want! No matter what you do, it’s okay, you’re crazy! Hahaha OMG NOT REALLY.

My freelance career is mostly in tatters. I couldn’t do the work. I couldn’t’ focus. I got nothing done. I have some work – thanks to some very, very generous people – but I’m not a professional. I burned that flag to ashes and dust. I was not a nice person. I wasn’t respectful. Hell, I honestly feel like I lost tons of social relationships alone on this, in part because everyone thought I made someone cheat on their wife,* because that’s totally something I want on my resume.

I am very honest about my mental illnesses so that people can see, in reality, what crazy is. It is not laughing enthusiastically because things are so, so funny, it’s laughing because you actually can’t stop and you don’t know what’s wrong and if you stop you might die. It’s not feeling morose and sad, sitting at a windowsill dripping with raindrops, it’s sitting on your kitchen floor crying because you almost killed yourself, again, you might do it again, you might die. It’s not being nervous around new people you’ve never met before, it’s being afraid to go to your best friend’s house and if they see how much of a goddamn mess you are, you might die. Some of these are figurative. Some of them are extremely not.

Are You Mental? may be super fun and exciting and make a lot of people very happy. All I can say is that I am, actually, mental, and games like that make me feel like I should fucking die.


Small addendum: 1) I am not asking for this to be paid via Patreon. That feels weird. 2) I did do consulting on the essays for mental health representation in the Lovecraftesque game by Becky Annison and Joshua Fox, and I'm available to do that for other games. Just comment and tag me and we'll go from there.

*I literally have no desire to deal with people's defenses of this or justifications. Just leave it alone, it's better off dead.

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