Fundraiser Update!

I haven’t promoted  this endeavour much since the launch here on my own blog, so today, I’m going to talk a bit about how things are going for my Warmachine for Mental Health fundraiser.

As of today, I’m at $445 total of my goal of $500, which is really fantastic. I’m really happy with  how well the campaign has gone on that front. I’ve also had some great support from the community, including donations of models to the cause, custom bases, assistance with painting and all sorts of other help, which has been amazing.

With all of that said, I’m not at my goal yet, so it would be really great to hit the $500. So if you have been thinking about donating and haven’t yet, please do so. Also, share this project far and wide, please!

Related to the actual assembly and painting of the army, there has been a little progress there. I’ve been working on a test model and conferring with those who are helping me out to get ideas and finalize the color scheme. With any luck, I’ll have that finalized by month-end.

So once again, thanks for everyone’s support so far on the project. I’ll be keeping the fundraiser open for about another month, in a hope to push things up and over my goal.

Charity and Warmachine

Yesterday, I wrote a post about how life threw me a bit of a curveball that really challenged my mental state, and alluded to a new project that I am working on organizing.

The project isn’t ready to be unveiled yet, but I did need to recognize another member of the Warmachine community, known as Paul E Wog on Facebook.

Paul heard about the accident with my army and he reached out to Roy at Thunderground and organized to leave me a gift to assist in repairing the damage.

Paul’s generosity was the catalyst that lead me to want to do something greater for the community.

Disaster turns positive

A few weeks back, I was all set to attend a local Warmachine Tournament (better known as a Steamroller at Thunderground, to the Warmachine community). I was very excited to get the opportunity to play several games in a day, against opponents I don’t regularly see. I was also very excited because I had a pair of lists that I was reasonably comfortable with how they *SHOULD* operate and how they fit into my personal style of playing.

Round one was a rough match. It was the first time I had played against Bradigus the Stonecarver, which is a pretty rough game all around to begin with…add on top of that, it was being piloted by Josh Richter, one of Canada’s representatives to the World Team Championships for Warmachine, I was frankly, nervous and intimidated. I made some huge mistakes during the game and in the end, I did learn some valuable lessons and Josh was great at telling me what I COULD have done to help my situation. I lost the game by running out of time on my deathclock (though, I only had my warlock left on the table and he had pretty much everything left).

Not a big deal, I lost a game I wasn’t favored in against a world class player. Round 2 was coming up and I’d have the opportunity to redeem myself.

Except the day took a turn for the worst.

While moving my stuff to the table that I’d be playing round 2 in…my army tray fell out of my hand. Or was misbalanced on the table and fell. I don’t really know what happened other than I watched all of my painted models fall from a height of 3 feet or so and crash onto the hard floor of the store.

Panic.

Embarrassment.

Sadness.

Resolve.

These are roughly the emotions I felt in the span of 2 seconds.

I hit the floor and began to gather my broken army. Not really looking too closely at the damage, for, I didn’t REALLY want to know. But my day was DONE. Thankfully, there was an odd number of players at the event, so the player with the bye was able to step into my pairing and the event continued with a (relatively) short disruption. (At this point, I’d be completely rude to not mention Roy’s compassion and desire to help out during my cleanup – he definitely did his best to try and salvage my day!)

Now, after all of this preamble, I’m finally getting to the point, which, may not be clear to anyone but me at this stage, but…well, here it goes.

Painting my Warmachine models has become part of my self-care for helping me to decompress and manage my depression. It’s something that I talk about frequently with my therapist and she agrees that it’s been a very positive thing that I’ve focused energy into.

So. I’m looking at my army, which I’ve painted, an almost…physical representation of my mental health…in shambles on the floor. What do I do? Well, I already said I cleaned up, because I was in the way. I had to get stuff out of the way. Then, I told Roy that my day was done. There was no way, even if I could reassemble everything, that I’d have fun playing the rest of the day. So, without so much as an effort to safely pack my stuff away, I just piled it onto my tray and shoved it in my car.

Then I told myself not to cry. At least…not yet.

Then I did what any normal person would do (ok, no it isn’t). I posted a photo of the carnage to the Legion of Everblight facebook page and to twitter.

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It made me feel better. A bit.

I finished up a few things at the store, namely the important acts of thanking Roy for hosting and making a purchase at the store (because I can’t attend a tournament at a store without making a purchase), and telling some friends good luck.

Then I sat in my car for a while and cried over my dolls, and made some self-deprecating posts on social media. I then went about the rest of my day and found some other activities to partake in and leave the incident behind me. I also thank all the folk that took the time to message me after the fact to check up on me, those messages were really appreciated!

Now, a week and a half later, while writing this, I can see how while, yes, the destruction of my army was a rather significant event and could have easily been a trigger for some incredibly negative thought processes – I was able to use some of the other tools in my mental health toolkit to prevent that from being the case. I’m proud to say that.

Thinking about all of this has me wanting to embark on a new project. I have a bit of legwork to do before I can give all the details, but the end goal is to organize a charity fundraiser to take place during the Blood and Gears Masters event in October, supporting an Edmonton Mental Health organization.

I hope to share more details of this as I am able to sort out details.

Your choices aren’t mental illness

ATTENTION GAMERS: We all love to collect things related to different games or whatnot because it’s something we like to do.

Maybe, if you’re a miniature builder, you like to pin your joints.

For the love of all things.

STOP SAYING YOU HAVE OCD.

You don’t. Having OCD is pretty fucking awful. Let’s not trivialize those that actually have severe problems by calling our desires a mental illness.

Making it official

My first tagged post about depression was from February 27, 2012 – so roughly two and a half years ago. During that time, I didn’t blog about it much here, but I did post regularly on RPGGeek. That blog, entitled The Journey, was a place I carved out for myself to talk about my mental illness. It was a safe place – and as time went on, I expanded where I discussed my struggles and my beliefs to encompass my social media presence.

As I mentioned in my last post, I (want to) see myself as an advocate for those that suffer from mental illness. Part of what I’m doing to make this a reality is to volunteer with Partners for Mental Health. I became aware of Partners earlier this year during the Bell Let’s Talk campaign. I looked into the organization, and I felt it was one that I could get behind. When I became aware of the Not Myself Today campaign, I KNEW they were.

As a Community Correspondent, I will primarily continue what I’ve been doing – promoting mental health in my online communities, but I will also be promoting the campaigns put on by Partners, identify other mental health news items for both Partners and my community to be aware of, and other items of that nature.

I’m very excited to be a part of this organization. I’m looking forward to engaging with some new people to talk about mental health. For those of you that haven’t already, I encourage you to take the pledge to support mental health – sign your name to the pledge sheet at Partners for Mental Health. Take that step with me!

Letting it go: Why Frozen continues to resonate

When I first saw Frozen, I really enjoyed it. It immediately became one of my favorite Disney features after a single viewing.

Now, several months later, countless times through the soundtrack, a few rewatches, and other reading on the movie, I’m finally starting to understand what might be sticking with me.

Elsa’s life (sort of) mirrors my own struggles with mental illness.

In her early life, Elsa is told to conceal, don’t feel – pretend something she’s not. When I finally came out with my issues, I did not have those close to me telling me these sorts of things, thankfully, but society certainly made it difficult to take the steps to get myself better.

The part that resonates with me the most right now is the “Let it Go” sequence. The song is about Elsa realizing that she doesn’t need to hide her talents and effectively, screw everyone else for not accepting her as she is. I think up until a few months ago, this is exactly how I felt about my battle with depression. I was gonna talk about it and if you didn’t like that, well, screw you. I let it go.

At the stage I’m personally at now, I’m more following Anna’s footsteps. I’m trying to use my experience to create safe places for others suffering from mental illness. We can fix this hand in hand.

Society has a long way to go towards accepting mental illness – but we can get there. Those of us that are advocating – we must work together to create places where those that are suffering in silence can feel comfortable in speaking out about their own problems.

Admittedly, it’s probably a highly simplified look at things – but for me, Frozen has provided me with some context in how I fit in my advocacy efforts and it’s goddamn magical.

Mental Health Week 2014: My Story

I don’t make it a secret that I suffer from depression. Since discovering, understanding, and learning how to manage my depression, I’ve done my best to create a dialog in my personal social circles regarding mental health.

My first bout of depression started some time during my time as an Engineering student. I wasn’t having the same success in University as I had enjoyed in High School. I feel this contributed to my my initial downfall. As I repeatedly fell short of my expectations, negative self-talk took over. Once I realized something was wrong, I brought up my feelings with my girlfriend (who is now my wife). She was very supportive and encouraged me to seek professional assistance.

I visited the University of Alberta’s Counselling & Clinical Services. I began seeing a psychologist and began taking antidepressants. It took time, but I eventually realized that ultimately, my chosen career path was NOT the one really wanted. Withdrawing from University was an incredibly difficult decision. First off, I was worried about being a disappointment to my parents. Secondly, I wasn’t sure what the hell I was going to do with my life, since for as long as I could remember, I was going to be an Engineer. That was how I had self-identified.

My parents were very supportive of my decision. I am very thankful for that. I took time away from school, spent some time in the workforce and found a new path.

Nearly two years ago was my second major depressive episode. It was also when I realized that depression was something I’d always have to be aware of. This bout was brought on by feelings that festered as I grew more and more dissatisfied with the work and environment I was in. I recognized the signs of what was going on early enough so things never got out of hand – but I was in deep enough to need to start medication again. Through the medication and counseling, I was able to identify what was causing me the stress, anxiety and other negative feelings that resulted in my depression. I worked on methods to help me cope with what I was feeling. I shared my diagnosis with my manager, in hopes that it could perhaps create a positive dialog in the office. Unfortunately, that plan backfired. Yes, I was given tools to further help me – but, the office culture did not really change, nor did a useful dialog form. It was at this point that I realized that if *I* wanted to be treated differently and if *I* wanted to be able to discuss my struggles in an open and accepting environment at work, *I* would have to take up that torch and carry it.

Today, I’ve been in a new job for half a year. I enjoy what I’m doing now – the decision to join the company I’m currently with continues to prove to be an excellent choice. In fact, when I caught wind of the Not Myself Today campaign, I took the opportunity to share the campaign with my supervisor, resource manager and the VP of HR. The VP encouraged me to write about the importance of mental health in the workplace on the company intranet and also added her voice to the importance of mental health issues in the workforce. I will be a volunteer with Partners for Mental Health, and will continue to speak about what I have experienced, what I hope people would do for others in my situation, and to encourage those who think they need help to find it.

Talking about my struggles is often hard. Especially in a more professional setting. But it is worth it if just one person seeks help, no matter the cost to me.

I suffer from depression. I always will. My mental illness is really no different than having diabetes. I have to make the right choices to prevent complications from consuming my life.

This has been my story (so far).

Mental Health is more than one day

Unless you are completely immune to all advertising, or don’t read my twitter feed, February 8th was Bell Let’s Talk Day 2012.  Let’s Talk Day is an awareness/fundraising campaign for mental health initiatives in Canada and is something that I think is extremely important. This year, the initiative created a donation of $3,926,014.20.  I was also able to talk a bit about my depression with @confessionality, who was also kind enough to share her experience with me.

While this is all good – mental health is more than just one day.  If there are people in your life that are struggling, or appear to be struggling, talk to them.  Help them find whatever help they need.  As someone that has experienced depression, I know that it isn’t as easy as some think to just ‘get better’.  Hell, it took a lot of convincing that I had something wrong to start with, let alone asking for help with it.

Mental health still has a lot of negative stigma attached to it.  But, chances are, you know someone that has experienced, overcome, or struggles daily with some sort of mental health issue.  We aren’t outcasts.  We aren’t invalids.  We are people, just like you.

Let’s Talk is a great initiative.  Don’t get me wrong.  I just want to see more people get the help they deserve and be supported by those around them.  Don’t let mental health only be on your mind one day a year.