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oliverkinne
November 26, 2021
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Lunar Base Board Game Review

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BradHB
November 26, 2021
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Jackwraith
November 25, 2021
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whowhatwhycast
November 24, 2021
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adamr
November 24, 2021
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thegiantbrain
November 23, 2021
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oliverkinne
November 23, 2021
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oliverkinne
November 22, 2021
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Tharos Board Game Review

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BradHB
November 19, 2021
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Jackwraith
November 18, 2021
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whowhatwhycast
November 17, 2021
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November 16, 2021
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Michael Barnes
November 15, 2021
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November 12, 2021
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whowhatwhycast
November 10, 2021
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oliverkinne
November 09, 2021
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What MENTAL BREAKDOWNS have you been ENDURING?

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24 Nov 2021 13:04 #328199 by Legomancer
In early 2020, just before all of (indicates entire world with sweeping arm gesture) this, a few board game related things happened that turned out to be harbingers of something more.

1) Recent plays of The Game had gone from eliciting a sense of "oooh I have to play a card and all of these are terrible!" to "Oh God I have to play a card and I just can't, this is awful, this is bad, I wish this was over."

2) A game I had gotten on Kickstarter turned out to have a completely opaque rulebook and approach to play. I read the rules twice and still didn't follow most of it. When I went to my friend's house to try it out with him and another person, my anxiety was through the roof and I was not looking forward to it. As I went through the rulebook with them and tried to explain play, I kept interrupting and saying "We can just bag this if you want" and hoping they'd agree. We ended up trying to play it for a few rounds and finally I said, "I just don't get or like this, I'm sorry, this is just not working at all for me." They indicated that they too weren't really getting into it, though it wasn't causing the level of stress it was causing me. We put the game back in the box and I gave it, the whole thing, to the other friend, who thought there might be something to it, it would just take some work to dig out. (Ultimately I think we all decided that the game just wasn't very well designed, the rules were a mess, and it was understandable that it failed to click with any of us.)

3) Another game I got on Kickstarter I had played once before and remembered liking well enough, so I backed a deluxe version. I knew it was a bit heavier than my usual, so I asked a friend who was more into heavy games if he could read over the rules and help teach it. When it came time to play, things started out okay, but soon I felt in over my head with it. After only a couple rounds I felt like I had placed myself in a terrible position with no way out. Once more my anxiety ramped up sharply, to the point where I eventually had to just bow out of the game altogether, as I couldn't see a way forward and imagined simply circling the drain for however many rounds were left in the game. Having to quit a game for feeling overwhelmed was not something I had encountered a lot before.

Almost immediately afterward, Covid happened. While at first I played some online games with friends, I found that I didn't really enjoy doing that, for reasons I attributed to just not liking that medium, but when I stopped, I stopped with games completely. I played nothing from April 19 2020 until October 6 2021. Not online, not solo, not with my wife, not anything. I did not visit BGG or TWBG at all. When my regular group all got vaccinated and felt we could meet again in person to play, I declined. Before buying and playing that October 6 game (Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition) I was unsure if board gaming was something I would be doing at all anymore.

I won't go into too much detail about other things that happened, but the end result was a breakdown of sorts and a massive depression that I'm still working my way out of. I've dealt with depression all my life and have grown accustomed to cycles of it, but this was longer and deeper than I had encountered before and my medication utterly failed. There are other factors that tied into this but the net result was a spiral where each part kept reinforcing the other parts.

Thanks to therapy and some different medication, I'm on the mend. Not great, not even where I was before, but much better than I had been, and actually seeing a path out. Obviously those are things that would help in any such case, but in keeping with the gaming focus, these are other things I'm doing to try and help myself actually enjoy this hobby again.

1. There's a certain amount of "fake it till you make it". This isn't the woo-woo style found in hustle mindset and some new age nonsense, but the idea that a certain amount of anxiety can be overcome by allowing yourself to experience the situation, recognizing that it's not as bad as your mind made it out to be, and thus gradually reducing the stress. This also applies in depression in that one often loses interest in things that previously provided pleasure, and doing those things even despite the lack of interest can sort of "fire up the spark" and start again providing positive stimulus.

2. Over-preparation. I bought TfMAE because I really enjoy original style TfM and wanted to try it out. It's not a complicated game but I read through the rules several times before that initial play to build my confidence in handling a new game. Likewise, when I met back up with my group and requested another new-to-me game, I read the rules beforehand even though they had already played it and would be teaching it. I wanted to make sure I felt comfortable beforehand.

3. Re-examining those other situations and alternate ways I could have approached them. For example, in the third game, instead of leaving, I could have said something like, "Okay, I think I have screwed up and am in an death spiral over here. Does anyone have any idea what I could possibly do here to recover?" We're not playing for money, we were all generally learning the game, no one would have cared that much. Sure, you wouldn't want to make a habit of having other people play the game for you, but asking for help is a healthier option than just up and leaving.

4. Approaching the people in my group as friends, not just fellow gamers. I have other issues with relationships and often keep people at arm's length. I needed to recognize that these folks, some of whom I've been gaming with for over a decade, are also my friends. They care about me and like me and my fears that playing poorly, asking for help, or feeling anxious would just be placing an unwanted burden on them are unwarranted. I shared with them what had been going on and what I've been doing to get better and I want to let myself be more of a friend and accept more of their friendship.

5. Let some things go. Before, my gaming involved a lot of BGG, making new-to-me geeklists and game-of-the-year stuff and keeping an eye on kickstarter and new releases, etc. I stopped doing that altogether and, frankly, I don't miss a large portion of it. I was already weary of the constant firehose of releases and trying to keep track of the things I felt like I needed to keep track of. I can let a lot of that go and just play some games. I have plenty that I like, I really don't need more, and nobody will perish if something I might enjoy goes right past me. It's fine, relax.

6. Know my limitations. Even with all the above, I'm not ready to tackle Vital Lacerda's latest brain-tangler. As nothing as The Game is, maybe that's just not going to be fun for me just yet. That's okay. I don't mind missing some gaming sessions so that others can play the things they're interested in that I may not be up to.

I'm posting all this in the hopes that it might help someone else (and, truth be told, it helps me to post it.) I'm not a therapist and I still have plenty I need to work on and a ways to go.

I also wanted to share this. After I filled in my pals on what had been happening, one asked, "If we see you or someone else is in such a position, what can we do to help?" It's a fair question and at the time I didn't know what to reply, because when you're in that hole, nothing is the right thing; there's very little anyone can do or say that helps, which I know is frustrating for others. I've thought about it and can only come up with one thing to say and one to do:

To say: "That really sucks and I'm sorry you're experiencing it." It's a lot to just feel like people see you're having a hard time, understand it, and recognize it.

To do: Don't give up on them. Give them space if they need it but don't back off. Their brain is already telling them you don't really care about them. And when they feel ready to try again, be there to welcome them. It would be so much harder for me to find a way back if I didn't have friends I love on the other side.

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24 Nov 2021 13:51 #328205 by bendgar
I wish I could thank you twice. We aren't so different. Thanks for sharing.

Ben
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24 Nov 2021 14:48 - 24 Nov 2021 14:48 #328208 by Gary Sax
Brains are so weird. I found covid isolation did the opposite with me and exploring elaborate game puzzles and decision spaces.

Glad you're doing better, thanks for sharing.
Last edit: 24 Nov 2021 14:48 by Gary Sax.
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24 Nov 2021 14:52 - 24 Nov 2021 14:53 #328209 by Sagrilarus
Man, what a post. Glad to see you back! Hell of an entrance.

Part of Thoreau’s recommendation is to simplify. Whether that means playing nothing heavier than Ringo Flamingo or setting games aside entirely for more pastoral pursuits is something I’ve found healing when I’m having a bad patch. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced the depth you describe here, but it’s the only advice I can think to provide.

And one more — come chat with us if it helps. I thought you had left the site permanently and the place was poorer for it. Good to hear the older, wiser voices now and again.
Last edit: 24 Nov 2021 14:53 by Sagrilarus.
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24 Nov 2021 15:22 #328212 by Shellhead
I've always been a fan of co-op games, and most of them work well as solitaire games. Lockdown was a good time to tackle the Mount Everest of board game rules: Magic Realm. Later during the pandemic, when the isolation felt worse, I switched to less complex solitaire games like Blackstone Fortress and Marvel Champions.
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24 Nov 2021 15:34 #328213 by fightcitymayor

Legomancer wrote: Before, my gaming involved a lot of BGG, making new-to-me geeklists and game-of-the-year stuff and keeping an eye on kickstarter and new releases, etc. I stopped doing that altogether and, frankly, I don't miss a large portion of it.

It's a good message for anyone who has been in the hobby for a long time: Stop curating and start playing.

I hope you feel better.
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24 Nov 2021 15:55 #328216 by Shellhead

fightcitymayor wrote:

Legomancer wrote: Before, my gaming involved a lot of BGG, making new-to-me geeklists and game-of-the-year stuff and keeping an eye on kickstarter and new releases, etc. I stopped doing that altogether and, frankly, I don't miss a large portion of it.

It's a good message for anyone who has been in the hobby for a long time: Stop curating and start playing.

I hope you feel better.


It has always seemed to me that there are two kinds of collections: things can you can use and things that you just collect. For example, some people collect stamps or beer cans or Pez dispensers, but once those items enter the collection, they serve no purpose except for being in the collection. It has long puzzled me that some people would collect board games without playing them, but maybe they are that kind of collector who just wants to collect things for the sake of collecting them, not for the sake of having games to play.

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24 Nov 2021 16:02 #328217 by Virabhadra

Sagrilarus wrote: Good to hear the older, wiser voices now and again.


Hey, Sag. BE GRUMPIER. :-P

Thanks, Legomancer. COVID isolation has been an extreme departure from normal living, and I think anyone predisposed towards depression, anxiety, etc. has only watched that amplify, slowly and surely, over the course of the pandemic. It's really surprising to me that BGG has separate forums for 'Rainbow BGGers' and 'Women in Gaming', but there isn't an outlet for general metal health, much less something like Boardgamers Anonymous. Not all of us drink beer with our beer'n'pretzels games.
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24 Nov 2021 16:26 #328218 by Legomancer
Thanks everyone. I have been playing again, with my regular Sunday group. Even some new-to-me titles, though nothing super heavy. Tonight I'm seeing a friend for beers and a new game he has. I'm bringing a few things, one of which is Omen: Heir to the Dunes, which I got just before Covid.

There are other non-boardgame things I didn't get into. Without TMI, I'm now in therapy trying to address some root issues so that I can hopefully break the cycle I'm in. I am also looking into ketamine therapy.
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24 Nov 2021 17:59 #328222 by Jackwraith
As I mentioned on the bird app, I had kinda wondered where you'd wandered off to. Good to know that you're doing better and feel like you're making some progress.
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24 Nov 2021 18:33 #328225 by dysjunct
I’ve been enduring my spouse’s mental challenges over the past two years. She’s a special Ed teacher, which is challenging at the best of times. Which these were not. And she gave up a tenured position to move to her hometown, where we are now, which has been mostly good, but she has not been able to get tenure since. She keeps getting let go right before she’d get tenure. That has been really hard. So she has been subbing and finally got a position again. Not tenured (yet) but the principal actually cares about the teachers, which is a nice change.

I’d be interested in hearing how the ketamine therapy works for you. I’ve occasionally dropped hints that my wife try nonstandard treatments like that, but no interest yet.
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24 Nov 2021 19:06 #328226 by Dr. Mabuse
Welcome back Lego, I thought of you a few weeks ago when I noticed your absence around here. Sorry to read about your struggles and wish you the best on your recovery.
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24 Nov 2021 21:31 #328227 by san il defanso
I saw when you posted this over on Twitter, and I was hoping you might make an appearance here with it.

I started counseling about a year ago, mostly in connection with work, but I’m sure that isolation played a role too. I tried playing online through TTS, but the time difference made it hard to make happen regularly. My saving grace was my local 5e group on Roll20, otherwise I would have been a mess.

Anyway, it’s good to see you here, Lego.
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