“You know how I’m always making those interesting comments during the game.”

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I’m doing alright.  The Depression Monster is trying all sorts of tactics, and finding they don’t work so well on someone present in their body. 🙃 I’m busy fighting them off, but it’s different now.  It’s a lot easier to defend the castle when I’m in it than when I’m off floating on a cloud of code.  It doesn’t take all my resources any longer, which is wicked awesome.

Now, even while under attack, I can also work on creating, healing, and collecting moments of joy — significant flex.  Aw.  The Depression Monster must be sad.  Your dethroning after all this time hurts, eh?  I know we go way back, but we’re not friends.  I’m going to name it a Passing Acquaintance.  Thanks for helping me grow.  I’m moving on to whatever comes next.  (In heels AF1’s.)

A great deal of healing is happening in my life.  I think my subconscious is making essential connections while I sleep.  I’m sleeping differently; more productively.  I awaken feeling like I spent all night coding in my sleep, yet feel rested.  My recent changes in perspective regarding trauma while conscious seem like such small changes compared to the results I’m experiencing.  Thank goodness it’s working in my favor.

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I can’t remember what I’m dreaming, but I do notice myself acting out briefly, then pausing to examine what is going on.  I felt like my stress tolerance level got reset back to childlike yesterday.  It was sudden and confusing.  I felt intense rage over the slightest provocation.  Um.  No.  So I converted the mysterious rage energy into music with my drums.  (I finally understand heavy metal.)

I recognized I need to go back to Azeroth (World of Warcraft) and spend some time carefully stretching my stress balloon.  It’s my safe place to get frightened and stressed out in a controlled environment.  Any time I feel super frustrated or like I’m about to cry, I hop up and walk around while calming myself and using a Night King boost.  I’m going to build a new toon from level 1 and help other players as I go.

This social aspect of the game helps me build confidence in my ability to connect with strangers (without getting punched if I make a mistake.)  I role-play with my Paladin by acting out my purpose as a protector who serves others in my faction.  I support players who go all out in PVP capture the flag scenarios by healing and reviving, instead of glory seeking.  (I probably don’t play right, but I have fun and make friends.)

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Video games get a bad rap, but I see them as incredible tools when used to build up stress tolerance.  It’s a shortcut, (and having a childlike stress tolerance level is hell.)  Adults who are unable to self-diffuse a potential full-blown tantrum before it happens in realtime are in crisis.  Not it.  I need to be able to think before I speak or react.  Video games allow us to work it out at home, (so long as we focus on self-soothing and calming while our brain thinks the shit is hitting the fan.)

For me, I listen to ABBA Gold quietly on repeat, aim a small fan at the back of my neck, and drink soothing tea while I play.  I set a timer for sixty minutes, and I play (as a tank) for strangers with a walking break at halfway.  I know if I mess up, everyone in my group will be disappointed, and their abilities to cope with it will be all over the place.  Some will log off, while others go off.  My job is to take it all in and reflect calmness and kindness.  I feel the stress and let it pass through me, unclaimed.

Each time, it gets easier.  Eventually, the stress and fear become just part of the excitement, not a misidentified provocation to enter the fight-freeze-flight mode.  I love healing at home.  Now that I have my cherished map, it’s inevitable, and that makes me so happy.  I have all these tools and control over how I experience my life now.  The distinction is crucial to me.  I’m off to build my new toon.  💜✌🏽