I’ve been down for a while. I’m not sure how apparently it’s been in the social media world because of how my political anxiety over the election has manifested as being manic about sharing political information – but depression has been tearing at my soul for weeks, if not months. No, definitely months. My only real relief has been a matter of degrees; I went from the deep despair in July surrounding the anniversary of my grandfather’s death to a “baseline” state where I’ve been merely existing at a level too muddled with difficulty concentrating, lack of motivation, loss of filter, lack of energy, aches and pains, and a loss of interest in too many things.
Today, my psychiatrist told me that I “look and sound better” than I have in a very long time. And I must confess, I agree with him.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m still totally anxious about the results of the election tonight, but I have cut so much negativity out of my life in just the last five days… And I feel like it’s freed me.
It was not easy to get here. Both Tom and I had probably the worst days in recent memory last week when we made the difficult decision to leave our online gaming guild. We’ve been with them for two years. The reins of leadership were handed to me late last year, but the burden of leadership was too hard for me, and after only a few months, I handed leadership to my dedicated husband. Despite a guild rule about respect, the levels of disrespect and outright aggressiveness I experienced were just intolerable.
If you’re not a gamer, you may not understand the intensity of gaming guilds. The blogging community is huge and amazing and supportive, and we can have our share of petty drama, but it’s easier to walk away from blogging drama than it is to walk away from gaming drama. When you play World of Warcraft, you’re generally committed to playing for several hours each day. For our “mature” guild, it was busiest in the evenings after everyone got home from work and the kids went to bed. It’s a very team-oriented game. You socialize and play cooperatively with the same people every single day for weeks, months…years.
And then you realize that, despite the “real” friends you’ve made in the guild, there are too many people who are actively making your life miserable. People who have more seniority than you, despite your relative positions in-game where you have officer privileges and they don’t. But you have principles. Or at least, your husband has principles, and refuses to kick out the disrespectful jerks who defended someone else’s right to use a homophobic slur as “free speech,” despite that word being singled out specifically in the guild rules as unacceptable. (I was again being called out for playing “word police,” and it was the last straw.)
So Tom and I left the guild and started our own. Since we’d contributed quite a bit to the shared storage of the guild bank, I took some helpful things when we left. Tom didn’t want me to. Neither of us could have foreseen the cruelty of one of the guild members petitioning Blizzard to get me banned from playing the game for theft. WoW is not “just a game” to us. It’s one of the few luxuries we didn’t cut out of our budget when we had to tighten the belt this past month because we so enjoy playing together. Thankfully, Blizzard informed this former “friend” that I had every right to take the items with me, since I had permissions to remove them and hadn’t used any sort of exploit. Unfortunately, I’d already been terrified enough about losing my account to return most of the stuff through a friend in the guild who hated what they were doing to us.
We lost sleep. Anger, outrage, guilt, regret, loss…it caused so much misery to cut this group out of our lives. Thankfully, we still have a few guild members as friends on Facebook, and we can still message each other in-game. But the decision to start over, start fresh, and pretty much pretend the last two years with the guild never happened… it was the right move.
Because now I feel free. I’ve surgically removed the cause of so much stress and heartache. For now, the only intolerance, disrespect, and hatefulness I should encounter will be from sources that are easily escapable by blocking someone on Facebook, navigating away from a website, or reporting someone for abuse on Twitter.
And I’d had no idea how bad this has been making me feel until my doctor made me realize how much better I felt today.
Cast out the emotional vampires in your life. I didn’t think I could do it. But you can only be pushed so far.
I don’t know if this means anything for my depression over the long haul. It might just be a temporary fix, but I don’t think so. Tom has been running interference when these external forces have triggered me for months, taking care of me when despair had me in its grips, explaining to people how they’d upset me… None of that will be necessary now. I can work with my doctor on the internal forces at the root of my depression instead of always putting a Band-Aid on the damage caused by outside circumstances. Maybe I can really start healing now.