Anxiety and Gaming Triggers

I suppose it’s time to talk about those┬áhateful things known as depression and anxiety. I want to write about something that’s happened recently, partially because I’m hoping writing about it will help me figure it out and wrap my mind around it and maybe find a solution at some point, but I also want to reinforce my belief that these things shouldn’t be hidden, and that talk about mental illness shouldn’t be avoided because there’s a stigma to it. Seriously, why is there a stigma? More people than not have some form of it. It doesn’t mean they’re broken, it means their chemicals went a little wonky at some point.

I could go on for pages about that whole thing, but I’ll stick to my current situation for now.


My husband and I, being the fabulous nerds we are, decided to try LARPing. Manhattan has a great group of people who I’d gotten to know through TengaiCon, and they sold us on giving it a try. So I drew up a character and tried to figure things out.

At first, I was just really shy. I didn’t know the mechanics of the game, and it’s never been easy for me to be anyone else. I thought it would get better for me and that I would eventually feel comfortable. I even had a couple really good nights where I felt outgoing and comfortable and in character.

Everyone is great and patient, but I realized quickly that LARPing was triggering my anxiety and triggering it hard. Even on nights when I started out feeling good, something would happen, and it wouldn’t even be something major. It would just be a shift for me, and watching everyone else having a good time while I spiraled made it worse.

Normally, I would just say “This isn’t for me” and take a step back. But in this case, quitting brings another bout of anxiety with it. It means not getting to spend time with good people I wouldn’t see otherwise. It means feeling like I’m letting people down. And strangely, it also feels like I’m giving up on a couple characters who had potential. While most people wouldn’t think twice about it, to me, it feels like unfinished business.

I’m currently thinking of coping techniques I can use because I do think it’ll get better. I went through something like this when I started playing tabletop RPGs. A lot of it is hating the feeling of not knowing what I’m doing. Some of it is being intimidated by people who are awesome. There’s also an element of being a little overwhelmed by different people and different characters.

There’s also a need, when LARPing, to separate the reality from the game. No, I’m not going to rage at work and turn into a werewolf. But I have found myself irritated or angry or hurt by something a character did and it’s carried over into my feelings toward a player.

I’m not sure if I’m ready to give up yet, because there are some really fun points. Right now, I’m going to take a short break and then just take it one game at a time. The main thing I’m making myself remember, though, is that just because I’m having these issues, I’m still an awesome person. I don’t say that enough out loud, but having anxiety doesn’t mean I’m broken. It just means I have a thing I need to handle.