So, what’s it really like being NeuroDivergent?

I have written 2 similar blogs around this topic, but they mostly looked at how I am coping or have felt about a journey to accepting at a minimum being neurodivergent. Both lightly touched on how I see and feel the world briefly but only to a degree.

Living on a day to day with being Neurodivergent was written yesterday as a means of explaining the overwhelming fear that maybe I made this up – maybe I am wrong. A friend responded to it to tell me how it resonated with them and their view of the world, telling me if both of us feel/ see things that way so we can’t both be wrong. This friend is right, both of us have been set on the path we are on by professionals, so it isn’t like we found a term we liked and thought yeah let’s be that. However, that voice still it still says you lie, you exaggerate, everyone feels this way, you are just over complicating things, so I know how to deal with that voice – I know by putting this down by writing this I can hopefully see the voice is wrong. More importantly if you are stilling out there fighting that voice too maybe my story will help you, maybe my words will resonate and together maybe we are right, and that voice isn’t.

I have no idea how long this will be only I am going to try and cover auditory, visual, thought process, confusion the overwhelming gap that stretches between me and people.

So how do I see the world, I wasn’t joking when I say my eyes feel like they see too much, for years this was how I explained my confusion when I struggled to identify one thing among a mass of things (never throw a map at me while the car is moving and say hurry find us a new, better route because there is too much in a map when you brain is processing it all at once.) Also, my eyes always felt tired, but I have perfect 20/20 vision, healthy eyes, but they hurt. I think I honestly just take in too much, colour, light, texture, pattern all of it at once in an overwhelming visual cacophony.

I struggle to focus on one thing at a time to process one thing at a time. Genuinely feel like I have a million thoughts at once as everything fires off. At any given time, I am probably composing a response to an email, figuring out a process or problem, writing my d&d campaign and planning the weekend to do list all while we are having a conversation. This sometimes makes me spacy and more importantly I come across rude or distant, I am not, and you are very interesting, and I WANT to talk to you, I WANT to listen to you, but my brain also needs to do the other 4 things at once.

Without realising it I developed coping mechanisms at work to help me concentrate and listen, if you ever sit in a meeting with me I am not ignoring you while I draw – it’s the only way I can listen. Sounds odd doesn’t it, but if I am in a meeting and trying to listen intently to your words that to do list pops up, or a shopping list, my brain runs through that problem or row that happened recently and your words meld into the cacophony in my head. Drawing quietens the noise and helps me pinpoint one sound in many – it helps me listen to you. If I can’t draw I will trace patterns with my hands or eyes again I NEED to if you want me to listen. Watching movies and TV for date night become tricking because yep you guessed it I can’t shut down the thoughts and pay attention. I tend to play games on my phone my boyfriend for years got frustrated because in fairness to him date night shouldn’t be cuddled up watching a movie while one of you plays on a phone. However, if I just watch TV often I am not watching it I am once again running through the 100 thoughts and ideas my brain decides to throw at me and I don’t really follow the story line.

Those 1000s of thoughts I have – I have probably written in my head 4 or 5 times the blogs than I ever published often in a stream of overlapping thoughts, same with stories and D&D encounters. Some stay some are a flash and gone almost to quick for me to establish them.

On top of that and the information I take in visually, sounds are everywhere, and the world is noisy and loud. Overwhelmingly so at times. I never really understood my frustration or rage, other than I know that on a train when you can hear people breathing and chatting and music it is not the done thing to lie on the floor and have a full tantrum. Do you know what is worse knowing that and having to fight the urge to do it because everything has overwhelmed you so much and you just want to break down, but normal well-adjusted adults don’t do that right? Everyone else copes why can’t I just get over my shit. Do you spent your days so angry and frustrated you want to destroy the world around you, to smash it all into little pieces so it stops? I did everyday and as I write this I realise since April I’ve felt like this less and less. I still don’t get the world, I still get frustrated, but I am calmer with a language to help me define and the overwhelming need to destroy has lessened.

My frustration and anger used to come as tears and violence to myself and I am sorry my love a barrage of verbal anger to you, except it isn’t you and it never was, its me, its my frustration at me and how I can’t get things to understand and how I can’t understand things. I am sorry for all the pain and hate you have had to deal with and carry.

Conversations and crowds are overwhelming, and if you pay attention you will see little hand flutters designed to calm me. Over the years these have changed when I was younger I sucked my thumb and twisted my hair to calm me – except when I got braces that had to stop. Then I twizzled my hair or other peoples. For a while I took to rocking if I was stressed I would rock back and forth to myself until I was calm again. Now I either rub my thumb and forefinger together or the fingers of my left hand in a circular motion on my right hand. These actions steady me, ground me and calm me enough to follow my thoughts. If I am in a crowd or stressed and anxious it will be a fluttering of my three middle fingers usually down by my thigh – the more rapid it is the more anxious or uncomfortable I am. This one could be confused with anxious but if you see me happy or content that same flutter will be a slower movement and be higher near my chest.

However, don’t confused any of those hand movements with the thought hand movement this is a rapid slightly more all over the place and my hand could be anywhere, as I try to remember what I was doing or thinking. Or you may see me become distinct while my hand just moves rapidly in the same place (usually just one or two fingers), that is also the thought hand movement but what I am doing is moving pieces around – I see everything data, problems, processes, storytelling, people like a jigsaw and what I am doing is visually moving them until the slot into the correct place and BOOM I’ve figured at that problem or I’ve written that next interesting bit of the d&d campaign.

I will take this moment to pause and apologies having just read this back, there is a lot and it flows very fast – sorry this is just how it came out and I plan to leave it as the way it reads in frantic movement through thoughts feels right somehow.

Finally, for I am sure there is so much more to write but this is already long. I don’t get people, I don’t I’ll be honest really get tact I say what I think, and do you know how many friends I have lost through tackles comments. Expect I didn’t mean to be tackles, I don’t mean to be rude I just am saying a fact, or a truth or what I see as a fact. It makes me come across as uncaring and blunt except for I care greatly I just don’t know how to tell you. People come with emotions and feeling, and I don’t really get feelings, don’t get me wrong I feel things for people but not in the same way not with the force of attachment others do. It makes me come across as cold and logical I have been called Spock enough times. Even my Christmas tree decorating is a logical distribution of colours to perfectly cover the tree in a way in which the bauble/ colour and tree ratio is just right. The down side for years I would feel like there was a physical chasm between me and people and I never knew how to cross it often they would just get further and further away until I lost them.

Out of me and my sister I was always the one who was considered good at making friends, and the one with friends. The truth is I spent most of my time learning that I wasn’t like most people, I learned to stay quiet, to watch, to mimic to mask my confusion and my bluntness. However, I lost more friends than I could ever face thinking about, I hung out on the edges of groups confused and unsure what was wrong with me. Each time I made a group of friends someone who eventually not want me there, disagree, feel I was too odd, and I would have to move on, I moved through so many groups of friends at school over the years all the way from the most popular to the uncool kids. Do you know ho many lunchtimes I wondered the school, always moving so bullies didn’t catch up with me, always moving so the reminder that I was alone wasn’t there – I dreaded lunch and the pretense that came with it. Over the years I got better at trying, at faking, at pretending until sometimes I didn’t recognise myself anymore.

Note: Edit Thursday 11th:

What I realized rereading this is what I have missed out: Repetitive Behaviours – or at least exploring this more, Effects of change in environment, I am still learning to understand my sensory issues so I am sure there is more there, being consider fussy/ picky/ awkward and non verbal communication – using non verbal forms of communication – there will be more I am sure bear with me I am only just learning.

Also additional edit to the original piece because there were some mistakes – apologies x

Living on a day to day with being Neurodivergent

Back in April I shared a post about my journey to accepting the start of a diagnosis that woulds mean that I am Neurodivergent. I am still slowly on that journey, but 3 months in the realities are quite different in some ways that my Hell Yeah! lets embrace this post.

I’m still embracing it never mistake that and on a day to day basis it kind of can be like a super power for what I do as a job. Processes and data speak to me in a way they don’t for my colleagues – the way I visualize information like a jigsaw around me. As a side note for the first time saying this to people I know with ASD and having a totally get what you mean back is rewarding and uplifting knowing that there isn’t something weird or wrong with me.

But I feel slightly lost at times because I think I have a thing, but how do I know for sure? I will be on the waiting list for my formal diagnosis for probably 12 – 18 months. When first discussed it, I was 100% that’s fine I can wait I don’t need to know I’ll just embrace being neurodivergent – but what does that really mean? And does that give me the support and understanding I need if I am Autistic. Mostly yes & no – it does 100% it gives a base understanding of being different and that is fine, useful and needed.

Where it doesn’t give me support and where I feel lost is – what happens if I don’t have ASD, what if I am not on the spectrum? That terrifies me because I hold so much hope for this being the explanation I need, but what if it isn’t. How do I go back if I have embraced something and it turns out I’m just odd/ making it up/ being fussy? – that I just need to get over my shit.

So many things in my life in the last 3 months have changed, work have accepted and provided me all the support I need for my sensory problems but what do I do if it comes back I’m just fussy? Trying to explain why I function the way I do to my boyfriend from an ASD stance is hard – because maybe I am not, maybe I just need to learn to get over. The problem is having nothing formal to push back with and that isn’t to others, nearly everyone I know has embraced the idea of me being Autistic 110% wholeheartedly. It’s to me, to that little voice that says you are making work/ your friends etc jump through hopes, adjust, accept and change for what because you are a fussy princess who just needs to grow up – that terrifies me, maybe the voice is right!? Even though I know I can’t because I try perhaps I just need to be better at coping at being normal.

Also relationship conversations with my other half are difficult framed with this new light, one because he is, to a degree, relearning a person he’s know for 14 years and nobody wants to think the person they love whether they meant to or not has been lying. Also it is difficult for me – where does that leave everything I have addressed with him from an ASD view point if I am not. Am I even prepared to research what an ASD point of view means until I am? Looking at coping mechanisms and tools I feel a fraud accessing these tools for a condition I don’t know if I have.

What I do know is the world is loud, overwhelming, noising, bright there is so much and it is so exhausting. Right now I am sat at my desk and I hear the click of my keyboard and other peoples, I hear someone clattering cutlery in the kitchen, I hear the hum of the server all equally loud as each other, I don’t do background noise I just do noise – everything at the for front and I tune into it all. I always used to say my eyes see to much, I now know It’s the way I view the data – light, colour etc and how overwhelming it can be sometimes on my senses. The more information to take in the worse it gets – for example lights in London at night almost physically shut me down but also so does the absence of light it makes me feel like the walls are closing in and I freeze. Some days are harder than others, some days I feel so fragile that sounds might shatter me and all the while I fight the voice that just tells me to be a bit more normal, a bit less fussy. All I know is too much and I am overwhelmed and tired and that largely leads to snappy, grumpy and rude me, I don’t mean to I just don’t know how not too.

My Journey to a Neurodivergent me

As some of you may or may not know a little while ago I had my first appointment with a psychologist, well let’s go back a little to understand how we got here.

In the past I have done counselling or what they call talking therapy which helped but always left me feeling a little like I was still wrong. Or that I was still getting it wrong, that I didn’t really understand. I’ve in more recent years tried CBT but the problem with that is my thought process is just that mine and CBT doesn’t change that. I am sort of like that’s nice I get your theory, but this is still my reality. I am starting to understand more about why it never worked for me – but we’ll get to that.

Towards the end of last year/ beginning of this year due to some things at work I started to lose control of myself. If I am honest I’d never really had a strong hold on myself more the pretence I had about the hold I had on myself started to slip. I realised I was a long way from being and feeling ok. So, I reached out….

Session 1 – less than an hour spent in my company – the psychologist asked me if I had ever considered if I was on the Spectrum. In otherwise had I considered I had ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder. I honestly at that point really hadn’t. In my head I had an idea of what ASD was and I not that. It was a limited view and a limited understanding on my part of something that is varied in severity, functioning and turns out gender too. This is where my misconception lay in what I had perceived as ASD traits are largely male ASD traits.

So, I started looking into different terms, adults diagnosed with ASD, High functioning ASD and females and ASD. Finally, I found a view that I not only understood but agreed with. I heard echoing of my own words said over many years, the need to adapt, fit in, mask myself finally I’d found others who did the same who used my very explanations for things – explanations that others had given me odd looks over the years for. I honestly thought everyone walked into a situation assessed the room and pulled the correct version of them out the tool box as appropriate. There is no blending by the way what I have discovered if one version of me is out say practical cooking Kat and suddenly say the boyfriend is looking for spontaneous or affectionate Kat, this isn’t an easy process. It involves opening the correct mental draw putting away practical Kat. Shutting that draw and finally opening spontaneous, affection or sexy Kat – or whichever version is required. Yes, one needs to go away first before the other is let out – and if you watch you will see a physical moment as all the cogs jam up while this process happens. For years this has caused issues on a spontaneous romantic scale but NOW I HAVE MEAINING TO IT!!!

I am discovering me for the first time – not what one version of me is like but what that tool box looks like as a whole. My friends and family are going on this journey too. I had dinner with my parents a few weeks ago and let them get to know the full box not just Good Daughter Kat but intense, full on, passionate, intelligent, high processing and really has no understating how social or conversational setting work but HAVE ALL MY THOUGHTS Kat.I am still very early on my journey and although I have done an ASD screening test with my psychologist and based on that she is sending me for referral for a formal diagnosis, so the chances are pretty high that I am Autistic. Right now, I do not feel comfortable saying I am #ActuallyAutistic that I am on the spectrum or have ASD. Why? Well not for shame or stigma I do not fear that it will change the way people will relate to me, more I feel it would be a dishonour to those who have been diagnosed as ASD who have suffered at the hands of stigma, that have struggled to be accepted. You have fought a long fight and I don’t feel it’s right to sweep in and claim I’m thing after a few sessions with a psychologist and no formal review.

I do know I am not neurotypical so let’s say for now I am neurodivergent in time as I learn more about myself, my through processes and discover my coping mechanisms and as that formal diagnoses comes along who knows but I will happily wear the #ActuallyAutistic tag with pride. I am beginning to realise it is exactly what makes me so damn remarkable.

In time I hope we can explore this together and I hope to write more on it, but for it now as am introduction to it: – Hello my name is Kat and I am Neurodivergent.

PodcastZone is back for 2019 at DragonMeet

After a busy few weeks of exciting talks and meetings, it’s all happening! The PodcastZone will returning to DragonMeet 2019 for its fourth year.

The PodcastZone has had a presence at the London gaming convention for some time  after a group of ‘casters discovered each other all similarly loaded up with podcast kit to cover the event in their own shows.

For the last three years ‘casters from across the UK have been bought together under the #PodcastZone banner by Kalum from The Rolistes Podcast. He liaised with DragonMeet to secure us spacing and to organise the shows attending. This year he gets the chance to attend the event as a punter as a brand new Event Manager steps in to oversee the 2019 goings on!… You can check out the very first tweet with the hot news here!

We are highly excited by our new Management Team! Once again I will be in the supporting / administrative/ all-hands-on-deck role and will be led by the fabulous Mira Manga from Girls on Tour Podcast who you can find on twitter as @girlsontourpod  This time last week we met for a planning session and I couldn’t be more excited by what is on the table for this year’s event. Keep your eyes peeled and watch for more announcements but this year’s team couldn’t be more ready to bring you the Podcast Zone you want and the Podcast Zone that DragonMeet needs.

Mira And Kat’s first meet

This is the combining of two powerful and excited forces – no not DM and PZ but me and Mira and we can’t wait to bring you the latest on our plans.

#DnDSelfie and a whole lotta love

SNL recently did a sketch that well for most of the D&D, RPG, TTRPG and nerd community fell a little flat on its face. It depicted your role-players as that certain type of nerd, you know the one I mean. The sort that in the 80’s and the 90’s was an assumed and accepted stereotype, although even back then it wasn’t 100% correct but it was accepted. We were in the shadows anyways and kept our d&d nerdery and other nerdery to ourselves.

Roll on 2019 and there is a whole new bright and shiny community made up of some of the most wonderful, diverse and varied people around. So how did the community respond to the SNL sketch with the Hashtag #DnDSelfie – go check it out I urge you. It is a wonderful, positive and diverse hashtag full of wonderful, positive, diverse people celebrating their love of the hobby. Each one taking the time to share their joy and love for a hobby but more importantly smashing down those stereotypes of what our Nerdom is all about.

So here’s my #DnDSelfie and contribution to celebrating my hobby

Now we get to the nay-sayers and those who want to put the community and their representation back into the 80’s. So, I will say this once we don’t all have to be the same. I am sorry if you feel dyed hair and awesome photos of dice are hipster shit, I am sorry my version of D&D is not yours, but you know what that’s ok. Please assume we are nothing more than hipster pricks if that makes your day better, but know this I get that feeling of being bullied and ostracised at school I was right there with you – but you know the difference between me and you? It took me a long time to find my nerd tribe that didn’t other me because I was a girl, who didn’t try to stereotype me as a girl. So, if people want to come into my community having OMG!!! ONLY JUST FOUND D&D – guess what/ that’s cool with me. They want to have dyed hair and cool shiny items, fine that’s good with me too – you do you the way you want to.

It is as simple as this I get that for many of us who have been nerds longer than we can remember we want to protect what we were mocked for. We want to keep it to just us and our types but guess what communities and hobbies evolve so open your arms, welcome those people and bask in the love that is the #DnDSelfie, because you know what we still battle stereotypes and we still are treated like weirdos at times, lets not make anyone else feel the pain if we don’t have to – lets be better than the stereotype, lets be better than those who put us down and lets celebrate all the beautiful, smiley faces in the #DnDselfie hashtag.

Much love, keep rolling dice, keep nerding out x

It’s Time To Talk Day

2019 Time to Talk day is today. What is time to talk day? Well it’s really a day to encourage people to have a conversation about Mental Health. I thought long and hard how I wanted to have the conversation this year and where I wanted to have it. In fact for me I’ve been testing the conversation all week starting with making a confession to a few friends…

Firstly what I want to say is if you are going to have a conversation today and you are unsure how, please check out the tips and resources on Time to Change. It isn’t always easy for the person with mental health problems to have the conversation. It is equally hard to be the friend/ family member/ work colleague who cares to have the conversation. It’s important that you both are comfortable and you find the right way to talk.

For those of us with mental health problems or disorders or with difficult mental health, it isn’t always easy to have the conversation and we all want or need different things when we have it. For some of us we are learning as we go on what conversations are the right ones, what ingredients works for us.

I have always found I am very factually and logical in the way I talk. I can talk openly about my mental health but I find I used to distance myself from the emotional aspect. I am trying to challenge my own mental health stigma by having more emotive conversations but also conversation in the moment rather than oh once I had this thing. Now I am trying to be more like let me tell you the thing I am going through now.

For me patience is really important, for all my talk previously of breaking down Mental Health Stigma I discovered I actually did have a stigma. Not to mental health in general but to my own  – I didn’t really consider it real or worthy of conversation not in a practical I actually need to and want to explore this and be honest and open about it sort of way. Now I am trying. This is both from me and from the person I am having the conversation with the patience goes both ways.

Time is another – Not everything is easy to talk about, so please listen and give me a chance to find my words. The problem you see is if I do not see my problem as a problem as soon as the time for the conversation has be lost I am not going to go back to it. Space falls into this as well – the space within the conversation to stumble over the words to flounder around until I can form the right ones.

It’s hard for me to admit that perhaps I am not OK or perhaps there is a thing, so for me the ingredients I need allows me the space, time and patience to feel comfortable to talk. For others their ingredients will be different perhaps there will be a physical need – for example for me the conversation always works nicely over a cup of tea.

It is important we have these conversations, It is important we normalize this topic we all have mental health just like we all have physical health. We will all experience both good and bad health as well as mental health and for some of us we may have a mental health disorder just like we could have a physical aliment or disorder. However you have the conversation make sure you do – it’s the only way to continue working on breaking stigma and letting people know that – well its OK.

To start it off lets have a conversation, you are welcome to post a comment, ask a question come find me on twitter today and lets have a conversation about mental health. Lets keep breaking down that stigma and lets keep the conversation going…..

Is it a Bird, is it a plane…. Nope just an Anthem Javelin on Demo Weekend

So Anthem Demo weekend is now finished and if I am honest I am a little sad that it’s gone. I really fell in love with my Javelin – picked out it’s awesome colours, got all my gear and weapons to rare (power 19) and spent all weekend really getting the hang of the game. I mean it’s ok in two weeks the game will come out and I can rebuilt that suit, but in the mean time I am going to miss flying.

So what was the Demo like? Well both awesome and Oh my terrible but I guess that was to be expected.

The flying controls (once I worked out how to fly) felt great and really intuitive, as a whole switching between walking, running, flying and swimming is very fluid which is glorious. The flying system is so much fun and really adds a great (many) levels to the game and to your play style potential.

As a rule I am a top down kinda gamer, never really got on with 1st person or 3rd person shoot ems. I learnt long ago that 1st is really not for me (I spend the entire game trying to see my character). I also am not really a guns type gamer I do not have the time or the patience or if I am honest the skill to line up a shot. Before you say I have tried spray and pray and oh my I can not at all. Turns out my brain is all about skill and precision shots but my hands are so lacking in the skill or the practice and that makes these types of games unusually frustratingly hard.

So imagine my surprise when (once I had adjust my load out from assault rifle to a sniper) I started to really dig this game. I loved the heights. For someone who isn’t very quick with getting a shot off and needs time to line that sniper shot, being able to fly to a high point, set up my support shield and just take my time worked well. Especially with the starting Javelin the Ranger – it’s a great all round Javelin with decent shield and health. Light but not super light and some great skills. I found myself really utilising all elements with the Ranger.

Then I unlocked the Storm Javelin and suddenly for me the game transformed to a whole new level of fun. For someone who is terrible with shooty games the storm allows you to really leave that all behind and to well to leave the battlefield behind too. Nothing makes you feel more powerful than hovering above the fight raining down ice shards and firey blasts. This is probably going to be my Javelin of choice as soon as I can when the game comes out. Although I didn’t give the Interceptor a chance I definitely want to.

For those of you who like to Tank your games I hear that the Colossus is a LOT of fun, in fact I spent all weekend listening to my boyfriend talk about how great it is. At this point I am not going to tell you which is the best Javelin to use, I read an article earlier that rank them from worst to best (Ranger was worst). Personally I don’t think my opinion of the Javelin’s matter what I like about the game is the play style versatility in the Javelins. For me the storm suits my style so well, but the Colossus was definitely my boyfriend’s favourite because that is his play style. However I think the Ranger has a place as a well balanced, all round Javelin it’s going to come in useful when you aren’t in a team when you just want to do a bit of running round on your own.

So the terrible, well I am hoping that the glitches and bugs will continue to be ironed out. I think I spent more time this weekend frustratingly being booted from the server or in endless load up screens that seemed to take days than playing the game. Occasionally the lag meant that I would use my ice shards (R1) then switch to my firey blasts (L1) however the command for your support gear is L1 & R1 together. Nothing is more frustrating or off putting in the middle of a fight when you think you are moving from ice shards to fire blast and suddenly you popped out your wind wall half way across the map. I also don’t know how many times I had to say ‘Guys I promise I’m not pressing any buttons’ as my Javelin continued to rapid fire the assault rifle I had.

Having spoken to some friends in Game Dev I get that the Demo we all played is probably a long way from the game they are still more than likely tweaking for release date and I remain hopeful. I’m going to get it release day, of course I am but I am also going to go in with an expectation of glitchiness and I really hope to be pleasantly surprised. Overall though the game has some great features and I am excited to see the final product.

 

(Banner – official Anthem Logo from EA’s website: https://www.ea.com/en-gb/games/anthem)

A New year…. A New Me?

So it’s always around this time of year people set their New Years Resolutions, resolve to be better at something, to change something, to leave behind the old them and grow into something new.

Well I have spent many years trying to be a new me, a better me, a different me. However all that does is forget that the me I was/ am got me to this point, they are a fighter and a survivor.

That me has been through an abusive relationship, has struggled through bullying in friendships, in the work place, has had a breakdown and daily they struggle to manage over whelming anxiety. It is that me that has kept me getting up in the mornings, who gets me on a train every day and gets me to work – even with a rapid heart beat or palpitations.

What I am learning is regardless of my thoughts about that me, that me is tough, funny, strong and yes weird as hell but a damn good weird. That weirdness has allowed me to see the world as I do, and has provided me with some damn awesome experiences.

So this year I wrote a really long list of resolutions, 14 to be precise which sounds intense. However they are simple and really could be summed up in 3 – enjoy life more, be kind to myself and create more, the 14 are:

2019

What is interesting is when I wrote these I wasn’t really thinking a priority order, I just wrote as they came to me. It’s interesting that the 3 at the bottom came to me last, that in itself shows me how important it is to embrace them!

This is going to be a short and sweet blog, I am not sure I have ever written anything this brief but the point isn’t to wrote long essays, the point is to just write. So really this is a blog to say hey I am back and I am writing again, to give you an idea of what the year may hold and to try to start putting those goals into action.

This is also about me saying that it is never about a New you because you is awesome – you got you here, you has survived and fought and never take that you for granted. This year is the year for being kind to yourself.

I’m on the outside

I’m looking in…

That line really speaks volumes to me about my life. I often seem to others that I’m in the mix of things getting involved being super friendly. In truth I’m not, for me I’m as the song lyrics by Staind say on the outside. That line sums up the nature of this blog or at least what this blog means to me. You see I want to talk about impostor syndrome and for me it’s that, the fear of being discovered, that keeps me outside. It keeps me from becoming part of any one thing because then everyone would know.

Know what you ask… well it varies for me depending on the situation and remember this is just my experience with it for others it might be different. Although if this can help someone understand the fear someone goes through with impostor syndrome then well I’ve achieved one good thing at least.

With my closest and dear friends those I’ve known 10 plus years and those I’ve met more recently I fear you’ll discover me for what I am. A terrible person, selfish, a bad friend, arrogant and rude. I sit waiting and watching convinced that these people I respect as highly intelligent surely will work out what a terrible person I am. You can’t all be friends with me because I truly am good or kind, it’s but luck, by chance and I fooled you all well. That’s tiring I must admit I spend so much of my time convinced you’ll all catch me in this lie that I’m constantly over worrying, apologising & trying to make up for a thing I may not even have done other than in my head. I honestly don’t think I’m smart or funny or any other positive word.

Within the d&d community, well one day honestly, I think you’ll all chase me out, probably with pitch folks. Every time I’m invited to do something, join pocket mimic, join encounter RP… there have been other twitch channels that have approached me, the other collaborative work that I’ve been involved with, well I’m waiting. Waiting for someone who will realise I’m a fake, that I know nothing, I can’t d&d and I certainly can’t DM. How my players haven’t discovered that I’ll never understand! It truly baffles me some days to why anyone would think I bring value to the community or have a valid voice or opinion I mean after all it’s not talent that has bought me this far. It’s nothing but luck, the right place at the right time or good blagging skills. I can list you 100 reasons why and none of them are that I’m talented or skilled, my only talent lies in my ability to fake it.

Work well the idea of being an expert of knowing what I’m talking about baffles me. I listen to people agree or commend my work and really, I’m not sure how they don’t see it. I hear the words come out of my mouth and to me anybody could say them, there is nothing new or profoundly clever in what I say. Currently I’ve been involved in a massive, complex and important bit of work and people keep looking to me for advice. Me??!! And then they listen it terrifies me that they haven’t seen the truth yet. What I truly am an expert in is faking or the sell. I can dress it up and sell it in pretty words. Mostly I’m hoping that thing I once read is true as I hope and pray that people don’t discover I have no idea! I mean I don’t even think of myself as clever or capable. Yes, I have a degree and yes it was a good grade but I scraped that, it was a fluke, somehow someone took pity who knows, but it can’t have been skill or talent right?!

The hardest battle is that this isn’t every day and the intensity isn’t always the same. This makes me feel and sound like I’m flip flopping. One day I may say to my players for example ‘ok I finally see what you all see and maybe I got this DM shit’. Eventually, it maybe hours it might be days or weeks the voice will say ‘but you know it’s just luck, Right?! Just chance you managed to pull this one off’. I live in this perpetual battle of one side of me condemning and the other slowly getting weaker in the battle as it stammers ‘no… but… well actually…’

So, I don’t join in more than I must. I make friends but I keep most of them at arm’s length, in the year that I have moved I’ve had so few of my oldest friends or people from my closest group over. There is an element of subconscious distancing I’m giving them the chance to make that polite exit from my life without a scene. I don’t tell them this of course as there is a chance they might stop me instead I make myself look busy in the hopes they forget. Then of course it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy because they don’t reach out and stop me from doing the thing they have no idea I’m doing. Then I can go ahha! I was right look at them not fighting for my friendship they realised I’m not worth it.

It’s the same with the creative endeavours, everyone I know is so impressed I’ve punished two short stories. Well that’s easy, it was fluke and a friend was publishing them, she took pity on a friend who wanted to try their hand at writing. In truth I honestly know this isn’t true her publishing house is something she’s worked hard and she wouldn’t publish shit for the sake of a friend. However, it’s easier for me than accepting the truth… that I might actually be good at something right? My brain skirts from that thought.

I know this is not fair, I do the people closest to me a disservice after all these are intelligent, passionate, inspiring, strong people they are not fools. I’m slowly learning to listen to them to trust them. If I trust them with my life then surely, it’s not any hard to trust them on this? Some days it is easy, others well the voice whispering to me is louder. I’m learning to talk about it so that people understand the complexity of the relationship I have with myself. I’ve had both talking therapy and CBT I know the tricks and tools to manage it, trying to look at it with a different perspective. I’m learning to trust, if you don’t think I’m a fraud maybe I’m not. It’s a slow process and one I need to think about daily as every so often something new will happen and boom the thoughts are there ‘you’re a fake!!!’, ‘you’re a fraud!!!’.

And mum before you email me or leave a comment (although always much loved and appreciated) I know in theory the truth of what you’ll say it’s not that I don’t. I get the mechanics that with a good IQ for example I must be intelligent I just don’t really connect me with that thought. I’m also ok for me this is less about confessing a thing I’m in the midst of, that I need help. It’s a frank look at what my brain says compared to what you all say is the truth, what deep down I probably know as the truth….

When the impostor syndrome hasn’t got me in its grasps.

Finally, it’s an honest look at the thoughts around it and to say you’re not alone, I get you. I know how hard it is to sometimes accept that maybe you are all the things people around you and your achievements show. Have faith in the people around you for they have faith in you. Maybe reach out… talk… Step inside.

Another day another Gatekeeper in D&D

It’s been a while since I last wrote, but there was a ruckus in the community and you know I love a good opinion piece. So, as the latest gatekeeper war in the community simmers down, the crumpled mass of words the only sign there ever was one. People have blocked and are moving on. I’ve been thinking about the article that this person wrote to sum up their original tweets. No, I won’t share the article here, I won’t mention their name, simply because I have no interest in giving that arrogant and condescending attitude more space that it deserves. Trust me it’s easy enough to find on Twitter and probably will be for days…

However, while I was streaming last night, I think he referred to those who stream d&d as fake hipster and actors, I thought about the nonsense of his points and tried to sift through the postulating arrogance to find a response.

So here are my thoughts and yes, they are just that, my opinion and take what you will from it.

The crux of his argument was that those who only watch d&d on YouTube and in streams cannot classify themselves as d&d gamers. He also went on to discuss how streamers were themselves fake hipster d&d players or actors getting paid and reading scripts. That they gave an unrealistic view of the game of d&d. Finally, that those whose only interaction with d&d is to consume these games have no valid place to talk in the community. He later, in tweets, went on to deny there was a community *looks at her 2000 strong Twitter following* oh trust me sir if you are in the right place there is most certainly a community.

Let’s break these points down shall we, well on the face of it with the d&d gamer comment I guess you could say if someone does not play a game they are not a gamer. The conversations have swung back & forth but what is the definition of a gamer? The dictionary definition is:

Gamer

/ˈɡeɪmə/

noun

  1. 1.

a person who plays video games or participates in role-playing games.

“every gamer has suffered from small-screen videos”

  1. 2.

NORTH AMERICAN

a person known for consistently making a strong effort, especially in sport.

“he’s a gamer, always ready to go that extra mile”

Ok so participates in the traditional sense is someone who physically participates in the playing of the game. Let me show you another view point, go check out some of the d&d streams for a moment, here try this one EncounterRP you see how the viewers participate? Did you see how the entire game we played was dependent on the way they participated? Our viewers are vital to the game we play so if they are participating in the game would that not make them gamers?

However, putting this aside for the moment I personally am not sure the term gamer is totally fit for purpose in a community that, in the digital age, has grown the way it has. This brings me to his insistence there is no such thing as ‘The Community ‘ now there was a time when this was maybe true when d&d players largely only interacted with their friends and maybe those at the local games clubs who played. Sometimes there were occasionally visit to a con where you could meet other like-minded people (sounds a bit like a community to me). Then BAM the digital age and suddenly writers and artists, producers and content creators could all collaborate. Suddenly people from all over the world could join in a community and enjoy discussing and creating this wonderful game together. Those people who loved the books and the rules but perhaps never had the confidence or chance to play could find a voice and a place. If you want to tell me there is no such thing as the d&d community I could give you 100 examples to show you that you’re wrong. But I’m going to give you 1, the Cake and Writing Desk short stories ONLY exist because of d&d these are written by those in the community born out of their love of the game and their characters. It’s drawn by those in the community, edited, produced and read by those in the community and it features works from people all over the world sharing 1 common love…d&d now that is community at its finest. There are more podcast and creators that you could ever probably listen to each of these creates and adds a voice to the community and some being discussion bases give those who never have played an understanding of the game.

Now the fake ass, hipster cool actor’s streamer comment, well unfortunately this was a comment largely aim at Critical Role. Yes, they are all actors however I know it’s confusing because that is their day job but guess what actors are normally average people with normal average likes and oh my god THEY CAN LIKE D&D TOO!! I mean Vin Diesel & Joe Manganiello are examples of this however I’d probably not go and challenge either of their d&d cred to their face if I were you… Joe after all probably has more d&d cred in his little finger than most of us will ever have.

However back to Critical Role right let’s just get it out of the way now yes, it’s a very different game to the old school game and yes, they act. While we are there oh gosh they have new players and girls!! However, some of those players have probably been playing d&d longer than many of us. This game wasn’t about a bunch of actors trying to make money out of d&d I mean considering that when the stream started 3 years ago, Geek and Sundry only had a few thousand subs & nobody was doing this I’d say it would have been a poor way for actors to make money. If this gentleman had bothered to read or research CritRole he’d know this, they are as Matt Mercer always said a bunch of ‘nerdy ass voice actors playing Dungeon and Dragon’ they are just that Nerds playing the game they love.

Yes, the game has changed it a very different beast now compared to early editions but guess what that’s ok… things change and evolve. But that doesn’t mean your fun is wrong, you want to play OSR you do that and good on you but you know what someone else can play full on RP story arc based d&d too, It’s all valid. There is an argument that ‘new players will expect a certain DM or game type thanks to Matt Mercer and Critical Role’. I mean yes that’s true to a degree, but there have ALWAYS been diverse types of players those who like to Roleplay and those who prefer to Rollplay and there are those who flit between based on in game events. Guess what EVERYONE’S d&d is valid, it is our job as a DM to establish what our game is going to be like and maybe yes; some players won’t like it and they’ll go to find a different group been there done and that it’s ok, not everyone will like your game. Ok I will agree that the hardest thing being a DM in the post Critical Role age is that most of us will never be Matt Mercer this is very true but that’s ok too and actually most players I’ve met who came to d&d via CritRole get and understand this. They’ve probably seen more games and a wider variety of play styles than you realise.

You see it’s very easy to assume that all d&d YouTube and streamers are actors because there are a few who are also actors. However, the rest of us are just idiots playing a game we love and are just hoping someone will watch. I play in two games and I DM a 3rd as well as about to guest in a 4th. One of the games is streamed 2 are not & the 4th will be on YouTube I can tell you this now; the silliness, the laughter, the ridiculousness is the same in all of them. We are not playing to the audience when we are dying with laughter that is 100% genuine. The only real difference is in my home game I don’t have chat participating.

So, my point is before you want to gatekeep understand the beast as it has become. Before you want to assume what d&d streamers are or aren’t research, watch, learn. If you don’t like what Critical Role has done to your game that’s fine you still get to have your game the way you want it nobody said you must play their game. Finally, before you want to dismiss someone’s voice in the community understand that even if their participation is only watching it or listening to the vast podcasts out their they are still valid, they are still allowed because guess what they are participating too. You can play d&d and any other ttrpg anyway you want, you can have or not have at the table anyone you want. You can even sit in the corner and grumble that there is no community and it’s not as was in your day that’s ok too… but before you try to take someone’s vaildness away try & understand where they come from. Approach it in a reasonable fashion because a conversation is not where you say your opinion is right… just because and everyone else’s is wrong, end of no further debate. There are so many ways to play d&d and as far my experience has shown me there always has been, after all d&d is a game of make believe.