I start this blog with the realization that I have two things to define and one to explain. What is modern board gaming? What is the reality of Bipolar Disorder? And how do those two things go together? Before we really get started, let me answer these questions for you.
First, let’s start with what modern board gaming is not. It is not a four-hour game of Monopoly. It is not spinning a spinner, rolling a die, or drawing a card and moving that many spaces only to do nothing.
Modern board gaming is sitting down with friends and even sometimes strangers to have the experience of escaping from zombies, dominating Mayan culture, exploring druidic landscapes, building castles, casting magic, going to war, and so very much more. There is no one way I can explain what a board game is because they are all so different. Everyone has different games that appeal to them. Everyone has games, or genres, they don’t particularly like. Each time you play a game it’s different, exciting, engaging, fun. Everyone has had a different experience with the hobby and my experience is seen through my Bipolar Disorder.
Bipolar Disorder, previously called Manic Depressive Disorder, manifests itself differently in each person who has it. There is Bipolar I and II, rapid cycling, and I’m sure other tags that I’m not aware of. I have Bipolar II. What does this mean? It means I get severely depressed, it means I don’t have mania but instead I have hypomania, and in my case it means that I can be both depressed and hypomanic at the same time.
My hypomania can look wonderful from the outside. I’m so productive. I get the house clean. I start projects I’ve been meaning to do. I get all the errands done. But it’s not the wonderful productiveness that we all envy seeing other accomplish on the internet. I don’t notice half the time if I’m hypomanic, my husband tells me. I get so focused on one particular task that some important things can fall through the cracks. I get irritable and yell at my family. And when it’s over I fall into some of my deepest depressions because of how horrible I was and because I can NEVER finish ANYTHING. (you see how upset that makes me…?)
So now, to answer the last question. What on earth do these two completely different things have to do with each other? Everything.
I get depressed. I can’t bring myself to do anything more than feed myself and my children. My husband comes home and gets a game off the shelf and sits me down. I get so engrossed in the game that my depression momentarily goes away. Another example would be my board game nights. Most Tuesdays I go to the local Board Game store and play games with the other people who show up. When I’m depressed I don’t want to go. When I’m depressed my husband knows that it will help if I’m around people. What better excuse to be around people than show up and play games?
When I’m hypomanic I can focus on the games. Instead of focusing on something that I can never finish I can focus on a game that will be over in 30-120 minutes (usually). I can focus on making new decks for A.S.H.E.S. Rise of the Phoenixborn. I can play these games by myself and practice different strategies. And then when my husband gets home I can bombard him with quality time instead of completely ignoring him.
Board Gaming has been my life saver for the last several years. I don’t remember what I did before finding both this hobby and my current psychiatrist (and meds). My life is stable but the Bipolar Disorder still sometimes rears its ugly head. For example, I’m pretty sure I’m hypomanic right now. We’ll see how long this blog lasts.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I’m a very open person.