Episode #3 – “Support Networks and Saronite – Mental Health in Azeroth”

Episode #3 – “Support Networks and Saronite – Mental Health in Azeroth”

Jul 19

Our third episode features Tzufit and Apple Cider talking with guest Dee (@mainfloortank) about their experiences with mental health while playing World of Warcraft. The episode features frank discussion about dealing with mental illness while playing the game, as well as highlighting some of the moments in WoW’s lore where mental health is portrayed both negatively and positively.

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Below the cut is a full transcript of Episode 3, “Support Networks and Saronite – Mental Health in Azeroth.”

Apple Cider Mage:  Hello and welcome to Justice Points.  It is our third episode and we are this week covering mental health in World of Warcraft, both in and out of game.  We’re so excited.  This is going to be a great episode, a little bit of a serious topic, but definitely a discussion I think that we as a community need to have.  We’re going to cover some cool things, but the coolest thing about this week is we have a special guest.  It’s our first guest!  Oh my god!

Tzufit:  So exciting!

Apple Cider Mage:  Woohoo!  We have with us this week, as always my wonderful, beautiful co-host Tzufit.

Tzufit:  Hi guys.

Apple Cider Mage:  And our special guest is @mainfloortank, also known as Dee, to round out our discussion.  Say hello.

Dee:  Hello everyone.

Tzufit:  Welcome Dee.

Apple Cider Mage:  We’re going to be talking about this week mental illness in World of Warcraft from both a player perspective and the game’s content, how it handles mental health and mental illness.  I’m really stoked, because I think this is something that gets pushed to the wayside both in the community, despite the fact that a lot of people who play World of Warcraft have brushes or lifelong situations that deal with mental health and mental illness; as well as the fact that World of Warcraft also has a lot of content that sort of deals with it in indirect and sort of direct ways.  So we’re just going to hop right into it, but first Dee – do you want to tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do, and why you were super stoked to come on to this episode?

Dee:  Mainly I write fan fiction.  I blog occasionally.  I hang out on Twitter a lot, and that’s where I think most people know me from, is from Twitter.  But mental health and especially advocating for people with mental illness is something that I’m quite passionate about.  I have a mental illness myself.  I have schizoaffective disorder, which is a mood disorder and a schizophrenia spectrum disorder.  So it’s something that I deal with everyday.  So this is a topic that’s very close to my heart and it’s something that I feel very passionate about.  I’m very happy to be here and discussing it with you.

Tzufit:  Dee, can you tell us a little bit about your game experience, what sort of things you like to do in-game and how long you’ve been playing?

Dee:  I’ve been playing for, goodness – well I started at the very end of Burning Crusade.  But I didn’t really start playing until Cata launched.  I’ve kind of done a little bit of everything.  The things that I really enjoy doing, though, I like doing instances and dungeoning and soloing old content.  I love that.  I like to roleplay as well.  That’s something that I enjoy a lot, but not necessarily in-game so much.  But I like creating characters and writing about them.

Tzufit:  Cool.  And as you probably know, we’re both on roleplay servers so we certainly appreciate that side of it, too.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah, definitely.

Tzufit:  Can we gather from your Twitter handle that you’re primarily a tank?

Dee:  I was in Cataclysm.  I’ve switched over to healing and DPS now, but in Cataclysm my main was a Blood death knight.  So there was a lot of floor-tanking happening, especially because I was the guild’s main tank.  So it was a few times a night.  Don’t worry guys, I got the floor!  I got this.  You’re all good.

Apple Cider Mage:  It actually took me a while to figure out that your Twitter handle was actually main, like I’m the main person, floor tank, and not main floor tank – like the tank that gets on at the bottom level or something like that.

Tzufit:  Nope.  The main tank for tanking the floor.  I love that name.  It’s very funny.

Apple Cider Mage:  I thought Dee just really liked hotels.

Dee:  I do.  I’m very passionate about hotels.

Apple Cider Mage:  Open up a death knight chain of hotels.  Obviously it seems to me that, and especially because this is germane to the episode, it feels like (at least from my perspective) that when it comes to mental health and when it comes to mental illness, I think it’s stuff that you carry with you when you play World of Warcraft.  I feel like so many people have these experiences and this is why it was really important to us to talk about it.  It’s really hard, sometimes, to be able to separate mental health stuff and mental illness from World of Warcraft, I think both positively and negatively.  Dee – not to be super blunt – what are your experiences, both positively and negatively, because you mentioned you had schizoaffective disorder.  What have your experiences with World of Warcraft been like?  What’s been the situation?

Dee:  Well, it’s been a little bit of both.  Starting out, playing the game, I played on my own or I would have my husband drag me along with quests because he had a higher level character and could kill all the stuff for me, which was fine.  But then I would play on my own and I was really, really afraid of group activities just because I have a lot of anxiety as well.  I was literally terrified of getting into a dungeon or doing a group quest.  So I think that’s where my love of soloing things comes from, because that’s how I played.  I went through the Burning Crusade content, and those group quests they used to have, I was soloing those on my blood death knight.  That was how I played the game for a while.  I only did a couple of dungeons leveling up and each time it was just a disaster because I was so nervous and I didn’t know what I was doing because I’d never been in these dungeons before.  Once I got to 85, I had a small group of friends in a different guild than the one I’m in now, who needed a tank for heroics.  This was at the time back in Cata when if you didn’t have a tank with you, the queues were like an hour long.

Tzufit:  And good luck getting into one of those Cata heroics and making it to the end without a pre-made group at that point.

Apple Cider Mage:  Exactly.

Dee:  So I had some DPS friends and we’d have a healer sometimes from the guild, and we’d go and we’d run these dungeons.  It was horrible.  We’d clear the dungeons, but I would just be sitting there the whole time basically just shaking because I was so terrified of messing up and these people getting upset with me and all that.  Well, I left that guild and I joined up with my current guild Waypoint that I’ve been in for about 3 and a half years now – no, closer to 3 years.  I started raid tanking for them because I really wanted to be a raider.  I wanted to see that content and I thought that was something that would be really neat to experience.  So my first month or two was just basically the same as running these dungeons.  I would just sit there and shake.  I’d start crying and I’d have to go and take – because at the time I was smoking.  I was like, “I gotta go take a smoke break and get some fresh air and calm myself down.”  Slowly, after a while, I got comfortable with that group.  It took a little bit of time.  It took a little bit of time and it took some work, but I got comfortable with my guild.  I got comfortable with my raid team.  Then I slowly started, “Ok, we’ll bring in a couple of people from the Dungeon Finder.”  Finally it got to the point where I was able to go and tank heroics on my own.  This was about whenever Call to Arms came out, so there was kind of a little bit more incentive there for me to try it.  But now, I just go through and I just – whatever.  It’s a dungeon.  Whatever.  I’m fine.  But it did take a lot for me to get to that point, and there was a lot for me to work through.  And it took a lot of time, but my guild has really helped with that.  And I think that’s one of the most positive things was having this environment where I could tell them, “Listen.  I’m terrified right now.”  And they would just be like, “Ok.  Well, we’ll just take a couple minutes.  Everything’s good.”

Tzufit:  And that’s awesome because Waypoint is just such a cool environment.  I’ve made one or two alts over there so that I can hang out every once in a while with you, but it’s just so welcoming and so friendly.  It’s so nice to see all these familiar faces from Twitter, and it does seem like it must be a very supportive environment.

Dee:  I really enjoy Waypoint as a guild.  I think it’s a great place and it has been exactly the guild that I have needed in Warcraft.  I know sometimes we have people that don’t fit in, but I think that happens with every guild.  But we try to be as welcoming to everybody as we can.

Tzufit:  And you picked what I would say, just from my opinion and my experience, probably the most difficult role to deal with if you’re someone who is already anxious about group play.  I spent most of Wrath as a death knight tank and I have tanking alts now who I play on and off, and I have a very difficult time queuing up for any kind of random matchmaker thing on a tank because there’s so much pressure on you and there’s so much expectation that you know every mechanic in the dungeon because you’re really the one setting the pace and getting from point A to point B.  So, I think it’s kind of amazing that that was the role that you picked, because that’s like just tossing yourself in the deep end.  You know?

Dee:  Yeah, that was basically how it went.  It was just kind of like, “Alright, I’m going with it!”  If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it.  I had a hunter before that I did a couple of dungeons on, but I really wanted to try to learn how to tank.  I don’t know why.  I’ve never tanked in any other MMO that I’ve ever played.  But in Warcraft I was like, “Yeah, I’m going to play a blood death knight.”  I don’t know why I picked that, but I did.  But it worked out well.  Throughout the course of Cataclysm, I was one of the guild’s tanks.  I started kind of as an off-tank for this more experienced tank.  And then I kind of went up to being the main tank, and then I raid-lead.  Going through that and especially getting used to the group that I was in, helping to conquer my anxiety about that really gave me a sense that I’d accomplished something because not everybody knows, but I am disabled.  It was something that I had to deal with because of my schizoaffective disorder.  I was unable to work anymore, because I was going into work every day having these horrible hallucinations, winding up catatonic on the floor of the locker room.  It wasn’t an environment that I could do that anymore.  It was just too much stress for me.  So to kind of come from – I started playing WoW right after I had to leave work.  It was about 6 months after that.  Going from this kind of, “Ok, I’ve lost the only thing that I thought that I was really good at,” because I thought I was a good employee; and going from, “Ok, well what can I do now?” to being the raid leader a few years later is just this sense of “Wow, I’ve come a long way.”  It was something that kind of showed me that I have recovered a bit, that I’ve kind of taken some of my symptoms and gotten them under control.

Apple Cider Mage:  From the guild aspect plus the accomplishment aspect, it feels like for a lot of people World of Warcraft has that ability.  Yeah, sometimes the game sort of exacerbates some of the problems that you might deal with, especially anxiety.  I know from personal experience, definitely, it ratchets up the anxiety, but it also seems like it’s a way of escaping problems and it’s a way of also still feeling productive, still feeling accomplished in a lot of ways.  So I think it’s got a lot of positive effects as well.

Dee:  Well, I mean, if you look at it kind of like you said, the accomplishment – I wasn’t able to do a lot of things in my normal life.  I wasn’t able to sleep a lot of nights.  But here I am in this video game and I’m killing dragons and how rad is that?

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah, absolutely.

Dee:  So you can’t necessarily – for me it was an escape from this every day where I’m this person who I am disabled and there are things that I can’t do.  And here I am, I’m this hero in this game.  But it helped me a lot in my real life as well.  And you can’t just always login and just leave your problems behind you.  Sometimes you do have to deal with them as you play the game.

Tzufit:  Right, and I think it’s especially true with the more responsibility that you take on, like if you become a raid leader or if you’re active in your guild and a leader in your guild.  It becomes less possible to treat it as an escape.  There’s still absolutely that sense of accomplishment if you’re leading a raid and they get a new boss down, or if you’re helping with your guild and you get a couple really good new recruits, that sort of thing.  That accomplishment and that sense of challenge and progression is totally there, but it does sort of weaken the escapism aspect of it a little bit, because to me it feels like I’m putting more of my real self into it at that point, rather than just being able to escape and hide behind my avatar.

Dee:  I think a lot of people, especially socially it’s seen as something that’s just an escape.  But I don’t think it’s always thought about how much work goes into this game whenever you come into helping to run a guild or raid leading, or even just running 5-mans and taking a leadership role in that dungeon.  There is actually effort that you’re putting into this.  So I think it’s understandable to have a sense of accomplishment from it, even though people say, “Oh it’s just a video game.  What are you so proud about?”

Apple Cider Mage:  The responsibility aspect is an accomplishment, and I feel productive a lot of the time running a guild.  But, like Tzufit said, it takes so much more effort.  I feel like some days it feels like that effort taxes me so much more than other days, which is weird because I don’t consider myself the most active person.  I do a lot of stuff online because I can’t do a lot of stuff in real life, especially socially.  There’s definitely days when I’ve had to step back from guild-leadering or raiding or doing that sort of thing, because I have just ran out of mental energy to be able to handle that sort of stuff.  It’s a double edged sword, no pun intended.

Tzufit:  Yeah.

Dee:  Whenever you say that you kind of run out of energy, that’s something that a lot of people experience, I think, that we don’t necessarily talk as much about.  You can’t keep going 100% every day.  Some days you just wake up and you can only give 50% and that’s all you got.

Apple Cider Mage:  Hopefully people have understanding guildmates and friends, because at the end of the day it is just a video game.  But the social aspect, I think, makes it not always just a video game because, especially if you’re doing guild stuff, you feel that pressure to be yourself and be “on.”

Tzufit:  Yeah.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  And when you’re dealing with a panic attack and you’re dealing with being super depressed or having mood swings or things like that, which are all pretty normal stuff that happens when you have certain mental health issues; it’s like, “Oh my god.  How do I do this?”  There have been times, and I actually wrote a blog post about this, I literally hit a point where I was so busy caring about everything that was going on in my guild that I had literally exhausted my ability to care about them.  There were days when I would sit back and look at my guild and be like, “Do I really care about any of these people?” which is weird, because in my heart, rationally, I knew that I did.  But I had just actually, physically, mentally run out of that energy to care.  I had reached this weird sort of numb apathetic state and was just like, “I can’t care about these people right now because I’m losing the ability to care about myself.”

Dee:  Well I think that’s something that does happen to a lot of people is that whenever you put so much into something, you just wind up mentally exhausting yourself.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

Dee:  You know, going back to you can only give so much each day – if you have a mental illness especially, or if you have a disability, one of the things that I always keep in mind is that you will have good days and bad days.  You will have days where you wake up and you feel like you can do anything in the world.  And there are other days that you just wake up and you are like, “I don’t even know if I can get out of bed today.”

Apple Cider Mage:  Oh yeah.  I know that one all too well.  I’m really not trying to over-generalize.  A lot of people deal with a lot of different things.  So many times WoW has been that really positive force because it is something that I could do, and a lot of times with my anxiety it was a thing that I could do that would actually calm me down because World of Warcraft is really good at making you do repetitive tasks over and over again.

Tzufit:  Right.

Apple Cider Mage:  So in a way, it was like sitting on a couch and doing deep breathing exercises except it was grinding out like 100 rep items or something like that.  But on the other hand, it does come with a caveat in that there are some days where WoW is not good for me.  I think going into therapy really helped with that.  I still play a lot of WoW, but I was playing a lot more WoW back a couple years ago, and that kind of gave me a little bit better of a coping mechanism and an understanding that sometimes, if I’m really feeling really crappy, WoW is maybe not the place to be expending that energy.  Maybe it’s better just watching a movie or something very passive, or something not social.  A lot of times, World of Warcraft stuff would end up agitating my anxiety or making it worse when I was trying to manage it, especially when you run into shitty people and I’m trying to manage the panic attacks about dudes or whatever.

Tzufit:  When you talked about a double edged sword earlier, that’s the thing with WoW is that you can log on but it is so – if you really need to be in a vacuum, it’s very difficult to do that in WoW, especially now, because if you’re in a guild that means you’re not going to go on any of your guilded characters because you want to be alone.  Particularly if you’re a person in a position of leadership, then you’re not going to want to go on one of your guilded characters.  But now that we have Battle Tags, which I love.  They’re a great thing.  They’re a great addition to the game, but it does make it really hard to just kind of go dark when you need to.  And when you’re looking at something where, yeah, you can grind out mobs you can solo quest, you can do all those things; but I think a lot of us, when we log on to WoW, before the time our session is over for that day, we’re going to do at least one thing that’s going to make us interact with other people, whether it’s queuing for a dungeon or going down to the Barrens and working on commanders.  We’re going to do something in that day where we have to coordinate our efforts with another player and sometimes, depending on where you are, that’s just not helpful.

Apple Cider Mage:  I think a lot of the focus of World of Warcraft from a mental health perspective is just that it’s so complicated.  I don’t think a lot of people realize that if you’re neurotypical – big fancy word.  I think that’s one of the things that lead me to want to do an episode like this, is that even if you’re not just talking about something specifically positive or negative, the fact that a lot of people really don’t realize that they’re not alone, that there are a lot of other people that deal with these same sort of issues and have these same feelings either of relief or being overwhelmed, but also that a lot of people don’t realize what it’s like to play World of Warcraft from that lens.  You’re always going to be seeing things maybe a little bit differently or dealing with things a little bit differently.  So when Dee mentioned their guild and that being so supportive, I felt really happy about that, because I think that’s one of the key things that comes from trying to deal with stuff.  I mean obviously there’s a lot of people that do play WoW completely like a single-player game all the time.  But on the other hand, I think having a support structure in-game, especially with other people who understand your situation, is really, really good.

Tzufit:  Yeah, and I think your point about so many people thinking that they may be alone in this is really important because – Apple Cider earlier you talked about having to feel like you have to be “on,” right, for your guild.  And because World of Warcraft gives us this sense of anonymity and this ability to put forth whatever version of ourselves we decide to on any given day, it is very easy for people to just not talk about or try not to display those aspects of their personality.  And so, you can walk right by a person or we can be talking to a person or it can be someone in your guild who you’ve known for a very long time, and have no idea that they may be dealing with this because you don’t necessarily have to display that about yourself in-game if you choose not to.

Dee:  I think to go along with that is we kind of come, a lot of us who play on these servers are in North America and the U.S., and there’s this stigma about talking about mental illness.  It’s something that you don’t discuss.  It’s something that’s kept secret.  It’s something – “Oh, don’t talk about that.  Don’t make people think that you’re weird or different.”  And I think, especially for me starting out, it was something that I did take with me into game that maybe I don’t want everybody to know that.  So at first whenever I did disclose to my guildmaster and to the other officers that I did have a mental illness and if I do take a break for a few days from the game or I miss a raid, that’s why.  It was something that I didn’t put out there.  I think that that’s an attitude that a lot of people still have about it, is that it’s something that you don’t talk about.

Apple Cider Mage:  It is hard to talk about especially because a lot of people don’t have access to therapy.  A lot of people do not have access to medication or diagnoses or anything like that.  It becomes even more of a hurdle because you can’t always put it into words.  You can’t explain it to people.  A lot of people misrepresent you, like, “Oh so you have a mental illness.  You’re just going to fly off the handle,” or “You’re just going to cause drama.”  And I know that this definitely intersects with gender quite a lot because of the whole idea that, “Oh women are so emotional,” “women are so crazy,” that I’ve actually dealt with.

Dee:  I think the other thing is that if you don’t have access to medications or therapy or to diagnosis from an official doctor or things like that, and it’s just “Oh well this is something that I’ve read about that I think that I might have.”  There’s a lot of fear of coming out and saying that from both the people with mental illness and the people without mental illness, there are people that will mock you or say that you’re just trying to assume to many things, or you’re trying to self-diagnose, and that’s something that’s really looked down on.  So I think that it’s almost like you have to have it on your record that, “Oh well I actually legitimately have a mental illness.”  But why can’t we approach it the same way – “Oh I have a cold” or “I have the flu.”  You don’t tell somebody, “Oh well did you go see a doctor?  Did they diagnose you with the cold?”  I think we should be more understanding and more supportive of people.

Apple Cider Mage:  If we were more supportive I feel like a lot of the alienation and a lot of the estrangement that a lot of people feel about it, or awkwardness about disclosing it or that sort of thing – I think a lot of people would feel a lot less stressed out, even in an environment where, like Tzufit said, you can “hide it” a bit more.  I think also having to hide it for fear of people rejecting you is what causes a lot of people to not want to be socially involved, because they what if you do have to explain it?  What if something you don’t have control over happens?  What if you have a panic attack during a raid?  What if you are so depressed that you get hospitalized?  And then you have to explain it to a guild, and that even causes so much anxiety that people just avoid people all together when, really, we should be so much more supportive that people feel comfortable that even if something like that does happen out of the blue, that we’ll understand them.

Dee:  Yeah.  That’s the kind of attitude that I think would be a lot more supportive toward people and is something that I would love to see, just personally, because I know – my experiences whenever I was diagnosed, I hid this from everybody for years just because you hear about things or even with the way that people talk about individuals with mental illness in society.  We use “crazy.”  We use “psycho.”  We use “schizo.”  Those are slurs.  And nobody wants those labels applied to them.  You don’t want to be, “Oh, this is the bipolar person,” just because there’s so much stigma about that.  I just wish that society as a whole were more supportive and treated mental illness more like an illness than something to be hidden and to be ashamed of.

Apple Cider Mage:  From my personal dealings, it was a lot harder dealing with not just mental illness, because I have anxiety disorder.  It became a hurdle having to heal with my own personal problems on top of that, because I didn’t feel like I could trust anybody, even in my own guild.  I have a lot of issues with trust.  I have a lot of issues with paranoia.  So just aside from the mental health diagnosis thing, a lot of mental illness causes all of these spinoff problems from it.  You don’t have just a list of diagnoses, you have the feelings that people have treated you horribly all your life or people have done some really horrible things and it impacts you.  And I wasn’t telling my guild about how I was feeling day to day.  Despite the fact that I had known some of these people for 3 or 4 years at that point, I wasn’t telling them how I felt.  I didn’t trust them enough to tell them that I was upset.  When I started doing therapy every week, my therapist was like, “You have to express your feelings to these people because the more you bottle them up, the worse it’s going to get.  It’s what’s fueling your anxiety.”  So I had to start telling my guildmates, “I can’t raid right now.  I’m too overwhelmed.  I can’t – my hands are shaking.  I can’t play.”  There was a night in our raid, we were doing Dragon Soul, and I remember very distinctly I was having such a bad anxiety attack that I was like disassociating on fights.  Completely 100% wasn’t there, just checked out mentally.  Didn’t know what I was doing, got to the end of the fight, came back, had no recollection of what was going on.  So that was sort of the breaking point of saying to my guild, “Ok.  We need to sit down.  We need to talk about this.  I can’t do this anymore.”  As much as I was sharing what was going on with me in my life, I didn’t feel like I was really being 100% honest with them.  Starting to tell them, “I feel this way.  I’m upset right now,” was really a big deal, because that’s when I started to feel like it was Ok to be anxious.  It was Ok to not do things sometimes.  But I had so much paranoia and so many trust issues at that point.

Dee:  Well, and I think a lot of that goes back to how we view people in society who express emotions, who talk about their emotions.  “Oh they’re just needy.  Oh they’re just looking for attention.”  It’s hard to open up that dialogue and tell everybody if you’re sitting there with 10 people that you might know, that you might enjoy, that “Listen, I’m hallucinating right now.  I’m hearing voices.  I think people are coming to the front door and are going to drag me away.  Um, I don’t think I can raid right now.”  It’s kind of hard to take that and just put it out there for everyone to see, because that’s like your most vulnerable parts of yourself.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

Tzufit:  And it sort of reminds me, when you talk about people thinking that this is a plea for attention – Apple Cider touched on earlier the notion that, when you’re talking about being a woman playing a video game, there’s already this stigma that women gamers are there because they want the attention.  So when you add in that element of it as well, all of a sudden it’s just, “This can’t possibly be real.  This is all about just trying to be the center of attention and why should we believe any of it?”

Apple Cider Mage:  It’s like this really gross, disgusting soup of, “You’re just doing it for attention,” or “Women are crazy.”  I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I find, in a lot of communities, women are more apt to talk about their feelings, obviously, because a lot of masculine stuff is “Don’t talk about your feelings.  You must be stoic all the time.  No crying,” that sort of thing.  So women already get pegged with having to talk about their emotions more, but then it’s like you turn around and then they don’t get validated at all.  I think that goes x50 from mental health issues.  Then you get into the sort of stuff where a lot of people’s mental health issues, particularly in nerd communities or even just anywhere, a lot of mental health issues are tied to trauma of some sort.  So when you have people not believing you or denigrating you for those things, it becomes really problematic very quickly.  That’s one of the things I’ve really not liked about the World of Warcraft / gamer community in general, with regards to mental health.

Dee:  That, and there’s this overlying sense in gamer culture that these things are just words.  They don’t mean anything.  I think a lot of people don’t realize, especially – personally I have a few words, like whenever people say “psycho” or “schizo” that just bother me a lot, because those are words that are very close to my heart that are things that I’ve had to go, “Well this is a slur.  This is a bad word.”  Whenever I was first diagnosed, I was terrified of my diagnosis because we hear these bad things about people who have mental illness.  We hear, “Oh they’re just crazy.  They’re going to go on a rampage,” and things like that.  I think gamer culture really kind of buys into that and wants to appear – a lot of people want to appear like they’re really tough and things like that instead of being more courteous towards everyone and understanding.  There’s a lot of, “It’s just words.  Why does it bother you so much?”

Tzufit:  Yeah, and there is sort of this ridiculous cycle with gamer culture where I think people want to appear tough because they want to have that thick skin because terrible things are said all over the place and about lots of different types of people.  So, on the one hand, people keep perpetuating that because you want to be tough.  You don’t want to let it get to you, but part of that tough image is saying the very things that are hurting you in the first place.

Dee:  And that’s just kind of buying into this whole macho ideal that people have that’s just BS.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  It directly contributes to a very toxic community and a very toxic mindset where you’re actively hurting other people and causing them harm, all because they have emotions or they’re actively being hurt mentally because of the things that you’re saying.  Mental health slurs notwithstanding, things like sexism and racism have been proven and studied to have detrimental psychological effects on people.  Homophobia, transphobia, all of these things contribute to an unhealthy mental state for people, and people are just tossing this stuff out daily.  Oh my god, how am I supposed to escape my mental health problems in real life if this is the sort of stuff I have to deal with in-game from people?  It doesn’t make you feel better at all.  It makes you feel worse.

Tzufit:  And I think that with Blizzard – Blizzard does an Ok job with language filtering, but they don’t do nearly enough.  It’s really sort of weird and subjective at times.  I’ve made a point before that you actually can’t type the word “grape” into chat in World of Warcraft since it contains the word “rape” and it will censor it completely.  But you can say things like “schizo” and “psycho” that really, probably should be censored for exactly these reasons, and those aren’t edited out whatsoever.

Dee:  Those things I’ve found especially whenever I mention it to people, are just things that they don’t think about.  We have, especially in nerd culture there’s the offset of “Oh I’m so psycho.  I’m so random.  I’m so funny.”  People don’t really think that that’s a slur against somebody with an illness, or somebody who’s experiencing psychosis is psychotic.  They don’t think that calling themselves “psychotic” means “Oh, I’m experiencing this horrible symptom of an illness.”  It’s just “Oh, I’m so funny.”

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  There’s a lot of casual use of that sort of thing, too, to mean like personality quirks.  I don’t suffer from OCD, but a lot of people use OCD to just mean that they’re really neat freaks or they’re very particular or they’re very “anal-retentive” about that sort of stuff.  To use a mental illness diagnosis casually as a way of describing something that’s just sort of quirky about you, is really weird to me.  People do it with bipolar.  People do it with OCD.  And these are real things that make detrimental impacts on your life day to day.

Dee:  And whenever people use it like that and it becomes the common usage to say, “Oh, I’m OCD because I like to arrange everything alphabetically on my shelves,” it takes it to the point where you have somebody who is diagnosed with OCD or does suffer from it and has to do these rituals before bed every night (walking the house three times, turning off the lights five times, or things like that); and kind of takes it down to a point where you say, “I have OCD” or with me, “I have schizoaffective disorder” and it’s like, “Oh, you’re just a little weird.  This isn’t something that you suffer from.  This is just a strange personality quirk,” because that’s how the common usage is now.

Tzufit:  Right.  So then when you get into the situations like you were discussing where you need to sit down and talk to raid members, or talk to guild members and explain, “This is what I’m going through right now, and this is why I can’t participate right now,” I think because those incorrect definitions and incorrect usages have become so prevalent, it makes it much harder for people to wrap their minds around the idea that, “No, this is really what happens and this is why sometimes we need to take a step back.”

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  We don’t have an adequate language as a culture to be able to describe or relay what’s going on a lot of times, which is also why a lot of people don’t really identify with people who have mental health problems or mental illnesses, because it’s very hard to describe that sort of stuff to people that don’t suffer from it.  It’s very hard to get across that feeling of helplessness or inability to do something or how much it impacts your day to day – that detrimental aspect to it.  Mental illness is something that is so pervasive that it stops you from being able to do the things that you do every day, normally.

Dee:  It’s like trying to explain depression to somebody, and they just go, “Oh yeah, I get sad sometimes, too.”  It doesn’t cover the fact that I can’t get out of bed today.  I haven’t taken a shower in a week.  I haven’t eaten in two days.  I can’t do anything but just lay there and just listen to my own thoughts that I hate myself and things like that.  It’s not just I’m a little sad.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah, and that you have no control over it.  It comes.  It goes.  You don’t have any way of really mitigating it unless you have coping mechanisms or medication or something like that.  But even that doesn’t always help.  You’ve just kind of need to ride it out.  And it’s so hard to describe that to people, and I’ve had to do it with panic attacks.  “No, really, I do feel like I’m going to die.  No, I have no idea why this is going on.  No, it just happens randomly.  Yeah, I can’t do anything about it.  No, I have to just go sit in a dark room for like an hour now.”

Dee:  And the other thing is a lot of people don’t really understand, especially with mental illnesses, like we were talking about, you have good days and you have bad days.  You might be suffering from severe depression and you have a day that you’re a little bit better than another day.  So whenever you’re down on the bottom again, people go, “Well you were just fine yesterday.  We were laughing and having a great time.  What happened?”

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.

Dee:  And so it’s hard to explain that it comes and it goes and you can’t control it.  You might be on medication, but even with anything – medication’s just treatment.  It’s not a cure.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  It’s also hard, especially with the gaming community – it gets villainized a lot too, especially lately with the preponderance of shootings and things like that.  A lot of people get this idea that if you’re a person with mental illness, that you’re violent or that you’re angry all the time or that you’re going to hurt other people or that you’re abusive in some way.  That’s damaging as well.

Dee:  And it’s completely untrue, actually.  Violence from individuals with mental illness is actually not that different statistically.  The percentage of people with mental illness who are violent is about the same as the general population.  But the truth of it is that people with mental illness are 2-4 times more likely to be victims of violence and abuse than they are if they were just neurotypical.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah, or the fact that violence is often what contributes to having mental health issues in the first place – abuse, assault, things like that.  Where do people think post-traumatic stress disorder comes from?  It doesn’t magically appear out of the air.

Tzufit:  The other thing, too, is that since gaming already has that stereotype where people assume that because you’re a gamer – and of course it’s worse with first-person shooter games – but even with World of Warcraft, there’s that assumption that if you like to play a game where you kill things, then maybe you’re a little more violent than you should be.  So you add that up to someone who also has a mental illness and all of a sudden it’s like, “Well let me look at you sideways because that’s two strikes, right there.”

Dee:  It’s really shitty of our society to look at it like that – to treat people and to really Other people with mental illnesses.  It’s just self-perpetuating the fact that we don’t talk about these mental illnesses, so there’s not a lot of knowledge that’s common knowledge.  So we just have these ugly stereotypes or these ugly assumptions.  But because of these ugly assumptions we don’t talk about it.

Apple Cider Mage:  Yeah.  So, we’ve talked a lot about how mental health issues or mental illness affects us in-game and some of the negatives that go along with that; but I feel like there’s also some positives as we’ve also touched on.  One of our readers actually wrote into us because we were looking for submissions about how people deal with mental health in their own personal lives through Warcraft.  We actually had kind of a positive email come from one of our listeners that actually said that we could read this.  This is from one of our listeners, who is on Twitter @anastrace.  They write:

So I’ve been playing since the Black Temple patch, which is I dunno how long now.  WoW is sort of my drug of choice I suppose.  I’m bipolar, and have PTSD from a rape and abuse from a previous marriage.  I used to stay up late at night playing just so I wouldn’t have to be in bed with my spouse.

When my mood shifts to extreme depression I tend to skip playing because I just don’t feel like relating to people, or I’ll grab one of my alts that no one knows about and play that.  If I’m in a manic phase, I might stay up for days playing.  I’ll come home from work Friday and I might play until Sunday nonstop.

Really, it takes the intervention of my partner to keep me sane.  Without her, I’d either go crazy and play all the time, or hide from all of my friends online who also help to keep me grounded.

Honestly it’s a crapshoot. Most of the time I’m ok, but when an episode happens you never know what the hell is going to happen. You are just along for the ride.

When I am depressed though, my partner does try to get me to also talk to my friends in WoW which helps too.

So, that’s what they had to write about it, which seems pretty typical to the sorts of experiences that we were talking about earlier in that there are a lot of issues that one can have and WoW can sometimes help with that.  But there’s also some community aspects of it that do help make WoW more of a positive experience like guilds, like significant others, partners, friends, that sort of thing.  So maybe we should talk about some of those things.  What is the community aspect of it, dealing with mental health, that’s actually positive?

Dee:  A way that you can look at it is – and some people might not think of it like this because, you know, video game – but because there is this social aspect, there is this opportunity to create a support network for yourself that’s online that you don’t have to go and visit, that you can sit down and if you’re feeling something you can tweet or IM or login and whisper somebody to help you.  I think that’s something that I have that helps me a lot.

Apple Cider Mage:  I could not more whole-heartedly agree.  There have been so many people in the WoW community, especially my guild, who are on Twitter all the time and whenever you’re feeling kind of terrible, even if you’re logged in or if you’re not logged in, it’s always nice to just be able to tweet, “Oh, I’m feeling really crappy,” or “I have so many emotions about this stuff” or “feels,” as it were.  And you get a lot of response.  I’ve tweeted stuff on my blog Twitter about how I don’t feel like blogging some days because I feel really under the weather and terrible, and people are always like, “It’s Ok.  It’s totally Ok if you don’t blog if you don’t feel good enough to do anything if you don’t want to.”

Dee:  And it’s great that you can create and tailor this support group to yourself instead of having to go out and sit in a room with 10 people that you might not like.  You can go and say, “Ok, I have these things in common with these people.  These are the people that I choose to let into my circle.”

Tzufit:  It’s great too, with the WoW Twitter community being so international that if it’s 4 o’clock in the morning for you and you’re feeling this way, somebody’s waking up and having their coffee and maybe will respond to it and try and give you something from them at that point.

Apple Cider Mage:  Oh yeah, absolutely.  There are definitely some people up at literally all hours, whether it’s insomnia or they’re European or they’re Australian or something like that.

Tzufit:  And Dee, I know when we were doing research for today’s podcast, you looked into a guild that is specifically set up to be helpful for people who are dealing with mental health issues?

Dee:  I remembered reading an article back almost exactly a year ago, actually, about a guild called <Swords for Everyone> over on Wyrmrest Accord, Horde-side, that aims to help people who have social anxiety.  I thought this was a very strong example of the community coming together and creating this support network for people who might need that extra help, like I mentioned, whenever you have the social anxiety and you’re playing and you try to go into group play.  It is terrifying.  And you can have anxiety attacks and just devolve into panic about having to group with people.  So having a group where everybody kind of has this common experience and you know that they’re not going to ridicule you, and that they’re going to be supportive, I thought that was something that was definitely worth mentioning because I thought it was very unique and a very good example of the positive aspects of this community.

Apple Cider Mage:  I think that a lot of focus on support networks within guilds is really a big deal, too.  I know that Waypoint is a really cool, open place.  My guild’s really super open.  I feel that in a lot of ways, for a lot of people with mental health issues that if you really luck out and you get a guild – it feels like a second home, especially if you’re with a lot of people that have mental health issues as well.  You get a lot more compassion, a lot more of understanding and sympathy that way, which is really nice because a lot of times you feel really alienated and alone.  Or you’re housebound and you can’t go outside and talk with other people.

Dee:  Yeah, and I think that kind of comes back to how society views it.  That you can get this sense that you’re very alone in all of this, and having a network of people who are basically – even if they’re only just there for you to look at and say, “Wow, I’m actually not alone” – that really does help a lot.

Tzufit:  So for the second portion of our show today, we’re going to look at the game itself and the way that Warcraft talks about mental health and emotions and mental illness from the characters and experiences and the quests that we see in-game.  So one of the things that, Dee, I know you pointed out, and the more I thought about it as we were getting ready for today’s podcast just seems to be almost universally true in WoW, is that for WoW most of the time when we see people having symptoms that are similar to symptoms that someone would have if they’re mentally ill, a lot of times it comes from some sort of corruption of one kind or another.

Dee:  Yeah, it’s shown as being something that’s very wrong.  It’s meant to show you, whenever you see somebody acting a certain way or whenever you do a quest involving the Old Gods and the corruption of the natural order, that it’s almost demonizing these symptoms that people actually do live with, and showing that this is an aberration.  This is something that’s not natural.  And I think that, if you internalize that, it can be very harmful to people who experience these symptoms.

Tzufit:  In particular, you really pointed out a couple of quests – a lot of them are from Wrath – so, related to Saronite and the way that the NPCs are having an interaction with that.

Dee:  A couple of the Saronite quests – out in Howling Fjord, Alliance-side, you go into a place called Whisper Gulch.  And in one of the starting quests, you’re told by the quest NPC, “A bunch of my fellow Explorers’ League people went nuts digging up stuff in Whisper Gulch just to the north.  They’re attacking anyone trying to get in.”  This is the way that these people who are paranoid, who are hearing voices, this is how they’re portrayed in the game.  It’s not just that they’re corrupted.  It’s not just that they have this problem.  It’s that they’re violent.  They’re dangerous.  Whenever we don’t see them portrayed as that, it’s kind of the flipside.  Whenever we see, in Mount Hyjal in Cataclysm, there’s a quest called “Free Your Mind, the Rest Follows,” where you have to free these Twilight Servitors from the corruption of the Old Gods.  They say things whenever you release them like, “Whoa, I’m getting out of here!”  But they say things like, “You made the voices go away.”  Whenever you click on one, it can give you the text that they just gurgle at you and they’ve got spittle foaming from their mouth.  This is kind of the way that it’s portrayed a lot in the game, is this very stereotypical – if they’re not violent, they are just completely checked-out.  That’s something that really bothers me, that I don’t like doing the Old God quests because I don’t like seeing illness, especially psychotic symptoms – paranoia, hearing voices, things like that – I don’t like seeing that being portrayed as a sign of evil, because that really hurts sometimes whenever you sit back and think about that.  This is something that’s meant to mirror my own experiences and what happens whenever we try to free the people from this?  They turn around and attack you.

Apple Cider Mage:  I felt that way the first time that I went to Ulduar and fought Yogg-Saron – because, again, more Wrath stuff dealing with the Old Gods – but that fight actually has a “sanity” mechanic in it, especially if you start to do it without any of the help from the bosses.  Your sanity over time declines and if you are “not doing the fight right” and your sanity goes completely away, you get mind-controlled and then your fellow raidmates can kill you.

Dee:  The way that we deal a lot with people who do have these symptoms who are shown to be mentally ill or “mad” is that a lot of times in the game the way to deal with that is to kill them.

Tzufit:  Right.  The quests that you’re talking about where we have some way to free the people who have been corrupted by the Old Gods, that’s really more the exception than the rule, because most of the time when we find somebody who’s “given way to madness” – and the two examples that I thought of off the top of my head were Malygos and Deathwing – there’s not a “redeem this person” option.  It’s just “You guys need to go in there and kill him.”

Dee:  Which I think is also not that great.

Apple Cider Mage:  It definitely factors into that violence thing we were talking about earlier.  Every time there’s a mind-control mechanic in a boss fight, you either have to kill the person or damage them significantly.  And it’s always not their choice.  It’s always something that just happens randomly from a boss, which again really supports this icky idea that you’re completely out of control and that mental illness comes from some outside source, something that you did yourself.  It’s really weird.

Dee:  It’s never shown to be something that just happens that’s natural.  It’s always used as an example of corruption or something like that.  It’s not something that you just go and, “Oh by the way, this person has this illness.  But that’s Ok.”  It just happens sometimes.

Tzufit:  And I think any discussion about mental illness in lore in Azeroth would be incomplete without talking about the Krasarang Wilds quest lines in Pandaria.  What we have in that zone with everybody being affected by the Sha of Despair, is we essentially have a zone that’s about fighting depression.

Apple Cider Mage:  Oh yeah.  We talked about this quite a lot last week when we were talking about women being affected by sha in Pandaria.  Krasarang in particular was one of those zones where I really felt like we were literally kicking them while they’re down.

Tzufit:  Right, which of course brings us into the “Finding Yi-mo” quest line.  This is one of the first quests that you’ll do when you come down into Krasarang at that first village.  We’re told that there’s this one pandaren who’s just sort of generally down and nobody knows where he is.  You go out and you find him at the edge of the zone there.  He’s lying on the ground and basically wishing that he were dead.  And you have a brief conversation with him where you try to convince him that life is worth living and he should go back to his family.  He doesn’t appreciate any of the advice that you’re giving him and so your answer is to kick him back to his village.

Dee:  Yeah.

Tzufit:  I mean, I don’t even know that we need to add anything to that, because it’s pretty self-explanatory.  For me, the one thing that I can say is it’s interesting because a lot of people who are suffering from depression don’t find it helpful when someone comes up to them and gets all cheery and says, “Life is worth living!” and “Everybody loves you!” and “Let’s look on the positive side!”  A lot of times that can just be more detrimental than anything else, because at that point you’re just not capable of thinking in those terms.  So for someone who can think in those terms to just spout all of this at you, it’s not helpful.  And whether they’re trying to be helpful or not, it can come across as sort of condescending or even almost like you’re bragging about it.

Dee:  Whenever you’re down like that, you get that advice and like you said, you don’t really have a way to process that.  It doesn’t really sink in.  So instead of trying to deal with that, we just literally kick him back.  And he begs the vultures the entire time to come and eat him.

Tzufit:  Right.

Apple Cider Mage:  And it’s treated like kind of a funny quest, which is so weird.

Tzufit:  Yeah, it’s definitely supposed to be funny.  The one thing I can say about Krasarang, and Dee I know we’re going to want to hear from you about this as well, because you had some different reactions to some of the quests there.  But I am sort of struck by – with the exception of Yi-mo, who we’re told is already this person who tends toward depression prior to the Sha of Despair invading Krasarang – the way that all of the pandaren in that zone end up being affected by the Sha of Despair is a little different than the sha corruption we see in other zones where people have very specific reasons that they’re angry or that they feel hatred.  So then the sha have that opportunity to come into them and exploit that in them, and corrupt them because of it.  Whereas, I thought it was an interesting metaphor with the Sha of Despair with the way depression affects a lot of people, where there isn’t a predisposition.  There isn’t a specific reason why they are sad.  It’s just the Sha comes into their zone and they feel nothing all of a sudden.

Dee:  I thought that even though it wasn’t the best at showing depression, it did kind of show it wasn’t just sadness.  It just kind of saps everything from you.  And you kind of got that feeling from this zone as you’re going through.  I thought they did Ok with that.

Tzufit:  And you talked, when we were preparing for the podcast today, about a few things in that zone that happen that really felt sort of uplifting or kind of felt like you were kicking depression in the ass.

Dee:  Well, it’s become kind of a joke in my guild that whenever you finish the Zhu’s Watch quest line you get a vanity item called “Ken-Ken’s Mask.”  You’re talking to this hozen and he’s trying the whole time to kind of cure this town of this depression, and finally you exercise the sha.  He says something to the effect of, “We’re going to kick the sads in the butt.”  For some people that I know and people in my guild, because a lot of us come from this experience that we have experienced depression, it was kind of getting back at depression.  It was kind of conquering it.  It was kicking it in the butt because it’s kicked us when we’re down so many times.  So some of us have saved that mask.  Whenever somebody is having a rough time and we’re in raid or we’re in a group, sometimes we throw the mask on the other person to kind of say, “We’re here.”  The running joke is, “Let me tank your feelings for you for a little bit.”

Apple Cider Mage:  That’s really cute.

Tzufit:  Yeah, I love that idea with the mask.  That’s really cool.

Dee:  So I mean, even though it’s not a perfect zone, experiences like that in WoW can really hit somebody very hard.  I had mentioned this whenever we were preparing for the show, that I had an experience like that with the Koltira quest line out in Dragonblight where you have this death knight who is plagued by shadows that are just coming out of the walls at him.  Something that I don’t discuss a lot is that, whenever my illness was at its worst, I was seeing shadows crawling along the floor at me and kind of morphing out of doorways at me, and things like that.  So, for me, to do this quest line where I was sent into the realm of shadows and got to kill these things that were plaguing this guy, was really kind of empowering in a way.  Kind of like I was helping to get back at the things that were plaguing myself.  I did that quest – I went into the realm of shadows like two or three times just killing everything that I could find, just because I enjoyed feeling and having this experience like I was physically conquering my own illness.  I think that that’s the takeaway for some people from the Krasarang quests, is that they have defeated their own sha, as it were.

Apple Cider Mage:  Certainly a little bit more uplifting than how you see other kinds of sha corruption being dealt with, which is killing all of the people that feel those things.

Tzufit:  Right.

Apple Cider Mage:  That was something we talked about last week is that, particularly the women that have doubts or they have intense anger and things like that, which is part of the natural, normal human experience with or without mental illness, and the fact that you have to “put them down” is really kind of weird.  But the idea of Krasarang being kind of a counterpoint to that was really, really good.  I kind of like the ending of it where you get to the temple of Chi-ji and Chi-ji – it’s weird, because I feel like they designated the celestials to kind of depending on what kind of role you do.  You can kind of see it.  It’s kind of a motif.  Like Chi-ji is for healing and Yu’lon is for casters, and so on and so forth.

Tzufit:  And you can see it definitively now with the legendary cloaks if you’ve seen the procs for 5.4.  That is exactly the case.  Chi-ji is the healer cloak.  Yu’lon is the spellcaster cloak, and so on.

Apple Cider Mage:  So the idea that you get to this huge, beautiful – and I mean beautifully designed – temple and you actually get to kill the Sha and help Chi-ji.  I don’t know, something about his voice and the things that he says either in the Twin Consorts fight or in the quest.  I always felt pretty peaceful once I had finished that quest line or any time that Chi-ji comes into the game.  He feels like a nice, calming, soothing sort of voice in that way.  I actually like Krasarang a little bit better for that sort of stuff than any of the other zones.

Tzufit:  It’s funny because he’s actually occasionally referred to as “the spirit of hope.”

Dee:  We have one other thing that we’re shown in Mists that is kind of – it’s a side character that I don’t think a lot of people pay attention to, but seemed very significant to me.  We have all of these examples of mental illness that are shown as being not natural and something that occurs from corruption.  There’s one character that I can think of that was not evil and actually has a really good storyline and that’s Ella with the Tillers.  She shows up and they don’t ever say anything definitively, but whenever you talk to her she’s really shy.  She lives out on her own.  She has her cats.  I feel that she shows that she has these kind of anxiety issues, because whenever you talk to her she says things like, “I have this idea, but just forget it.  It’s really silly.  I’m sorry.”  As you do her quest line, she goes and she wants to be a brewer, like the Stormstouts.  She goes through and she achieves her dreams.  You do the quest line.  I thought that was very significant and I thought that was a very positive thing.  I want to just pull whoever did that quest line aside and say, “Yes, more of this please!”

Apple Cider Mage:  It is kind of cool, because it seems very antithetical to how the pandaren are generally displayed.  They’re very confident.  So a pandaren that isn’t very confident of herself and may even be anxious or scared in general, is actually really cool.

Tzufit:  Well Dee, we have to thank you so much for coming on today and talking to us and bringing so much research to the show, and also for your openness and your honesty.

Dee:  Thank you very much for having me on and giving me the chance to talk about this.  This is something that I’ve had these ideas for a while, but I never really solidified them into a post or anything like that.  So it’s great to have the chance to come and speak about these things that are really near and dear to me.

Apple Cider Mage:  I feel like we really picked a good, strong, first guest to have on our podcast.

Tzufit:  Absolutely.

Dee:  Well thank you very much for having me on.

Tzufit:  We should also mention, for those of you who listened to episode 2 last week about the women of Pandaria, that the day after we posted that episode on iTunes, a new short story was released on Blizzard’s website about the Klaxxi and there’s lots of very interesting stuff in there about the relationship both with the mantid in general and the paragons in particular to the Empress.  Really worth reading if you have any interest in that side of the lore whatsoever, and we are planning to post a link to that on the Justice Points website so you can check it out and realize that there is some crazy stuff going on with that Empress.

Apple Cider Mage:  Definitely some major lore tinfoil-hatting speculation sort of stuff going on.  Definitely check it out.  As always, thanks to our site host, Safe Shark Hosting – because hosting doesn’t have to bite.  Safe Shark Hosting does WordPress migration, WordPress blogging, and website hosting.  Next week’s episode is going to be talking about character customization and the importance of character appearance.  As always, thank you for listening to the show.  You can check us out on Twitter @justicepoints.  You can also check us out online at justicepoints.com.  If you want to send any questions, comments, concerns we are at justicepointspodcast@gmail.com.  And as always, iTunes – subscribe, rate, and comment.

Tzufit:  And one last thank you to Dee for joining us today and being a completely fantastic guest.

Dee:  Thank you very much for having me on your show.

Apple Cider Mage:  And that’ll be it for this week so we will see you next week.

2 comments

  1. Steve

    As an avid WoW player and a survivor of psychiatry I found your podcast inspiring. Keep up the great work!!!!!!!!!

  2. Fueilly

    As someone whose gung-ho, obnoxiously tough uncle suffers from PTSD, your podcast got me wondering: Where are all the people suffering in Azeroth? Shattrath?

    There’s been 3 wars in as many decades, one of which involved facing off against ghoulish reminders of one’s own mortality. There’s been literal death-slavery, which I can’t imagine the Forsaken passed through without some kind of issues (Insert pet theory about the forsaken becoming emotionally numb as a coping mechanism for being trapped in their own undead bodies, commiting atrocities with no free will, here). Chemical warfare, death from assaults one could never expect, the fantasy equivalent of white phosphorus being dropped on Taurajo…

    And the only examples we see are a scared Forsaken in Gilneas, some villagers, and one orc who won’t eat bacon anymore? I mean, I KNOW why, it’s hard to write, but.

    I don’t know where I was going with this. Thank you for this podcast. I have a lot to think about.

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