Life Signs

Reports of the unfortunate and sudden demise of Stargazer’s World are highly exaggerated. Even though I haven’t posted in the last few weeks doesn’t mean I plan to shut down the blog for good. I actually have a couple of posts in preparation and I hope to get things running again soon. But on the other hand I decided that taking a break from blogging wouldn’t be the end of the world. At the moment I slowly try to get things running again. So please excuse that this post is of a more personal nature than what you’re used to.

The last weeks and months have been quite hard for me. Even though I have been in therapy for the last months, my mental health issues flared up again earlier this year. I had to cancel a SWN campaign I wanted to run, because the fear I could mess up things again, turned into fully-blown anxiety attacks. Focussing on anything became exeedingly hard and I had to be signed off work for four weeks.

According to my therapist I suffer from a moderate depressive episode. In my case anxiety and sleep disorders are among the major symptoms. I am also pretty thin-skinned and prone to bouts of anger. I easily get frustrated, which doesn’t really help with creative endeavours like preparing for a roleplaying campaign or writing blog posts. In the last few months it has become pretty obvious that I suffer from some kind of mental health issue. But looking back, I realized that I have been suffering from depression for much, much longer.

Being able to call my mental health issues by name is actually helping a lot. Up until a while ago, I always had to give some pretty fuzzy explanations on what was wrong with me. Now that I know that it’s depression I suffer from, things are easier. I still have to cope with the symptoms from time to time, but it’s easier to talk about my problems. In addition to that the new medication my doctor prescribed seems to help.

Since I haven’t run any games in a while, writing about RPGs is becoming harder. I always drew a lot of inspirations from what I’ve experienced at the game table and at this moment I feel like a fake when I am writing about something I actually don’t do at the moment. There are also a couple of books on my shelf that need to be reviewed, but I haven’t managed to read them thouroughly – and my bad conscience isn’t helping.

I am pretty sure that things will slowly improve over time, but currently I am still struggling to cope with the daily chores. So please bear with me, if I don’t manage to post in a regular manner. I also hope you don’t mind if I use this blog to write about my depressions from time to time. Talking with other people about my problems has always helped me to cope and writing about it isn’t much different. I also got the impression that depression and other mental health issues are not uncommon in the RPG scene, so perhaps this topic is not completely off-topic at all.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

13 thoughts on “Life Signs”

  1. Sounds like you’ve made some progress, and that’s _always_ a good thing.

    Don’t rush. We’ll be here. It’s more important that you work on your health 🙂

  2. I hope you’ll continue to get better. All the best! I think the chatty DM it some other English blogger also suffered from depression and blogs about it every now and then.

  3. Hang in there, buddy! Been there – frequently still AM there – and I know the bad symptoms don’t last as long as it feels. You did right finding help, and you’ll be surprised how much a good night’s sleep helps too. If you haven’t had a sleep study done, talk to your doctor. Apnea untreated is a major cause of depression, hallucinations, and other fun things.

    Don’t be concerned about “writing about something you don’t do” (paraphrase) since you can call on your memories and vast experiences. The RPG field hasn’t changed as much as it thinks it has, and the best things to write about are never new systems – or new anything. We rolegame and then talk about it because, even continents away, we have shared experiences. No matter how unique each campaign, each gamesmaster, and thus each game played – we have a shared experience.

    Shared experiences should be shared, don’t you think? Such as this experience you and I share of battling depression with a +1d6 Zoloft tablet?

  4. Take care of yourself man… We talk regularly but I want to add my public support to you and your recovery process. To me the best thing about contributing to the blog is the sense of community. And taking care of yourself is paramount.

    Now if you only had a contributor who would pick up the slack…

    Oh wait! Never mind…. 🙂

    1. Something’s wrong with my eyes. I originally read

      “Now if you only had a concubine who would pick up the slack…”

      and did a marvelous doubletake. You should’ve seen it.

  5. Keep soldiering on, Michael. I’m close to you, even if I often lurk your blog without comments. And I’m sure we are a lot 😀

  6. Ouch, I hope you get well soon. Sad news. Unfortunately, such conditions need TIME and ACCEPTANCE, which is usually really hard work on yourself.

    Maybe you have something that you really like and that you can do even during bad times. Doing things “anyway” might be helpful to keep or get a structure back.

    Did you try progressive muscle relaxation, jogging or even Yoga. Some breath lessons like Ujjayi might help to calm down (for example). Another thing to think about is the own perspective. Part of the sleeping disorder might be the fear of not sleeping – something is wrong with me.
    “Strangely” there are people who are training to sleep less. Some similarities in the “sleeping habits”, but completely different ways of thinking about it.

    Do you do CBT, or another therapy?

    Everybody is different! One man’s cure is another man’s poison. So every tip can only be a suggestion to try for yourself.

    A blog comment is not the right place to discuss such “emotional” topics.

    Patience and understanding! Patience – I mean it! It doesn’t come over night and it doesn’t go the next day, week…. Good luck!!!

  7. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for having the guts to share! 🙂

    All the best – love your blog btw – even if you don’t post every hour 🙂
    Enjoy your breathers – and your next real game 🙂

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