I think for this first day of Blaugust I want to talk a little about how I’m spending my time these days. I would be remiss if I didn’t start with why I have so much time to spend, so I’ll just explain where I am health-wise first.
The Spoon Question
Very often I’ll mention “not having enough spoons” for an activity and be asked what that means. Other people have explained this better than I can. But in essence, for me: spoons = energy. Most people don’t have to worry about how much energy making a piece of toast and brushing their teeth takes before they set off to drive to work for the day. For me, each of those tasks takes resources mentally and physically that are already very very limited.
My official diagnoses are severe depression and generalised/social anxiety disorder, though it’s pretty much confirmed I also have been living with undiagnosed ADHD which I didn’t realise how debilitating it could be. I’m on a waiting list for a diagnosis there but that’s a long wait. And over the past few years my fatigue has grown (please note that fatigue is not simple tiredness, it is a constant exhaustion that saps you of energy and motivation), and with that I get brain fog which is heavier some days than others. All things combined, I barely have the energy to take care of myself, let alone go out and about, work.. you get the idea. I want to chase the doctors up about potential Chronic Fatigue but my thyroid is slightly overactive and I’m on medication for my mental health as well, so even if it weren’t already so difficult to get invisible illnesses taken seriously and diagnosed, I have other things working against me. At the moment, I go back every 6 months to get my blood tested and check my meds are still working okay.
But I can’t work, and writing a blog post takes so many spoons I can barely do anything else the rest of the day. I do not say any of this for sympathy, it’s just how it is right now. I get by and I roughly know my limits.
So, with so little energy to spare, I spend my days just passing the time in low-spoon activities. For me, depending on the day, that’ll be: video games, cross-stitch, watching movies, series, and YouTube, and reading. I play Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Monday evenings, and I run TTRPGs on Saturday evenings. Yes running takes a lot of my energy, and I have to prep for it as well, but it’s something that brings me so much joy that it feels worth it. When I don’t have really any local friends, I’m not able to get out very much.. I take what I can get.
I’m still playing retail World of Warcraft with my guild, Whitestar. We have such a fantastic group of people, I love playing with them so much. So much that I’ve even stuck it through major burnout. I don’t know how it felt through Shadowlands as I didn’t play, but certainly the release cadence in Dragonflight has been too much way too soon for me (and many of my guild mates). I need time to work through content, grind things out, and somewhat just decompress, let it be. Trouble is they release these mini-patches while I’m still in the grinding stage and it throws me way off because suddenly there’s more content to start with and I just get so overwhelmed. After a few months of that, it got too much. If it weren’t for Whitestar, I definitely would have turned off my subscription and walked away a couple months back. I’m still not quite out of the woods, I know 2 raid nights and 1 mythic+ night per week eats into both my spoon allocation and my free time. Some nights I really need to just sit in the chair and exist to help with my health, and dropping WoW would really help me out in that area. But it also adds a lot to my life that I would miss immensely. It’s not an easy thing. Right now, I’m sticking with it, we shall see what the future brings.
Final Fantasy XIV’s siren call has also started up again. This is probably my favourite MMORPG and I’m still working through the Heavensward main story quests, I’m slower than snails with this game, but I love it. I just find it too hard to fit it in with WoW and everything else, but if I could, this would be my home.
Then we have the Wholesome Games Celebration which is basically a sale of wholesome games from 31st July – 7th August, and of course, there are many many demos! So I’m hoping to play a few demos this week and maybe have another write-up of my favourites because I enjoyed the last Next Fest so much. We’ll see what I can manage.
Tabletop RPGs have my heart these days. I fell in love with Dungeons and Dragons and I found myself wanting to explore other systems a lot more. And that’s basically what my Saturday group is trying to do. Playing some one-shots and mini-campaigns in systems we’d like to test and see which one sticks for us. We tried one called Tales of Myriad which was cute and interesting but ultimately wasn’t quite right, we ran a 5th Edition-based Funnel over two sessions that was just for fun, and now we’re going to have a mini-campaign (shouldn’t be more than a couple months, in theory) in Level Up – Advanced 5th Edition! This system is really interesting, as its base is D&D 5e, so realistically it’s 5e with a lot more bells and whistles. It does a lot of really interesting things, as well, though I must admit to feeling a smidge overwhelmed. It’s really hard for me to retain information and after running a character creation session, I have seen just how much there is going on here. I’m hoping that once we get into playing the adventure it will feel right, but there’s this nagging feeling that systems with any more crunch than 5th edition already offers just will not work for me as a GM.
I shall see, though! We’re trying these things for a reason. I saw that Rakuno’s group was doing something similar, trying all sorts of TTRPG systems. He invited me to play Warhammer – Age of Sigmar with them and the little look into that system helped me understand how it worked and actually find a lot to love about it. However, part of why that worked for me was having others to help me wrap my head around things. As a GM, I want to be in a position to help my players, answer their questions, and make appropriate rulings. So I need at least a basic understanding of how a system works, and some decent notes to follow, to be comfortable running. I just hope I’m able to do this without hurting myself! I will see how A5E goes, and probably try something a little lighter after, such as the Cypher System.
On Monday nights, I get to be a player. I’ve been with this group for about a year now, playing a Human Oath of the Ancients Paladin named Evelina “Lina” Brightwood. We’ve been playing in Exandria (Critical Role’s world) which has been interesting, and we’re getting close to wrapping up our campaign. I’m already thinking about my next character. She’s going to be a College of Creation Bard with writer’s block, on the hunt for a good song. I originally wanted to go Tabaxi, the cat heritage in 5e, but my heart is always with the Elves, and then the Gemstone Dragonborn in Fizban’s sound so fun, or she could be a Tiefling I- aaaaa. Decisions are hard. This is why I start making them so early!
As I mentioned in my last post, I have been enjoying just reading for myself this year. I don’t think I’ve ever kept a consistent reading habit like this without feeling like I had to keep it up in order to have reviews to publish. It feels really nice just reading whatever I want, at a pace that suits my health, without worrying about what to write afterwards and knowing that if my mood switches it’s absolutely okay to jump to a new book, because sticking with the wrong book for the wrong mood rarely works out for me.
I’ve mostly been reading a lot of horror. This just seems to be my favourite genre, these days. I’ve discovered a strong love for Grady Hendrix, Silvia Moreno Garcia, Stephen King, and T. Kingfisher and I’m planning to get a few more of all of their books, but there’s so much to explore as it’s also a very new genre for me. I’ve only just started reading it in a big way and I couldn’t watch it for years.
My last read was A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik. It was my first Novik and I pretty much devoured it. Such an easy read, and fascinating world. I had to pick up The Last Graduate right after so that is my current read. Thankfully I have been able to pick up all three books for my Kindle in various sales over the years so I don’t have to worry about library access or spending! I have so many books I need to read right now, it’s so hard being a slow reader who wants to read just everything, haha.
*And Now For a Brief Interlude*
Perhaps just to emphases the point about Spoons, I had to pause writing this post here as my brain started hurting, and my vision started tunnelling… I saved and leapt off the PC to take a screen break and managed to mostly salvage the situation but damn was I close to hitting migraine city. Just from sitting here and jotting down what came to mind. It takes that little to be too much for me, these days. As such, I’ll do my best to keep my posts relatively short going forwards, if I can help it, and I installed a Dark Mode plugin for my browser to help when white backgrounds are just too much.
Films and Shows
For the longest time I primarily watched series and just stuff on Youtube. Watching through a series gave me enough content to just stick on while I was grinding in an MMORPG or cross stitching, plus I enjoyed the long-form storytelling a series offers. More time for world and character building and all that. As a result I was always serially behind on movies and had a bit of a reputation as the one who hasn’t seen the big movies. However this past year I’ve found myself getting into films in a big way, especially the horror genre. I joined a horror Discord server and signed up to Letterboxd, joined up for a few movie watching challenges and went to town.
So far this year I have watched 111 movies. According to what I have logged on Letterboxd, this is 1/5th the amount of movies I have seen in my lifetime. That is pretty immense. The thing is, there is so much I haven’t seen and so many way to watch them. I’ve started collecting DVDs again, I enjoy checking the local charity shops for films I want in my collection or things I really want to see. We are subscribed to a few streaming services. So there is plenty!
This month, I signed up for a Scavenger Hunt challenge. A host will provide prompts for the number of days in a month, and participants make a list and pick a movie for each prompt, preferably something you haven’t seen before. I found the prompts for August pretty challenging as they asked a lot of things I have little knowledge of or interest in, but I did my best and I’m looking forward to watching through my list.
This is a particularly nice activity when I don’t have the energy to do much else. Just turn something on, and watch along. I’ll often pull my cross-stitching out while I watch to keep my hands occupied, but some days even that’s too much and I’ll just watch.