Sunday, November 24, 2013

Discussion on Mental Health

Mental health conditions are a great prevalence in our society, and in all others. Even though mental health problems seem to be just as common as physical health problems, the subjects are approached far differently. If I were to walk up to someone I know and tell them I was having a camera put down my throat in two weeks to look at my stomach, they would be understanding and supportive. However if I were to tell that same person that I go to counseling on a weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) schedule, they would likely have some hesitation about how to deal with the situation. In my eyes, both of these situations are essentially the same. I am having a camera put down my throat to try to find, and ultimately solve the problems I am having that affect my physical health. I go to counseling to try to find and solve the problems I have that affect my mental health. To me, physical health and mental health should be treated with the same amount of compassion and support because they both cause problems in the lives of those who have to deal with them. Both require help and guidance, either to cure the problem, or learn to live with it. These are just my personal opinions, but I would like to share some opinions provided by others as well. The decision to put together this blog post was fueled in part by a recent Tauren Think Tank episode (#78 - It Smells Like Wood on ). In this episode a feedback letter was sent in to Rem and Jules that sparked up a lot of conversation. It was the story of a man whose wife struggled with mental illness and the path life took her on with treatment. There is no way for me to try to summarize that letter with the appropriate emotion involved, as just by Jules reading it, it brought tears to several people listening. This is a very powerful and inspirational story and my suggestion is, at the very least, go and listen to the end of the episode if you haven't heard it already. This letter sparked a lot of discussion in the chat room. I selected a few of those comments and am now going to share them, and reply to them with my thoughts.

Arcaynemage said: "It's not physical, not visible, so there's the "it's all in their mind" stigma. An implication that they're making it up."     ~Personally, I agree with this explanation. I think a lot of people have a hard time believing what they can't see. With physical illness, you can see what's wrong, or at the very least often times (with internal illnesses) you can see a picture of what's wrong. But there is no real way to directly see mental illness. All we see is what it does to the individual. For people who cannot grasp the idea of something being wrong that they can't see, they don't believe it to be real. The only other option for them is to believe the person is making it up, or that it is all in their mind.

Wombat1974 said: "The number of times I have heard "OH YOU JUST NEED TO CHEER UP"..."      ~This comment relates to a discussion on depression, and all forms it holds. For someone with depression (speaking from personal experience as this one is common in other members of my family) they CANNOT just cheer up. And if they could, they would. One of my relatives does not enjoy dealing with depression so badly that she sometimes can't get out of bed for days. This isn't something she wants. And for her, she has seasonal affective disorder (SAD) on top of the already severe depression she deals with on a regular basis. For those who don't know, SAD is a disorder where depression either results, or gets worse, at a certain time of year - every year. For many this occurs in the fall and winter months because of the lack of sunlight, the colder temperatures, and other factors that may be different for each individual. So for her, and for many others who deal with varying types of depression, being told to just cheer up can be a very bad thing to hear, and can make their mood even worse. Not only does it show the person doesn't understand what they are going through, but it also comes off as not caring, or at the very least not trying to understand or be sympathetic and compassionate.

Laidraphyre said: "I think people think its kinda contagious or something like that."   ~This is another viewpoint that I agree with. I think this goes back to not understanding the issues with mental illness. I'm going to share a very personal story with this one. Ten years ago when I was in elementary school, and my older sister in middle school I found out she was cutting herself, very badly. This was discovered because my sister and I were watching an episode of 7th Heaven over the summer, as we did almost every day. In this episode, one of the characters was cutting herself. After it was over, my sister showed me her arms. I refused to believe her. I didn't say anything to anybody about it and just ignored it, not because I didn't care, but because at eleven years old, I didn't know how to process what was going on. It wasn't until much later, when school started again that she was finally getting help. And once the family knew about it, things got even harder for her. I remember one time I was in the kitchen with my siblings, and my brother wouldn't go anywhere near my sister. When she asked him about it, his response was "I don't want to catch your disease." This seems like a terrible thing to say, but keeping in mind he was only 8 or 9 at the time, he couldn't comprehend what was actually going on. To me, when adults have the viewpoint of mental illness being contagious, it is the result of a juvenile mindset.

Arcaynemage also said: "It's too bad, but at least there are folks like you guys (Rem, Jules, all of you in the chat room and listening) that are willing to carry on the conversation."     ~This is a very good point. It is terrible the way mental illness is treated in society. There need to be people to talk about it, and to listen. We need to do what we can to better understand all of these problems and be supportive to those who need the support.  By talking about it, we can find that we are learning more, that we are becoming more open minded, and that we are willing to lend a hand to help where we can, even if just by sharing thoughts are forcing the conversation to continue.

Finally, this is what I said in the chat that night: "We can see physical problems. Mental problems... we can't see it. We don't know how to comprehend that which we cannot see, so we fear it and avoid it. And it's a shame."     ~Obviously I agree with this because I said it. But it seems to sum up a lot of what other people said. I hope, by forcing conversation, we can start to help people become more open minded about these issues.

And because this is such a prevalent problem, not talking about mental illness, and shunning those who deal with these struggles, I decided to carry on the conversation in Twitter, by asking this: "Hey all you smart people! I need some opinions on why you think society tends to avoid discussing mental health. I'm working on a blog post." Here is what some on Twitter had to say:

@Chris O'C said: "Political correctness. It stunts conversation about many important issues. People are so paranoid about offending someone (especially when they don't understand the matter) that the convo never starts. There's yet to be a celebrity or spokesperson to bring it to the forefront and no one's going to listen to a random doctor. And most "normal" folks that have various mental illnesses don't talk about it for (genuine) fear of being...well I dunno. Just think how most letters on TTT start. Something to the effect of "I never thought I'd talk about this..." "    ~There are a lot of good points made here. It has yet to be brought up about being afraid to offend people, but this is yet another aspect to the matter. But I think, so long as the topic is approached in a respectful manner, there is some level of understanding that you may not be trying to be offensive, but rather just trying to understand. If more respect can be brought to the people who struggle with these mental illnesses, perhaps they would be more willing to talk about it. We need to have a spokesperson for mental illness. It is a problem, and we need to make it a priority just as much as so many other physical illnesses are. To finish the sentence, most normal folks that have various mental illnesses don't talk about it for (genuine) fear of being judged, rejected, feared, misunderstood (and any number of other words). We need to have a place to be able to talk about it. TTT brings us a place to talk about it, and to bring our opinions together to try to understand each other. Having that place where you know you will be treated with respect makes it feel more safe to bring it up. I commend TTT and the moo crew for all that they do to support everyone who needs someone to lean on, for mental health concerns and anything else they are struggling with in their lives.

@RichardkurnieJ said: because we can't just fix it, we can't see it. Someone can appear fine but still have a mental illness and that scares people."     ~this falls in line with what a lot of other people are saying. It seems there is a great consensus on the biggest problems with avoiding the discussion of mental illness in our inability to see it, and the fear we have because of that.

One person, who will not be mentioned, responded with: "I'd discuss it, but, you know, society avoids it..."     ~I know who this person is, and know it wasn't intended as a serious comment but more of a joke. But it brings up a good point anyway. We don't discuss it because society avoids it. We conform to society, and what society wants. We try to keep people comfortable by avoiding uncomfortable topics. That cannot continue. In my own struggles with mental illness (not anything major) I avoided talking about it with a lot of people because I know it's an uncomfortable topic. But it's uncomfortable because we don't talk about it. Let's get the conversations moving, and continue to talk about it. We must do our best to make it known what's going on, the struggles we face, and the help we need. My first step in opening up about what I'm going through was in sending a series of letters to TTT. Through talking with them, I found the support of an amazing community of individuals willing to listen. And sometimes that's all we need.

@RealKareemAli said: "I think the biggest reason is the stigma attached to it. Part of that is due to a lack of understanding on what it is and how to deal with it mainly but both those affected by it and those who know people affected by it. No one wants to be called crazy or be around those who they view sometimes incorrectly as crazy and unstable. It threatens what's considered the norm and also requires some thought and consideration. And ignoring it is one way to avoid looking in the mirror IMO"     ~This brings up a very touchy topic... the words 'crazy' and 'unstable'. These are words that are often times put upon people who suffer from mental illness. All this does is make the problem worse. Nobody wants to be called crazy. It hurts. This response also brings up two major reasons why we tend to ignore mental health: there's an uncomfortable stigma, we don't understand it, so we refuse to look at it.

@xsinthis said: "It's a bit of a taboo, and it makes people feel awkward, they'd much rather ignore it than confront it"      ~this is yet another good point. It is unfortunate that it is a taboo subject. It reminds me of years ago when women who got pregnant outside of wedlock were sent away to live with someone else for a year so no shame would be brought to their families. And like so many other things in the past that have been taboo that now are not. I just hope that someday, and someday soon, mental illness is something we can talk about instead of ignore.

@applecidermage said: "I believe a lot of why people don't discuss it is because societally we perceive it not being "real" When in fact it's on the same level as having diabetes or heart disease. It's a real thing with your brain. It's also frequently stigmatized as only a thing "bad", abusive or violent people have. People with mental illness are characterized in a myriad of ways - lazy, weak, emotional, etc. There's also a cultural belief that being emotional in general means you are weak or irrational (esp in case of women.)"     ~This brings up a number of good points. As I mentioned previously, mental illness should not be treated any differently by society than any physical illness can be. Furthermore, the number of stigmas placed on those with mental illness is part of the overall problem, and personally I feel it falls back into the fear that many seem to have about mental illness.

@azerrah said: "in my opinion mental illness is one of the least understood things. There is so much to learn about how the mind works. When the system fails to treat those who suffer, bad things happen. After that, all people who suffer with illness are painted with the same brush and people ASSUME everyone is out to do bad things. People then fear the unknown as well as the person who suffers the illness. It's not understood nearly enough."      ~this again is going back to a lack of understanding and a fear. But it also further emphasizes on the point of stigmas and stereotype. With the current accepted view of mental illness, we are not letting those who suffer be individuals, but rather a mold that we chose to see. We're not giving them a chance to let us see the person beneath the illness.The majority of people with mental illnesses don't let it define them, and we shouldn't define them by it either.

@Mistapankake said: "Well we know the brain works and the different parts of the brain but we don't know exactly how or why it works. We don't know why we are sentient, why we have a soul, a conscience and it scares us. When something is a little different from the norm, well that scares us too. But when you add something that is constant but completely incomprehensible and the extra little stimulus of say of mental illness it scares the hell out of us. And how it has been said 'out of sight, out of mind' . We try to ignore it so we don't have to deal with it and try to understand it. We just hope it goes away and that is wrong, utterly and completely. We need to try and understand and help those who need it"    ~As soon as I read this, I knew it was going to be the final comment from others in this post because he does a fantastic job of essentially summing up everything else that is written here. We don't know, so we get scared, so we hide. And that's not okay. It never will be okay.

Friday night, I was watching Batman Begins, and one line really struck me and I wanted to be sure to mention it in this post. Thanks to mistapankake, this is the perfect place to do so. That line was: "this is a world you'll never understand, and you always fear what you don't understand." That one sentence, I completely agree with. However, the one thing we need to consider is that just because we don't understand it, and just because we fear it, doesn't mean we have to avoid it. We need to have the courage to deal with it anyway. Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the ability to face those fears. So, lets join together and build up the courage to face our fears and try to truly understand the struggles people with mental illnesses face on a daily basis. Let's give them a friend to confide in, a hand to hold, and a should to cry on if they need it. Let's be a community that helps build people up, instead of breaking them down. 

If you don't know what to do, or how to start a conversation, or how to help, check online. There are a ton of resources for helping individuals with mental illnesses. Here are just some of the resources that I have found:    <--- this one says it's for schizophrenia, but don't disregard it as a lot of the tips apply for just about any mental illness. 

If you would like to be a part of this conversation, PLEASE share this post, and share your thoughts in the comments or elsewhere. If you want to directly share thoughts with me, you can find me on Twitter at @JennMorton01 or just post something in the comments and I'll see it. This is something we need to be talking about and bringing awareness to. Join the conversation and help start the change we need to see.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

BlizzCon Week!

This post would be far more exciting if I were actually part of Team Blizz Con instead of Team No Con, but I'll take what I can get. It was still BlizzCon week, and no matter where any of us were, there were so awesome things brought into light about the future of Blizzard games. That being said, here is the summation of my week, which got far better as it went on:

Monday: Yeah, Monday sucked. I got to level 41 which was pretty cool, but then I got stuck and impaled myself on a tent pole accidentally, as you can see here: There were a number of attempts made to get myself unstuck, most of which were obviously unsuccessful. I tried leaving the game and logging back in. It kept disconnecting. This is when I found out that Blizzard was having problems and it wasn't just me. Once I finally got back into the game, I was still stuck (as I very much expected to be). My next attempt was to run dungeon. So I spent five minutes sitting in a dungeon finder queue, then while in the dungeon managed to get another achievement. Once finished with the dungeon, I was still stuck. So I went into the help menu and used the "stuck" option and was supposed to be teleported to the nearest graveyard. Instead, I was teleported to the starting zone and had to find my way back which took for ever, and a few flights. Through all of these random flights and what not, I decided to try some pet battles. It's far less exciting that past reading made it out to be, and I hope I can find the fun in all of it soon. Eventually I made it back to where I was. In between all of this nonsense when I kept getting disconnected from the game, I decided to spend some time playing Hearthstone. To sum up: four losses, two wins, and two dailies.

Tuesday: I am going to have a hard time keeping my post topics from running into each other with this one, so I will say as little as possible. I didn't do any game play until after Agents of SHIELD and that episode may or may not have made me cry. It was by far the best episode thus far, and I cannot wait to talk about it in my next SHIELD post in two or three weeks (for thoughts on the first four episodes, see my earlier post: So, after SHIELD I played Wow, hit level 42, earned two new abilities and opened two dungeons. And then my character must have gotten drunk, or forgot to put his land legs back on after getting out of the water because he kept listing lazily to the left while walking. It got annoying so I stopped playing.

Wednesday, I didn't do a damn thing. Thursday, I spent about an hour leveling with my leveling partner. In all honesty, I still feel dumb and slow because I get lost a lot and forget to finish quests and what not. But there were three things I learned: one- plump vermin burp to attack. two- cart travel is fun. three- I am a very, very bad tight rope walker.

Friday. BlizzCon day one. I unexpectedly had off work, which was awesome. I spent my entire afternoon glued to Twitter for BlizzCon news. There's no reason for me to sum up all of the news here, because if anyone is actually reading this blog and cares about Blizzard stuff, there's a damn good chance they've already heard the news elsewhere, several times. But here's a few highlights and the thoughts I have on them:
-There's a new expansion set to be released sometime in the future entitled Warlords of Draenor. Some features that I think will be fun: automatic character to 90. As someone new to WoW, this is exciting for me. I have every intention of creating a character specifically for the expansion and leveling it to 90 so I can start something at the same time as everyone else is starting something. Then I won't have to be the only one learning new stuff. I'm also looking forward to the player Garrisons. I think this will be a fun new feature to the game. I can't give an opinion on the whole time travel thing because I don't know enough about the game as a whole right now. As a final note, I believe Remghar's name suggestion is far better. If you don't know what it is, listen here:   OR you can listen to TTT's new episode here:
-Hearthstone News: The most exciting piece of Hearthstone news for me was the announcement that they will create Hearthstone for compatibility with iPhone and Android devices. Given that Friday morning I was wishing I had that option, I was pretty stoked to hear the announcement that my wish would soon come true.
-And finally, then announcement of a new game, Heroes of the Storm. I assume most of us are already signed up for the beta, so now it's just a matter of time.
Friday afternoon, I took a break from twitter to play WoW and hit level 43 (still with the goal to get to 45 by the end of the weekend.)

Friday night was Rem and Phytt Show live. Phytt was brutally honest, people got pissed and left the chat room, Rem came up with an awesome new name for the expansion, they got drunk, it was hilarious. Also, we discussed my presence at ConnectiCon and a wing challenge (though that was post show). If you want to know more about their thoughts on BlizzCon and the new announcements, listen to the show! (The link is above)

Saturday: Level 44 in WoW, and opened a new dungeon. I ate lunch while playing Hearthstone (lunch of champions... hot dogs and tater tots!). I played a Mage deck in the arena then lost, three times in a row. After that, I had no gold left so I went into play mode. My only win was due to an opponent giving up the second the match started, for whatever reason. After that, I lost two more times, then I gave up because of how terrible I was doing.

Saturday night was a live TTT, as usual, but with a lot of unusual guests! Jules was at BlizzCon so a lot of people were able to stop in and say hi! It was a great recap of BlizzCon and all that is to come. Then they blue screened at the end of the show. But, what made it even better was post show. There were drinks had by Rem and Phytt, and a few in the chat room. Myself, I was drinking spiced rum. Two people called in and chatted with the guys. I was one of those two people. I talked with them for almost an hour. It has been decided that I am definitely going to ConnectiCon, barring some horrid mishap between my college graduation and then. It has been decided that they disprove of me attempting to eat 50 hot wings, but will encourage me to eat at least 30. It has also been decided that they have almost free reign over deciding my cosplay (but they better figure it out soon). Furthermore, my wing eating attempt... it will be recorded, no matter what we have to do to make that happen. I will prove to those guys that girls can eat wings too, and eat more than they can! Oh, and the guys and the chat room encouraged me to put a post up on BecauseofWoW to explain all of the things that have happened to me in the past couple of months.

Post post show, myself and TehKnuck decided to run a dungeon. I was very drunk. It was fun. I got lost a few times, died twice, and overall just had a freaking blast with it! Also, I can't read half of my notes because trying to take notes, while running a dungeon, while drunk, is not the easiest thing in the world.

And finally, this morning, Sunday morning, I made my post on BecauseofWoW. Here is my story: Personally, I think that BecauseofWoW is absolutely incredible and Jules deserves so much praise for it. This creation of hers is a great way to bring this awesome community so much closer together!

Regardless, BlizzCon week was a blast, even for TeamNoCon and went out with a bang!

Monday, November 4, 2013

WoW, Hearthstone, and Halloween Games

Holy crap what a week. This is a somewhat overdue post, but there is so much to say.

Last Sunday, after posting my last blog, I played WoW. I hit level 38 and unlocked a new dungeon (yay), and reached the achievement of 250 quests completed (double yay). I also wanted to try pet battles, but I couldn't figure out where the trainers were. I posted something in Twitter about it and got the answers I was looking for! Later that evening I decided to play a bit of Hearthstone. As you may know, I have spent a lot of time trying to beat Paladin to unlock all races and to be able to move into arena mode. Well, with a priest, I FINALLY beat paladin. I then made a custom mage deck with an Expert Mage, and managed two wins. I then went into play mode where I lost twice and one once (evening total of three wins and two losses). I also completed two dailies which gave me more gold. The rest of my evening was spent studying and working on some personal projects.

Monday, I was having an absolutely miserable day and wanted to play WoW just to have an escape from life for a while. Thanks to the help I got from Twitter on Sunday about pet battles, I was able to find a trainer and get started on pet battles, though I didn't get very far. After that, I went back to working on some personal projects. My Hearthstone time on Monday was my first time playing in the arena. I learned that the arena deck fyou create expires after you lose three games. This has its good and bad aspects. Obviously, if you create a terrible deck, you have a very quick turn around before creating a new deck. The downside is if you really like a deck, but things just don't play out well, you would have to completely recreate that deck again. In arena mode I won twice, lost five times, and completed one daily.

Tuesday: Maintenance Day. Not cool. I never like maintenance day. This week was even worse though because my first class had gotten cancelled and I had so much time in the morning to do nothing. Instead, I spent this time catching up on some podcasts (specifically the season finale of The Lockhead Journals and Flex Mode #1). Later that day, I came across a wonderful thing: Steam Sales! Specifically, Halloween game Steam sales. I bough four games for just over $10.00. Those games are: Alice- Madness Returns, Ghostbusters- Sanctum of Slime, Home, and Sherlock Holmes- The Awakened. After this purchase, I was very much hoping of making a blog post specifically about my new Halloween games. Unfortunately, this couldn't happen because I am having some compatibility issues with Steam working on my new laptop and working with Windows 8. The only game that I have been able to get to work thus far is Home which is a 2D game that is highly text based. You walk through with a flashlight, so you can only see so much at one time and the purpose at the beginning is to try to figure out where you are and what's going on, and who the dead bodies are. There are interactive objects where you can select them, then with a lot of things select what you do with them. For example, do you pick up the knife, do you keep the photo, do you keep the gun, etc. There is a lot of reading to be able to underestand what is going on, but it's fun. The game is also really creepy. There are bats in the dirt cellar, noises of water dripping, bloody cages in corners, corrosives in jars, blood caked shelves, and old items that the main character thought he and his wife had thrown out years ago. I didn't play this game too much, but hope to go back to it soon as it is a lot fun. Later, in the evening, I played Hearthstone, but was having another really bad day so I wasn't putting any effort into playing but was just using it as a break from life. In arena mode, I lost ten times, and won zero. However, I did figure out the discrepancy between the gems on the cards. White gems are common cards, blue gems are rare cards, purple gems are epic cards, and orange gems are legendary cards.  Finally, Tuesday night I received yet another Hearthstone beta key. Since I had no use for it, I decided to give it away on Twitter. The task was simple: to be entered, you had to retweet my post, and then comment on it and tell me your favorite thing about Halloween, and I would pick a winner at random on the night of Halloween. Surprisingly, there were a number of people who missed the second step so did not actually get entered.

I don't seem to have any notes on Wednesdays goings on, so I must not have played Wednesday (honestly, I don't remember). On Halloween, I played Hearthstone between my classes and the volunteer work I was doing for Halloween. I lost, four times. After my volunteer work was over (far earlier than expected because apparently Halloween is very different in cities) I started a new character in WoW with a leveling partner. I now play a Pandaren. I got lost a lot, and am definitely not familiar with the area. My leveling partner was very nice and helpful though which helped a lot. I am very much hoping I get better at all of this soon. It's kind of embarrassing to get lost and be wandering when I am supposed to be leading.

On Friday, I bought a Humble Bundle with nine games for $6.00. I haven't played many of them yet though. On Friday, I also spent over two hours working on my personal project and am so excited to share it in a few months when it is finished. Before I went to bed, I jumped into WoW for a bit. As soon as I got into the game and had time to relax without needing to focus so much, I got incredibly tired so I only played for 15 minutes and nothing exciting happened. After that, instead of going to bed, I decided to play some of my Humble Bundle games. One of the games is Worms Pinball. The beginning graphics are incredible annoying, I couldn't figure out the controls at all, and they weren't listed anywhere in the game menu. So I gave up on that game. The other game I started playing was Superfrog HD. In that game, the opening credits suck, but they do a good job of introducing the story. It is very similar to Mario's storyline, but with aspects of children's stories. There is a prince and princess that are in love. The witch gets jealous and turns the prince into a frog, and separates the prince and princess. The frog prince then has to find out how to get back to the princess. This game is a lot of fun and is very much like Mario games.

Saturday was a rough day for me. I played WoW for about 20 minutes before leaving for an induction ceremony for an International Honors Society I was invited to join. AFter the ceremony, I played some more WoW. I hit level 39, unlocked a new dungeon, and then went back to doing school work around 4pm. Around 9pm I played WoW for a bit, hit level 40, unlocked two new abilities, a new dungeon, and a new feature. I also got to congratulations from the guild. Saturday night, I had an awesome idea for a blog post that I am looking forward to working on and hopefully posting around Thanksgiving, or at the latest by Christmas. And finally... the end of my Saturday night. As with every week, Tauren Think Tank started at 10pm and I listened live. This show was absolutely hilarious. Furthermore, I sent in some food for a Tauren Taste Tank, and caused a few upset stomachs, and an incident that almost involved some puking. But all in all it was fun and I can't wait for part two in two weeks. After that, I stayed up to listen to a new Azeroth Roundtable live which was a lot of fun too.

And finally, Sunday. I was so busy with school work this weekend that I didn't do anything fun until about 6:45pm. I played Hearthstone and didn't have enough gold to get into arena mode so I was stuck playing in play mode which was a problem because there were errors with getting into the game. There was also a few glitches that went away on their own. I won three times, and lost five, and had two opponents give up, one of them by the 5th turn. I wanted to post all of this last night but just didn't get to it.

And now, classes have been over for several hours, I got out of work early because the executive director had things he needed to do, and this post is done. Time to get back to school work!