I am on medical leave from my dream job at Microsoft for a while. My Depression and Anxiety have been acting up for months and I burned through my paid-time-off with little to show for it. The whole grin and bear it thing, even it if helps, just doesn’t lead to long term stability. I am super fortunate to have medical leave via Short Term Disability as an option along with a manager and team at work, and a family at home that care about me.
Concentrating and focusing are both really hard right now. And I find blogging about my experiences helpful, not just for myself, but for the possibility of making someone else’s experience even a little bit easier. With that in mind, I have decided to share some of what I do for my own Self-Care. I’m not up for tackling anything heavy, so I figure this is a win all around.
There are some ground rules and expectations I want to set before I go any further.
- That fact that these things help me DOES NOT mean they are going to help you.
- I have ZERO desire to become some sort of social media Wellness Influencer.
- I will not be asking you to buy any tonic, tincture, salve, balm, or poultice.
- Anyone that claims to have a “sure-fire” cure for ANYTHING when it comes to mental health is almost certainly trying to take advantage of you.
- Since my mental health challenges include quite a bit of social anxiety, I am going to focus on self-care I use that does not require direct interaction with other humans.
- Han shot first.
I have a long history of playing video games, all the way back to the Atari 2600. As far as console games, I later moved on to Nintendo, Sega Genesis, PlayStation, and XBOX. The first computer game I played/loved was Wizard’s Crown which was a fantasy role-playing game (RPG) for the Commodore 64. That got me hooked on RPGs. I love the process of turning a powerless character into a hero across a compelling story line. In recent years, I have focused mostly on playing games on computer rather than a console.
Here are computer games I really enjoy and find helpful when it comes to self-care:
- I started playing Minecraft when it was still in beta, long before Microsoft (my employer) purchased Mojang, the studio that created Minecraft.
- Diablo II: Resurrected
- Activision Blizzard, the creator of the Diablo series has been in the news for the past year or so regarding sexual harassment and a toxic work environment for female employees and their response so far has been a shit-show. I had pre-ordered this game, an updated version of my favorite game of all time, before I learned about any of that. Since playing this game does not involve any additional money to play beyond that original purchase of the game I had already doled out, I still play it.
- I was a long-time fan of World of Warcraft (WoW), another Activision Blizzard game, as well, which requires an ongoing subscription to play. As soon as I learned of the terrible circumstances described above, I cancelled my WoW subscription and uninstalled the game. Activision/Blizzard as it exists today will not get another dime from me.
- Microsoft is in the process of acquiring Activision Blizzard, which gives me hope for the future. Perhaps, once this is finalized, and if I see real, profound proof that working conditions have improved for ALL Activision Blizzard employees and the management and other personnel that perpetrated/allowed the behavior/discrimination are out the door, I may consider WoW again.
- Neverwinter Nights
- I don’t really have a note that I wanted to put here, but the other games have one so I didn’t want Neverwinter Nights to feel left out.
I find playing these games both relaxing and fun. They offer a valuable distraction and diversion that helps me set aside my Depression and Anxiety for a while. None of these games require ongoing demands for fast fingers and reaction times. My ability to take out a Zombie in the games above is more about my character’s skills rather than my own. When I am struggling with Depression and/or Anxiety, and energy is hard to come by, this aspect makes playing these games a viable option more often than not.
I’ve only gotten into listening to Podcasts in the past year or so. While I listen to several podcasts, this post will highlight the ones that I consider part of my self-care. All of them provide me with a great balance of teaching me something new and making me laugh. To avoid pushing these podcasters toward jousting for my affection, I have listed them in alphabetical order.
- The Allusionist
- A podcast about language by Helen Zaltzman
- Depresh Mode with John Moe
- Honest, humane conversations with top artists, entertainers, and experts about what it’s like to live with an interesting mind. No shame, no stigma, and more laughs than you might expect from a mental health podcast.
- Maintenance Phase
- Every other Tuesday, Michael Hobbes and Aubrey Gordon debunk the junk science behind health and wellness fads.
- Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine
- Join Justin and Dr. Sydnee McElroy on a marital tour of misguided medicine as they discuss the weird, gross, and sometimes downright dangerous ways we tried to solve our medical woes through the ages.
- You’re Wrong About
- You’re Wrong About is an American history and pop culture podcast created by journalist Michael Hobbes and writer Sarah Marshall. It has been hosted by Marshall since its inception; Hobbes also hosted until 2021. Launched in May 2018, the show explores misunderstood media events by interrogating why and how the public got things wrong.
I find that taking time for myself is a vital part of my mental health. I understand that I am saying this as a straight, white, male living well above the poverty line, allowing me to benefit from large servings the privilege our modern society (at least in the United States) can give out. Not everyone has the means, time, opportunity to avail themselves of all the same things I have access to. I long for a world where EVERYONE has access to the resources they need, be that medical care, education, adequate food, a safe place to call home, and even just a damn hug (if they want one) once in a while.