I just told the weekly gaming group I joined less than a year ago that I won’t be able to take part for a while, and I’m pretty conflicted about it.
On the one hand I have a very, very hard time being around people these days, and the weekly ‘be with people’ commitment has been gnawing away at my peace and making me really anxious for, oh, months now. On the other hand, I don’t get out much as it is so those tabletop sessions were probably as good for my sanity as they were bad for my anxiety.
In brief, I’ve been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, which sounds like a complete bullshit thing but which totally fits basically all the symptoms and issues I’ve had for most of my life. So sensory input overwhelms me, and that extends to people and — these days — pretty much any situation where I have to be outside my comfort zone, which is currently limited to the bounds of my house (and the local diner. Thank God for the local diner and our weekly breakfast out). Why it’s become so much worse in the last year is a mystery (though trying* to solve my anxiety with SSRIs might have something to do with), but to be honest I don’t particularly care why — I just want to cope. And I’m not, or not very well, at the moment. I’ve also been diagnosed with borderline Asperger’s but I haven’t even looked at that yet. I’m not sure what to make of it (that can’t be me!) and I’ve got enough to deal with on the SPD front.
I’m waiting on a neuropsychology referral and in the meantime my mental health specialist has (literally and loudly) given me permission to do whatever feels best in terms of being with/around people or not, mostly because I keep telling myself that to be ‘normal’ I should do what other ‘normal’ people do, which includes being around other people even when it’s the last thing I want.
It’s been hard enough maintaining the twice-monthly virtual gaming group, where we get together via the magic of the intertubes and don’t have to actually be in the same room, but the whole for realz tabletop gaming just isn’t possible for me at the moment. And, given how much fun I’ve had with it over the years, that makes me sad. Bah. “Sad” is an understatement for someone who has defined herself as a roleplayer and a gamer for the best part of 30 years.
It’s lovely to be able to game ‘remotely’ with other people and it works much better than I ever expected it to, but there’s a certain je ne sais quoi to being around a table with real drinks, real food, real dice… and people. I just can’t take that much ‘people’ right now. Even when the people in question are super fun and have been super welcoming, people who were strangers a year ago but are now friends and could someday be good friends. If only I could stand being in the same room with them.
I’m posting this mainly to clear my head. It’s done, I’ve pulled out of the group for the time being, and while the decision makes me sad I also know it was the right one, at least for now.
I’m also posting this as a coward’s way to let my lifelong, decade-long and more recent friends (many of whom are gaming friends) know what’s been up with me this last year, why I’ve kept everyone at arm’s length (ok, for more than this last year) and why I’ve been even weirder than usual.
As for the SPD thing, I have no details to offer. I’ve done a bit of my own research but it’s primarily diagnosed in children and there’s very little documentation for adults. Apparently I’m very high-functioning, or was, which I guess is why it went unseen for so long.** I’m also extremely good at hiding anything that’s wrong with me, which in this case probably wasn’t as good a survival mechanism as I thought. We’ll see what the neuropsychology people say when I finally get my referral.
* Unsuccessfully and with a number of unpleasant side-effects, one of which might be the increased severity of my issues.
** And ironically my family was always extremely tolerant of my ‘quirks’, which included extreme introversion and a liking for much quieter, calmer surroundings than most other kids. I was always lauded for how well I played by myself and how I read grown-up books even before my teens. My grandad was the same and everyone just pointed out how similar we were, and that was basically it.