I used to have 2 similar anxiety dreams. In the first one, it’d be opening night for a play and not only did I not know my lines, but I’d never received a script in the first place; in the second one, I’d show up to a school with a completely foreign layout and I’d be taking a final exam for a class I’d never attended.
I had a new one this morning, and it was interesting to see how it took shape. I was about to go on stage – but this time as a musician. Half my equipment was missing, but that was OK; I didn’t know the songs we were about to play, but I wasn’t worried about that either – I figured I’d be able to fake my way through it. No, the anxiety didn’t manifest itself until I turned my keyboard on and realized that all my preset sounds were gone, replaced by weird and dissonant blurps and bleeps – sounds that are useful in certain contexts, but not in the one I was about to play in.
It wasn’t a nightmare, to be sure; just a sudden sense of alarm, and then I tried to make adjustments on the fly. (Of course, in the dream, the keyboard’s knobs and sliders weren’t in the right place and weren’t making the changes I wanted them to make, but at least I had some semblance of control over trying to fix them.) This is, actually, a sort of progress for me. Normally I’d just panic. At least this time I did my best to work with what I had.
I’m not sure where the anxiety was coming from, though it is true that I had somewhat of a minor panic attack yesterday afternoon – and even then, rather than letting it devour me, I did what I had to do to manage it. It’s not good to fight these things, so I left the town festival where we all were and took a 30-minute walk back home and let my brain free associate itself into something approaching stillness. The weather was nice, and the walk was pleasantly exhausting.
Now, I know I’ve just described an anxiety dream and a panic attack, but I want to stress that I’m in a much better place now than I’ve ever been before in terms of dealing with these things. I took whatever control I could to improve my situation, and I was never in the sort of skin-peeling discomfort I used to have when these sorts of episodes would crop up in the past. Hell, in the past I would’ve never left the house in the first place.
These are tough times, you guys. Do what you can to take care of yourself.
Here’s where I would say that playing games is a form of self-care, and then I’d tell you what I’ve been playing, and that would be the next part of this post. But honestly, I’m sort playing half-a-dozen things at the moment and I’m not particularly invested in any of them anymore, and I find that as I’m distracted by politics and the health of my dogs and my kid’s domino obsession, I’m having trouble staying focused.
I have a weird little routine now. First thing I do is check in on my Xbox save of Clicker Heroes, which… look, at some point I’ll write up a long thing about idle clickers and why I’m so addicted to them. This is not that time. The point here is simply that checking in on Clicker Heroes – doing a little maintenance here and there, making sure everything’s leveling up appropriately – this is a nice, easy way of centering my attention. I can also continue to check Twitter and such while the numbers continue multiplying in the background, but in any event it’s an easy way of gradually shutting off the distracted parts of my brain.
And then, once I’m at a point where I can’t make any more adjustments, I’ll switch over to something else. I’m still primarily playing Watch Dogs 2, though I must admit that I’m starting to lose interest. I was sorta dipping my toes back into Shadow of Mordor, of all things, and I also started a new Necromancer in Diablo III. Was also thinking about starting a New Game+ in Horizon Zero Dawn, though I’m not sure I’ll keep on with that. And there’s all the other little indie stuff I picked up in the various Xbox and PSN summer sales – stuff like Roundabout, I Am Bread, Adrift, and etc. And then there’s all the other backlog and replay stuff I want to mess with – like replaying Assassin’s Creed Syndicate to prepare myself for Origins, and Wolfenstein: The New Order to prepare for the new sequel (and also to kill Nazis, which, of course, is our patriotic duty), and then sometimes I also have a weird impulse to fire up the newish Doom, and and and… well, you can see how it can be difficult to sit down and stay engaged in something for more than 15 minutes.
I didn’t even know that the Final Fantasy XII remake was coming out this week. I’ve never played it; I’ve read nothing but glowing reviews of it, but I also know that I’ve barely touched FFXV, and I don’t know how I feel about starting another endless JRPG when I’m already so scatterbrained. In any event, I presume my rental copy will arrive on Thursday, and we’ll see where we are at that point in the week.
Maybe I’ll take some time off from gaming completely and get back into writing music? That’s a novel idea. Who knows.