Thursday, 1 May 2014

I ain't got nothing but the blues.

Has it been so long?

I've been on the receiving end of some subtle (and some not-so-subtle) prompting in the last ten months to blog again. The truth is that I just didn't have anything to say. The man-cave lies empty and unused, primed figures lined up on the painting table awaiting detailing that never came. Resin vehicles lie in pieces. Last year's Big Birthday Bash failed to happen, and I think in all this time I've rolled dice in exactly one wargame (which was a rather entertaining skirmish in which my Redcoats came within a hair's breadth of capturing Bonnie Prince Charlie as he fled for France).

It's an uncomfortable truth that for many of us, our passion for our hobby runs in cycles. I think that as gamers it's important that we not only understand why we play (war)games, but also why we don't. As a matter of fact, the blogosphere is the perfect place to observe this phenomenon, Prolific posters go silent like I did all the time. Sometimes it's down to other "real life" matters taking up too much time (also known as "MyWifeOrderedMeToStopPlayingWithToySoldiers Syndrome") Sometimes one hobby is supplanted by another, pursued with an equal depth of passion.

Sometimes you just stop.

For me, it's been a mix of all these things (apart from the wife bit). In the 16 months since I lost my father and, at the time, my reason for living, I've been battling an ever increasing sense of... apathy, I suppose that's the closest word to describe it. In some ways I've been making progress to return to the "real world", such as taking a temporary contract at my former employer covering for someone's paternity leave. I became involved with a local cancer charity, and made moves to become a volunteer. I've also dabbled in another media - that of making YouTube videos, but that too has fallen by the wayside.

I've also had a significant health issue - a bout of flu early in the year. And not the "really bad cold" that most of us call flu, but the "kills 20-50k people per year" influenza that had me bedridden for a week, unable to work for a month and still dealing with follow-on issues three months later.

Through all that time, wargaming just never quite made it onto the list of priorities, at least not enough to do anything about it. The sheer hassle of digging out figures and terrain and setting up a tabletop seems daunting at the moment. The Bonnie Prince Charlie game came about as a long-term project of Bruce the Scot's, all I had to do was turn up, move miniatures and roll dice. No effort required, and still it took the effort of a few friends to literally drag me out of the house to go and play.

And yet curiously, at the same time, I've still considered myself a wargamer throughout. I took part in the Empire Of The Dead kickstarter which netted a really nice batch of VSF/Steampunk miniatures. I've bought several kits of airship frameworks in laser-cut MDF, with a view to extending the GASLIGHT games into the third dimension. All with exactly ZERO motivation to actually use any of these things.

By now some of you are no doubt putting two and two together. And yes, I think you're right. Were I to seek diagnosis, I'm almost certain it would come back that I'm suffering from some form of clinical depression, something that's no stranger to many of us. I don't want to do anything. Anything. At All. Worse than that, I feel bad about not wanting to do anything, which plunges right into a vicious circle of apathy. And in turn that's leading on to a form of borderline agoraphobia.

Luckily, even without the benefit of professional diagnosis or therapy, I can see this pattern of behaviour and recognise it as being Double-Plus-Ungood. So while I feel like I want to do nothing at all, just sit alone at home curled up in a corner waiting for the end, yet I know that's the worst thing I could possibly do. Of all the activities I've participated in in the last few years, wargaming is by far the most social, and has the potential to be the perfect tonic for what's ailing me. What's more, I know from past experience that having a semi-regular gaming session is great motivator for doing housework, something else that's fallen foul of the growing apathy in recent months.

So I'm determined to set myself back on track towards where I was 2-3 years ago. The time and effort required to setup a game feels like a great barrier wall, but it's one I'm determined to climb over, demolish or otherwise get past.

I *will* get some figure painting done.
I *will* setup the big table and have a 6'x4' scale wargame somehow.
There *will* be a Big Birthday Bash this year.

We *will* rise again.


  1. Good luck!
    Yeah, I know what you mean about "real life", other interests, etc.

    I don't have firsthand experience with depression, but I know plenty of people who have. If you can help yourself, that's great. Also, please get professional help if you need it.

    Take care!

  2. Nice to hear from you again. Heres wishing you all the best re-engaging and getting back on the horse or 'steam driven automoton' as it were...

  3. Yes it does sound like clinical depression . . . which is sometimes caused by a medical problem . . . so you should perhaps consider seeing a doctor about your physical well being.

    Sometimes when I get a bit down (although certainly not to your extent) I find that going out "into nature" really helps. If you can visit a forest or the seaside or a good park, I would suggest doing so.

    In any event I hope that you feel more like your old self soon, sir.

    -- Jeff

  4. The black dog is an awful visitor.
    Take care and it is good to have you posting once more.

  5. It's great to hear from you again , hope you manage to get on top of things soon . Tony

  6. I have been there my friend and your symptoms sound similar to mine. Finally, when three different people told me that I seemed indifferent, I decided to seek medical help for depression. I now take my "happy pills" as my daughter calls them and it makes a world of difference. Don't be afraid to seek medical help, the outcome can lead to the return of a wonderful life.


  7. I know all about Real Life getting in the way. My wife and I were homeless for several months, an awful time of rootlessness. One thing that kept me going was I knew one day I *would* game again. And I have. I would echo Der Alte Fritz's words of wisdom and advise professional help. As for the hobby, a few small projects with an easily definable and quickly-reached goal might help.

  8. Yeay he's back!....

    Life goes in circles, I guess you were just recharging your gaming batteries.

    I kinda feel that my hairy-plane plans scuppered your usual Big Birthday Bash, it was a good alternative IMHO but not at all applicable to this blog.

    Money well spent!

  9. You will get your strength back and it is a good sign that you recognise whats going on. Talking of apathy I have a parcel here for you thats been boxed but never will be on its way to you in a few days. It will be nice to see you gaming and blogging again.