Behind the Screens – Fighting Intangibles

On Saturday night, I received news that I’d never wanted to hear. A friend lost his battle with depression and was no longer with us. A fellow party member had passed away – in real life.

Bobby was an avid gamer, a friend, and a comrade. He had an infectious enthusiasm for all things nerdy and was a pillar in the local wargaming community. He was a progressive leader with grand dreams of growing our network of small FLGS into a larger regional community to diversify our experiences and promote the best parts of friendly competition.

He was a friendly face and a welcoming presence, never hesitant to jump in and help a newbie learn more about whatever was going on. He organized clubs, ran events, and inspired us to be better than we were. That he struggled with internal demons came as a shock and surprise to us all.

Our group met earlier this week to remember him and it was surreal not to see him at the table. His chair was empty. His smile, his laughter, his presence… absent. I keep wrestling with my own questions. Did I miss the signs? Could I have helped him? Was there anything I could have done? Right now, so soon after his sudden departure, I don’t have any answers.

Bobby’s passing comes as a stark and grim reminder that there may be people in our lives struggling with challenges which are painful, exhausting, and crippling. Challenges that we might never know about. Mental illness is a serious issue that is often swept under the rug. When it is acknowledged it’s often trivialized or derided – much to the detriment of those who suffer from it.

I’m certainly no expert on this particular subject. And I haven’t had any sort of specialized training with mental healthcare in particular. But there are avenues and resources available to help or get help if you or someone you care about is struggling with their own intangible demons.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness website is a great starting point if you’d like to learn more. In emergencies, I urge you to call 9-1-1 or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.


Anthony Li

Anthony Li has been pretending to be someone or something else for about as long as he can remember, which some people might consider a problem. He cut his teeth on 2nd Edition AD&D when he was 14 years old and his only regret is that he didn’t start rolling dice sooner. Due to an unhealthy addiction to Magic: the Gathering he missed the entire cultural phenomenon that was the 3.X era of D&D. After a brief stint with 4E, he was dragged kicking and screaming into the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game where he has since acclimated, adapted, and thrived. Most of his roleplaying experience has been behind in the GM screen where he has trained his dice to confirm crits on command. He always roots for the bad guys.

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