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.