My Favorite Bit of Information From The Week:
Dungeons & Dragons
Dungeons & Dragons has made a huge resurgence in recent years and my partner is very much invested, as are many of my close friends. Critical Role, one of the most successful Dungeons & Dragons podcasts, just raised a record breaking 11.3 million to create a cartoon episodes of their stories from Kickstarter, over 88,000 fans supported this project . I couldn’t quite understand the appeal at first, but I have since come around.
When I asked my closest friends why they love Dungeons & Dragons so much, they shared with me beautiful backstories. Some of my closest male friends have shared that it’s the only time they feel they can get really emotional without being judged. Most folks have talked about the ability to explore different sides of themselves or put themselves into other people’s shoes, encouraging growth in empathy and also self-realization and confidence. And almost everyone told me that they loved the community D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) fostered. Telling a communal story for a few hours is a beautiful way to curb loneliness and share yourself with others while learning about them also.
I was able to find very little research about how Dungeons & Dragons specifically helps mental health, since there haven’t been tests put into action as of yet. However, the research on how loneliness affects mental health is very well documented. Loneliness can either cause mental health problems, or mental health problems can cause loneliness, but they are very linked. I talked with my therapist on loneliness just last week and she mentioned it’s one of the chief complaints her patients bring in. We are communal creatures, and it can be easy to feel alone in our culture. Why not play some Dungeons & Dragons to heal and grow at the same time?
Many Thanks to Benjamin: My amazing partner Benjamin has helped me with the following resources and also helped me understand how beautiful the world of Dungeons & Dragons can be!
Loneliness and Mental Health: This article/resources from Mind (an organization based in England and Wales that I have shared on numerous occasions) is the most all encompassing and approachable piece on loneliness I have found this week. It talks about why loneliness might be happening, and offers resources on how to heal. I highly recommend this rich and short read.
Curious How Dungeons & Dragons Woks? You can check out Critical Role (the podcast I mentioned in the opening paragraph) to see how the game plays out. Please keep in mind that these are professional voice actors who enjoy role playing and it is not necessary to use voices or be as intense as they are if you don’t wish to be, but it can also be fun to try if you are curious! This link takes you to their podcast page on their website. I recommend starting with episode one.
Basic Rule Broken Down: Here is a great article on basic rule breakdown. Also, if you are interested in running a game solo for the first time, I am told this video with Matthew Colville is a good way in. He is intense, but he covers a lot and does it in a quick, clear way.
How Do I Play? There are many options! You can find your local game shop and try there, you can ask friends or people in your community if they want to try, you can also play online! This latter option also offers community (in a virtual way), and you can check out Roll 20 to begin playing online.
If you really want to play, but are having a hard time starting out, please reach back to me and I can connect you to other folks or we can start a round together in person or online.
Stories on How D&D Helps Mental Health:
This interview was one of the first things that made me see the extreme beauty and potential in this game, it has Matt Mercer (the Dungeon Master for Critical Role) as one of the guests. The topics in this video range from empathy, exploring different pronouns, community, loneliness, and more. DEFINITELY worth the 21 minutes. If you can just listen to one video, this is it.
Dungeons & Dragons Used As Therapy For Kids: This lovely article from the BBC goes into several organizations that are using Dungeons & Dragons as a way to address empathy and behavioral issues in kids, and its WORKING. Role playing has been a tool for emotional healing and well being for years, this is the same thing just presented in game form.
Dungeons & Dragons; Suicide Prevention: This video, from 1:28-1:41:30 (Although the entire interview is lovely as well) is a link to Matt Mercer sharing how the community that was created from Critical Role’s podcast has shared numerous suicide preventions that have come from wanting to hear what comes next in the story, and from being a part of the group in a distant way. Also, how he wishes he would have had a community like this as a child. I think it is worth noting that D&D has a great many male players and, while all genders are welcome and find solace in D&D) the highest suicide completion statistics right now in America are from from white men with no outlet: over 69.67%
What if D&D Doesn’t Sound Fun? I think it’s important to note that D&D doesn’t have to be your jam, if you really aren’t into it that’s O.K. If you want access to other forms of community, I encourage you to check out the Mind article mentioned above for other resources. HOWEVER, I think it is always healthy to realize why you have an aversion to something. Why doesn’t it sound fun to you? I will share my original aversions and how my opinion was changed on these topics.
1. I think part of this was that It was painted as the “occult” for me as a kid, and stigma like that is hard to wash away even if you disagree with it. There is nothing “culty” about this game. It is a communal storytelling experience and it can be used with any story you like (more on that in a minute).
2. One of the other reasons I didn’t latch on right away was that I didn’t love High Fantasy, because I didn’t experience it as a kid, I had no nostalgia for it. This is usually the type of world that D&D is set in (meaning the world is very heightened, and you play Orcs and Wizards and Druids etc…). BUT I found out that you can hold the outline of the game in any world, it could be our world, post apocalyptic, Harry Potter, Jane Austen (my dream is to be in a Pride and Prejudice D&D campaign – let me know if you would be interested – seriously!). The world and characters can be whatever you wish.
3. I didn’t like being told what to do in detail by the Dungeon Master (the person “running” the game). Some DM’s (Dungeon Masters) are very hands on, and it’s just not my style. However, there are DM’s who are very hands off, use only the most needed rules for structure, and allow you to improvise and play. This is way more my style. So, part of enjoying D&D might be finding a DM and folks who want to play the same way you do. Although even if you don’t, you will learn something about yourself and you will still get the benefit of community.
The Options with Dungeons & Dragons are almost infinite. I found that overwhelming at first, but now it seems like a huge positive – similar to life I guess. I hope this helps!
Update On My Show:
Mental Health Week: I took the week to focus on how community impacts mental health, and to elope with my partner! More to come soon on fundraising, edits, and puppets!
Fundraising: The project is free for audiences and therefore is completely independently funded – any support is appreciated! If you have already donated, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, you have made it possible to get this far. And if you are not in a place to give a dollar right now, thank you for being here and being a part of breaking the stigma on mental health. Much love!If you would like to donate to my show, share this project with a friend, or find out more about it please check out my gofundme here.
Please check out the One Woman Hamlet Website: www.onewomanhamlet.com
AND! my update Video.
Many, Many thanks: Margo Siwak and Joe Siwak for the design of the logo, and to Jillian Best and Bill Best for the Website creation and Design! I feel very blessed to have such beautiful humans in my life.
Ways to Support: If you would like to donate to my show, share this project with a friend, or find out more about it please check out my gofundme here: https://www.gofundme.com/one-woman-hamlet
Thank You: Thank you VERY much to all who have donated thus far, making this project possible.