Saturday, May 30, 2009

All you have to do is...

Major, major rant forthcoming. Toes will be stepped on, I promise. Now that I've warned you, here goes.
Why do nondisabled people always assume that just because something seems easy for you, it should be easy for me? Encounters where there is a biting cold debuff (stacking debuff, increases damage and eventually will freeze you in place) are a prime example.
The only way to remove the debuff is to move. So you cast and jump, or cast and strafe. Sounds pretty easy, right?
I hate it, I hate it, I hate it!!! It messes up my rhythm and my spell rotation. I have to think about every little thing I'm doing, and that takes time. My dps is lowered and my frustration and chance of dying increase.
It's not simple for me, it's not. Would you like to borrow my brain so you can see how hard it is? Would you like to be super-intelligent so you know every little way that your brain is failing you? I know you're trying to help, but I am not you and I can't do what you do!
Coming back Sunday morning after a good night's sleep, not to edit the rant, but to add the positive spin:
The above rant is indicative of what happens in my mind when I'm struggling, particularily when people want to pretend my disabilities don't exist, because it makes them feel better. (ooooh, that was kind of harsh too, I'm not sorry) There are four guys in the guild that I will always listen to for feedback for the simple reason that they do whatever they can to understand what is going on in my brain. Cinnas, Flip, Dem, and Med, *hugs* and <3. That's not to say that other people don't help or don't understand, it's just when I'm talking to one of them, I really get the sense that they are trying to look at the situation from my point of view and that's not easy. I may never get the Biting Cold achievement in Nexus, and that's okay. What's not okay is assuming that just because the solution is simple, it's easy to execute. Nothing in this game is easy for me, but that's what makes it so rewarding.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Normal is a Setting on my Washing Machine!

Or at least it was, when I used to say that all the time. The truth is, normal is a statistical term, and a couple of things happened yesterday that reminded me of how much of an anomaly I am compared to the general population. Of course, in my household, having a developmental disability is just as normal as not having one, but we are unique here.

Because of the way my nerves and brain work, I don't always feel pain or discomfort the way other people do. This can lead to some things going unnoticed until other circumstances bring them to my attention. Nothing like having doctors and medical assistants look at you funny when you say you have asymptomatic infections. Hey, I have chronic pain. If I ran to the doctor for every little thing, I'd never get anything done. Also, I have a pretty good immune system, so it's never been a problem before.

Last night was the last scout meeting of the year, yay! So now after older son's awards ceremony next week, I will be available on Thursdays for the summer. Came home and the guild was on Freya. So, I logged into WoW and vent, and continued working on the Loremaster achievement. One of the raid members was having trouble staying connected, so Dem sent me a tell asking if I was up to coming in for General Vezax. Of course I said yes, then reminded him that it was my first time on the fight. Now the Vezax fight is a challenge for a few reasons. First off, replenishment and life tap do not exist. The only way to regain mana is to stand in something that hurts you. Secondly, there are shadow crashes that hurt you if you get hit by them, and there is an area of effect to them. Third, the fight takes place in one of the darkest rooms in the entire instance. Hello, visual processing problems. We got him down, but I failed on a couple of levels. First, I failed at staying away from shadow crash eight times. Second, I ran out of mana and ended up having to wand at the end of the fight. Still, I refuse to feel bad about my performance. I went in cold and I didn't have the advantage of learning the fight slowly like 22 of the other members did. I'll spend some time working on what I can to make things better.
After the fight, Dem sent me a tell confirming that I wanted to be treated like a normal raider before he pointed out in the dps channel that I had the highest number of failures. Pointing out my failures doesn't bother me - I need to know where I am in order to improve, and I will listen to anyone who thinks they can offer a positive suggestion. I'm not a normal raider, but treating me with kid gloves only accentuates that I'm "special".

Thursday, May 28, 2009

An open letter to those with whom I game

Lil of InTheFringes highlighted an open internet letter, and gave an answer from the perspective of a nondisabled person, which I thought was brilliant. Still, this has been percolating in my mind to do, and she has inspired me. So here is a list of things that I'd like you to understand:
  • I have good days and bad days. I don't always understand the reason for the bad days either, so if I can't make the Thaddius jump or stay out of runes when I could last week, don't ask me why, just be patient or replace me.
  • Fatigue and alcohol make my issues worse. That's why I will let you know if I'm drinking, if you can't tell by my slurred speech. It's also why the end of a raid is so hard for me.
  • I don't resent you for being nondisabled. I do not, however, want to hear it if you risk your amazing brains by engaging in dangerous activities without a helmet, eye protection, etc.
  • I won't always tell you if I'm offended. We live in a culture where it is acceptable to make derogatory comments about disabilities. It bothers me when you do, but I'm not going to rock the boat or cause drama.
  • I love it when you let me use self-deprecating humor. To me, that is the ultimate sign of acceptance, when I can joke about being brain-damaged with you and you don't freak out.
  • My husband is my caregiver in real life at times, he's not when we are in-game. Please don't assume that we are talking about anything, or that I will accept help from him more readily than I will from you. There are also times when he just needs a break from dealing with my issues.
  • It's easier for me to give help than accept it. Some of you have mastered the art of quiet insistence to get me to let you help me, and I appreciate it.
  • If I'm asking for help, I really need it. It may just be advice, or it may be physical, but if I'm asking and you can, please do.
  • I won't always ask to be included. I always appreciate when you include me though. Ninja-invites tell me that you trust me to do my job.
  • I don't mind educating about my disabilities. If you have a question, ask.
  • I don't want or need your pity. I do pretty well with what I deal with and a lot of it is due to the fact that people have pushed me to do as much as I could. Help me overcome barriers, but don't pity me.
  • I admire and appreciate you, even when I don't show it. I am truly in awe of your abilities and your character. Thanks for being my friend!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Battle-scarred and Worn, but Still Fighting

"You know there ain't no coming back when you're still carrying the past." - Shinedown, Breaking Inside

Yesterday, I thought I was ready to come back to raiding. The guild unintentionally tested that by needing me in the raid late at night on the Hodir fight. I've been in all the fights except for Vezax, and Hodir is by far the hardest for me to manage.

It didn't go well, and I was rather quite snappish. I'm angry and hurt and I don't even know who to be angry and hurt at.

I chose the above quote because Oct's rejoining the guild and coming back into his own as a raider is bringing back fears that he will overshadow me again. As I processed the events of last night, I realized that so much of the anger that I want to direct at the guild and raid leadership has nothing to do with them and everything to do with the battle scars I carry with me.

As I once again had the thought go through my mind, "Why do I stay?" the answers came just as quickly:

  • Monday night, Orbitz saying "what's wrong?" and the immediate expressions of sympathy and caring from the raid.
  • Friends who are ready to jump in and help, but just as ready to sit back and provide support as I struggle through doing it myself.
  • A raid leader who sees me for much more than raid statistics, and is willing to find ways of explaining encounters that I will understand. He's also very quick to find ways to diffuse my stress in a raid.
  • The greatest gift anyone could have, understanding. There are so many people who have taken the time to get inside my head and understand me.
  • Shoulders to cry on, hands to high-five, and arms to hug.

So I go on, realizing that a silly video game has exposed the best part of me and brought it to the forefront. To me, that means more to me than all the content I have cleared with Clan Redundancy Clan put together.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A New Angel

"Thanks for all you've done. I've missed you for so long; I can't believe you're gone." - Alter Bridge, In Loving Memory
Last night we went into a 10-man Ulduar with 4 alts, which is always an experience. Flame Leviathan and Razorscale went pretty well, but as we were clearing to XT-002, the phone rang. It was my dad, telling me that my aunt and godmother had passed away. As I was talking to him, Oct typed in raid chat, "Give us a minute, Carol's dealing with family stuff on the phone." I typed, "I'm gonna need Oct for a min plz." I hung up with my dad, told Oct what happened, and sobbed in his arms for a minute.
Got back on vent and said, "Sorry about that, family emergency, what am I doing?" The group asked what was wrong, since I was obviously in tears, I told them, and was met with condolences and hugs. The raid was somewhat unremarkable, but it was good to be able to have it as a distraction and be with friends who care about me.
When I think of my Aunt Bertha, I think of a kind, classy woman who raised two daughters alone after her first husband died at a young age, then found love again after her children were grown, thanks to my grandfather. I remember swimming at the house she had in Pennsylvania before she got married, and lots of happy times at their house in North Carolina. In an indirect way, she is responsible for me meeting my husband. My parents bought the property they retired to because it was across the street from hers, and that led to me attending NC State, where I met Bryan. I remember a woman who was always sewing, knitting, or crocheting, and giving me wonderful handmade clothes. I remember a talented organist, and singing old hymns in four-part harmony while she played. I remember a gentle stubbornness that I share with her. The memories make me smile, even through my tears.
I'm also glad that I have such good friends, even in a video game, that will love and support me.
Edit: In my grief, I forgot that another guild cleared Ulduar last week. Congratulations to Aeon on their Yogg-Saron kill!

Monday, May 25, 2009

My first look at Yogg

It's Memorial Day in the United States, a day to remember those who served in the military and the sacrifices they made. I'm remembering my mother-in-law, Connie, who served her country well without ever putting on a uniform, just by being an Army wife. To all our military personnel and their families, thank you.
Last night was another series of attempts on Yogg-Saron. We were a little short at the start, so I was in. The Yogg fight is all about control. You have to control dps, control where you stand, and control your damage and debuffs. As a person who deals with mental illness, I have to chuckle a bit at being told to watch my sanity. If only real life had sanity wells that you could just stand in and recover.
I'm always a little cautious at first in a fight where it's easy to wipe the raid. Phase 1 just means throw shadowbolts at guardians until they get around 30% health, then switch. Oh, and avoid the big clouds of yellow-green gas that are floating around. It's a bit frustrating to not be able to throw up all my dots, but controlled dps is something I can do well.
Phase 2 gets a little more complicated. The raid is split into two, there are tentacles that have to be burned down rather quickly, and there are debuffs and death rays to deal with. Still, we had some really good attempts.
I learned something very important last night. I can handle the Yogg fight. I was a little hesitant to mention that to Dev, thinking that his reaction might be, "yeah, that's great, Carol, you can handle it, now what about this other stuff that is killing us." The thing is, if we have nights when we're short, I can come in and that is good to know.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Can a Video Game Change Your Life?

"What's worth the prize is always worth the fight." - Nickelback, If Today was Your Last Day

We painted the bedroom Saturday. When I say we, I mean that Bryan and I worked together to do it. Our bedroom has a cathedral ceiling and some cutouts, so he did the painting that required a ladder and the initial cutting in, and I used a roller and brush on what I could reach from the floor. I don't do ladders unless absolutely necessary. I don't like heights, and losing my balance 5 feet up could have disastrous consequences.

When we were getting our old house ready to sell a year ago, Bryan wouldn't let me paint. When you are painting, involuntary muscle movements that are made worse by fatigue are a bad thing.

What's changed in the past year? A couple of things. One, I think my fine motor control is better, refined by having to move and avoid various ground effects. When I say I can avoid harmful AoE spells almost as well as a neurotypical person, I'm not kidding, and I think Dev would back me up on that. Another related thing is that my attention to visual detail has improved by having to pay attention to aforementioned effects. World of Warcraft, and particularly raiding, has become a form of occupational therapy for me.

I think one of the biggest changes that has happened since I joined Clan Redundancy Clan last July deals with the psychosocial component of being disabled. When you are used to running up against barriers and dealing with prejudice, you tend to expect it everywhere, and tend to not see yourself in a positive light. Sometimes those closest to you have the same perception of weakness as well. As I have raided with CRC and accomplished things that not everyone has, I have learned to see myself as a strong, capable person. As we have been raiding Naxx and especially Ulduar, my husband has been able to see that there is a lot I can still do.

As we struggle with Yogg (and I'm hoping that I'll be in on a Vezax kill soon), I wonder what else this video game will change in my brain. Until then, I'll enjoy my Epic room. More to come...

The Light at the End of the Tunnel not an oncoming train!
Real life is starting to get better. Wednesday and Thursday we learned that, although my Dad's bone marrow is not sufficiently recovered from the chemotherapy to keep his blood counts up, the cancer is not growing, and may have shrunk (rereading that to check my grammar - if I'm wrong, one of y'all send me a tell, please). Things are moving along with my job, so hopefully I'll be ready to start soon, and I'm almost ready to come back to raiding.
The experience of stepping back and taking a break has been an interesting one. It's always a risk when you tell someone how extreme your reaction to an encounter is, like I did with the Hodir fight. I don't want Dev to constantly worry that I'm getting overwhelmed in the more movement and graphics-intensive fights. I learned to regulate my breathing during Sartherion with 3 drakes; I can do it again. Plus, since I've opened the door, I can say, "this is way too overwhelming, is there someone who can sub in." I doubt I'd do that though, it's like going to an amusement park with my family. I can not go on any rides and deprive Bryan and the boys of my presence, or I can go on a few that I don't think will be too much for me to handle, and deal with it the best I can.
Another thing that has made this break interesting is seeing the reactions of my guildies. When you are used to being treated like a liability, learning to see yourself as an asset isn't easy. I never realized that my being there had an impact on the mood of the raid until one of my friends said something, then one night, I saw it, and it hit me like a ton of bricks: this is what people have been trying to tell me since February. It's not a patronizing, "we'll keep you in even though you can't do the dps because we feel sorry for you and it makes us feel like better people," either. It's a geniune appreciation for who I am, and I appreciate them for the support they've given me.
Speaking of giving support, if you give blood regularly, you have the sincere thanks and appreciation of my family. If you don't, please consider it if you are healthy enough.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sticking to my Principles and Finding a Balance

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to go into a 10-man VoA run. I was the 10th person, and right after I joined, a mage did also. Instead of asking for a volunteer to drop, or apologizing to the 11th person, the raid leader chose to tell all dps to whisper him their dps, and warned that anyone who lied would be booted. I dropped immediately, and the leader whispered me asking why. I'm sure I would have done more dps than most of the other people there, but I just wasn't interested in getting into an epeen contest, and that's what it felt like.

Oct is still adjusting to the shock of his guild breaking up, and going from raiding 5 days a week to only 3 days, and I think it's made him think about what a big part of our lives WoW has become. For me, it is a place to escape my pain and be able to connect with other people. Still, it is a time sink, and at times I do need to make myself pull back and do other things. It's all about the balance.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Last night, I really didn't think I'd get in to raid, since we had plenty of people signed up. Oct was in though, and as I was chilling out getting ready to continue to work on dailies (I hadn't even gotten on vent yet), he said, "Dev's calling for you." I had alt-tabbed, so I got back to WoW to see "Thordar has invited you to a group." Authentication issues had left us a few people short, so I was in for Flame Leviathan. I usually drive a demolisher, but they were all taken. I didn't really want to drive a siege tank, but Gutts said, "She can gun." Dev said, "Come to me, Carol, you can gun for me." Given that the gunner is the person who puts up the shield around the tank, I'm quite flattered. Got him down, and got the Unbroken achievement.
As we were setting up for Razorscale, people were able to come in, so I went to do my tournament dailies and fight the Argent Champion, which has been giving me a hard time lately. Ended up with a really good group for Threat from Above and Battle Before the Citadel, which is rare, and nice. Flew back up to the tournament area and decided to try the champion again. Second or third try, I realize that my damage was keeping up with his, and I thought, "I may get it this time." Sure enough, I got it!
The raid was setting up for trash clears, so I figured it was safe to turn in. When I did, Dev said, "ZOMG spam" and I was bombarded with congratulations from my guildies, who understand how hard I worked for this and how difficult was for me to attain.
Grats to CRC for getting 10 bosses down last night. Very well done!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Coming Home

"So I'm coming home, lost on a road I don't belong" - Alter Bridge, Coming Home

Yesterday was a sad day in our house from a WoW standpoint. Turalyon server saw Conviction, one of the guilds that was pushing to clear Ulduar, decide to stop raiding, a victim of real life and raider burnout. Conviction was one of my favorite guilds to pug with, and I will miss them. I'm also watching the man I love grieve the loss of his guild, even as he comes home to CRC.
Yes, we filled our mage slot with the man known as "Carol's husband". I left the house for a meeting when Oct was running an errand pre-raid, and came home to him telling me that Conviction disbanded. After some banter back and forth about where he was going and wondering if I needed to have a talk with Dem, I looked closely at guild chat on his screen and realized where he was. He was welcomed back into the fold, and immediately asked mage questions.
I wasn't sure how I would feel about Oct coming back. I thought he would after one of his friends server transferred, so it wasn't a huge surprise. He loved being in CRC, and the best way to impress a married man is to treat his wife well. I just wasn't expecting it to happen like this. Anyway, I'm okay with it, but it is going to make me want to raid again. There's something about being part of a team with your spouse that is absolutely awesome.
Oh, grats to the 10-man team last night for downing Vezax!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cheering friends on!

I have to start today's blog with some major congratulations.
First off, Grats to CRC for downing General Vezax and getting into Phase 2 of the Yogg-Saron fight. Props to Dem for having the wisdom to make everyone take a break and watch the first part of the StratFu video when it became obvious that there were a lot of people who didn't know what was going on. I am so proud of you guys.
Next, grats to Just Wipe It and Escalation for being the next alliance and horde guilds to kill Yogg-Saron. Good job!
I wasn't sure what it would be like dealing with my new role in CRC. Would I miss being a Raid Member, or would being a standby feel okay? I was in a good bit of pain yesterday, which I don't deal with well. My left hand holds tension in an odd way when I raid, and depression can also contribute to joint pain, so my hands were hurting. Naproxen wasn't touching the pain, but after a bit of whining, Oct found his travel first-aid kit so I could get some tylenol. That made it bearable, and I could at least finish my tournament dailies.
I have to say, it was really nice being able to finish making dinner and eating without having to be right at my computer at 6:30 to grab my invite. I let Dem know that I was staying close by just in case the raid didn't fill up, but it did, which was cool. I was able to relax, finish my dailies, and get some old world dungeon achievements done while working on a low-level warlock quest.
I still think I did the right thing asking for this demotion, and am happy that my guildies are letting me be selfish and do it.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A tale of two raids

As I have reflected on Thursday nights events, my mind keeps going back to something that happened a little over a year ago, when the guild I was in was going through SSC, and I was still playing a holy priest.
We were working on Leo, and it wasn't going especially well. The priest class leader wasn't feeling well, so wasn't in the raid. First boss pull, I throw a prayer of mending, thinking I'd be okay, and pulled aggro. Battle rez, and die again to something. Raid leader decides to replace me over a druid that is a new recruit. Three lines of text about how sorry he is, how when we're a little farther along I'll be okay, blah blah blah. Spare me.
Class Leader's boyfriend, who happens to be main-tanking, wakes up his girlfriend to tell her what is going on. Tells from both class leader and Oct about how much it sucks. Oct especially talks about how he thinks the new druid should have been replaced. Yeah, sweetheart, that's going to calm me down.
The next day, I start a conversation with the GM about how being replaced angered me. Get pulled into vent with her and the raid leader where I'm told, among other things, that no other guild will make as many accomodations for me as she did, and that I shouldn't be making excuses.
I contrast that with my experience in CRC, especially Thursday night. When I'm allowed to struggle through a raid instead of being replaced, Dem is saying to me, "You have earned the right to be here and get the achievements for yourself that you have helped us get." Where before I was told, "We can't progress with you," here I am told, "We can't progress without you."
It seems strange to say that a video game can change your life, but WoW and CRC have definitely brightened my outlook.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

How bad do you want it?

Four alliance guilds are chasing after a Yogg-Saron kill this week, and a few of them are getting close. CRC should be able to get Vezax down this week, if we all pay attention and work hard. I think a lot of the guilds working on the Descent into Madness bosses are seeing some conflicts regarding members being prepared for raids. To those guilds, I ask, "How bad do you want it?"
I want to see CRC kill Vezax and Yogg, whether I'm in the raid or not. I know we have the people to do it.
It's so different being in a guild where my efforts are noticed and appreciated. I just wish that I could see the same return that others do.
So, what do I do to prepare for raids?
  1. Look at strats, especially if one is recommended by someone else in the guild. StratFu and TankSpot appear to be the top places to go for Ulduar raid videos. I can't say enough nice things about the work Fusion does, as long as they are not killing me in Wintergrasp.
  2. Make sure I have what I need. Feasts, flasks, pots, and shards are necessary equipment for me. If I'm doing Hodir, I need my frost resist. Even when our healers are better geared, I really don't see me being able to survive the fight without it.
  3. Be on time. Invites go out at 6:30 pm and I'm there, ready to hop on a griffon. I know there are people who don't get out of work until later, but they are always ready to go as soon as they log on, and it is greatly appreciated.
  4. Make sure my addons are up to date. These are the tools to help you succeed, and the developers update them whenever they see something that needs to be changed.
  5. Speak when I need to, but know when to be quiet.
  6. Don't whine in raid chat EVER. Dem has my permission to /gkick me and not invite me back if I fall into that trap.
  7. Participate in post-wipe discussions IF you have something useful to say. And yes, "I'm sorry I stood in a rune" is useful. It lets your guildies know that you know what you did, you understand the impact of it, and you will try to keep it from happening again.
  8. Be willing to take constructive criticism. Also, if you are in a position to give it, keep it constructive.
  9. Have fun!

Friday, May 15, 2009

I refuse to cut myself some slack!

So, I was chatting with a couple of my guildies today, and in two separate conversations, at different times of the day, Thursday night's raid came up. One of the things I mentioned was that no one called me on how many times I died to standing in runes. The response from both of them was "cut yourself some slack". I love these guys, I respect these guys, but I can't do it. One of them talked about how little I'd seen those fights, but I'd been in them before, and I've survived those fights before. There is no excuse for me not seeing them and moving.
I think some of the reason it bothers me when people tell me to cut myself some slack is that it reminds me of the tendency of nondisabled people to be patronizing when it comes to the effects of my disability. I remember when I was in elementary school and we would have to run the 50-yard dash (yes, I could run, and I still could if the years of trying to pass weren't taking their toll). It seemed that no matter what my time was (and it was always several seconds behind the other kids), the response I would get was, "That's good, for you." I always felt that they were saying, "If it was my time I'd be upset, but it's good enough for the handicapped girl." It just feels like a double standard, and I hate double standards.
One thing that each of them said, and I do appreciate it, was how much other people were failing also. Well, what's their excuse? I know I can avoid the painful runes and stand in the ones on Iron Council that increase my dps. I know how to do that and I've done it before. If I can't avoid a one-shot where I have warning, what right do I have to be there? If I can't contribute to the kill, I'm letting my guildies down, plain and simple.

Raiding as a Social

I couldn't write yesterday, I was too upset. Wednesday afternoon I was driving my son into the city for an appointment, and I got a text from my sister letting me know that my dad's red blood cell count was low, and he was in the hospital for transfusions, steroids, and antibiotics to combat an infection. My dad has lived with leukemia for 30 years, and anytime he is sick, there is always the worry that he won't be able to fight it off. After exchanging texts with my sister assuring me that I wasn't needed, I was able to fight the urge to pack my bags, kiss my husband and kids, and drive down to Mom and Dad's. It did, however, confirm for me that going to the rank of Social Member was the right decision.

My decision to be demoted has been met with love and support, and people telling me to come back to Raid Member soon. The primary reaction, especially from those closest to me, has been, "If this is what you need to get through this time, I support you." Amid all the stress and pain, a friend from AbleGamers made a death knight on Turalyon and joined the guild. It really brightened my spirits to have him here.

As I said before, yesterday was difficult. I was managing to do housework, and I was on WoW trying to do dailies, but I couldn't concentrate. One of the guys recognized that I was trying to keep myself busy and not accomplishing much, and sent me a tell asking to run heroic Setthek on my druid for the Raven Lord mount. Once we got on vent, he gave me a chance to talk about what was wrong and cry on his shoulder a little bit.

When I got on WoW after scouts last night, I was the 25th guild member on, and they were fighting Freya. I flew to Ulduar while they were downing her, then sent Dem a tell, "I'm right outside if you need me." Went in and downed Iron Council, despite dying to a death rune. Gotta love failing to move out of something when you see it in large blue type flashing across your screen.

As we were setting up for Mimiron, Flip asked me to send him my damage meter since I was in. Well, I got the report set up to show my damage, but forgot to check "whisper" and type his name. Default is /s, so I spammed the raid with it. I said, "oops, meant to send that as a tell" and I immediately got demoted. I said, in vent, "The real question is, what do you promote me back to?" You can see his answer here. Laughter is good for the soul, and my guildies find ways to lift my spirit without making me feel like I have to cheer up to make them feel better.

Mimiron did not go well at first. I died to rockets twice, and I have no idea why I didn't see the runes. I've not killed Mimiron on heroic, and I need him for the Keepers of Ulduar achievement, yet when another raider signed on, I gave Dem a nudge to bring him in and sit me, even though he would have let me stay. I appreciate being a part of the raiding core, but at some point, replacing me for someone who (a) isn't probably going to stand in runes, and (b) has the ability to self-resurrect, makes sense.

The thing I came away with last night was that I did not feel marginalized, and I hope that I proved my point that I'm not abandoning my guild. Being a social member takes some of the pressure off, and I appreciate Dem for letting me do it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Siege of Ulduar!

New start to the raid week, and two new achievements. We went in as a raid and won Wintergrasp, then defeated Emalon the Storm Watcher. First time for me in heroic mode, and 3.6K personal dps. Stepped out for Ulduar so we could get more dps in, and went off to do dailies. One of our members was having computer trouble, so I subbed in for Ignis and Deconstructor. I got into the instance and was getting myself buffed when Dem did the ready check. I'm proud of myself, I hit no. I said, "Guys I have never ever been in on this fight, but I have read about it. What do I need to know?" Got all set and said, "Let's go."

We wiped once, but then got him down. I was so happy, and got a new wand. Deconstructor went off without a hitch, although it was extremely difficult for me and I went out of healing range once when I got light bombed. I am pretty good at using my tricks to heal myself though, and as a warlock, I have plenty.

Last night's events were particularly sweet because it was my last night as a Raid Member of Clan Redundancy Clan, at least for a while. Dem finally understands that it's no longer about trying to protect him and Boom, I know they have broad shoulders and can handle asking me to sit. It's that every time I'm asked to sit, I'm reminded of where my deficits are. That is incredibly stressful at a time in my life where the stress already seems overwhelming.

This morning, Dem demoted me to Social Member, and I explained it to the guild in a forum post. It doesn't change who I am, how I feel about raiding, or my commitment to the guild. It just makes Tuesday and Sunday nights a little easier for me to deal with.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hodir? Oh, Dear!

The servers went down earlier than they were supposed to today. No matter, not like I don't have things to do around here.
Real life sucks right now. I can't describe where all the pain and stress is coming from, but there is a lot going on here and with my extended family. To be able to log in to WoW and be surrounded by people is soothing. The banter of guild chat is distracting, and the friendly affection is comforting.
I decided to put the issues I'm having on the Hodir fight on the guild forums and ask for suggestions. I'm not sure if no one has posted because they are afraid to, or because they don't know what to say. It's cruel of me to give a group of men a problem they can't fix, but what can you do?
The truth is, the Hodir fight is the one that really made me question whether I could go into Ulduar. I love technically challenging fights because they aren't just about who can mash buttons the fastest, but I hate having to be able to visually differentiate so much.
I had a thought this morning about a way to practice at least dealing with the cold debuff. It is basically the Intense Cold debuff from the Keristraza fight on steroids, so if I run heroic Nexus as much as possible (ugggh, that means pugging), I should be able to at least get better at it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Wipe my tears, Kick me in the butt

Lots of achievement work this weekend. I got exalted with all the alliance factions (new title: "Ambassador Carilock") and was able to sweet-talk some guildies into running heroic Occulus with me so I could get "Proof of Demise" (love and hugs to Prynts, Younger, Luna, and Alord). I mentioned that I still hadn't dueled anyone, and Tidefury rode up, challenged me, and in true little brother style, let me win.

In real life, Sunday was a lovely Mother's Day, although talking to my father-in-law made me miss my second mother and one of my best friends, but I can appreciate all she taught her older son, my husband. My mom was having a good day when I called, although watching age take its toll is hard. My guildies were nice enough to wish me a happy Mother's Day as well. I've always been a very motherly person, even as a child, and it carries over to my friendships.

So many things are positive right now, why do I feel so negative? Depression sucks, there's no two ways about it. I feel like I'm breaking into little pieces and don't know what to do next. In game when I feel like this, I get extremely quiet. I have one or two people I can let know that things are bad, but most of the time I don't.

When I get in a bad mood, or hit a difficult challenge, I tend to get whiny before I can suck it up. I titled this post the way I did because one of the most caring things that anyone can do for me is listen to me cry, give me sympathy, and tell me to do what I need to do.

The guild is in a good place right now. The addition of new members, plus some members coming back to raid status, means that we aren't having problems filling raids. Unfortunately, this means that hard choices have to be made.
I keep wanting to say to Dem, "Is this really what you want? Would it not be easier on all of us just to have me as a social member so you can invite me when you need me, and don't have to worry about asking me to sit?" And yet, I don't.
There are gains to be made, and as I make them, there is always the possibility that one day I won't have to be the one to sit. Until then, I am content, in my unique place in the guild.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Being There for Each Other

Two very awesome things happened yesterday. One is that I completed the daily to defeat four champions and the daily to defeat three vailiants in the same day! The other is that, with me on vent and in guild cheering them on, Clan Redundancy Clan defeated Mimiron! Grats guys, 11/14 Ulduar 3 weeks in.

I've been thinking about Dem's comment, that I'm feeling better about raiding, and in a way it's true and in a way it isn't. I feel better about my place in the guild and how much I can contribute, but what I have been saying for the past week about the physiological effects of raiding on me is also true. Dem's made it crystal-clear that the only way he will demote me to Social Member is for me to run a gauntlet of sorts, explaining to the guild that it is per my request, and then dealing with the inevitable feedback from the rest of the raiding core. At the same time, all is not lost. I can get over 3k dps on enough bosses that I don't feel like I'm being carried through content anymore.

Anytime we get new members in the guild, I wonder how they will react to me. It's hard for nondisabled people to differentiate between slow reaction time and not paying attention, and I always wonder if I will get yelled at for standing in something or not moving enough. I wonder if the question will come up, "What makes Carol special, that she gets to raid and doesn't get called on it when she takes more damage than she should?" I don't worry about the response to that question, but I don't want to see that kind of drama in guild.

I don't usually get called on stuff unless someone thinks I'm not seeing something, or my reaction time seems especially bad. Sunday I was having pretty severe cognitive problems, and one of the off-tanks whispered me asking if I was lagging. Bryan was due to leave for a trip the next day and I didn't want to worry him, so I was kind of a relief to be able to say, "Something's going on with my brain and I don't know what it is" to a friend. My bad days, like my disability, are an open secret. People notice, but usually don't say anything. My guild is a safe place for me, and I definitely appreciate it.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Being Comfortable in My Own Skin

I had a major accomplishment in-game yesterday. I was able to successfully duel four champions in the Argent tournament and complete that daily. I love dailies that take me over a week to do.

Had an interesting vent conversation Tuesday night that really got me thinking about the change in how I react to not being invited to raids. I used to be extremely anxious about whether or not I'd get an invite, and take it personally if I didn't. Various conversations with Dem, and especially his first comment on this blog, have shown me that I have a very unique and needed place in the CRC raiding core. Also, I'm not treated like I'm weak or sensitive in guild. It takes a lot of inner strength to do what I do on a weekly basis, and it is acknowledged, appreciated, and maybe even admired.

I think what I appreciate more than anything else that WoW has given me is the wonderful feeling that who I am is okay, that the cerebral palsy does not define me. I had that feeling when I was younger, but life managed to beat it out of me somewhat to the point that my husband said to me one day last year, "You are acting like a victim and this is not you! You are not the woman I fell in love with and I want that woman back." I am the take-charge woman that makes things happen again.

As I endured Dem's teasing, I realized that being open with my guildies has taken a lot of the shame about being disabled away. That is a definite win, no matter how you look at it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

10 bosses in One Night!

"Let the wind carry you home, Blackbird, fly away. May you never be broken again." - Alter Bridge, Blackbird

Well, my son decided he didn't need to go to his meeting after all, so I was standby for raiding last night. I logged on to vent, and continued to work on my tournament dailies. I actually managed to down a champion! I also went to the forums and found a bug report regarding a problem the raid was having with staying in combat after Flame Leviathan (skipping content leads to strange stuff; best to kill everything if possible).

After Ignis was down, someone had to leave, so I was in. I still need Ignis for the achievement, but my day is coming. Dev is a man of his word, and I trust him (to make bewb jokes).

So I came in for Kologarn. As I said last Friday, coming into a raid is difficult, especially when the raid is busily clearing trash and I have to jump in and start throwing spells right away. Also, whenever I come in on a boss that I didn't learn with the guild, I feel like I'm going to mess up somehow. Ulduar does not leave a lot of room for error, and there is no room for stupid mistakes. In the end, I think I did well at avoiding stuff on Kologarn, and despite a couple of false starts, we got Iron Council down. I did better than I thought I did on that one.

After Iron Council, it was on to Hodir. It is impossible to describe what the Hodir fight is like for someone with cognitive problems. Much of the fight is blue or white on top of each other, and a lot of snow and ice clutter the screen. For some reason, I was having trouble seeing the snow piles, so I got frozen a couple of times. When I am in sensory overload, my breathing and heart rate increase, and it actually becomes harder to think. The one part of my brain that is not impaired is my intelligence, so I know exactly what is happening to me cognitively, and it's a bit scary. My feeling of importance as a player takes a beating in those fights as well. I got frozen at the end of the fight, and didn't feel like I was worthy of being broken out of the ice. After the fight was over, I had to afk for a couple of minutes just to try to clear my head.

Thorim was an interesting fight. DPSing and avoiding stuff is never a good combination for me, but I saw him go down for the first time. Banishing went better on Freya, thanks to a better macro setup. At one point, I rebanished just as Dem was saying, "Don't banish that one again." Fine, yell at me for doing my job. I didn't want a bunch of Ents in the raid like last week. :-P
We got her down, and I got new boots. Ten bosses! That leaves four hours on Thursday to get Mimiron down, and then Sunday to learn General Vezax. Exciting times in CRC land.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

10-man Mimiron and Reflections on the Journey

Last night, I was working on my tournament dailies (and thanks to my good friend Tidefury, had them down to just one) when I got a tell from Cinnas, who was gathering a group to go back into 10 man Ulduar, asking if I wanted to go. Like I've said before, I don't refuse guild raids, especially on new content. So I get set for a long night of banging our heads up against Mimiron. It was going okay, and I was doing really well at Warlock tanking, when I get a tell from Flip, "I'm gonna tank now, you do bots. I can dps more targets that way." Have I said before how much I hate being thrown out of my comfort zone? DPSing Bots means that I am switching targets more often, which increases the chances I will be confused, and means a lot more downtime for me. The decision was made, though, so I ranted at Flip and worked on the bots. It really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The thing I'm learning is that each difficult encounter that I can negotiate helps the hand-eye coordination and reaction time, so the next encounter is a little easier.

On the 18th try of the night, we successfully got him into phase 4, and Deadly Boss Mods was (finally) correctly showing percentages on all three parts. As each part fell to below 5%, we started losing tanks. As we were burning him down, we kept losing people and there were people that thought it would be a wipe. I was still up, throwing dots and shadowbolts for all I was worth and refusing to quit. We got him down with 3 people standing! I got a "gj" tell from Flip, which is always nice. I'm not the top dpser and never will be, but I can now say that I do enough.

Mother's Day is coming up on Sunday. It's a day that is touched with sadness, as we miss Bry's mom, and watch my mom slip further away. The rabbits are back in my backyard, though, and it makes me think fondly of both of them. Mother's Day is also the day two years ago when I left Night Renegades on Baelgun and brought my priest to Turalyon to join the hunter and druid. I can draw so many parallels between NR and CRC, sometimes I wish I knew then what I know now.
Lileia said something in In the Fringes that really made me think. She said, "Being there is the easy part, letting someone be there, that's the difficult part." It's not easy letting people know that there are parts of your brain that don't work right, especially when people immediately think that means that you are not intelligent. It's hard to let someone help you do a quest that you think you should be able to solo. It's hard letting someone see the tears, fear, and anger that come with living with a disability. I've learned to be vunerable, and I've learned to trust. I've seen the best part of humanity, and made some great friends. It's been a great journey, and it's not over yet.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Let Me Be Myself

It's always darkest right before the dawn, and Friday was no exception.
I got a part-time job, which is good, and had a good weekend. Last night, on Mimiron, I did fairly consistent 3K dps overall. At one point, I shared the damage meter with Flip, and got a tell back, "ZOMG!" "you or me?" "u!" That meant a lot. Flip knows the ins and outs of playing a warlock better than anyone I've met, and he knows how hard I've worked for my dps.
As I think back to the place where I was on Friday, I realize that now that my search for a guild that will treat me with patience and understanding, I need to be patient and understanding with myself. If that means that when I come into a raid that I need to take a few minutes to acclimate and know that I can do my job, it's okay for me to click "No" on the ready check.
I also realized last night that I don't want to stop raiding, and not just because making that decision would mean having to justify it to almost 20 people. I love raiding. Getting in and working on strategy is fun. Getting teased about aggroing a bomb bot is fun. Knowing that I can go in with 24 other people and together do more than any of us could do by ourselves makes it all worth it.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Learning to Banish and a Surprise One-Shot

So, I got back from Scouts last night, not expecting to have to go in. Raid was full and another raider was on to sub in. Listened on vent to the Thorim kill. Well done, guys!

After Thorim, we ended up having two people needing to leave instead of the usual one, so I was in on Freya. Freya's trash is different, in that there are Ents to be banished. Learning to banish during combat wasn't easy, and I messed up more times than I can count, but I did it.

The Freya fight itself is complicated. You have to kill 6 spawns of adds before you can do any meaningful damage, and there are trees that periodically spawn that must be killed immediately. It took us a couple of tries, but we made it.

We went on to Iron Council, just to look at it. Iron Council is one of those fights where there is a lot going on, and I wasn't sure I would even survive. I did my usual thing, and pushed as much as I could. We got them down the first time! I was screaming, "OMG, Iron Council 1-shot, first time!" Oct said, "Did you survive?" and I screamed, "Yes!" I also got a brand-new chest, which made me happy.

This has been an extremely difficult week for me emotionally, and I have kept a lot inside. Monday I found out that the husband of one of the Scout leaders and father of two of the senior scouts in my sons' troop passed away. My dad's surgery has finally been scheduled, and I need to figure out whether I'm going to be needed to take care of my mom. I'm very close to getting a job (I hope).

Last night, I realized that coming in and going out of raids is very difficult for me to manage cognitively. I'm feeling extremely tired, and increasingly impatient with people. I'm coming very close to saying, "I'm done, it's over, no more Raid Member." Next week, the decision of how often to raid is being made for me, because of a lot going on with scouts. Hopefully, that will allow me some time for soul searching and some hard conversations.