Writings about games and other stuff

A blog about my relationship with the gaming hobby and about living with depression. And probably about other things, too.

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Redecorating our home

Linda Stenström
Finland
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The last week or so hubby and me have been redecorating at home. Changing the place of the furniture, putting up more art on the walls etc. And the biggest change, I think, taking out huge amounts of trash.

I'm really happy now that we're pretty much ready with the project. It's been more than a little bit frustrating when I haven't been able to help very much due to my back pain. My hubby has done a great job. But now our apartment looks much bigger and airier.

One thing we noticed is that the amount of stuff that we save is ridiculous. I guess it's not just us, but what makes us people hoard stuff like that? We threw out a lot, and I don't think we're going to miss it.

And now that the place feels bigger, and there's npt so much stuff everywhere, it feels much easier to play board games. Finding the games and finding enough space on a table is not a problem right now. So yesterday we played a game of Ticket to Ride: Europe. It's ages since we've played that game.
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Thu Feb 11, 2016 11:48 am
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Want new games, but what to get?

Linda Stenström
Finland
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These days, hubby and I don't buy new games that often. I mean, a few years ago we could buy about ten new games, several times a year. But it's pretty obvious that one can't keep going like that for ever. We started running out of space for games ages ago. Also, with a big collection, there's no way we have time to play all the games. Our list of shame (games in our collection we haven't played) is shamefully long. A couple of years ago or so we decided to downsize the collection a bit. We gave some games to friends and family, donated a few to charity and sold a few. We still have a long list of games that we would be willing to sell.

Still, there's more than 450 titles in our collection. And now, I want more.

I haven't been following game news very much lately, so I don't know what new games there are. Most items on my wishlist are expansions to games we own. But that's a lot of expansions...

There are two new expansions coming out for Star Realms soon. I really like Star Realms, it has the deck building mechanic that I love from Dominion, but Star Realms is more interactive than Dominion. Also, the more compact size is a huge advantage for Star Realms. There's a new standalone deck, Colony Wars, which can also be combined with the base game, coming out soon. Also coming out soon is an expansion, the Cosmic Gambit Set.
There's really no question whether I'm going to get these or not, it's just a matter of time, since they're not available yet. We already own two base decks and all the previous expansions, and with the new Colony Wars Deck we will have enough cards for six players instead of four. The base deck has cards for two players, if you add another deck you can play with up to four players, and with a third deck there can be up to six players. But with three base decks, there are quite a few copies of some of the cards, so hopefully the new base deck will bring a little variation.

Then, there are those expansions that are actually available in stores. There's a new map pack for Ticket to Ride, United Kingdom & Pennsylvania. We have all the other games and maps in the series, so for completions sake I would want this. But does it really bring anything new to the game?
Another expansion that I want just to complete a collection is Dominion: Adventures. We have all the other boxes, and last I heard, Adventures was supposed to be the last one. But we rarely play Dominion anymore, it has just got too big and complicated. Also, there are two promo cards that are not yet published in Finnish, but probably will be, so I'm thinking that if I get Adventures, I should probably wait until the promos are available.
Then I realised that I have a bunch of expansions for Race for the Galaxy on my wishlist, but those will probably have to wait. I like Race for the Galaxy, but we should probably play it more often if it's going to be worth getting the expansions.

And then there's Carcassonne. There are no big expansions that I don't own, just a huge amount of small ones that I probably will never get my hands on. But there are two new standalone games, Over Hill and Dale and Star Wars. The Star Wars edition didn't look that interesting to me, but I've been thinking about getting Over Hill and Dale. Any comments on these? Do they bring anything new to the series?
Also, and don't tell my husband this, for reasons I'm not quite sure about myself, I would really want the Z-man edition of the base game. And that's sort of ridiculous, because it's exactly the same game.

So, a lot of expansions and spinoffs. Expansions are safe in the way that you pretty much know what you're getting. But it would be nice to get something completely new. On the other hand, we really don't need any new games. One game I've been thinking about, though, is Dead Man's Draw. I have no idea what it is, but hubby has played the PC version and really likes it.

So, time to try and decide what to get. I can't get everything I want, at least not all at once. I need money for food, too. Any comments or recommendations? Any new exciting games I haven't mentioned that you would like to recommend?
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Fri Feb 5, 2016 9:47 am
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Everyone should have to try to stay away from work against their will

Linda Stenström
Finland
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I while ago a read an article, unfortunately I don't remember where I saw it or who wrote it, but it was in Swedish. The headline was something along the lines that it should be obligatory for everyone to be unemployed for a while. My first thought was that the author thought people should experience what financial difficulties are like, but actually she was more thinking about the mental side of the problem. In our society, we are used to think that work is something you are supposed to do, and for many people a life without work feels meaningless. Her point was that finding meaning in life in such a situation would be a good exercise for everyone.

With what's been going on in my life the past few weeks, I've been thinking about that a little. Among those of us who are lucky to have a job, there are those who love their jobs, and those who hate their jobs, and everything in between. Personally, I like my job. I don't exactly love it, but I like it. But even then, I think most people have days when they feel like they really don't want to go to work, at least I do. But I go anyway. I don't know how things work in the rest of the world, but at least here in Finland the system does to some extent allow people to call in sick even if they are just lazy. It's not a huge problem, but it exists. And I admit that there are days when you joke about calling in sick even if you're just stressed at work, but as I said, I would not do that.

But now I'm on sick leave. For real. And not just for a few days, but for a month. And even if I know that there are people who would gladly think of it as some sort of vacation, I really don't enjoy it very much. First, there's the fact that my condition limits what I can do, I have pain other issues. But that's not all. Being at home for a month, not being able to do very much (and I'm lucky, and don't have to stay in bed for weeks or anything) is boring. Really boring. Also, there's this sense of guilt, and I know it's stupid, because the doctor said that I can't work right now, but it feels like people might think I'm just lazy and I keep thinking, maybe I should have tried harder to stay at work.

So just being at home is not just wonderful, even if I sometimes say it would be nice to be able to just quit and do whatever you want. The author of the article was right, finding a meaning with everything, when suddenly work is out of the picture, is hard. And it's interesting to notice how our lives spin around work so much. I don't know if I manage to get my point through, but maybe we should think a little more about how obsessed our society is with work and career.

(Don't get worried now, I'll be fine in a while, this is nothing serious going on.)
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Wed Feb 3, 2016 11:09 am
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Port Royal

Linda Stenström
Finland
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We haven't bought any new games in ages, it feels like. And to be honest, I've had other things to think about lately, so I haven't even followed what new games have been released. The only thing I have considered buying are the new expansions for Star Realms, one of my new favourite games, but as far as I know, they're not available yet.

Yesterday when I went grocery shopping with hubby, he wanted to have a look at what board games they had in the supermarket. Supermarkets here do sell some games, but it's mostly children's games or party games. You can sometimes find really nice games there, though. And this time hubby did. The game was Port Royal, a game I had not heard about before. Apparently it got the Vuoden perhepeli 2015-award, which is the Finnish Family Game of the Year-award. As it is a small and easy-looking card game, we ended up buying it.

When we got home we played it right away. (That's something we should do more often, play the games we buy right away, and not leave them on the shelf and forget about them. Does that happen to anyone else?)
Hubby read the rules and explained them to me, which didn't take long.
As I said, Port Royal is a card game, where the goal is to be the first to reach twelve victory points. Most of the cards are ships (ten ships each in five colours) or characters (eleven different characters and varying amounts of copies of each character). There are also a few taxation cards and some goal cards in the deck. On your turn, you draw cards from the draw deck and place them face up on the table. You may draw as many cards as you like, but if you draw two ships of the same colour, your turn immidiately ends. When you decide to stop, you may pick up some of the cards, depending on how many different colours of ships you drew. So there's a push your luck-element to the game, you want to keep drawing cards to get as many different coloured ships as possible, but if you get too greedy you might end up with two ships of the same colour and not get to pick up any cards. Taxation cards are resolved immidiately when they're drawn (players with a certain amount of money have to pay taxes) and goal cards are set aside, and the player to first reach the goal on the card, gets the goal card which is worth victory points.
So, depending on the number of ships you drew, you now get to pick up 1-3 cards. Ships that you pick up give you money and the ship card is then discarded. Character cards that you pick up are placed in front of you, but they cost money that you have to pay before you pick it up. The different characters have different abilities, some help you achieve the goals on the goal cards, some give you discounts when you pick up new characters, and so on. Some of the character cards are also worth victory points.
When you are done choosing your cards, your opponents may pick up one of the remaining cards each, following the same rules. The also have to pay you one gold. There are no money cards in the game, instead face down cards are used as money, which is familiar from some other games.
So, the goal of the game is basically to pick up ships in order to get enough money to pick up characters which earn you victory points.
Hubby won this game, he got 13 points, and I managed to reach 11 points.

It was a fun game, and easy enough so that we can play it with our families. We have lots of games, and we don't need more, but sometimes it fun to buy something new.
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Thu Jan 28, 2016 8:22 am
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No news is good news

Linda Stenström
Finland
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Apparently, I haven't posted anything since August...

Well, I haven't played that many games, either. The older we get, the more busy people get with their jobs and families. And that's the way things should be, I guess. Also, I've tried to live a more healthy life, more exercise and so on. But time for that has to come from somewhere. But it's been worth it.
And then there's this thing, maybe I mentioned it before. Somehow my friends and family expect me to be willing to play games all the time, which is not true. And to be honest, this feeling of duty to play games made me not want to play that much.

Of course, I have played games every now and then. It's great fun with the right people.

Also, for those of you who care, I've been fine lately. Had a little low in the late summer, but once I got used to my new job that passed.

I hope all of you are well.
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Wed Jan 6, 2016 3:55 pm
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Wonderful weekend at the summer place

Linda Stenström
Finland
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This weekend me and the husband went to our family summer place. We haven't been there at all this year, before this weekend, and I realised I really missed the place. It's a small cottage hidden away in the middle of nowhere. It's such a peaceful and beautiful place.



Isn't it wonderful?

Anyway, we went there on Friday evening and left on Sunday. We spent a lot of time tending to the place, cleaning, mowing grass etc. that needs to be done. But most importantly, we got to spend some time together. We have a good relationship, and we see each other every day, but even then spending a weekend like this does so much good both for the relationship and for yourself. There are no distractions like TV or computers at this summer place, so you really have to be present, not only physically, but mentally as well.

Of course, we got a chance to play some games, as there is not much else to do indoors. First we played a game that has been in our collection for I don't know how long, but we have never played before. This game was Shadows over Camelot: the Card Game, a co-op game where there might be a traitor among the players. We only tried it once, because it was pretty clear that even if you can play with only two players, this game would benefit from more players. There was not much of a game in it with only two.

After that we played a couple of rounds of Splendor. I can't remember whether I've written about this game before, but it's a really nice game. It's pretty quick and easy, and in my opinion very pretty. The object of the game is to buy cards in order to be able to buy more expensive cards, and the first player to reach a certain number of points wins.

For the rest of the evening we played Star Realms, which is probably my favourite game right now. It's a deck building game, but unlike Dominion etc, the point is not to collect victory points, but to destroy your opponents. We own all the available expansions for the game (I think), and we had those mixed in. We played a couple of games against each other, but then we decided to try the co-op challenges that come in some of the expansion packs. The challenges are really hard, but we agreed that is probably good, because then there is a replay value. No point in playing a challenge that you always beat easily.

So, that was my weekend. Hope you all have a good weekend too!

Also, I wanted to say that all the support and care I get from you people here warms my heart. Thank you all for your kind words. You know who you are.
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Mon Aug 31, 2015 7:29 pm
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Not so sure right now

Linda Stenström
Finland
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So, it's been a while. Everything's been good. My emotions have calmed down a bit, I don't really feel as strongly about leaving the meds as I did first. But it's been good.

Except now I'm not so sure. During this last week or so, it has felt as if I had a dark cloud in my chest. Just a feeling of anxiety or hopelessness, I don't know.

Maybe I should just go and see a doctor on Monday. But I keep thinking, everyone has bad days. Maybe it will pass? But what if it doesn't?
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Sat Aug 15, 2015 2:39 pm
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Situation update

Linda Stenström
Finland
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When was it that I wrote that long post? A couple of weeks ago, perhaps. Anyway, things are pretty good now.

The withdrawal symptoms are gone, I'm still happy and energetic, so I guess everythings as good as can be.

There's one thing I've noticed, though. It's a slight difference between the state I'm in now, and how I felt when I still took the medicines. It's as if I feel more emotions now, as if my emotions were, I can't even find the word to describe it, but as if I didn't really feel anything as strongly while I took the medicines.

It's a little surprising, but then again not. I've always been an emotional person. Kind of feels as if a part of me that has been sleeping, is waking up now.
I guess feeling very strongly was very difficult during my worst periods, because the bad feelings were so strong. But now it's just a relief to notice that this particular part of my personality is still there. A little scary that the medicines can make such things "go to sleep" like that...

I'm not sure I understand what I'm trying to write... Good thing if you do.
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Wed Jul 8, 2015 3:07 pm
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Things are getting better

Linda Stenström
Finland
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So, a little update since last weeks post.

As the title says, things are getting better. Haven't really had any symptoms at all for the last few days. And the last two nights I slept better than in ages.

Most of the symptoms were physical. Very annoying, yes, but not really that scary. The scary part were the emotional symptoms. But those have calmed down, too. I feel pretty stable right now. Of course I can't tell what the future will be like, but at least it feels like I will be OK without the meds. What I think is this. The meds gave me the energy I needed to fix things in my life. Once I had the energy, I've learned to deal with the challenges in life, and feel much more confident now. So I really think it's gonna be OK.

Also, I really have to show you guys something totally unrelated to this. I'm a huge Tigger-fan, and as a sort of tribute I did this:

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Mon Jun 29, 2015 3:52 pm
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Second try at getting off the meds

Linda Stenström
Finland
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I was a bit hesitant about writing about this. First I considered posting it on Facebook. But a lot of people I know, don't know about my depression. And to be honest, I'm not sure I want everyone to know. People are so prejudiced. I know there are people who would think I'm half-witted if they knew I have problems with my mental health.
Then I thought about writing here. Then again I thought no, this is a board gaming website, not a mental disorder forum. But I've written about my condition here before, and got so much wonderful response. And I really need to get this out of me. So, here we go. Bear with me.

For those who don't know what I'm going on about, a quick summary of the situation: I suffer from mental problems. I've had problems with anxiety pretty much my whole life, and at some point developed depression. And even if I knew in my heart that I wasn't OK, I kept fighting, trying to hide the truth from myself and everyone else.
A few years ago it all got too heavy. I desperately needed help. So I went to see a doctor, who sent me to a psychiatrist. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety issues, and started taking SSRI-medication. Life got better, I was happier, felt more confident, and got the strength to deal with things. I didn't go to therapy, but I've seen my psychiatrist regularly. At some point he told me I'm pretty much symptom free. Even if I don't really think mental issues can be cured the same way as for example an infection, I was still as well as I could be, which was a relief. The doctor advised me to stop my medication at one point, which ended up in a disaster, and I continued taking the pills. So, that's what I've been sharing here so far. Read my older posts if you like.

So, now to the part I wanted to write about. Last time I tried to stop taking the medication, I kind of wanted to, but then again didn't. I did it anyway, and the symptoms I experienced where horrible. It felt like the anxiety came back a hundred times worse, I totally broke down.
Well, my doctor told me to continue the meds for a while, and my condition got stable pretty quick. But my doctor still had the opinion that I really should stop taking the pills, since I don't need them anymore. It's been over 18 months since that last try. Last time I saw my doctor, would it have been in February, he again told me that I was fine, and that he really recommended I stop the meds. I was hesitant, after my last experience I was kind of scared.

But I've been thinking about it. It would be nice to get off the meds. I was hesitant about taking them in the first place, and even if I didn't really want to stop taking them last time I tried, part of me still wanted to get rid of them.
So I've been thinking about this thing, and talking to friends who also suffer from these same things. And also, I've been reading a lot about it online. (I know one shouldn't take the Internet too seriously, but there's a lot of useful information out there, if one can sort it out from among all the c**p. And I am quite critical towards what I read online.)
I started realising my doctor probably was right. Since I was well, and had been so for so long, the meds didn't do anything for me anymore. So I started thinking about it. The logical thing to do would have been to make an appointment with my doctor and discuss the matter. But I didn't, I guess mainly because his office isn't exactly in the neighborhood. And also, his bills are a bit heavy on my wallet.
So I thought, I'll just wait till my next appointment, a few months shouldn't matter that much. I also considered stopping on my own, but since I knew it wasn't a good idea, I didn't. I felt I could have done it, I have that much experience of the meds now, but still, it's really not recommended.

One thing that's been on my mind a lot was the question of what really happened last time I tried to stop. I should have been fine, there should have been no problem at all. And it was horrible.
Well, after all my reading and discussing with friends, and just thinking about it, I started to realise some things. What I experienced, what felt like the condition hitting me a hundred times harder than it ever had before, was probably just withdrawal symptoms. It's a fact that SSRI-medication is addictive. I just didn't know how bad the symptoms would be. Also, even if I wanted to stop the medication, at the same time I didn't. The meds were not simply physically addictive, but mentally as well. I was scared of how I would survive without them. After all, the meds was what pulled me out of my misery.

One of the things I learned from my "research", was that the withdrawal symptoms of SSRI-medication, or at least the particular drug I've been taking, can be very severe. And the problem is, it's not a very well known problem. Patients who have experienced it, know it, of course, but from what I understand, there are a lot of doctors who are unaware or ignorant about this problem. Which of course leads to treating the symptoms wrong.
I was thinking of my case. If I had known what to expect, maybe I would have been able to suffer through the experience. The doctors who treated me then, well, to be honest, I'm not sure whether the knew enough about it either. Maybe putting me back on the meds was not the right thing to do. I don't know. But I've read stories much worse than mine.

Anyway, I decided I need to stop the meds. As I said before, I was kind of putting it of because of the doctors office being so far away, and bills, and other excuses... Well, even if I knew better what I could expect, it still scared me. But on the other hand, I started developing this aversion towards the meds. Something that causes such horrible symptoms, even if it helped me, is not something I want to have in my system unless really necessary. So I decided to contact my doctor. At some point. Just need to gather courage to deal with this...

Of course, life doesn't always work the way we plan. Neither did it in this case. Nothing dramatic, don't worry. It was just that it's summer. I don't know about elsewhere, but here in Finland, people kind of crawl out in the sun in the summer. People are happy and energetic. So am I. In the summer, we do things we might not do the rest of the year. Spend lots of time outdoor, go to places, simply do more stuff because there is the energy to do it. People are on vacation, most people have there vacation in July, but June is also an option, and I started my vacation in June. Out with work and regular life, in with doing all those things that don't seem to get done the rest of the year. And apparently, also, forgetting to take the meds.

I'm not generally sloppy, and I've taken care to take my pills every day. But now that I don't really need them, apparently I did forget. Several times I realised I hadn't taken the pill the day before, and even if I noticed it, I still didn't remember. At some point a couple of weeks ago I noticed I had forgotten the meds for like three days.
And I started considering. What if now is the time? Stopping the meds cold turkey isn't something one should do, I know that. When getting off the meds, the dose should gradually be lowered over a period of time.
But I did that the last time, and it didn't help. So I decided, now that I've forgotten the meds so much lately, why not stop altogether? I'm going to have to suffer through the withdrawal symptoms anyway. And now that I'm on vacation, I have time to deal with it. No need to go to work and keep up appearances.

So the decision was made. And for the record, I don't advice or recommend for anyone to do the same. Always consult your doctor first! Do as I say, not as I do.
This time I was prepared. I knew there was a huge risk of symptoms. But simply knowing what is going on can be a huge help. Last time, I didn't know, and the fear made the anxiety and the symptoms so much worse.

Soo... I've been off the meds for a couple of weeks now. I've had symptoms, but not as bad as I expected. Knowing what caused them also made it easier. Had I experienced the symptoms I've had, without knowing why, well that would have been scary.

In case you wonder what these symptoms are, that are so horrible, let me tell you. Not interested? I'll tell you anyway, because I kind of think it's important.
First there were headaches, nausea and fatigue. For a few days I felt really lightheaded, almost out of touch with reality. I also experience emotional extremes. I feel like crying for nothing, or I laugh hysterically. I guess I feel more sensitive and vulnerable than usual. I also have the brain zaps, that are really scary if you don't know what's happening. Feels like electric shocks in your brain, or something like that. Then there's the insomnia, which I'm not quite sure about. I often suffer from insomnia in the early summer, because of this midnight sun we have here. But usually I get used to it after a couple of weeks, so that it doesn't bother me this far into the summer anymore. So that might be a symptom. And then there was one symptom I wasn't prepared for. More research taught me that it is common enough, I just hadn't happened to read about it before. Fortunately I understood what caused it, because it was scary. I'll try to explain. It's happened a couple times, the second time was last night, but it passed much quicker this second time, thank goodness for that. Anyway, so I've had this insomnia, lying in bed simply unable to catch sleep. Then one night a few days ago, I started feeling like I was absolutely unable to be still in bed. It was not the usual tossing and turning, but an almost violent urge to move all the time. Almost like my whole body was crawling or something. Even if I was dead tired, I just had to turn, turn, turn, shake my arms and legs. I tried to be still, but I felt like a pressure in my chest, like my heart was going to explode if I didn't move. And I was simply unable to stay still, I shook my arms and legs involuntarily. Scary, don't you think? Well, it did pass. I got up, had a glass of water, walked around a little. I was so exhausted I just got back to bed, and waited for it to go away, which it did. I have no idea for how long this went on, it could have been ten minutes, it could have been an hour or more. But it sure felt like an eternity. Tonight it happened again. Now I recognised it, tried to stay in bed for a while, I was really tired. Got up after a while though, walked around in the apartment a little, drank a little water. It passed quicker this time, but it still wasn't very pleasant.

Why am I telling you this? I'm not sure myself, I just knew I needed to write this down.
I feel a little confused, not sure what to think of this myself. I know stopping the meds like I did is something one really shouldn't do, and I do have my doubts about whether it was the right decision. But the more I think of it, the more I just want to get it out of my system. I'm also wondering, how long will it take? Some of the symptoms are gone already, the headaches, dizziness and nausea. The emotional symptoms are still there, but getting better. I still feel very sensitive, but the hysterical laughing attacks are gone. The brain zaps are gone. But apparently, what I've been experiencing at night, whatever that might be called, isn't gone. But I guess it's comforting that it passed quicker last night than the first time.

I also find myself wondering, once the symptoms pass, will I feel the same as when I took the meds and was well? Or will I find that it affected me in some way I didn't notice, because before the meds it was a very long time since I had been really well? Time will show.

Also, I notice that the meds I at some point saw a rescue, now have gotten a status of some sort of poison in my mind. Can it really be healthy, if it affects you that much? I keep wondering, if, when I started taking the meds, I had known what I know now, would I have been as willing to start the medication? I don't exactly regret it, the medication did help me a lot after all. But I can't help wondering, could there have been some other way? Therapy perhaps? If a was in that same situation now, knowing what I know now, would I choose differently? I really don't know.

And lastly. From my research online, I learned that there really isn't enough knowledge about these things. A lot of people take these medicines, in a lot of cases for the wrong reasons I guess. I don't know what research has been done, but it seems that the side effects of these meds aren't well enough known. And, what I've experienced myself now, it seems there really isn't enough knowledge about the withdrawal symptoms, and the way the meds affect people. I think that's not how it should be.

If you managed to read this, thank you. I would love to hear your thoughts on this, since in my opinion, these are things that really should be lifted up and brought to awareness of people.

EDIT: Corrected some typos and other mistakes. Also, SSRI is short for Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. SSRI-meds are a common type of medicines used to treat depression and other mental disorders.
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Fri Jun 26, 2015 11:55 am
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