The other day, I was playing some Skyrim. Mostly I wanted to get past a certain point where you meet a bunch of nearly-identical old men with grey beards (called greybeards, because imagination) and learn how to sprint really fast by channeling your dino– I mean dragon DNA with MAGIC. To get to the greybeards, one must climb 7000 steps up this huge snowy mountain.
And on that huge snowy mountain, somewhere between steps 4000 and 6000, there’s a gods damned frost troll. And a dragon, because Skyrim wants you dead.
Frost trolls in Skyrim are these GIANT ABOMINABLE SNOWMEN WITH A BUNCH OF EYEBALLS AND ‘VULNERABILITY’ TO ‘FIRE’ WHICH MEANS IF YOU FRY THEM CONSTANTLY WITH YOUR FLAMES SPELL THEY’LL ONLY KILL YOU IN FIVE HITS INSTEAD OF FOUR.
ALSO DID YOU HEAR THE BIT ABOUT ALSO A DRAGON?
Yeeeeah. Since my primary goal in this playthrough of Skyrim is to spend as much time pretending my character is a bear as possible, I wanted to mostly get this questline done so I could go, I dunno, catch some salmon or splash in a waterfall or chase butterflies.
But I wanted to have the ability to learn new dragon blood magical shouting and such, so yadda yadda, I walked all the way to fucking Ivarstead and up all those stairs.
On one fortunate playthrough, I got to the frost troll to find it being attacked by the dragon, and they killed each other. No such luck this time.
I was a poky little level four Redguard with only my bear claws (sword) and not enough potions and only a bunch of raw salmons because BEARS DON’T THINK ABOUT BUYING POTIONS BUT THEY DO LIKE CATCHING SALMONS.
And I saw the frost troll.
And it saw me.
And I said, “Fuck this shit, I’m out.”
And I ran up the hill and into the blizzard and away from the frost troll.
It looked a little like this:
So I beared my way up the hill and dipped out and then went to go shout at some greybeards because that sounded MUCH MORE FUN than getting clobbered by a frost troll and/or a dragon.
There is a point to all this.
I am an autistic, generally anxious, sometimes depressed individual who finds social interactions to kind of be an extreme sport. I’m really good at pretending I’m one of the butterflies Bear!Emmie chases in Skyrim, but in reality my public humaning mode is a painstakingly stitched together fabric of constantly-running reminders, like “ask people how they’re doing,” “remember names,” “MAKE EYE CONTACT SOMETIMES,” “STOP TALKING AND LET THEM RESPOND,” “DO NOT STIM,” “bring up that recent accomplishment of theirs,” and a bunch more. All that with an internal monologue that is often, they don’t really want to talk to you, they’re just being polite, did you just HEAR YOURSELF? What are you thinking, being here? What is that smell? *click click click click click* Here comes the miiiiiigraine.
Loud noises, smells, multiple sensory inputs, being in a place where I’m in close physical proximity to a large number of people, hot weather, restrictive clothing, no exit, not knowing everyone, feeling out of place, imposter syndrome, no place for solitude, no quiet — all of those things are constant things that affect my ability to interact well or at all.
This is less so for one-on-one outings, but even then, I can have a great time and get home so emotionally and mentally depleted that I feel like I was dropped off the top of High Hrothgar by the greybeards and the frost troll is poking my splatted remains with a stick.
Here’s the thing.
If you, like me, struggle with disability/mental illness?
You’re allowed to avoid the frost troll.
You’re allowed to nope out.
If you have no spoons left, you are not required to carve new spoons out of stone and chuck them at a frost troll because it happens to be charging at you.
You’re allowed to run up the hill into the blizzard and skip that shit.
You can say no to a con.
You can say no to a social engagement.
You can say no to reading emails, for fuck’s sake.
Yes, it’s great sometimes to push our limits, to try something new, to take a chance and go tearing into battle.
And sometimes, you might just Fus Ro Dah that frost troll off the top of the bloody mountain yourself and watch it plummet to its doom.
If that happens? Hey, cool.
But it’s okay sometimes to avoid the frost troll altogether. You’re allowed to set boundaries. You’re allowed to say no. And you’re allowed to take care of yourself.
On that lovely note, I’ve got some waterfalls to splash in and some butterflies to chase.
Iiiiiiiif you want to support my writing and bear-related activities, you can do so on Patreon, where my absolutely lovely Patrons get all sorts of goodies, including free eARCs of my books before they come out. You can also preorder A HALL OF KEYS AND NO DOORS, because it’s coming out in TWO WEEKS. *hyperventilates*
Get every new post delivered to your Inbox
Join other followers