Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) entered my life when I was twelve years old. It was around the time that the 3.5 edition of D&D was published. One of my homeschooling friends (yes, I was that weird homeschooled child) was interested in going to a local game store for a D&D event. I had never heard of D&D until then and was incredibly interested. Walking into the game store was slightly daunting, there were many people there for the event, many of whom were at least 18+ and looked like they had been involved in the scene for many years. I was nervous, but my inner voice kept telling me “Harrison, you will love this, stay and play.” I stayed, I played, I bought a few boxes of mini’s which would be the start to my collection, and I found a hobby that I loved for both the fantastical worlds and the wonderful people that I would meet because of it. My mother loved the fact that math was involved so that helped.
D&D was in my life for many years after that first event. Up until high school I played D&D almost on a daily basis, be it building armies with my brothers and clashing them against one another, or running small roleplay sessions where my family and friends would take upon persona’s of their own making to run through a world that I had created. It was a wonderful time in my life, I was incredibly happy and my anxiety was under control without the need for medication. D&D was my drug. As I grew and entered high school, I was more interested in interacting with my classmates and new friends/dating. Even during this time and going into college, I had a constant stream of fantasy and adventure media in my life, be it playing World of Warcraft or watching amazing movies such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy. D&D was still in my mind, but with all of the new internal and external influence it had taken a backseat.
I made some amazing connections in high school and college. One of my best friends is the co-writer of this blog and we talk/game on a daily basis. College had some great and amazing moments, and also some not so great ones. When a negative event would happen to me, especially with anxiety and depression added to the concoction, I didn’t know how to handle myself. At times I was wild, I had scary and unhealthy thoughts. I was able to finish my degree in graphic design, but this was with anxiety riding my back, driving me to times of insanity. I’ve worked here and there, I’ve tried to make peace with anyone that I had hurt, yet I had and have grown away from people that I had loved and cherished. There is hardly a day where the thought of my past hasn’t given me an internal struggle with my daily life.
During a somewhat positive time in my life, a few summers ago I reconnected with a childhood friend and our friendship bloomed with renewed vigor. During a weekly outing, we dropped by a local bookstore. As I walked down the aisles, I stumbled upon the Dungeons and Dragons section. I had read online in a Reddit post that the current edition of D&D was great, complicated yet streamlined/simplified enough for anyone who has never even heard of D&D before to pick it up and play. I saw the Players Handbook on the bookstore shelf, I opened the tome and decided within five seconds that I was going to purchase this new edition of D&D. I never looked back.
I now own every published book that has come out for the 5th Edition of D&D. I have read all of them cover to cover many times. I have started and run many different campaigns, all of them either coming to a close because of in-game event (all of the players died…oops), or I had just picked up the most recent adventure and was so antsy to run this new adventure that I wanted to start from scratch and play the new campaign (I am sorry for any player that I have/had in my campaigns that is reading this). My anxiety and depression has leveled off to a ‘normal’ level. I am able to function in my life and can take on challenges that I never thought I ever could. Is this because of D&D? I think so. Is D&D a healthy hobby? Yes! I encourage anyone that has never picked up a twenty-sided die to call their local nerd or game store, and prepare to meet people that love the game and will gladly help anyone new to the scene. Prepare to fight goblins, abominations, and dragons. Prepare to adventure through a magical world of infinite possibilities. Prepare to enter a hobby that many people can call home, I know I have and hope you do too.