This was a big PAX for me. I had a lot going on. But the following, by far, is the most important thing that happened to me:
I was walking around the day after the Of Dice and Men premiere, in a kind of physical and emotional stupor, when I came across the "Take This AFK Mental Health Room". There was a sign outside inviting one to come in and take a moment, take a breath -- cons can be overwhelming, and volunteer therapists were on hand to help if you needed it, etcetera, etcetera. I walked in to say hi, maybe pick up a pamphlet... mental illness in gamers is an important issue for me, what with having one and being one.
That's what I told myself, anyway.
It was a lovely, relaxed, safe space. A nice woman struck up a conversation with me. I complimented her on the room, introduced myself as a Mood Disorder NOS... and started to cry.
The nice woman (who I pegged very quickly as a remarkably competent volunteer therapist) sat me down and listened to me, asking all the right questions. I sat in the middle of that room, in a safe therapeutic space with dozens of people around, and talked and wept for about forty-five minutes.
See, the needle on my mood disorder can swing a little out of whack with just about any big emotional stimulus. Make it a huge, ongoing one like PAX, and I have to be sure to kind of ride herd on myself (often with my wife's help) to make sure everything stays within normal operating parameters.
Add in the premiere of my movie? The death of a coworker right before the con? The fact that I've been pretty miserable for about six months and now suddenly have a lot of reasons to be joyful?
Well, my system was in complete emotional overload by the time I walked into that room. I just didn't know it.
So I cried for about forty-five minutes, chatted about Doctor Who for another fifteen, and headed back out to the con open and available for all the awesomeness that was unfolding around me.
I would have had a very different PAX without Take This, and without the willingness of PAX to include them -- probably a very different life once I got back home. I have no doubt they have been there for those in much worse shape than me.
Anyway, to Take This and to the wonderful lady who helped me: THANK YOU. You have no idea how much.
To everybody else: Go donate to Take This. They do good work, and they do it well.