My PAX Take This AFK Room experience

ProlixWagProlixWag Registered User regular
edited April 2014 in PAX East
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.

zerzhul on


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    Ana NgAna Ng Registered User regular
    I hope it's alright if I also share my experience with the AFK room and Take This from this past weekend.

    I struggle with anxiety and depression, and the last few months have had a lot of things go very badly in my life. PAX has been the first really big positive thing for me this year, however the crowds and overall high level of energy can make my brain go into panic attack mode instead of fun-time mode. The first morning of PAX I found myself feeling very emotional and overwhelmed, and basically just tried to hide in a corner and cry.

    Right around that time, the Take This panel was going to go on. I went, and listened to everyone speak, and it was just so.... affirming. And calming. To listen to people talk about how depression and anxiety are legitimate issues and that I'm not a terrible person for needing and asking for help. The panel also helped open a dialogue between me and my partner about how we both handled my earlier panic attack and what I need in the future when I start feeling anxious.

    Later in the weekend I visited the AFK room because I just needed a space to sit quietly with my eye closed. I was a little worried about having someone immediately in my space asking what's wrong/do i need help, but perhaps I just had a total "please please leave me be" vibe because no one bothered me. I was able to sit and collect myself as long as I needed, and that was -exactly- what I needed from that room.

    I really hope that the AFK room is back again next year because I would like to have the resource available should I find myself in another scenario where I'm having a panic attack, or simply need to decompress in order to prevent having a full blown attack in the first place.

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    cooljammer00cooljammer00 Hey Small Christmas-Man!Registered User regular

    As a PAX East attendee who doesn't necessarily suffer from any sort of...legitimate, diagnosed disorders, I still appreciated that PAX East had these things, even if they didn't necessarily affect me/weren't "for me", (like the AFK room, the Diversity Lounge, and gender neutral bathrooms)

    Russ Pitts and Susan Arendt and whoever else they've got on the Take This team does good work.


    3DS Friend Code: 2165-6448-8348 www.Twitch.TV/cooljammer00
    Battle.Net: JohnDarc#1203 Origin/UPlay: CoolJammer00
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    ShaydeShayde Kitchen Staff Supervisor MargaritavilleRegistered User regular
    Wow, I didn't know THAT was what the room was for.

    I applaud the creation of this safe and helpful space. BRAVO!


    Ex-Agent to the Stars, ex a lot of other things too.
    Pax East 2011, 2012 Veteran. 2014 now loading.
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    TonkafriendTonkafriend Registered User regular
    I wish I had known about this awesome-sounding space. It seems there was a real lack of places to just hang out and people-watch and catch your breath this year. Oh, sure, there was always the floor, but chairs are nice! I hope the AFK space will be there next year, and that it will be more visible.

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    cooljammer00cooljammer00 Hey Small Christmas-Man!Registered User regular
    I thought there was actually plenty of space to rest and people watch, but I spent most of my time on Level 2 where all the theaters were, so maybe it got better the higher you got. It's sorta why I didn't go to the AFK room; didn't want to take up space just to sit and rest when I could do that elsewhere and not hog up valuable resting space for those who needed it.


    3DS Friend Code: 2165-6448-8348 www.Twitch.TV/cooljammer00
    Battle.Net: JohnDarc#1203 Origin/UPlay: CoolJammer00
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    MidnyghtChildeMidnyghtChilde NYRegistered User regular
    I saw the name of this on the map, but didn't realize what it was. This is an awesome idea. Having family members with anxiety I totally see the use of this and hope it's back next year.

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    FartmancerFartmancer Registered User regular
    I'm glad to see that it helped people. As soon as I saw it and then realized what the room was for, I thought it was a great idea!

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    SchmulkiSchmulki Registered User regular
    Slightly off-topic, we saw the screening of, Of Dice and Men. It was really well-done, so thanks for fighting through things and getting it screened!

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    RappakRappak Registered User regular
    I didn't know about this. I wish I did. But napping in the handheld lounge is always fun to. Please make this more visible.

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    mlhawkemlhawke Registered User regular
    I walked past this room several times, but didn't realize that was what the use was. Super awesome idea, and so glad it was utilized. I hope it is back at every cont.

    PAX East Cosplays
    2012: Friday - Bethany Hawke
    2013: No cosplay
    2014: Friday - Carmen Sandiego
    2015: Pending - The Divine Justinia V, Oerba Yun Fang
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    zealezeale Saint LouisRegistered User regular
    You know, I saw all of these places (the gender neutral bathroom, the take this room, and the diversity lounge), but I didn't really know the significance of them. Seeing stories like this about how important they are to people makes me very happy that PAX includes them. I don't have any specific needs for these particular rooms, but I'm grateful that the people that organize PAX want to take care of as many breeds of gamers as possible. There's a lot of unsung heroes that make PAX's "welcome home" slogan ring true!


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    spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    My wife, who has FM, wanted to head into this room to get some genuine quiet and rest from the chaos of the con. She eventually had to leave, and go sit in the hallway, because of the constant chatter and noise from a large group of guys who came in and sat near her.

    So if you saw us sitting by the window at the AFK lounge on Saturday afternoon, me wearing a sport coat, both of us eating salads, it's because the AFK room was too damned noisy for her to relax.

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    HeadhunterHeadhunter Registered User regular
    I glanced in a couple of times, actually thought it was supposed to be a non-gaming/tech relaxation lounge for people who wanted to unplug for a bit before heading back out for the gaming/panels etc. Now that I know what it really is, might check this out at my next PAX!

    "Perception is reality." -unknown
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