How Critical Role Saved My Life


Hey all, brand new contributor Bad Chilii here. Below is something I wrote the other day as a sort of “thank you” letter to the cast of Critical Role as well as the Critter community in general. I hope you all like it:

So, there are many people who talk about the different things that changed their lives and how certain people or actions changed the path they were going down for the better. This is very much like that, this is going to talk mostly about how one group of people, and one community of people on the internet, not only changed my life for the better but also saved it when I was at my lowest point.

I know there are many of you that are part of the Critter community who I may have had the pleasure of interacting with, and you may be asking, “But, Chilii, you always seem so happy-go-lucky and upbeat.” Honestly, you’re correct, but I’ll save that for later.

My journey into the role playing community started years ago when I was a child when I would write stories, illustrate my own comics (badly I might add), and dream up fantastical characters who were trying to fight off hoards or enemies, save the kingdom, and become heroes. The reason it was so easy to fall into these kinds of behaviors is because RPing offered me something I couldn’t get anywhere else, I got to pretend, at least for a little bit, that I wasn’t me. Writing, making comics, & playing RPGs gave me the chance to forget about who I was and focus on a different character who could do whatever they wanted and be noble and heroic.

I wouldn’t find out until many years later that I had been silently dealing with massive anxiety and bouts of depression. I’d always preferred staying on my own and not interacting with people. My parents found it easier to leave me at home than take me out and deal with me being miserable. As a result, my social skills never developed much more than what you could gain from playing RPGs or video games. When I finally hit college, I got my first taste of being on my own and trying to open up to people. In the interest of time, let’s just say it did not go well. I turned into someone I hated and fell back into my undiagnosed anxiety and depression. For 2 years after I graduated college I went back and forth with mood swings until things took a turn for the worse. Without getting too much into details, I had begun to hurt myself as a result of the depression. Thankfully, my family saw what was happening and made me an appointment to see a doctor.

After some initial stubbornness on my end (I was fresh out of college so clearly I knew what was best /sarcasm), I finally went to a doctor to get myself checked out. It was then I was finally diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I was given medicine and, for a while, things seemed fine. I had my breakdowns, but overall things seemed to be improving. At least that’s what I told myself.

For the next year or so I took my medicine and I kept trying to pretend everything was ok. Then something amazing happened.

It was June of 2015, Wil Wheaton had just debuted his new show Titansgrave, and I immediately fell in love with Laura Bailey and her character Lemly. For years I had wanted to be a part of a live pencil and paper RPG, and this was my fix. I scanned through YouTube until finally her name popped up one more time. It was then I discovered Critical Role. I saw Travis, a guy who looked like a jock like I did but still loved “nerdy” things, I saw Sam, a guy who had never played any RPG but just jumped in and went with it. I saw Marisha and Orion, comfortable enough in their own skin to role play every aspect of their characters. I saw Liam and Ashley, two actors who made me forget about what was going on with me and drew me into their adventures. Finally, I saw Taliesin, a man so badass it literally spilled over into his character.

For the next month, I devoted most of my free time to trying to catch up on old episodes. I couldn’t get enough, I was hooked bad. As a joke, I decided to dust off my old unused Twitter account (at the time I had 3 followers and about 27 tweets) and do my own “live-tweet” as I caught up on the old episodes. What happened next was something I would have never thought would happen. People starting getting involved with my tweets—I started communicating more and more with people.

I can’t really explain it, but the more I was around Critical Role, the more I felt myself opening up. I could feel myself pushing away any dark thoughts or feelings I had, and I started feeling like I was a part of something. I slowly found myself being pulled into the community and being able to connect to more and more people. I started telling anyone I knew about it, I wanted everyone to see it and feel the same way I did. I couldn’t get enough.

Critical Role even led to me playing my first few games of D&D and really join in after so many years of being on the sidelines, debating whether or not to get involved. I’ve created many new characters, I’ve begun creating my own campaign, and even agreed to DM for an Extra Life stream (wish me luck!). Since those first few days when I was watching Critical Role for the first time, I feel like I’m a completely different person. So while there are plenty of thank yous to give to the cast of Critical Role, I would never be where I am now without the support and love from the rest of the Critter family.

While I know I could go on and on forever thanking the various members of the Critter community, I’m hoping to at least thank a few of the big contributors. From Trainer Jodie, the man who gave me the courage to try DMing, to Matt Abernathy, a Critter who made me feel incredibly welcome when I first joined the community, to Tuk, my Australian role model, to the entire crew of the Impact D&D sessions for taking in a fresh D&D newbie and giving him his new green sword to fight the influence of Nightbot and his tyrannical regime, and finally… to Kimmy, my inspiration, my Critter BFF, and person who helped keep me in this crazy world of Critters and feel comfortable in my own skin.

I love you all.
Less than three.

-Mike (aka Bad Chilii)

PS: #KimChi4Life


How Critical Role Saved My Life — 6 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your story with everyone. Very few people in this world are able to accept their shortcomings and move beyond them. I wish you the very best, and all the nat 20s!

  2. Bravo, Mike… Your story is familiar to me on levels I’ve no need to go into now. Like you, this community came around at exactly the right time, and has helped me to find a path through those dark times to something that looks a whole lot better. This is a story that all #Critters should read, and better yet, emulate.

  3. So glad you found the right people to help you find your inner strength and happiness.
    I have also suffered the highs and low of depression and anxiety since a young age (long story tl;dr).
    My personal insight, if it helps, is that I stopped looking to get ‘better’ all at once and started learning how to manage my bad days and persuade myself that a good day was always comming soon.
    It’s a long process which never truly ends but every time I look back on where I have been the present is always just a little better <3

    I wish I had though to live tweet my catch-up binge on Critical Role (I am also a latecomer) or been in time to catch yours.

  4. Yikes man, I know how you feel. I was blessed to get diagnosed early but it’s always a struggle to stay ahead of mental illness. I have also been caught up in the whirlwind that is Critical Role. Everyone involved is doing a great job and I hope they realize how much they are actually helping.

  5. Mike:
    Dude I am very glad to hear you having positive vibes. It’s hard to deal with those kind of feelings. Battling depression sucks balls. I too suffer from it and it took my wife to recognize my syptoms and urged me to seek advice and get it under control. All I have to say about your struggles is keep fighting. I think I speak for the Critters when I say you have our support and we’ve got your back.
    I too came accross Critical Role through You Tube and Geek and Sundry. They reignited a fire that had gone out several years ago. I thank them all the time for bringing me back into the fold. And everyone here is the best. So I say unto you Mike, keep gaming and keep living.

    All the Best:

  6. Wow I am glad you managed to open up like this and see the issues and manage to see the solution to it.
    I am so happy to be a part of the Critter community and see eveyone being happy and having a blast and sometimes see the downsides of their life.

    There was a time in my life too where I was down feeling like I was alone against the world.
    But for me embracing music and my geekyness it helped me get to the point where I felt alive again and then I stumbeled on to Critical Role and I felt I was ok.
    I was worth something despite my short comings I..I had friends.
    Now I havent gotten to talk much with my “Friends” But theres still a connection there trough geekyness and trough shared interests.

    Thank you for sharing and sorry for rambling.

    Best Regards

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