Whiterun. Alduin. Dragonborn. Skeever. At the start of 2018, those words meant nothing to me. I couldn’t have told you who the Black-Briars were or why taking an arrow in the knee was supposed to be funny. Belethor? Never heard of him.
Instead, I spent most of 2018 and the two years prior in therapy, where I was diagnosed with PTSD after living with the symptoms for over a decade. I underwent EMDR, an intensive form of psychotherapy that helps process traumatic memories. I learned what my triggers were and how to respond to them, talked about my inner child, sat in a small room and recalled some of my most painful memories.
I was enormously privileged to have the resources and time to spend on my therapy, but after focusing on it for so long I began to doubt how I could move forward. Stirring up the old waters of my memory left me hyper-vigilant and scared of what would come next. And all my old ways of coping? Well, most of them weren’t so good for me after all. I’d need to learn better ways to take care of myself moving forward. It felt like my old save file had been lost or corrupted and I was being forced to start over as a level-one character with nothing but the tunic on my back and a dragon bearing down overhead.
I needed a Hadvar to lead me through the caves. I needed to escape.