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TEDx and my trouble with adrenalin

Just over a week ago I gave a TEDx talk:

Why did TEDx choose this still for the video?  Why?  WHY?

It was quite something to be asked in the first place – frankly it was a privilege.  And I grabbed the opportunity.  I grabbed it, even though I was a little concerned about the whole speaking-in-front-of-a-large-crowd thing.  It’s not every day you get invited to do something like this, and it meant that I would be able to talk about something I love.  Games.  Games and how understanding them can improve how we educate.

So I said yes.  Despite the imposter syndrome I continually feel.  Despite my concern about addressing a large crowd – I said yes.

A bit on my issue with the big crowd thing

Speaking in front of what would be, for me, a large audience would always produce nerves.  It would for most people.  But, here’s the thing, I like public speaking.  Always have.  I loved Theatre Studies at school – enjoyed being in plays.  I would usually ride that adrenalin rush.

But on this occasion, it was the adrenalin that I was most worried about.

Something had happened to me 6-months prior to TEDx – and if you’d rather skip to the video below, then please do.  What follows might be difficult to read, particularly if it makes you think of any unsettling things that you have had to cope with.

Still with me?  Here we go.

6-months before TEDx, I was walking my dog when I came across a man who had hung himself.

I was in the middle of a large park and, but for my dog, alone.  The air had that early morning chill.  I fell to my knees and stared at the man’s hands and then the earth.  Then I pulled my phone from the left trouser pocket and dialled 999.

While I was waiting for a paramedic, the person on the other end of the phone urged me to go through a series of steps.  I was functioning on auto-pilot so I did what they said.  I got him down from the tree.  I felt for a pulse.  When they asked if I had a defibrillator I finally understood what was happening.  The man was cold.  He was blue.  He had been dead for a long time.  I said that I did not want to attempt to resuscitate him.

When the paramedic arrived, he took one look at the man and said, “Oh.”  The paramedic put his bag down, asked if I was ok, and waited for the police.

This event was, for me, traumatic.  I am still ‘getting over it’.  And a side effect has been what happens – or what happened – when adrenalin floods me.

I teach at university.  And there is always a bit of an adrenaline rush when you’re teaching.  In September the first two weeks of teaching were some of my lowest.  The adrenaline would send my body back to that morning in the park.

I would feel sick.  I got dizzy.  My mind felt disjointed.

I could hold it together.  I could complete the class.  And then, when I found a quiet corner, my shoulders would shake and I would weep.  Every day for two weeks.  In week three the crying stopped and I just felt sick all the time.  And then that eased away too.

By the time the TEDx talk rolled up I was, pretty much, fine.  But seeing the audience and knowing that I was about to be called onto the stage escalated that adrenalin and, for a moment, my body took me to the park.

I stood in the wings, stage left, waiting to go on.  And I breathed.  I concentrated on breathing.  And then my name was called and on I went and, well, acted.  And it was fine.  Really it was.

I’m still coming down from it somewhat.  That buzzing, nipping mind is back, tugging me from sleep.  But I know that it will fade away and I will be, once again, fine.

Things can happen.  Things that take time to heal from.  Realizing that I could be, so brutally, at the mercy of my emotions and my body’s reaction to these has had a lasting impact.  Some things do not vanish with the arrival of logic and reason.  And that is ok.  Some things take time and that is ok.

I am ok.

 

Thank you for the chance to share my thoughts about games and learning TEDx!

Author:

I lecture in creative writing, games and education. I write. I make the odd game. I work with the odd school to make learning more like playing a game...

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