Magical Melancholy Condition in TeamSpell | World Anvil
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Magical Melancholy

Magical Melancholy is a disease that affects people when they are unable to cope with a deep sadness. When speaking about it, people often refer to it simple as Melancholy. It is rarely contracted when an individual is beset by an event which evokes a deep sadness in them which they feel unable to communicate. The condition does not develop every time a person becomes deeply saddened. In fact, many people who have gone through such events have never developed Melancholy. Medical professionals are not sure exactly what differentiates people who contract Melancholy from people who experience similar events in similar circumstances but never develop any symptoms.   The symptoms of Melancholy are a rebellion of the victim's magic, a slow loss of passions and joy, and in extreme cases, a warping of the body which concludes with the victim perishing and their body and magic transforming into a Heart Wrencher Wraith, an aggressive spirit creature that often haunts the location where the person experienced their emotional breakdown. These wraiths are highly territorial, and exhibit powerful emotional manipulation on those who attempt to banish them. Because the individuals who confront the wraiths are sometimes those who were close with the victim, the attempts to contain or address the wraith's presence can sometimes cause new cases of Melancholy.   The progression of the disease can only be overcome through an emotional breakthrough. Individuals whose magic is focused around emotional manipulation often make for particularly bad cases of Melancholy, as their magic lashes out at them and at others who try to help them, slowly driving a rift between them and their support network. On the other hand, these individuals are also excellent for treating the condition, as they can help to guide a victim through their experience while preventing the condition from magically worsening the emotional toll.

Transmission & Vectors

Melancholy is not transmitted, but can by its nature cause more cases to occur. The loss of a friend to this disease, or the conflict with a resultant wraith can sometimes cause more cases, but the initial case is often enough of a warning that the individuals who contract it after the fact are well watched and supported. In very rare, tragic cases, Melancholy can chain through families or covens which fail to sufficiently communicate about their feelings or which create environments where reaching out about these problems is difficult or frowned upon. Because one of the primary symptoms is a feeling of despair, a mindset along the lines of "It claimed them, it only makes sense that I wouldn't be strong enough to resist" can sometimes drag people into a collateral case.


Melancholy takes hold in a person when they face a great sadness and find themselves unable to escape from it. Most often, the disease takes hold when a person is unable to seek any support in the face of the instigating tragedy. As such, it is more likely than not that someone who loses a primary member of their support network is at high risk for developing a case of Melancholy.


Because an individual's Magic is an expression of their personality and passion, when Melancholy takes hold in their magic, they begin to struggle to accomplish the same effects that they were previously able to perform. In some cases, their power may not manifest at all, whereas in other cases, it may cause the effects of their magic to behave unpredictably. There are also mental symptoms. It should be noted that Melancholy carries with it all of the regular signs of intense grief, but that these are not necessarily indicative of the condition.    A secondary symptom of Melancholy is a psychic inception in the victim's mind that no one understands what they are going through and that their friends view them as a burden. In other words, a powerful and pervasive case of Impostor Syndrome.   If the disease does not fade over weeks or months, a user will slowly begin to develop more and more of these psychic stress-points, causing them to lose trust in their friends and loved ones and retreat into themselves. This can trigger a variety of other emotional issues and conditions as the rampaging Magic ravages the mind of the victim, twisting things that they previously enjoyed into guilt-ridden painful experiences. As the mental effects progress, the effects on the victim's Magic also worsen. Their ability to cast normally degrades continuously, making even the simplest magic fizzle uselessly or create wild unintended effects. These effects are often at the expense of the caster or those around them. Doctors who have studied this phase have theorized that the reason for this is a warped sort of self defense mechanism caused by the growing delusion that others are somehow threats.   People who progress past this point become harder and harder to treat. They often retreat into less populated areas so that they do not have to face others. At this point, they are not beyond saving, but the transformation into a Heart Wrenching Wraith is beginning. The victim's skin begins to turn a pale white color, with their veins becoming uncomfortably visible through their skin. They start being unable to sleep, and their mental delusions grow more and more severe. Individuals who reach this stage are often violent. At this point, their Magic begins to work again, but they are often so far gone that their personal style has warped into a dark, twisted form of itself. They actively try to drag others down into the same state of Melancholy between their extended fits of solitude. At this point a victim will likely resist any attempt to be brought into a professional for help. They will lash out physically and with Magic, fleeing interventions and attempting to go off the grid.   The final stage of the condition is death by exhaustion, and posthumous transformation into a Wraith.


Melancholy is treated by traditional psychological means. Being sure to maintain a support network is an important step. Professionals are often experts at using their Magic to manipulate emotions, and can carefully dampen the severe psychological effects of the disease so that the victim can process what they have gone through without being overwhelmed.


After having Melancholy once, most people never contract it again. Even when facing more severe tragedy, it seems their Magic is inoculated against whatever causes it to turn inward and lash out at itself.   The effects of Melancholy that progresses to causing physical changes cannot often be reversed, although they fade in severity. Very often, the changes can be hidden through basic glamour Magic, or even mundane makeup.


Melancholy cannot truly be prevented, but it can be treated so quickly that its more advanced symptoms do not develop. The best way to protect oneself as someone who may develop it is to reach out to members of your coven or family and be sure to ask for help when you need it. Even better, seek a professional counselor. They may be able to assist with the emotional toll, but they are also trained in lessening the magical feedback that can be so disruptive.
Chronic, Acquired


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