Retired professional gamer Marajade Sith discusses life with chronic illness
Nearly 4 percent of the world’s population is affected by autoimmune diseases. According to the National Stem Cell Foundation autoimmune diseases represent the third leading cause of chronic illness in the United States. While many autoimmune diseases are rare, the National Institutes for Health (NIH) estimate up to 8 percent of the U.S. population are affected and the prevalence of autoimmune diseases are increasing.
Retired professional gamer and popular cosplayer, Marajade Sith, knows first hand what life with autoimmune disease is like. She says: “I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, Hashimoto’s Disease, Small Fiber Neuropathy, Vitiligo, Fibromyalgia and heart issues. This is why I am an advocate for disability rights and speaking loudly about chronic illness.”
Endings and new beginnings
Born in the U.S., Marajade Sith spent her childhood creating art. By the time she was 17, Marajade was involved in professional gaming. Playing pro on a team for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Battlefield 2, her stint as a professional gamer came to an end due to constant pain and deteriorating hand-eye coordination. “I just couldn’t keep up anymore,” Marajade stated as she detailed the events around her retirement from professional gaming. “In 2007 I got very sick and had to be hospitalized. The doctors had no idea what was wrong. My life changed drastically at this point. I couldn’t teach, I couldn’t play and travel for gaming. I couldn’t do much of anything. I was too ill. This went on for nearly 15 years.”
The constant hospital visits and tests did not deter Marajade from wanting to create a community of like-minded people. The rising popularity of streaming services would provide the platform, and in 2016 Marajade started streaming on Twitch. Known to the broader online community as a “Sith Lord”, Marajade explains. “One day while streaming someone asked how old I was and I just said: ‘742, because I’m a sith lord and they transfer their essences from body to body every few hundred years.’ And that just stuck.”
Art and cosplay
Marajade have had a keen interest in art since childhood. She said: “I’ve been an artist since I was a child. I’ve always created art around my imagination or pop culture.” Describing her art style as “half/half”, Marajade explains that her unique art style keeps her motivated. “…doing the half/half pieces, it’s like a new drawing on each side and keeps me motivated to finish! Plus I get to mix and match characters together that you typically wouldn’t see.”
Identifying herself as an introvert, Marajade found in cosplay an opportunity to meet new people, as well as expressing herself artistically. She says: “Doing cosplay allowed me to be someone else for the day. Being in costume helped me come out of my shell, I wasn’t as shy talking to or meeting new people.” She continues that cosplay helped with her social anxiety. “On top of that, I love creating and being characters. There’s something about bringing your favorite characters to life and putting smiles on others’ faces when they see you at cons.”
From Cosplays to dog trainer
Marajade is currently pursuing her dog training certification in order to help shelter animals and rescues find their forever homes. As an avid animal lover, the cosplayer stated she have worked with dogs for a while and have noticed that problems can arise when owners do not know how to handle some of their dog’s behaviors. “Having a good relationship with your dog is important and I want to help others achieve that. Most of my dogs have been bully breeds which are typically discriminated against simply for a bad rap.” She continues, “Having a well-trained and well-behaved bully or dog in general can also help end some stigmas against breeds.”
She is of the firm belief that there are no “bad” dogs and proudly states that all her dogs are rescues. “Adopt, don’t shop,” being the implicit message she would love for current and future pet owners to adhere to.
A decidedly positive individual, Marajade notes the power that lies on words: “You never know what someone is going through. A simple, kind or positive remark could really change someone’s day and make them feel better.”
Story by John Glover