I’ve always been a bit of a loner and when I was younger this use to really really bother me; not feeling enough. Being that friend that just wasn’t enough: Not popular enough, not pretty enough, not interesting enough, not socialable enough… and often times my long time friends would ditch me and completely cold shoulder me once they jumped into a new group of better and cooler friends.
There are literally a handful of people who have stuck by me my whole life and who are still some of my most dearest friends today.
As I got older, I started to care less about fitting in and cared more about writing. About making time to play video games (I was really into the DDR scene in high school). About working to fund these DDR events. I cared more about being different, about standing out and I cared way less about what anyone thought about me.
I’ve always dealt with depression, at least since I was 13 and I had really bad anger issues at 16. The two mixed together always turned into an epic disaster.
When I had my first real break up at 16 and I was depressed out of my mind I gave DDR a shot; at the time I had only watched my ex and our friends play but never had the courage to get up on a pad myself. So one day I did and that changed my entire life. I have been gaming my whole life but I had never had a game that just completely swept me away. Helped me take a break from reality and the only thing I could focus on was what was in front of me.
It helped healed me in ways I never knew a game could and it became my life line.
In 2004 I was introduced to various online games such as StarCraft, World of Warcraft, Asada Story, Maple Story, Gunbound, Runes of Magic, and Final Fantasy XI.
FFXI introduced me to a whole world beyond where I was stuck. I made friends from around the country (some of which I still talk to today) and I created a life for Ihiiphop and for Cheshiire on the server Odin. It’s where I fell in love with the healing job class of White Mage and the melee dps job of Monk. And to be honest, at the time I was pretty damn good at both. On days I was sad and lonely I would scout out different scenic areas, sit down and just listen to the music playing. Or I would fish to try and relax. When my FFXI adventures came to stop in 2012 I didn’t really know what to do next.
Though I did play Final Fantasy XIV in 2010 when it first launched, it was a fuck mess that I barely remember besides getting so annoyed that I didn’t want to play (we got a year’s worth of free subscription by the way) then I played the beta for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (I sure hope this shit was reborn) in 2013, it wasn’t long enough (or developed enough) to figure the game out. When it was released the game gave no indication of what needed to be done and I found it a bit confusing. I didn’t touch FFXIV again until 2015.
But I craved a different world to be a different person and to see different things like I did in FFXI ALL the time and without it, I felt so lost. There were times when I would feel so hopeless and so annoyed because I just wanted to get away from reality but I had nowhere to go.
Beyond console and MMO’s, I played DS a lot at night. It helped me to wind down and to relax enough to fall asleep most of the time.
Some games I really enjoyed that helped me relax were:
➳ Animal Crossing
➳ Brain Age
I freakin loved Zenses! The music and the visuals were so relaxing and it was a puzzle game without being too hard to figure out but not too easy either.
I honestly barely remember how to play Sudoku but I wish I could remember! I’m sure there’s an app for it now a days for my phone.
Animal Crossing I enjoyed doing the same things I did on FFXI — fishing, gathering, gardening and finding ways to pay my debt back to Tom Nook lol! I still have my old file around somewhere… oh gosh I don’t think I want to see how many weeds have taken over my town! I also really enjoyed checking off the museum list of things you’ve fished and gathered! It was always so interesting to find ones you were missing!
In June of 2016 the guy I was dating at the time forced me to get an abortion. For 2 weeks I was bed ridden from how sick the pregnancy made me. I was throwing up 3-5 times a day. Nothing I ate gave me ANY relief. The nausea never stopped and it got so bad that I couldn’t even play FFXIV because I would get serious motion sickness if anything on the screen moved. So I took a 2 week break away from FFXIV and I was miserable. I couldn’t even scroll through my food instagram cause even just looking at coffee or chocolate made me want to throw up.
The night of the abortion when all was said and done and I felt broken beyond all kind of belief I jumped on my previous server to meet up with a friend who had been checking up on me every hour of that day and from that day on I was on FFXIV nonstop. I jumped back into leveling, grinding for 3 days to get to Foundation and Heavensward at the end of 100+ Main Story Quests and I blocked out the guy I was dating at the time and anything that related to reality and real life.
Primal fights became my favs. Especially Mog King and Garuda (they still are, 2 years later).
I was gone. I was hurt. I was pissed. I was sad. I was so sad. I was in so much pain. And the only thing that helped me keep my sanity was focusing on getting these 100+ quests done and just getting to Foundation. I don’t even remember much beyond that as everything was such a blur.
I remember the guy I was dating at the time (with his abusive ass) kept telling me I needed to “stop being childish”. I needed “to grow up”. I needed to “stop being lazy” and to “clean the apartment” even though I did every single day up until I got pregnant and now I just didn’t give a fuck. He didn’t do shit while I was pregnant but talk shit about me and watch Pokemon while playing FFXIV. I’d have to beg him to get me food cause I was so damn hungry. I’d have to force myself to do the laundry and clean the cat liter and every smell made me throw up and he wouldn’t care. Never checked on me. Just told me to stop acting sick.
I remember definitely putting on the headset, blasting music and running Mog King over and over and over to keep my anger and my depression away.
In the midst of my anxiety and my paranoia and depression, video games has always helped me find grounding.
In a place where your mind makes things up, plants lies in your head that turn into full blown fears and fills you with doubt sometimes it’s hard to look forward. Sometimes it’s hard to see brighter days and it’s definitely hard to think that if you told anyone they would understand.
To battle that I played video games. I took on different lives and paved different paths as them. I found places in a virtual world where I could watch a waterfall or fish in the ocean, things that would bring me clarity and calm since I couldn’t find it in the real world.
That’s not to say I replaced my reality with a virtual world but there are blimps of time when I do, as a way to “reset”.
Do you struggle with mental illness? Are there any games that have helped you find clarity?