How things can get away from you…
When I first started this blog over a year ago, I didn’t think that there would be nine months between new posts. Instead of apologizing and trying to make excuses for why I’ve neglected the blog, and have been silent except for some erratic social media content, I wanted to explain why there hasn’t been any content and what I’ve been doing.
You see, I’ve been living with mental health issues my entire life. I have more than a few diagnoses, that I do my best to manage. While I’m used to having to try to juggle everything the best I can, it can become nearly impossible at times. There are days, weeks, and even months where things feel so out of control, that surviving the day is my only goal.
The past few years have been especially trying because I’ve been trying to keep my health, my relationship, and my living situation from completely falling apart. I reached my breaking point around March of this year. As of today, I haven’t been able to make it outside of my apartment since some time in January, due to my agoraphobia and paranoia. That may sound ridiculous and silly to some people, and it may sound like some stupid excuse. I can tell you that such things can sometimes happen to people who deal with severe mental illness.
Recently, I’ve been able to begin to pull myself out of my depression a bit and I’m trying to be a little more productive each day. Each step forward for me is a huge gain, no matter how small the victory. I’m seeing a hint of light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m using that as more motivation to keep plowing ahead. Opening up like this, and letting people close to me know that I’m not OK, is also helping me find my strength and confidence. For those reasons, I was finally able to finish writing this piece and get it published on the blog! (I had been working on this one article for nearly two months prior to today.)
The stigma attached to mental illness and how it’s (slowly) being removed.
The stigma attached to Mental Illness is something that we will never get rid of unless more people start to talk about the issues they deal with. I have begun to see more high-profile celebrities and athletes talking openly about their own mental health issues. We’re starting to see more and more people who are no longer embarrassed or ashamed to admit that they deal with mental health-related issues and instead, are proud to share their very private and personal stories. More individuals in the spotlight are opening up and talking about their mental illnesses and sharing their personal experiences with seeking help and finding treatment. Thankfully, that is making it possible for all of us to start having much more open and honest conversations about the reality of mental illness.
In a landmark issue for Mental Health Awareness Month, celebrated annually in May, The Players’ Tribune, created by former Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter, collected 26 gripping personal essays by male and female pro athletes who’ve been afflicted by PTSD, depression, anxiety, addiction, and suicidality. The stories are detailed and wrenching: former NBA guard Keyon Dooling goes deep into a childhood sexual assault and a flashback that lands him in a psych ward; WNBA center Jane Appel chronicles living with a schizophrenic family member; NFL offensive tackle Joe Barksdale recounts a heart-stopping childhood trauma, lifelong depression, and a failed suicide attempt.
It’s incredible to read such private and honest details from members of such an elite segment of our society. People who have always been seen as untouchable heroes, whose incomes are commonly in the tens (or hundreds) of millions of dollars, and for whom the pressure to be mentally tough, laser-focused, and uber-marketable has kept the private, messy side of personal life, and its darknesses, out of the public eye. Thankfully, now, more than ever, we are seeing society’s attitude towards Mental Illness changing. All of this makes me hopeful that the trend will continue, and we will finally come to a place where those who suffer from mental illness will be treated with the same empathy and compassion as people with any other illness or disease.
Why I decided to write and share this story
Some people may find this article, and wonder why something so serious and heavy as mental illness is being discussed on a videogame blog. The main reason is that I wanted to begin sharing my own personal story and explain my recent absence.
Talking openly about my own mental illness, I hope to inspire others to do the same. I know that there are countless other gamers like myself who suffer every day in silence. I know that our favorite hobby of videogames is an escape for us and can be a very healthy way for us to cope with, and manage, our symptoms. I’m hoping, that by posting this article, it may spark a conversation about mental health-related issues between more gamers.
If you take nothing else from this piece, please remember, It is ok to ask for help. We’re only human, and everyone needs help once in a while. It doesn’t make you weak or less of a person to admit you’re dealing with something and need some help. Reaching out for help is actually a sign of great strength!
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read this. This subject is something I am extremely passionate about and I plan on writing more features that will focus on the mental health aspect of videogames. I’m an open book so feel free to leave any comments or questions you have at the end of the article. I am genuinely interested in hearing from everyone who takes the time to read this.