Games, Depression, and Me

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A few folks may have noticed a lack of content posted by me in the last few weeks. My Saints Row IV review was the first thing put on the site in just over a month, in what is typically a very busy period for gaming news, even if the flow of new games is somewhat dry. Having spoken to Asim and Suff about what was going on, I’ve decided to write this post and get it all out in the open, and tie it in to what we do best here at NGB, which is talk about games. Warning, this might get a little bit heavy.

It seems to be a trend that during E3, something that affects me personally tends to happen. A few years ago was a holiday, last year I moved house over E3 week, and this year, I had the unenviable position of watching my grandad’s life slowly slip from him. This brought up a lot of painful memories from a time when my dad died a number of years ago as if they were fresh wounds, and I found it really difficult to cope. Added to that was a rather torrid financial situation, resulting in part from a rather stressful departure from a previous job. Things weren’t great, and as a result, I started playing more and more games as a way of escape.

The problem was, aside from the Last of Us, that I didn’t really play games that I wanted to play. I just turned my consoles on and played whatever was there. I didn’t want to be ‘me’ any more, and the best way of doing it was to dive into other worlds where things didn’t matter. I disconnected myself from my friends and family, and instead tried to use games as a way of dealing with situations. It didn’t really work, and I then proceeded to alternate my time between sleeping, gaming and contemplating whether I even wanted to be here any more.

After a number of weeks, I decided (with the help of those closest to me) that I needed to help myself. I was diagnosed with “severe” clinical depression around 2 months ago, and put on a course of treatment to hopefully turn a corner. During the conversation with my GP, I realised that I’ve probably been suffering for much longer than I’d care to admit. This post may seem a little self-indulgent, but I’m really writing it to hopefully reach people who might be feeling the same way I was and potentially get them on the right track as well.

The biggest thing when it comes to issues like this is to understand what depression actually is. It’s not, as most would believe, “feeling sad” about things. It’s so much more than that. It drains any enthusiasm you may have from things that you’d normally be passionate about. It physically saps away your energy to the point where all you want to do is sleep. You can’t focus, you can’t concentrate, you can’t do anything. You don’t want to be around people, but when you’re alone you feel like you can’t cope. Everything that you attempt to do is hopeless, and there’s no chance that anyone will give a damn about anything you want to do. I felt like there was no point in facing my problems, and instead indulged in TV and games constantly. Without meaning to sound like a cliché, the world genuinely seems like a darker place. I didn’t really care about the games industry any more, which is something I didn’t think I’d say. The passion I had for my favourite hobby was destroyed enough to get to a point where I just didn’t have opinions on anything, hence the lack of content.

It’s a difficult subject to read about, and just as difficult to write about. Those who haven’t been through it will find it tough to understand exactly what goes through the mind of someone suffering from any form of mental illness. There is a stigma attached to the last two words in that sentence, and it’s one I feel is unfair. In my opinion, depression is an injury to the mind. In the same way I’ve had an injury to my knee for the past year that’s kept me from some of my hobbies, depression has kept me from enjoying things in my life. A mental injury will take time to heal, just like a physical one. I know the road to recovery will be a long and difficult one, but I know that I’ll get there at some point.

As I said earlier, I’m mainly writing this in the hope that someone reads it and recognises a pattern, then goes and gets help. There are people out there that can, will and are happy to give you as much time and help as you need. I’m lucky enough to have a support network around me that I recently opened up to, and they’ve been fantastic so far. If you don’t have that, that’s fine, just go and see your GP. When it comes down to it, I wouldn’t want anyone to experience the kind of things that were going through my head and the kinds of thoughts and feelings I was having.

I’m lucky enough to be in a position to put this post up, and have had opportunities left right and centre that I would never have had thanks to NGB. The faith shown in me by the guys that run the site has been incredible and I’ve been able to write pretty much whatever I want in my regular pieces, as well as the fantastic opportunities I’ve had to review a number of games. I’ll hopefully be getting back to the swing of things shortly, and hopefully get to writing regular pieces again soon enough in the run up to the launch of the next generation of consoles.

Editor-In-Chief - NGB. Started writing for NGB in 2013, 3 years later I was running the show. I love what we do here, if you want to get involved, get in touch! PSN/Xbox LIVE/Steam - Winstano

@winstano

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