I know that’s a pretty heavy title for a written piece on a website of gaming and entertainment news and reviews. However I think it’s important to talk about depression, luckily it’s something that’s becoming easier to talk about and not something people have to keep to themselves.
Despite this, I still think it’s important to empathise how saying ‘I’m not ok’ is not a bad phrase and not something to be embarrassed about. And given my privileged position of having the platform to put this message out there, I have seized the chance.
So, like all good ‘stories’ I suppose the best place to start would be the beginning. I’ve not always suffered from depression, in fact, up until recently, I didn’t even know I was suffering from it all. It was only after speaking to my partner and a close friend that have experiences with depression that they were able to identify the signs.
NHS Mental Health Services – https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/mental-health-services/
This is all began when the world basically got turned upside down, when the pandemic hit. Something I know hit people hard, all over the world. And when we in the UK went into lockdown, which, at first, I looked at as extended leave from work. It’s only as the time went on I began to spiral. The lack of human contact and the inability to see friends and family and just people in general, had a big impact on me. But the strange thing is, I didn’t even realise. I just lost motivation to do anything, just simple things like getting out of bed or having a shower became like a chore. My only ray of sunshine through this time was gaming. Being able to game regularly with friends online was my metaphorical walk outside. Again, I’d like to reiterate, I know others had it hard and in some unfortunate cases lost loved ones and friends at this time, I can’t imagine how terrible that must have been.
Thankfully the lockdown was lifted but unfortunately didn’t last, back in we went and so began the spiral again. Only this time it was worse for me as I lost my employment too. So this time around, there were money worries involved too. Needless to say this added additional pressure to both myself and my relationship with my partner. However, one again, the lockdown was lifted and the world began to try and return to ‘normal’.
Fast forward a year to 2022 and I suffer an injury at work. An injury that leaves me unable to move. I’m left confined to a sofa, the only place I can find any form of mild relief from the pain. It also left me cut off from EVERYTHING. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t stand and this is where deja vu began to creep in. Not the nice kind of deja vu, the horrible, black cat they’ve changed something in the code for the worst, Matrix, kind of deja vu.
Young Minds Org help for young people – https://www.youngminds.org.uk/
Only this time, my friends weren’t also confined to their house. They were out, going to work and just living there lives. I was confined to a single room, solely reliant on my partner for the basics. This meant gaming was a solo affair, until friends had finished work and were free. But even then, their schedules didn’t always make this possible.
It’s a horrible feeling. Being left in a room, with no one to talk too. Only a TV and PC for company. Feeling helpless and even when you think “the remote control is only over there, that’s not a problem” you find yourself in pain for roughly an hour after fetching it. I genuinely couldn’t be bothered to do anything. Gaming lost it’s shine. It didn’t appeal to me at all.
Playing a game solo was something I had previously relished in. I loved working my way through a single player with good a story or grinding looters for items. But they didn’t appeal to me anymore. I was already alone, these solo games didn’t make me feel any better, in fact, I found they worsened how I felt. They almost felt as if they highlighted my feelings of loneliness and isolation. ‘The lone hero must fight his way through evil and free the land’. Yea, I get it, I’m alone. You really don’t think about these kind of things in everyday life. It’s not something I would have ever considered before now. Gaming was my escape, my way to relax and forget about my worries, only there wasn’t any escaping and now I found it unfulfilling, empty. My usual rose coloured spectacles slipped and I began finding faults in some of my favourite games, faults I’d not even noticed until now.
Samaritans – https://www.samaritans.org/
Time marched on, I was gaming less and less. New games came out that I had been looking forward too previously, I now had little to no interest in. My motivation to do anything was practically non existent. I was spiralling big time and I didn’t even realise. I wasn’t communicating with anyone about how helpless and isolated I felt. I knew my partner was struggling too, trying to keep us afloat and things ticking along, so to try and tell them that I wasn’t ok was just something I couldn’t put on them. My friends and family were busy doing there own things, going through their own things, so telling them wasn’t something I could even consider either.
All this time, I didn’t even realise I was suffering from depression. I’d always considered myself strong enough to cope with most things, so I couldn’t be suffering from depression, not me, surely?
And then came what I refer to as the ‘breakdown’. My recovery was in full swing but I still wasn’t able to return to work. My Christmas had been ruined in my eyes, I couldn’t sit up at a table, my Christmas dinner was served to me on the sofa, I wasn’t able to visit family and despite the amazing support from my partner, I still felt I’d let them down as well. My recovery had taken over six months at this point. A close friend who was also going through stuff invited me out for a coffee so they could basically get out of the house and have someone to talk too about their problems. I jumped at the chance (not literally, if I had I’d probably be back on the sofa).
It was during this conversation in a coffee shop I began opening up. Explaining how I’d felt for so long. How I definitely wasn’t ok. I didn’t want to do anything. This ability to talk openly was a revelation. As a side note I’d like to take this moment to thank them for helping me, they probably have no idea, until now, how there innocent invitation allowed me to begin my road to mental recovery. Once they’d sat listened to how I was feeling, they explained these are all symptoms of depression and that I may need help. Following this break through, I then had a conversation with my partner, explaining everything I’d been going through in my head. This felt like sun shining through a cloud. I was able to be honest, it was hard, it really was. Being that honest was tough. Admitting that I wasn’t as tough as I thought I was.
Mental Health Matters – https://www.mhm.org.uk
And so brings me to today, as I type this piece. I will admit, I’m still not 100%, I’m getting there though, I have down days, but the difference is, that’s ok. I realise now everyone has down days but talking about it is normal. Even more ok, is being honest with friends and family by saying ‘No, today I’ve not been ok’. The more you talk about it, the easier it is to understand and try to deal with, with help from those around you. More than that, you can begin to support each other, it’s only through these chats you discover others might not be ok and it allows them to open up too.
There is more silver lining too. I’m slowly falling in love with gaming again. It’s beginning to regain it’s shine and appeal and I couldn’t be happier about that. Gaming has and will always be my favourite past time above all. And I’m glad it’s something I can once again enjoy.
Don’t be afraid to talk. If you don’t have anyone to talk to there are a ton of amazing charities and schemes setup for people just like you and me. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness, it takes a lot of strength to do.
Check out the links throughout for more advice and charities that can help, or if you know someone that might be struggling, don’t be afraid to ask if they want to talk, it make all the difference.
You got this champions and remember you’re never alone.
Written by Lance.