Not all Gamers are Happy People All the Time.
Looking at my other blogs, I have tried to add a sense of humour to proceedings. Well I thought I would write something that I have had to try and live with for the last twenty years. I’m a 41-year-old male that suffers with bouts of depression and low mood. The question that I want to answer in this blog is, does the gaming hobby help with mental illness or hinder mental illness? Those of you reading this will have their own opinions on this subject and if it’s how you feel then you can’t be wrong.
Looking at my friends across the hobby, some of them have suffered with anxiety, depression, stress or a mixture of any of the three. I tend to have a mixed bag which ultimately leads to low mood. So I asked some of these people if the gaming hobby helped them with their issues and pretty much, all round the answer is yes.
I asked a lady friend who is a mainly into board and card games. She told me that her anxiety and depression makes her feel like she doesn’t want to do anything, but she does push herself to try and play a game. She told me that if her anxiety and depression is quite bad, she can’t play a game with lots of concentration, so she tends to head towards easy dice rolling games or card games. When she’s not that low, she tries to throw herself into quite complicated board games. Looking at this its depression in a nutshell. When I’m really low, I don’t want to do hardly any activity, where I can pretty much throw myself into something when I’m feeling a bit better.
A male friend of mine went through a messy breakup. Low mood, paranoia, frustration and feeling quite angry were all in the mix. He explained to me that going to his local gaming club helped him as he could have a talk with friends to get things off his chest. Then he’d get stuck into a RPG to escape reality for a few hours. Escapism is a good way of forgetting whatever problems you have for a period of time, and we all know that roleplaying is one of the best forms of escapism out there.
My last little story is about a buddy of mine that I used to RPG with some fifteen years ago. To me he always seemed a strong minded, jovial confident person. I hadn’t seen him in a while then we got in contact around two years ago, he told me that when his depression hit, it hit hard. It was as though he wasn’t the person I knew he was. I asked him recently if gaming helped him? Myself and my buddy used to go to a club and the committee used to squabble and argue with themselves and other members. It could be quite a stressful place to be. My friend told me that he got a few good friends together and just gamed. No committee, no politics and no bullshit. This helped him a great deal. He was in touch with old trusted friends and he had a good time.
Now please don’t think that I’m trying to say that gaming is a cure for mental illness. If you take a look at the three stories then you will see messages of escapism, friendship, distraction and just trying to have fun. These messages are clear when researching metal illness and self-help. I myself game and do other things (exercise, reading etc), to help me cope with my depression when it strikes.
I’ll end this blog with a friend's analogy of depression. He calls it the black dog. So from this.
“If the black dog comes out, get the black dog back in his kennel.”
Thank you for reading.