Games have always been a part of my life. It’s one of those things that stuck and never let go. Each year brings new discoveries. When I was young, you really didn’t have much of an idea as to what was coming out. As gaming magazines became more popular it became easier to keep track of anything down the road. Now we know years in advance when something could be coming out. It’s awesome, but I miss walking into a Blockbuster and seeing Mario Kart for the SNES on the shelves and freaking out because I knew nothing about it and all the copies were gone and oh man I had to have it! Now you just read about it, or watch a cool trailer for it. It’s not as intimate but it gets the job done. When I was young, gaming was just all about the fun factor. When you played something, nothing else in the world mattered. You would gather around the tv with your best buds and just have a good time. Playing some four player Goldeneye for hours and hours and hours until the sun came up. I didn’t play it to escape from the real world. It was just a good time. As I slipped more and more into a darker state of mind, gaming became more and more about escaping the real world. I love my wife and children to death but at the end of the day I was craving that immersion. Somewhere to go, where I’m a hero. By day, I’m a stay at home dad, cleaning and making dinner. At night, I’m any number of different heroes depending on the game I’m playing. I understand that I can look like a hero in my kids eyes, but I didn’t feel like one. When my grandfather was in the hospital after suffering a heart attack, from which he then passed, I can remember sitting in my room playing Final Fantasy 7 and Mega Man Legends. It took my mind off things, at the time I didn’t really think of it as a coping mechanism but now that I look back I remember it bringing me joy when the world just seemed to be falling apart. It’s escapism. Everyone copes differently. I use games.
2 years ago, I went to see a doctor about the thoughts I was having. I hated my job and where my life was at. There were days when I just didn’t want to get out of bed. To get up and face the day was a struggle. There were days when I would ask myself “What’s the point?” I felt like less of a person. My kids wouldn’t understand and how was I supposed to explain how I was feeling to them. They just thought I really liked to sleep, a lot. My wife has always been supportive, encouraging me to pursue different avenues. There’s times where I think she’s crazy for being with me but she does. I don’t know what I would have done without her over these past few years. My parents and brothers support is just a piece of the puzzle as well. I was taking medication and ended up getting a new job, things seemed to be looking up. They were good for a year and then things didn’t end up working out well with the job, and the depression crept back in. I lost complete control and thought this was it. I took leave from work and just never went back. The following days would be spent gaming, I knew I had responsibilities but they were pushed to the side. My second life had taken precedence. The only thing that kept me going was the anticipation of knowing when certain games were coming out that I wanted to play; that’s what was giving me a purpose to live. I know my family should have been enough, but I had lost focus of what mattered. I felt better about myself when I was being someone else. I couldn’t stand to go outside and I would literally hide from our neighbors. I had become a vampire (not the sparkling kind either, one of those ugly looking suckers). My anxiety was through the roof. It wasn’t until we decided to move that things took a turn for the better. We ended up moving out to the country and it’s been a life changing experience, not just for me, but the whole family. The kids are thriving at their new school. The wife hates the drive to work but we just talk on the phone for the 45 minutes (It’s kinda like we’re in high school again). Things couldn’t be better. I’m not saying quit gaming and move to the country (I love gaming, it’s my passion) but look for that change. Too much of anything is a bad thing. Pursue something completely different. We’ve always lived in the city and now we don’t want to go back, we’ll just stay out here forever. If I had decided to call it quits with life we wouldn’t be where we are now. It puts things in perspective.
Now, two years later, life is starting to get back to normal. It’s getting back to the way things used to be when I was younger. Things have become fun again. I’m playing games again because I want to, not because I have to. I’ve started to come out of the shell I’ve been in and realize the life I have isn’t bad at all. I just needed to pay attention to the things that matter, the things that inspire me to be a better person. It felt like the only way to feel happy was to escape to a different world. Once in awhile you need that, but it shouldn’t become a crutch like it did with me. We all need that place to go where you have a little break for awhile, to put your mind at ease, just don’t let it be priority number one. Even when you think life isn’t worth living, think of the people you’ll effect. The people that will miss you. The world won’t be a better place without you. Seek the help you need or find that thing that inspires you to better yourself. Every day brings new possibilities, you don’t know what life will bring you tomorrow – it’s what you make of it. – NVJ