Today is #BellLetsTalkDay, a day dedicated to ending the stigma surrounding mental health discussions. Not only does the day increase awareness of mental health issues around the world, it sheds light on how it affects us all. While we are in no way affiliated with Bell Canada, or any of its partners, I wanted to speak upon mental health and how it affects me as a dedicated gamer.
To many, gaming is a way to relieve ourselves from the stress of the modern world. For as long as I can remember, I’ve used games to stimulate the good & bad periods of my life. Whether it was a pause from a long-stressful day, a promotion at work, or a time I felt alone in this world; video games were my escape. It is very easy for me to get caught up in the events of every day life and forget to take time to myself to relieve the stress. Especially now, writing full-time with no pay, managing two jobs, and preparing for a healthy future. Given, this is all self-inflicted as this is the life I chose to live, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t stressful at times.
It should be understood that gaming could only be a distraction from greater and bigger issues. I’m not advocating that video games should be the answer to someone that is overly depressed, that is where professional help should interject. To make matters worse, video games have led to increasingly stressful situations, at least in my experience. Competitive games such as Counter-Strike, Dota 2, or anything with a toxic community could help lead to further breakdowns. For me, I use gaming as a way to relax myself, but even I’m guilty of using it as an excuse to dismiss real-life situations.
Choosing a non-paid career in gaming journalism is very unrewarding. Sure, free games and new peripherals make the job more fulfilling, but there is a lot of stress that goes into writing an article. If there is something “off” about an article, or I go against the grain with my matter of opinion, people berate me and aggressively criticize me for my thoughts. Sure, it IS the Internet, where anyone with a keyboard and the knowledge to use it can leave comments anonymously, without consequence. If I turn my back on my passion, I would be doing myself a huge injustice. Not only that, but there is increase probability that my work won’t be read or appreciated, as we are one of the smaller outlets on the internet at this time. I put on thick skin and ignore the hate that comes our way, but sometimes, it breaks through.
All of this compounds into what I’m trying to convey about my own mental health. With so much on the go, I tend to get overloaded in my day-to-day tasks, and can become stressed and depressed. When this happens, I shut down, collapsing on myself and ceasing all activity. This causes backups in my schedules, missed deadlines, and a lack of content. As of late there are very few instances where I feel relief while gaming, only want to sit there and watch re-runs of series on Netflix, like Friends or The Office. As I sit there, I get a nagging thought that continuously pricks at me, telling me to get off my ass and work on something productive. These thoughts make me further depressed, but I don’t have the motivation to actually do something about it. It is a vicious cycle, and usually turning on a game of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 helps me numb that thought, if only for a couple of hours.
There is light at the end of the tunnel and it is something seemingly insignificant, but powerful. constructive criticism & appreciation.
An email entered my inbox last week, commenting on my review of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. What astounded me was not only did someone take the time out of their day to read through my written review, they spent more time asking me about my reasoning behind the score, and gave a reason to why I should change it. The score on my review will remain unchanged, as I have already voiced my reasons for giving the game a 90% on the review itself, I responded back to them with a personalized note, in different words, on why I think the game earned the score it did. As for the email, here is a snippet of the message in question:
“I was wondering if you would consider changing your review score of Smash Bros. You mention that the World of Light mode wasn’t all that fun, yet you gave the game a resounding 90% score. The single player mode was a major part of it so why was this not left in the review score? You say the multiplayer is better and that you won’t play single player anymore but I think that is a major part of the game. Anyways, thanks for reading my email, I like the site, but think that was weird.”
The email has been edited to improve spelling, with the sender’s name redacted due to no response.
Not only did they provide a brief reason on what they were thinking, but they added that they liked the site, and it made my day. It is rare that we receive comments like this, and I know it might seem like an insignificant bit of text, but it brightened up what was a long & stressful day. It is weird, that something so insignificant, completely changed my perspective on the day. It really does go to show that a comment as small as “I like the site,” can lift the spirits of a depressed soul. If you are doing anything, whether that be reading an article, spending time on public transit, or even playing a game, take the minute out of your day and say something nice. It can make all the difference.
I have made several changes that help impact the state of my own mental health. I’m now actively going to the gym, moderating my time spent playing video games, and working on achieving my goals, causing a tremendous improvement in almost every facet of daily life. That said I understand the importance of taking time for myself, even if that time is away from games. It may sound cliche, but everything in moderation is the key, at least for me, to retain a healthy mindset.
To anyone still reading that just wants to talk to someone, please do it. You have a voice and it should be heard. My door is always open when it comes to mental health and I do believe that Bell’s Let’s Talk campaign sheds some great light on a big issue plaguing millions around the world. Feel free to drop me a line, either in the public comments below, or privately at my email (Seen on our “About Us” page). You are never alone.
Image credit: Bell