Today I wanted to share another chapter in my memoir The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir, and specifically about how video games became a way to combat my depression over the years. This chapter was originally a blog post on this blog that I expanded on, and I would like to share it today. The sharing of thischapter is important given my recent issues with depression this past week. As always, you can find my book here, if you enjoyed this chapter please consider buying my book. It is also on kindle unlimited.
Chapter Fifty-Six: How Role-Playing Video Games Became a Way to Combat Depression
IN MY EXPERIENCES OVER my lifetime, role-playing video games have been a way for me to combat deep depression, and everything that comes from being Bipolar. What makes role-playing video games effective against depression, is that role-playing games will take me, for a few hours, out of my own world. For me, it is always a chance to get out my own head.
When I create characters for a role-playing game, I am creating a character that I can be proud of, when in real life I am just an average person dealing with problems that are often beyond my control. My characters usually do the right thing, unless my character is chaotic. In the end, I can be a hero that saves the world or gets the girl which is not like real life. But, it goes deeper than just being a hero.
Role-playing games allow me to continue a journey of progression. When I complete quests, I feel accomplished. As my characters become more powerful through experience, it can raise my emotions and it puts me in a better mood. To me, quests in a role-playing game can teach to set realistic goals compared to real life, where I am often setting unattainable goals in my life. When I finally reach the in-game goals it feels amazing for someone with depression, sadness, loneliness, and restlessness as their constant campion in the real world. To feel good even for a moment is an amazing feeling.
An example of an unattainable goal, would be to think that I can conquer my depression all at once during the winter season, when traditionally depression can reach its peaks during this time due to lack of sunlight. In a role-playing game, I can set goals like, building the ultimate weapon in the game, and when I achieve that success it can be a mood booster. I can remember some of the so-called “impossible bosses” that I have beaten over my video gaming career, and every victory put me in a great mood because I had to work hard to that victory. It is a lot like when I write, the feeling is similar, and it is invigorating.
Getting back to how I create characters in role-playing games, it is not unusual to make a character that is far from who I am in real life. I think that is the point really. In my own gaming experience, I have little in common physically to my created character, but it is usually a projection of what I want to be, or at the very least, who I imagine myself to be. I create these characters that represent what I would love to be in real life. Like being powerful, good-looking, or even in some cases smarter than I am.
When depression takes over and I get lost in my own head, it is so hard to just be “outside my body.” But with role-playing games, in just a few hours into playing, I have seen real changes in my mood every time I game. The things that were bothering me, seem to be in the rearview mirror while I play. I can interact with other characters in the game, and I can meet challenges head-on.
The role-playing games that I love the most, are the ones that challenge my mind. Turn-based strategy role-playing games, have long been a favorite of mine, because it takes so much to play the game. The right combination of characters (healers, tanks, and magic characters) and strategy win the day.
I also want to talk about the Dark Souls series. I have beaten every game in the series, and those who have played the game know, it is the most challenging game out there in the gaming world, at least in my opinion. From the start, you play and (it seems) an endless slew of bad guys and bosses. In fact, one of the first things you fight in each game is a hard boss. It is the most frustrating and amazing gaming experience because it is a challenge from the start.
God forbid, if you have 10 million souls you die, and then die again and lose them forever is the most frustrating this in the world. But even if you lose all those souls, it is possible to get more. That is so relatable to life, because depression will eventually get you, it’s the way of the world for someone who is Bipolar. But, like the game, you can always bounce back with life. Just because you lost weeks, months, or even years to your depression, life has a funny way of moving on. So why not learn that failure is inevitable, both in gaming and in life.
It just happens that way but the game itself challenges every part of you. It is imperative that you strategize when using souls to upgrade everything from armor, to weapons, and increasing your health or magic. You have to be organized, and ready for anything that comes your way, because any monster can end your journey. It’s something I can take out of the game into my real life. I learned that challenges can be overcome, even when the deck is stacked against you. It means everything when trying to control your real-life problems.
Role-playing games are a great way to take yourself out of your mind for a time. It is also something that you can learn from, just by starting a journey in a game, and seeing it to completion. That is relatable to real life. The hero’s journey is something that we can all relate to, but it is good to have a journey in your own life. In role-playing games, the hero doesn’t always make the right choice but eventually, they learn from their mistakes and win the day. Who couldn’t relate to that?
Always Keep Fighting
You can visit the author site of James Edgar Skye here.
Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.
Become a Patron of James Edgar Skye and be a part of his writing here: Become a Patron!