I’ve been diagnosed at one point or another with a few different things, but it seems like my diagnosis has finally settled on borderline personality disorder, chronic depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and some past OCD. I’m being treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy. That’s the clinical description, anyway.

I failed out of school once because of depression that made me want to lie around all day and do nothing, and ended up hospitalized from exhaustion a few times because of anxiety that made me feel like if I stopped working I would literally stop existing — one of those things that doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense in hindsight, but was your entire world at the time. They’ve led to substance abuse problems and other fun things like that — you feel anxious about going out, so you take a Xanax but then while you’re out you feel like you can’t engage so you have a drink, and that wasn’t enough so you have another, and then things seem like they’re going okay so you have another and then how did I get behind this dumpster and why is it morning.

What Gaming Means To Me

The game that has helped me most isn’t a video game — it’s a board game. I play Go when I don’t feel well, and those few hours of pouring myself into this strategic abstraction and talking to strangers (or friends, at the local Go club) are always very helpful to me.

Gaming gives me a space to go and forget about my problems, which is helpful and not helpful. It turns into an addiction of sorts, where doing it makes me feel better so I do it more and more to the detriment of everything else in my life, just because it’s easier to indulge in this thing instead of dealing with depression or anxiety or anything else. Sometimes that can be a good thing — some distance from the problems can give me perspective — but other times, I go overboard and it just doesn’t end well, life wise.

One thing that’s always good for me though is playing horror games. I have a lot of anxiety problems, and sometimes I just feel anxious for reasons I can’t quite pinpoint. When I play a horror game, it helps give that anxiety a knowable shape and makes it okay for me to feel anxious, and when I turn the game off I can let that anxiety go.


by LE

Jennifer Hazel

I'm a psychiatry doctor and passionate gamer. I run a resource called prescriptionpixel.com - an interface between video games and mental health.
This is a space for gamers to safely share their feelings, access personalised resources, and seek help without judgement or stigma.