I hope you like reading! I want to provide a lot of backstory and details here, so this is likely to be very extensive. This is incredibly important to me, so I want to provide as much information as I can muster for this box right now, though hopefully without too much unnecessary fluff. If more consolidation is needed, I’d be glad to provide that, just get in touch!

As a child I went through many many years not really understanding what mental health was all about. In the 80s and early 90s especially, there wasn’t a lot being publicly said about mental health and ADD was the scapegoat for almost all childhood development issues. I was bullied throughout most of my elementary and middle school experience (though I never classified it as ‘bullying’ then). I had very poor self-esteem and never really learned how to interact with the other kids. This resulted in a lot of emotional distress, afternoons spent tucked away in my room, and very confused parents.

My parents divorced when I was in middle school and thought it would be beneficial for me to see a psychologist/psychiatrist. I was very resistant to the idea because I didn’t want to be labeled as a ‘problem’, despite knowing I needed the help. I spent a couple years bouncing between various professionals and often the diagnosis was ADD. Somewhat needless to say, this was wildly inaccurate, and led to the situation worsening. I didn’t agree with it and was resistant to the ‘treatment’ I was to undergo, but without any real backing it was hard to explain to my father exactly why I was being so difficult.

As I progressed through High School my situation worsened significantly. I was very aloof and avoidant, I started failing classes, and I started having suicidal thoughts. From my perspective, nobody cared about me. Nobody wanted to be my friend, nobody was interested in who I was, and I would never be capable of doing the things that everybody else was doing. Looking back on it now is.. difficult. I passed up a lot of friendships and opportunities purely because I believed everybody’s intention was malicious. If someone approached me I always assumed it was out of pity or out of some twisted notion of picking on me.

I was having suicidal thoughts, but fortunately I was too afraid to actually go through with it. One of my school I was having suicidal thoughts, but fortunately I was too afraid to actually go through with it. One of my school friends and someone local I had met online (That I am still in touch with to this day) can essentially be credited for my current existence. Both of them completely broke down at one point and really sent the message home that I was important to them. That if I was to actually go through with it, they would be completely devastated.

I’m not sure if that’s what turned me away from those thoughts necessarily, or if it was out of an odd sense of not wanting to cause disappointment, but either way it worked and I’m eternally grateful for it.

Shortly after High School my father saw a local psychologist on a morning news show and wanted me to give it a try again. I was resistant but open to the idea, however things were dramatically different this time. For the first time I felt like I had someone that was actually listening to me, someone that I could be open with.

There was no medication involved, as his practice was strictly about Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. As much as I knew medication was a valid option, it was nice to not be immediately pushed towards that. When I brought up the previous diagnosis of ADD, he told me that was ludicrous. He treated a lot of legit ADD patients and that was definitely not my issue. My issues revolved around depression and anxiety. I saw him regularly for a few years, which turned into significant leaps forward in my overall wellbeing. I took a class at a local community college (I had skipped out on going to college after high school, feeling I’d never make it), I was able to hold a couple jobs, and I was able to manage my relationships better.

A couple years later I had my first experience with panic attacks. Simply spawned from a stressful day combined with whacking my head on the underside of my desk while doing some PC repair, it spiraled into what I learned was a panic attack. One of the worst feelings in the world, at least at the time. This is something I struggled with for a few years after the fact and was ultimately crippling. I wasn’t able to work and I wasn’t taking any further classes. It seemed completely absurd to me, as logically I could understand that it was an extreme overreaction whenever it happened, but unfortunately just thinking it doesn’t necessarily solve the problem! I started trying to find a medication to help assist in controlling my panic attacks, but even that was a stressful experience. Some medications made me feel sick, some turned me into a zombie, others caused me to gain large amounts of weight. This was off and on for a while until I eventually found one that worked for me, that I’m still currently taking some years later (Pristiq, for reference).

To try to wrap this mini-novel up a bit, let me bring this into present-day.

I’m 32 now, just graduated with an Associates degree, and have been spending a significant amount of time working on putting together what I hope becomes a successful YouTube channel. I still struggle with some anxiety and depression, though to a much lesser extent. The panic attacks are gone and I’m more able to appreciate my own existence. I still struggle a bit with the notion that I do matter (in some cases, significantly) to others, but it’s not as much of a foreign concept anymore. It took me a long time to go from the point of having the idea to start making YouTube videos to actually allowing myself to make that first video. The internet is great for finding those with similar interests, but it’s also a scary place in terms of rejection. I’m taking steps now to eventually build a career, but it’s still going to be quite a task; something that I definitely wish I would have been able to do 10 years ago!

What Gaming Means To Me

I’d say that currently (and for the past 10-15 years), MMOs have been my most prominent outlet, but perhaps one of my greatest vices. It’s a double-edged sword, but something that I think has been overall positive. The social connect found therein has been huge for my confidence and ability to communicate/interact with others.

I’ve played many over the years, but currently lead a very successful World of Warcraft guild (and have been for ~8 years now). This has evolved over time. When I was a kid, gaming was purely an escape. A way to shut off everything about the outside world and be by myself in a fantasy world. Nowadays I use gaming as a means not only to take some time for myself, but to connect with others. I’m not the most social gamer in the world, but the broader social aspect of gaming has definitely become something I greatly enjoy. Not only can I take that time for distraction and enjoyment, but a time to truly connect with others I might have otherwise never met.

by @PositronPlays (Positron)

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.