Hello, I Have Anxiety Disorder – And Gaming Helps

I have generalised anxiety disorder. It’s a condition that falls under “anxiety disorders”, which also includes OCD, despite more often being categorised under “depression”. It sort of fits with both. It’s an obsessive condition that causes someone to be unable to control their fear, to become entangled in irrational and debilitating worry, and at its extreme, to be afflicted by horrible intrusive thoughts.

I’ve had AD since I was in my early 20s, undiagnosed until my late 20s. Those were some fairly horrendous times, not being able to understand why I couldn’t cope with basic situations, and utterly terrified that the awful thoughts I was having might be real. Too scared to tell anyone, and too fearful that if I did I’d be feared, I suffered badly. As it turned out, it was telling someone, anyone, that was the first step to getting a great deal better.

AD is a clever old thing. Like other forms of OCD, it has these creepy self-preserving symptoms. It tells its inhabited brain that seeking help could cause you to be diagnosed as mad, or at worst, any of the awful things your intrusive thoughts have tried to convince you could be real. It won’t. It could save, or massively improve, your life.

I finally told someone (my friend Nick) in my late 20s, and then someone else (my mum), and then, at last, my GP. That led to my receiving some counselling, which was okay but not great. The largest issue was, by then I’d spent years learning how to present myself to others as confident, secure and comfortable. I was bold, funny, happy to be the centre of attention – there were few signs that inside I was tearing myself into pieces. It was going to take a better counsellor than the very pleasant lady I saw to crack that open.

In the years since (I’m now 37) I’ve had various forms of counselling, all of them helpful, none of them ideal. Without them I don’t think I’d have had as smooth of a journey as I have. But it took the birth of my son, and an accompanying complete breakdown on my part, to finally hear the words I needed. “Oh, that’s all perfectly normal.”

A mental health nurse met with me for an assessment, during which I spilled everything, every fear, every symptom, every terrifying thought. I sobbed, shook, and crawled up inside my chair to try to make myself smaller, less likely to be harmed by it all. And she nodded, smiled, and said, “Yup, those are the symptoms of anxiety disorder.”

It was like the whack on the ice pick that caused the entire block I was encased in to shatter.

I’d gained the confidence to say these things out loud to her after having read a couple of things. Firstly, this, and secondly, this. Both had the astonishingly dramatic effect of normalising what I’d considered so impossibly abnormal. They put cracks in the spell the AD casts. Cracks in the ice, I suppose, to maintain the metaphor.

So why the flaming hell am I sharing this on a website about PC games? For two reasons. Firstly, because I know an awful lot of people reading are going through something similar, and if sharing this moves one person to get life-improving help, then it’s worth it. And secondly, because I want to share how important gaming has been to me for managing AD.

I think part of the reason that a few articles last year – that made nuanced arguments about the possible unhelpfulness of the term “gamer” – were so wildly misunderstood, is because gaming as a pursuit has often been the solace of people who are suffering. I’m not talking about tiresome clichés, but of a broad range of people and personality types, from the genuinely lonely and isolated, to the apparently gregarious and outgoing. I know from previous discussions of similar topics, readers of RPS have been extraordinarily open and generously honest about their own difficult times. I know that gaming can be the community that allows those who are either externally or internally isolated to connect to others. And existing in community, in positive communication with others, is a tremendously helpful part of feeling safe.

Whether it’s an online guild, or a group of friends who meet up in the pub, it makes a difference. But it’s not the only role gaming played for me. In fact, blessed as I am with some extremely good friends, it was also having the time alone with gaming that was (and is) most important for me.

I had assumed, until my meeting last year, that what I think of as my “cave time”, my coping mechanisms, were likely not helpful for dealing with the AD. I’m not sure how I’d reached this conclusion, but I imagine it was something along the lines of the twisted logic that because it was fun, it must therefore be bad. Hello anxiety!

I was, in fact, instructed to ensure I was embracing my coping mechanisms. So, for me, that is having blocks of time alone (which is still possible with a baby, so long as it’s done without selfishness, and indeed can be easily done with the baby in tow), doing things that keep my extremely fast brain busy. I’ve written a couple of times before about how I often need to multitask to keep myself focused, and the reaction tends to be a mixture of “Me too, it’s great!” and “There’s something wrong with you!”. It turns out it’s a combination of the two. Yes, my mind is a bit broken, and as a result goes too fast, needs too much input; and it’s great that this can be met by doing two things at once and enjoying them both.

A podcast, radio programme, silly TV show, accompanied by a videogame, whether it’s something like mucking about in Far Cry 4 or solving puzzles on my mobile phone, gives me a peace. It’s not curative, it’s not the solution to the problem. It’s a plaster. And when you’re bleeding, a plaster is a jolly good idea. It’s a considerably better idea to also go and find out what it is that keeps cutting you and getting it to stop, but in the meantime, that’s an easier task if you’re not dripping blood all over the floor. Ew, this metaphor got weird.

But, and this is crucial, it can be too much. Too much time alone, too much time in my cave, is disastrous. As with so many things, it’s about moderation. As the Project Massive study of the last decade discovered when seeking evidence for “gaming addiction”, the term itself is inaccurate and unhelpful, and they concluded we needed to use the phrase, “Problematic use”. Games can be used problematically – we all already know this.

Which is why I feel so sad, possibly angry, when I see the tedious tropes of “the lonely teenager in his basement” when it comes to videogames. Because if someone’s willing to write “lonely” and not then think, “how can I help them?”, then something’s really sodding wrong. When it’s used as a pejorative, to write off a hobby they don’t understand and to dismiss a person’s importance, it hurts those that games are helping and does nothing to support those who are playing them too much. There are lonely people playing videogames. There are people who are suffering playing videogames. The response to knowing this is to reach out, to make contact.

So this is, in a very small way, a reaching out to make contact. RPS is, in a very large way, a reaching out to make contact (as well as being a business that pays for our dinner).

If you recognise the description of the symptoms of anxiety disorder, or feel in any way that you’re struggling to cope, then there is amazing help out there. If you’re like me, then reading your symptoms described in a nonchalant, ordinary way can be incredibly cathartic. If it’s anxiety disorder or similar obsessive thinking, then have a read of this list by OCDUK. And for the fucking terrifying intrusive thoughts (that believe me, I’m feeling sick about sharing that I have these), then this is an incredible read.

If you need immediate help, then in the UK you can call the Samaritans (08457 90 90 90, any time), Mind (0300 123 3393, weekdays, 9am-6pm), or NHS 111 on, well, 111. If you’re under 19, you can also call Childline (0800 11 11). In the US, there are lots of resources listed here, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255, any time) and SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline (1-877-726-4727, 8am-8pm EST). For the rest of the world (sorry to so tiresomely group you together), this site provides numbers for suicide hotlines around the world. And this site has a comprehensive list of international support numbers. (There’s a weird pop-up box – clicking “okay” didn’t seem to do anything bad to my PC.)

For longer-term help, which is so brilliant a thing to do, the best thing you can do is visit your doctor. If your doctor is shit, or dismissive, ask to see a different doctor. Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. Antidepressants have helped me, too – I’m on 20mg Citalopram – you can read more about them, and their pros and cons, on Mind’s page on the subject.

RPS is clearly somewhat limited in its mental health scope, what with our being a website about PC games, and none of us being even vaguely qualified to talk authoritatively about it. But what we can do is reach out and connect. And so can you. Keep an eye on the forums where online gaming is organised, and real life meet-ups are arranged. If you’re in London or Brighton, get along to one of the RPS Social Clubs, to meet with other lovely people. And if you’re somewhere else (especially in other countries) and willing to start arranging a new Social Club, mention it in the forum and fire us an email. We’ve heard great stories about friendships formed at these, and it’d be amazing to hear many more.

No one should suffer on their own. No matter how bad it is, you’ll find there are professionals who hear about it so often that it’s perfectly normal to them, and who know what to do to start helping it get better. So go for it.

Very Important Disclaimer: RPS has no specialist knowledge or expertise when it comes to matters of mental health. We absolutely cannot and do not provide medical advice, as we are bumbling dolts who play videogames for a job. If the issues mentioned in this article affect you, we implore you to contact your doctor, or any of the advice lines listed above.

Images courtesy of Goce Mitevski, Antero Pires, Digital Cat, and Alan Levine.

131 Comments

  1. Scrote says:

    Hey it’s nice to hear that you’ve found ways to cope and make your life better, it sounds like things are getting better. Hopefully this article will help other people who haven’t quite realized what they’re going through.

    I also liked the pictures you used, if the pharmaceutical industry develops drugs to help with AD, those are the images they’ll use in the commercial.

  2. melnificent says:

    I have a great fear about seeking help. If I seek help, then they’ll find out my thoughts, if they know my thoughts they can control my life and direct me to certain objectives, More importantly, if they know my thoughts then what about my children? I won’t do what some think is necessary for me as it’s not what is best for my children. They come above everything else. I cope with everything, so why seek help and make the future uncertain?

    Reading what I’ve written I realise how foolish that sounds, but it’ll keep going round in my head for days and weeks when help is suggested.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      I can promise you that those who would help you have no desire to control your thoughts. It’s definitely worth speaking to a doctor.

      • melnificent says:

        It’s not exactly controlling my thoughts. It’s knowing my thoughts to be able to control my actions. If they do X then they know I’ll do Y. It’s how I perceive the help that has been offered before by “professionals”, they sought to influence my actions more than help me come to terms with my AD. It doesn’t help that they are what sets me off, so it’s a real catch-22 situation. Does that make sense?

        I’ve been put on citalopram 20mg upped to 40mg before, but had to stop as it made the world a literal grey and everything was foggy and distant. So instead I found coping mechanisms that work for me. Gaming, juggling, skating, etc. When I feel anxious or panicy I will start to do one of them to calm down.

        I have developed an aversion to games that wrench camera control from me for more than a few seconds for same camera viewpoint cutscenes though. It feels like I’m being forced against my will. Far Cry 3 I played by turning away for the cutscenes and juggling.

    • ffordesoon says:

      Oh, hi! We talked briefly underneath that Eurogamer Destiny article, right? Funny that two people with anxiety disorder would both bounce off Destiny for the exact same reasons.

      Listen, no one can make you do anything you don’t want to do, okay? No, really, they can’t. You can worry all you like, though that’s really the anxiety talking, but the fact is that no one can control your thoughts or your actions. They can only suggest courses of action; you’re the one who has to consent to them. You can always say no if you’re uncomfortable with a suggestion, and I can promise you that any medical or psychoanalytical professional worth their salt will back off immediately. Well, they might ask if you’re sure, but that’s not exactly hypnosis.

      I don’t know the intricacies of malpractice law in countries besides America (assuming you’re from one), but I can tell you that consent is very important to anyone with a license to practice medicine, because they can have it stripped from them if they don’t respect your wishes.

      What I will also tell you is that both of my parents have anxiety disorder themselves, and one of them – my dad – hasn’t sought real therapy for it in ages. He gets meds from our general practitioner, but meds only turn the volume down. They’re not purgative. There is no substitute in this world for spilling your guts to a therapist, IMHO. I tell him that sometimes, but he doesn’t listen. And now that he’s getting on in years, the lack of that release is starting to make him miserable, which makes the people around him miserable, myself included.

      I’m not telling you this as some kind of sob story. I’m doing just fine. My point is that your kids won’t be better off if you don’t get help. If you’re afraid they’ll be teased about it or something, A) they most likely won’t be and don’t even have to know about it if you don’t want them to, and B) they’ll get over teasing a lot faster than they’ll get over an unhappy or suffering parent. Trust me on this. Get help.

      EDIT: And BTW, sometimes you don’t always find the right medicine on the first try. Don’t let that scare you away from trying more. The right medicine will make your world feel immeasurably better, not worse.

      • melnificent says:

        Yeah that was me on the Destiny article. I think it’s because I don’t want to deal with less than honest people, that I bounced off destiny. I ran it to the level cap, spent a little time playing strikes but grew bored of the skinner box and faux RNG for advancing further. It’s a game that seems to passively-aggressive hate the player especially pre-patch. Which I think shows more of Bungies true intentions than the changes caused by public outcry.

        I know that logically only I control myself. But that doesn’t stop my thinking. Being unable to skate at present (I’m such a grown up) has made everything seem worse. I can’t even get out to clear my head as walking is slow enough for people to stop me to talk. I will contact the Dr at some point, and if they say I still can’t use my preferred coping mechanism then I’ll discuss my mental health issues. After being abused by the system a decade ago when I sought help, I’m distrustful of seeking help again. Terrified even.

        • ffordesoon says:

          Oh, yeah, it can be damn tough to trust after the system’s put you through the wringer once. I had a brief flirtation with one of the more script-happy practices around here after my psychiatrist retired, and it was pretty miserable. I got out of it after a few months of being a guinea pig for new meds, and found a much better shrink. He’s literally right across the hall from the old practice. Funny old world, eh?

          I think my dad’s had bad (heh, “dad’s had bad”) experiences with psychologists and psychiatrists in the past, actually. Pretty sure that’s why he hasn’t been seeing anyone for a dog’s age, even though he needs it.

          Anyway, I’ve been lucky enough – partially thanks to my dad, oddly – to have excellent mental health care more or less across the board. But I totally understand your trepidation.

          I know I’m just some dude who runs his mouth on a gaming blog, but seriously, if you ever need to talk to anyone, shoot me a PM on the RPS forum. I’m no psychologist, but a sympathetic, non-judgmental ear can be pretty helpful too. Just letting you know.

        • rabidwombat says:

          Going for walks (headphones in, even without music, walking fast) and working out at the gym helps reduce those stupid thoughts in my head. I’m lucky in that my issue is shockingly common, so there are group meetings that can also make those thoughts less important for a bit.

          Talking to someone with the same or a very similar issue can be a life saver. Just talking with a mental health professional can help get you on the right track, just as J.W. suggested. There’s lots of not-totally-normal people like us in the world.

  3. daphne says:

    Besides the agreeable advice about seeing a doctor, I can recommend reading about and practicising philosophy as a method of mitigation. I’m currently interested in Stoicism. I’ve found that some of their perspectives and techniques really help a lot.

    William B. Irvine’s “A Guide to the Good Life” and Seneca’s letters to Lucilius are good starting points.

    • JimDiGritz says:

      William B. Irvine’s “A Guide to the Good Life” and Seneca’s letters to Lucilius are good starting points.

      I’ve got no experience in mental health issues however I agree 100% that philosophy can bring a sense of rational peace when explored. A Guide to the Good Life is an amazing book.

    • mashkeyboardgetusername says:

      Funnily enough, cognitive behavioural therapy (an increasingly common therapy for a number of mental health issues) has its roots in stoic philosophy.

      More generally, cheers for writing this John.

  4. strangeloup says:

    I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety for the past 18 years or so, and honestly I find gaming to be very helpful. At the most basic level, it can be a really nice change when you can slip into the shoes of the good guy, beat the baddies and save the day; having a tangible enemy you can fight is a lot better than being preyed upon by your own mind. There’s certainly more to it than that, but that’s the easiest element to articulate.

    Unfortunately the NHS has been pretty useless as regards anything but prescribing meds, which are perhaps of dubious effectiveness, so I’ve ended up seeing a private therapist.

  5. sonofsanta says:

    Given the topic, this really needs to be taken out of the supporter-only bit and made available for everyone. Me getting one less exclusive article this week is an empty and stupid concern in any context, let alone the context of “this could really help someone out there who’s struggling”.

    Do it! Do it now! Make it public!

    • daphne says:

      I agree with this. It’s definitely dissonant to have an article actively and positively encouraging people to seek help be exclusive. I suppose it’ll be made public soon enough.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      It will be made public, don’t worry. Wanted to sort of soft-launch it, with a friendlier crowd.

      • jezcentral says:

        It’s hardly not being inclusive if John choses not to make this fully public. The Supporters Club is a self-selecting group of gamers who have an (admittedly small) amount of money invested in being civil to each other. The Internet Out There has proven time and time again to include a section from the cesspool.

        If John wants to brave it, that is of course his right, there is nothing dissonant in talking to friends in a crowded bar, and not wanting to talk to everybody there.

        EDIT: Oops, was trying to reply to Daphne. Please excuse my fat fingers (actually, small keyboard)!

      • spacedyemeerkat says:

        “Friendlier crowd”? It pains me to think us great unwashed may be, well, unfriendly.

        Anyway, thank you for sharing your article in the public domain.

    • frymaster says:

      I think it’s supporter-only not because it’s not felt to be of use to everyone, but because it’s a sensitive subject that needs a supporting (pun not intended but if the cap fits…) environment that’s easier to moderate with less people chipping in

  6. Jack Straws says:

    Thanks, John.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Seerinox says:

    Thanks for this John. I never told anyone about my intrusive thoughts so those were two very useful pages.

    • rabidwombat says:

      Telling the right people can really help.

      I kept my secret for 13 years. It wasn’t bad. Now, I am still me, but with less lying and more support.

  8. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Depression is my nemesis. I have spent the last two years fighting it, and games have provided not only the safe and calm space I need, but also a mediated, formalised, and easier way of interacting with my friends when I can’t handle full meatovision.

    • SeanybabeS says:

      Is Full Meat-O-Vision the long awaited sequel to Full Metal Jacket?

      Lovely article as well, John. I don’t suffer with anything close to that which you deal with, but any sort of unhappyness/anxiety that I need to work through is usually dealt with through games/gaming.

  9. Zephro says:

    Excellent article. It can be tremendously helpful gaming to try and deal with these things. Thanks.

  10. klops says:

    This is a good site.

    • jaheira says:

      Good point well made, and thanks for writing this article John.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Grizzly says:

    I wouldn’t know I suffered from depression if this website didn’t post that article linking to Depression Quest two years ago. The game, the article, and the comments below the article combined helped me figure out that my suicidal thoughts were not due to my own incompetance but rahter due to a severe mental illness and that it was worth it getting help for that.

    Gaming made me: Rock, Paper, Shotgun

    • Premium User Badge

      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      You should tell that to Zoe if you have not.

      • Premium User Badge

        Grizzly says:

        I have several times. Felt only fair that I’d tell RPS too, because frankly, it’s the comments section that did pulled me into opening my mail and signalling that support network.

    • Gilmir says:

      This made me cry. Literally.
      I’ve had a depression a few years ago and I’m not entirely sure if I’m gonna ever be over it completely, but seeking help was essential.
      Now I have a five year old son. And although (or maybe because) he has probably ADD (the dreamer variation, not the hyperactive one), he’s the best antidepressant you could ask for. By the way, we’re not making the error of not helping him – he’ll be starting children therapy therapy next week.
      And oh – he’s already a gamer, too. Playing Portal 2 coop with my little guy was eg really a blast ;)

    • ChuckChuckRazool says:

      I second that. Gaming Made Me: Rock, Paper, Shotgun. For so many reasons – most recently exemplified by this brave and purposeful (and I assert fearless) article – and stunning accompanying comment thread. Of course the internet at large behaves wildly different to the measured, thoughtful responses we see here, but I choose to believe that the RPS responders stand among the best of all modern internet citizens.

      My own disorders have now been thrown into sharp relief, and I’ve some serious thinking to do. Certainly, your article and their responses showcase for me the modern iteration of the original “forum” in its purest sense, and I thank you for that. You are all amazing and uplifting.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Oakreef says:

    “Because if someone’s willing to write “lonely” and not then think, “how can I help them?”, then something’s really sodding wrong.”

    Dammit thanks for making me realise a way I’ve been being a dickhead. I’ve been making a concious effort for a while to stop using words like “insane” or other mental-health related terms as a negative thing – because someone who’s suffering from a mental health issue deserves to be ridiculed as much as cancer patient or someone with a broken arm does – but hadn’t realised I was still doing it for other types of people who need help. Being ill is not something that deserves ire, but neither is being lonely.

    Thanks John.

  13. mpk says:

    Thanks for sharing* this John.

    RPS is great because it occasionaly pulls back the curtain on its INTERNET BEHEMOTH facade to show the humans behind it.

    I’m a regular visitor to the land of depression, having first been diagnosed when I was 18. I’m the same age as John and consider a good day to be one where I dont have a suicidal impulse. Haven’t talked to anyone about it in years now, because reasons, but my EVE buddies were always there for me back in the day. Not necesarily there for me to pore my heart out to – just there.

    Recently my gaming has taken me away from always on gaming with friends, but the small victories we have in every game we play has always helped. Oddly, Grid Autosport has been brilliant for that. Round and round the track, beating times. Allows me to concentrate and meditate and clear my mind.

    *before I had counselling, that “thanks for sharing” thing you see on telly always seemed really patronsing and dismissive and made the people sharing seem weak. After going through it, that image is completely wrong.

  14. Melody says:

    *hugs*
    I feel the need to reiterate: don’t be ashamed to seek help. And also: don’t settle for the first person you find, even if it seems harsh. It took me almost a dozen psychologists before finding one that *really* worked for me, and many of that dozen were perfectly likeable people, and I’m sure ALL of them were competent. They just didn’t work well with me.
    You need to give therapy some time, and make sure you are committed to it, but if after a reasonable amount of time (6 months to a year) you notice that it’s not working, allow yourself to change.

    I’ve had my fair share of “problematic gaming”.
    The problem for me (and certain facets of the problem are very well represented in Little Inferno) was that there was a short-circuit in my head: I loved gaming for providing me relief from depression (in various ways), and I hated it for holding me back; and since part of me hated myself for playing, I seeked further relief by playing more. I’d feel better only *as long as I was playing*, and worse as soon as I stopped. The trick, though, was realizing not what I was doing, but why I was behaving the way I was. Astonishingly, just realizing it broke the spell.

    Luckily, I’m mostly over it, although I do have to be careful about what I play, and how much I play it, and, especially with what kind of expectations I play it, in order to not fall back into it.

    • JoeX111 says:

      I often find myself in a similar boat. I look at the sheer amount of time I spend playing games and get horribly down on myself. “This is time that could have been exercising, writing, doing something, anything to improve your life,” my brain seems to say. I had a therapist who kept advocating for throwing all my games away, seeing how I did. To this day, I still wonder if I should. But the idea of not having that safety net, not being able to sink into a game and let my mind decompress, is terrifying.

    • MikhailG says:

      Interesting, I have the same thoughts a lot, and some days I manage to get some work done. Doesn’t mean I always feel better for it, sometimes I call it a success, I did something, but other days I feel lifeless despite it. As you said, just to stop is not enough, to realise how this all works will probably be my only way to deal with it.

      But as the article said, its always nice to meet someone who deals with the same issues.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Fallingbadgers says:

    Great article. Gaming as plaster is so very true, the joy of *cough* Destiny is that it is pure plaster as a kind of Skinner box Zen. Headshotting Fallen as a way of stilling the monkey mind.

    • Josh W says:

      Yeah the plaster metaphor was great. Although we want to get to the causes, symptoms matter too, exactly for the reasons that were said.

      The “lonely nerds” point was good too; stigmatizing loneliness is like stigmatizing mental illness, it’s way more common than people think it is, because people hide it, and the best way to fix it is usually to admit it and get into contact with people. And anyway, how many people can call others lonely as if they themselves haven’t ever been? Very few people have more fulfilling physical and mental social interaction than they want!

  16. Mr Coot says:

    Thanks for the article. I hope matter of fact articles like this will encourage ppl to make connections and get assistance and raise awareness and remove stigma associated with mental illness. Gaming is a great thing. <3

  17. FlopsyTheBloodGod says:

    Good words, John.
    Anxiety is one of my issues and, daft as it may seem, I’m always oddly glad to hear of people able to make their way in life despite such problems. Hope’s the best weapon against this kind of thing I guess.
    That ‘intrusive thoughts’ link is fascinating. I haven’t seen that approach before. It seems scary, which suggests that it’s worth thinking about. I shall consult my brain-mechanic before attempting though.

    Problem gaming:
    Games can be a great help when you’re suffering. I’m convinced that without Baldur’s Gate and WoW I wouldn’t have got through the worst decade or so of my life. I did realise a couple of years ago that games had become a foxhole for me though – it’s surprising how much of your time can be spent gaming when you have no job, no friends and are too scared to walk through the door. They distracted me and kept me going, but I needed more. On the other hand with mental health getting through to tomorrow must always be the first priority, and gaming seems to do that for me. That’s something that really shouldn’t be overlooked. Sometimes beating mental health problems means doing whatever you need to do to get through to tomorrow morning.*
    Even admitting that I’ve told myself that I’m now stable enough that I must ration my time in games, and try to be more social. Even commenting on gaming blogs is a step forward. :P

    *Since this is the internet – it’s best to stick to what’s legal and doesn’t hurt anyone else.

    Edit: yeah, what Melody said.

  18. ffordesoon says:

    Great piece, John, and so true. Both of my parents have a form of anxiety disorder, and I do too. This means I was lucky enough to be raised in a house where seeing a mental health professional and getting medication for my own anxiety wasn’t remotely stigmatized. But I know of so, so many people for whom that’s simply not the case. Gaming has been a profound relief for them, and it’s been one for me, too.

    For me, it’s usually single-player RPGs and open world games that provide the most relief. I’m generally allergic to MMOs because they’re endless time vampires (which also happens to be the name of my surefire hit dark fantasy novel publishers have mysteriously kept rejecting), and online multiplayer inevitably makes me feel like I’m that kid Joe Pesci orders to dance in Goodfellas. Single-screen and split-screen multi, not so much, but they’re not calming in the way a good, meaty single-player game is.

    In fact, what I find so dreadfully exasperating about Ubisoft open world games is their insistence on shouting “HEY YOU COULD BE DOING THIS DON’T YOU SEE HUH HUH THIS RIGHT OVER HERE THIS THING IT’S ON YOUR MAP HEY YOU’RE NOT FINDING IT FAST ENOUGH HERE WE’LL DO IT FOR YOU HEY ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME HEY YOU’RE NOT GOING TOWARD THE THING DO YOU NOT SEE IT HEY” when all I want is to enter that lovely meditative state games like Skyrim or GTA foster in me. And it’s not even diegetic! I can at least rationalize an annoying character (especially if I can kill him later); when the game itself is doing it to me, it’s as if my GPS was updated overnight with a mandatory Nagging ADHD Child In The Backseat feature.

    I have enough people questioning my decisions on a daily basis in real life, you know? While I often semi-derisively call Skyrim a Mary Sue simulator, sometimes I like being a Mary Sue for a little while. “Sure, I’ll lead the Thieves’ Guild, person obviously far more qualified than me to do so! It’ll be a tight squeeze in between my duties as Archmage of the College of Winterhold and whatever the fuck they call the Fighter’s Guild in this goddamn game, but as neither of those positions force any responsibilities whatsoever on me, I think I can squeeze a little optional gold collection in. Do make sure nobody knows I’m an assassin for the Dark Brotherhood, though, won’t yAHAHAHAHAHA! I couldn’t keep a straight face! Yeah, no, nobody seems to care about that. Do you? No? Fantastic! Now let me tell you about the time I stole the clothes of everyone in Whiterun for no reason…”

    Sure, it’s a deeply stupid narcissistic power fantasy, and I honestly do wish more choices had at least some consequences, but other games can give me what I want in those regards. I remember Dark Souls coming out the same year as Skyrim, for example, and it was fantastic, because each game was the perfect counterpoint to the other. When the player empowerment would get a little too overt in Skyrim, I’d save the game and pop Dark Souls in, and it was like, “This game doesn’t give a fuck about me, and I love it.” When I would lose 30000 souls because I accidentally fell off a ledge or something, I’d save DS and pop Skyrim in, and I’d wrap myself in the lovely security blanket of a gameworld giving a fuck about nothing but me. It sounds odd, I suppose, but the combination of those two games was infinitely soothing, because Dark Souls was teaching me to put the work in and stop fearing failure, and Skyrim was teaching me to stop dreading success, because it can be kind of awesome.

    Both of those lessons – whether or not they were imparted intentionally – were extremely helpful to me, as a person with anxiety disorder and as a writer.

    Anyway, I’d better quit this discursive ramble before I start talking about using sheep’s bladders to prevent earthquakes. Thanks again for the article, John. :D

    • MikhailG says:

      Wow, that was an interesting read.
      I think I haven’t had anyone hear yet that they hate that thing about Far Cry 3/4, but that is exactly my biggest issue with the games! 3 was so bloody ADHD that I wasn’t even done with the tutorial which was still giving me instructions, meanwhile the game had constant blinking in the corner: “Hunt mission available. Assassination mission available. HERB GATHER AVAILABLE. BOAT SAILING AVAILABLE. LOOK AT ALL THIS STUFF YOU STILL SHOULD DO GET TO IT WHY HAVEN’T YOU DONE IT YET OMG YOU’RE THE WORST.” and I just looked at the game asking it: “Hey can we at least finish the tutorial mission then we can try to finish your million tiny side missions?”. I feel the game would be miles better just for omitting those reminders, which funnily like to randomly pop up while playing, just gently reminding you that you haven’t done a few things yet, no matter if you had the time to do it yet. I both think its horrible game design, but it is even more horrifying for people with the kind of anxiety thing I have, any reminder that I still need to do some specific thing can sometimes lead to a freakout/anger fit.
      I don’t need that in a game.
      That said, I kinda dig FC4 when its not being an abusive parent, just for that mentioned meditative, do whatever you want no consequences power fantasy I can shoot anything (except a honey badger). I am also intrigued that you played Skyrim and DS in tandem, as you said they are definitively very contrasting games. Personally, I could not do that kind of switch as I like to dedicate myself to one game. Maybe I should try it sometimes.
      Any chances of letting me preread your novel? Am curious what it is about now xD

  19. Flit says:

    I doubt the legitimacy of my fears every day, thanks for clearing my head. I was sitting in a fog again without realizing it. You’re giving me my money’s worth. :)

    Not to mention these comments! Thanks, everyone.

    Oops, I’m welling up.

  20. Gap Gen says:

    Like you say, games can have both effects – they can help deal with anxiety or other issues (I like Jim’s “prosthetic reality” idea) but I can find myself using it as a crutch and avoiding facing those issues.

  21. Guvornator says:

    That there is a properly good article. Thanks John! I have some anxiety, mainly around other people. Not too bad, although a very jetlagged me had some form of internalised panic attack at a RPG meet when I was surrounded by strangers. Not much fun, though, I’d say it’s probably high-end shyness rather than fully fledged anxiety disorder. I also had issues around multiplayer games. This article from Mr Cobbett helped, although I have quit both Titanfall and Hawken because of abuse link to richardcobbett.com

    • spacedyemeerkat says:

      Yes, Richard Cobbett’s excellent article resonated with me, too. Thanks for reminding me of it.

    • MikhailG says:

      I’d just like to chip it that, while I am no professional, I am going out on a limb and guessing you might have some sort of social anxiety.
      Anyway all I wanted to say is, even if its small and bound to other people, I would not dismiss it/underestimate it. You sound like you generally have it under control, just don’t end up like some of us accidentally ignoring an issue until it becomes a bigger issue.
      That said, you should know best about your own feelings. Maybe talk to a friend about it or something. Anyway sorry if it sounds bossy. Wishing you all the best, peace out.

  22. kimded says:

    Thank you for an informative article, all I will say is I have a lot to think on.

  23. Premium User Badge

    onesandzeroes says:

    My anxiety disorder left me unable to eat a meal in a restaurant half the time. Head-swimming, feeling like I wanted to puke, etc. Seeing a clinical psychologist lead to massive improvements in a surprisingly small number of sessions and a pretty short amount of time, considering how long I’d been dealing with it. I wouldn’t say I’m “cured”, but I can definitely recommend seeking out a psychologist if you’re in a similar spot.

    That said, there’s a difference between a clinical psychologist, who has years of training and education, and a counsellor. Good psychologists should be using treatment methods that have been shown to work through careful research, like CBT. Depending on which country you’re in, counsellors might not need *any* qualifications or education.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      Yes, you make an excellent point. In the UK anyone can be a “counsellor” without accreditation or qualification. It’s always worth checking the credentials, or being referred by another medical professional.

    • Gap Gen says:

      In France one issue is selective coverage. Psychotherapy isn’t covered by social security but psychiatry is. This can make it quite expensive to get help in a non-medical context.

  24. PsychoWedge says:

    I went through over a decade of depression and social anxieties without ever knowing what it was. From the age of 15-16 to 27-28 I just thought that’s what its like to be growing up and be an adult. I thought it’s normal to not have feelings anymore, to be apathetic towards anything, to often think about how cool it would be to be dead, to suffer from panic attacks in normal social situations (like going to the baker or something) and so on and on. I guess I’m a bit naive (or stupid xD) but it never even crossed my mind that something could be wrong up there in my brain.

    And then sometime in 2011 I was frolicking through youtube clips like you do in the middle of the night and I don’t know how or why but I landed on Stephen Fry’s bipolar documentary and I watched it because I like Stephen Fry. And that thing kinda broke my world and blew my mind at the same time. When all these people were describing their manic phases I was all like ‘this is pretty interesting’ but then they were talking about their depressive phases and I was sitting there, in front of my screen in an otherwise pitch black room, not able to comprehend what I was hearing. Because they were describing quite accurately what I was feeling/not feeling on a pretty daily basis. But you see, they had an official condition. They were properly diagnosed and stuff. It was a thing. And that could mean, I had a thing too and it could mean that all these years of wondering and questioning and despairing at how all the people around me could _possibly_ cope with all the apathy and sadness and being tired of having to live might easily be explained by four simple words: They don’t have it. Which as a concept was sooooo alien to me that I needed a month or so to get over it.

    I’ve had quite a bit of therapy since then and I feel better in general but it is still a strange life all in all. But yeah, this initial moment of enlightenment, of realization, can be incredibly freeing and liberating.

  25. Blackrook says:

    Nice article about a difficult to talk about subject.

    At 43 I’ve been fighting OCD for 20+ years – I put on the sunny ‘normal’ face most of the time in public,
    and people don’t see the ‘unusual’ rituals etc I do when they aren’t looking.

    Gaming is for me a break from reality – a safe hole where I can stop thinking of that stuff,
    but also the guild I have been in for 10+ years (starting with UT2004) are
    great friends when otherwise I might not speak to other people.

  26. Premium User Badge

    weirdcitizen says:

    Thank for this John.
    These are the articles that form the reason why I’m such a big fan of RPS.

  27. D70CW6 says:

    I like warm hugs.

  28. psepho says:

    Thanks for this article, John.

  29. TomxJ says:

    Hello, I Have Bipolar Disorder – And Gaming Helps.

    As do other coping mechanisms, medication and just jolly well rolling with the damn thing. Like you John i’ve come to accept that my “mind is a bit broken” so alot of time I give it room to breath and let myself slip off the rails. But as life has thrown more responsibilities at me i’ve come to even control that aspect to a certain degree and, Im not really sure how to describe it other than, gaming ‘fills in the gaps’.

    Bipolar is a complicated little Imp and with caution i’m usually fine, but if my mind is racing at least i’m occupied and not doing any damage. If its caved in on itself I can usually slip my arm from under the bed covers and pick up the controller, which is one step closer to maybe showering.

  30. steviebops says:

    There’s a lot of familiar in here. One thing that bothers me, even when Im coping, is the intense fatigue that seems to come with it all.

  31. Agnosticus says:

    How great of you to share your story with us. Thanks!

  32. UCBONES says:

    Thank you.

  33. scannerbarkly says:

    Great article. :)

    I actually run a little site dedicated to mental health and gaming, definitely gonna link to this as I am sure people will appreciate it.

  34. ansionnach says:

    Respect. As a reasonably open person I’ve found it wise to consider what you share with certain people and the open internet is full of plenty of these “certain people” who will twist what you say and flat out lie to harm or even destroy you. You do find out who these people are pretty quickly, though. It is best to keep your distance from those who’re always scheming and involved in mind games. All that said, I don’t like past experiences to sour my outlook on life and think I’ll still offer my hand to help others while I have the physical strength to do so. I’ve gone through unbearable amounts of stress trying to help resolve such situations and this recently resulted in very serious, prolonged, pneumonia… and one terrifying night when I was alone and too weak to go to hospital (felt I would expire in my country’s awful health system so took my chances – don’t advise this to anyone else). I don’t think I have any actual problems myself beyond sensitivity and perhaps even empathy, not sure I have any worthwhile advice for anyone, don’t particularly want to caution anyone about the potential dangers of helping somebody who may not want your help (and in this case, as it turned out, was secretly involved in character assassination). Maybe all I want to say is to do what you feel is right, but make sure to look after yourself as well. As a puzzle solver from an infant to Lemmings to my job, sometimes you can’t fix something before you expire yourself… and if your help is unwelcome perhaps everything you do, no matter how genuine, will just make things worse. Maybe if the person is insincere and full of tricks, steer clear as soon as you realise this. Maybe this is unhelpful in this thread, especially for somebody suffering from paranoia. Last thing I’ll say about this is that if you feel you’re being bullied online get out of there. Call it a lack of understanding but all the press sensationalism can get stuffed – nothing beats real bullying that you can’t easily get away from (e.g. in the work place). I have no experience of the former, though, and I’m sure it’s a different matter for those of us for whom online is part of their job.

    On being positive and helping others, don’t think I’ve seen it communicated better than here:
    link to imdb.com

    On the “gamer” stereotype, I found this film I saw on a flight recently absolutely outrageous and disgraceful:
    link to imdb.com
    It won the best foreign language Oscar in 2011 but I found it vacuous, poorly-written (what parent allows their child to be interrogated by the police alone, without a lawyer?) and dangerous. One of the children in the film is an unstable loner who is prone to acts of violence and actually bombs a car. A strong part of his “characterisation” is showing that he plays FPS games. This is always accompanied by a sense of menace and is how it is revealed that the kid is disturbed. On the subject of “gamers” there’s been a lot of wild, undirected rage of late. I’m sure there must be genuine people among them, perhaps from those who can’t quite pinpoint what they mean or communicate it effectively. Blanket statements attacking perceived groupings of people will do a lot of wrong to a lot of people, whether the statement is against “gamers” “SJWs”, people with mental health problems, Jews, Muslims, Christians, atheists, whatever else you’ve got. Take people as they are. If they’re a dick they’ve earned that themselves, not because they’re in such and such a club.

    I’ve got no qualifications in any sort of counselling, make no apologies for “spoiling” such a rotten film. Sure, watch it yourself and let me know what you think.

  35. Ivan says:

    Hi John and RPS Hivemind,

    I just also wanted to chime in and say thanks for this article… though not because it directly speaks to me. Rather, I think it directly speaks to my wife, who has suffered from these same issues for about as long as I’ve known her. I doubt I could get her to read this article because “Rock Paper Shotgun? Is that some kind of NRA booster club?” but, I have a good feeling it would speak to her. I think the part that really kind of made a click in my own head was the thing about multitasking – I can’t multitask at all and deal with tasks myopically, but she can’t function unless she’s multitasking on at least three things. I always thought it was a personality trait and not anything related to OCD/AD, but I guess that may not necessarily be the case.

    In any case, I have a query that I guess I’m not expecting any silver bullet answers for, but I can still hope: a big challenge for her is that while she likes to do stuff that helps, in the same way that John describes above, she has a very high “acceptance bar” for a game or even an activity (books, TV shows, movies, board games, anything) that she finds fun/enjoyable/worth her time. As such, I think we run into an additional challenge which is that even if gaming is a recourse for her, it becomes very hard to find a particular game that will be acceptable for that recourse. Again, I don’t know if there are any silver bullet solutions to this, and I doubt there are, but I figured it was worth a try.. basically “how do you find things to like when the process of trying new things is something that causes you further stress and will just lead you to crawl back into whatever you were doing before, even if it’s gotten somewhat stale and you don’t find it provides as much relief anymore as a result…”

    • MikhailG says:

      I am not going to claim I have similar tastes to your wife, or a similar approach to entertainment, but what made me reply is that you mentioned that she has a high bar set up and doesn’t just play anything. Imma try give a few advices since I’ve noticed I’ve started setting a high bar myself, for various reasons. One of them being that they are simply not engaging to me, the other one being that I’ve played and read so much about games (or just shows and movies in general) that I don’t find them interesting unless they are doing something unusual or have a new spin.
      Sadly there’s only two things I can recommend: Reading up a lot in front about a game before you try it. Is it in the genre she likes, the kind of story she engages with with interest etc. Maybe make her ask friends about opinions on it if that’s an option and doesn’t cause stress. Secondly, maybe play these games together, or you go ahead and watch play them yourself and make a guess as to if she would like it.
      Sadly, the only way I’ve found to manage this high bar of my own is ridiculous amounts of research (which is to me at least very therapeutic in its own), and going off by peoples recommendations. As I said, maybe just doing things together will help as well, since I know I enjoy entertainment leagues more when I have a friend or my spouse with me on the ride.
      Hope it helps if any. In the end all I can say you and her will have to find a way how to deal with it yourself as no person is equal and not everyone deals with the same stimuli the same.

  36. BaconAndWaffles says:

    Thanks for sharing. And thanks for reaching out to others.

  37. andreanon says:

    Hi, I created an account solely to reply to this article which has really just made my situation click. For the past couple of months i have thought of myself as just depressed and have never really looked up this anxiety disorder but after reading your experiences i’ve just noticed all the parallels between your use of gaming as coping and mine.

    I too have a insanely active mind and if im not multi-tasking or doing something that completely absorbs my attention i start thinking about all my issues and start panicking and creating scenarios in my head that drive me insane. So what i do is i play games and i watch shows on my laptop at the same time, it is the only way that i can distract myself from the thoughts in my head. After reading this article i am going to read the links you provided and hopefully finally get around to seeing a doctor about my issues as i realize i cant hide behind my coping mechanisms forever.

    Thank you for posting this article

  38. Pantalaimon says:

    Another article that makes me incredibly happy that this site exists. Keep on being a positive force in this world, we’ll get there eventually!

  39. Godly12 says:

    Excellent write up. I am glad that you are finding ways to cope. I too suffer from the same illness with some others added to it as well. Ive suffered from deep depression for so long that I dont remember a time I wasnt. Ive been in hospitals for treatment and Ive been on medications for most of my adult life. I have bad thoughts and in the past Ive acted on them trying to commit suicide. Im not happy about it but Im not ashamed over it either. I still have those thoughts and I probably always will. Its just something I have to live with. Recently Ive been on a downward spiral due to the loss of a few very close family members. Ive lost my Dad to brain cancer and watching him pretty much die and dwindle away has done things to me that I never imagined could happen. Soon after losing him I lost my grandmother. A whole six months went by before we lost her suddenly. Another 5 passed and we lost my Great Aunt who lived with us. Then I lost my grandfather. It just seemed as if everyone close to me was dying. All I have left is my Mother, my brother, his son and my uncle. Thats all of the close family I have left. Some days I dont even get out of bed because I dont want to face any part of life. I practically have NO LIFE anymore. The only times that I feel releif from my pain is when I get deeply involved in a game. It seems to take me away and allows me to be something and someone else for brief periods of time. I have always been a gamer and now even more so when I can get myself to play. I have more games than I can even play as I seem to actually collect them more than I play them. My mind races and jumps from one thing to another and its like someone switching channels and never settling on one thing to watch on television. When I do make myself get involved in a game or on my good days when I feel like playing I will play them all day long. If not for gaming being a part of my life I believe I wouldnt be here right now. I know this has been long and probably boring to read but like the author says in the article, sometimes talking about it helps. I just wanted to state that I know where he is coming from and say that he isnt alone and that games have really helped me as well when I have been so depressed that I felt as if I couldnt take life for another day.

  40. Siimon says:

    Thank you for writing this piece.

  41. twaitsfan says:

    I think part of the reason that a few articles last year – that made nuanced arguments about the possible unhelpfulness of the term “gamer” – were so wildly misunderstood, is because gaming as a pursuit has often been the solace of people who are suffering. I’m not talking about tiresome clichés, but of a broad range of people and personality types, from the genuinely lonely and isolated, to the apparently gregarious and outgoing.

    Thank you for this John. I’ve had OCD since I was 7 and now have adult ADD. And video games have helped me through many things. At one point my OCD sabotaged my gaming ( making me think that by gaming I could affect reality), and things got Very Bad.

    Suffice it to say, I’ve been in therapy for a long time for it and it has helped to some degree. But at least I can game now in peace, and at least I can recharge somewhat successfully. I have two young children and it makes the maintenance more difficult, so as a new parent, if you’re feeling overwhelmed speak up early and often.

  42. Deviija says:

    I appreciate you writing this piece and sharing it with us. It’s important and worth talking about, as a real thing that many face and something that still earns very negative public perception. Anyone with a mental health issues is still badly treated in the media and by the misinformed. It also makes people ashamed and frightened because they might not be “normal,” which is something the media and misinformed also reinforces, and that causes people to not want to seek out help that they need, help that can actually help them live a better life, a healthier life, and find more peace. It’s sad but all too common. The more we talk about it, educate, and understand each other, the better it will be for many people.

    Likewise, I have anxiety disorder. It developed in my late teens abruptly with panic attacks. I had always been what everyone would call a “worrier” or “worrywart” since I was a babe, overly concerned and worried about everything and to distressing ends. As far back as I can remember, anxiety has always been an issue, but I just thought it was a combination of Life Is Stressful (as my life did have a lot going on throughout the years) and just being a shy young person. It made more sense when things came to a head in my late teens, and the anxiety became a huge obstacle on a daily basis, and the emergence of panic attacks emphasized that there was something going on. I did seek help. The most important thing I understood: there wasn’t anything “wrong” with me, I was going to be okay, and many others have this hurdle to face as well. May sound small, but that did a lot to alleviate many of my fears and worries about what was happening.

    But like John mentions, this is why playing games has been, is, and will always be important to me. Playing games has always been a huge part of my life, but it has always been an aid in coping and relaxation and de-stressing and catharsis for me. It helps distract when my worries/anxiety begins to spike. I can take a break, sit/lay down in a resting state, put a game on, and let my mind drift and focus on an exterior distraction rather than interior cannibalizing worries. Gardening also helps, as it’s that almost zen-like state you can achieve while focused on a task, repeating it, enjoying it, being surrounded by creativity and art/nature and enjoyable circumstances, etc. Positive coping outlets (everyone is different and has to find their own that work) are immensely helpful and can make all the difference in the world.

  43. Tukuturi says:

    Thanks for sharing this, John. And thanks to everyone else sharing their stories in the comments.

    I’ve suffered from anxiety and sensory overload basically my entire life. I think I can say without exaggeration that gaming and music are the reasons I’m still alive. One would think stressful games with lots of sensory inputs would exacerbate my problems, and sometimes they do, but often they are the only reprieve I get from drowning in the constant sound and light and fear of meatspace. In some weird way, games put my brain in a totally different mode where I can focus down on the signal and turn down the noise. For me, playing games and listening to music are acts of meditation. They are acts of devotion. They are acts of salvation.

  44. satan says:

    Ah I need to put more thought/time into what I want to say, to be continued.

  45. rebb says:

    Try having social anxiety and spending a lot of time on the internet, where a surprising amount of people will happily treat you like shit for no good reason at all :).
    It’s an interesting rock / hard place situation to say the least.

  46. kalzekdor says:

    Thanks for the article. I have a friend with AD, but it’s hard to get him to open up about it, which makes it difficult for me to help. This was an interesting look into the mindset of one suffering similarly.

    My own experiences with and responses to depression were very different. When I was 20 I was hospitalized due to a rare form of cancerous tumor growing inside my fifth thoracic vertebrae. I had two major surgeries (my upper spine is now about 50% titanium), radiation therapy, months of being unable to get out of my hospital bed under my own power, and months of grueling physical therapy. I have also experienced pain such that I am unable to put into words. To this day (nearly 8 years later), I suffer from chronic pain, though thankfully nowhere near what it once was.

    Understandably, during the first few years I suffered from depression. Rarely did I leave my bed, not least of all because of the physical pain that I would have to endure. That pain slowly became the center of my decision making process. Every action had an extra cost associated with it, completely wrecking my cost/benefit analysis. So, I would lay in bed, binging Netflix, and thinking of all the things that were no longer possible for me.

    I tried antidepressants, but by this point I had built up massive drug tolerances from my stays in the hospital. Coupled with my pain medication, I barely even felt their effects, beyond a minor increase in energy. Eventually, I saw a therapist, and while she helped a little, mostly I found that just having a sounding board that I didn’t have to put on a facade for allowed me to sort through my thoughts and emotions and examine them from an objective perspective. My life had derailed just as it was getting started (I had to drop out of college.), and afterwards everything revolved around the cancer. I was rudderless.

    I knew I needed a goal, something to strive for beyond just surviving. For a while, the goal of simply finding a goal sufficed. A few months later, fortuitously, a few friends were looking to make changes in their lives as well. All of us had experience in the IT field, so we decided to start a business together. I can’t say that it’s been smooth sailing since then, but just having that reason to get up in the morning made a world of difference for me.

    From what I understand, though, I don’t think much of this applies to AD, but I figured I’d share anyway.

    • MikhailG says:

      Don’t worry about it not being about AD, it has a lot to do about how depressive people deal with and experience depression, I think it was an interesting read in any case. I can certainly relate to the extra cost that pain brings with it, something that I wish young people wouldn’t have to go through. One should not be 20 something and feel like they are barely walking like a 70 year old (talking from my experience, but your surgery sounded quite similar in feel). You’re indeed right in any case, one goal, no matter what kind of, helps a lot.

  47. CaidKean says:

    “I have anxiety disorder. It’s a form of OCD, weirdly, despite more often being categorised under “depression”.”

    Sorry, but this statement is incorrect. Anxiety disorder is NOT a form of OCD. It’s OCD that is a form of anxiety disorder. In other words, you can have anxiety disorders without having OCD. But you can’t have OCD without having an anxiety disorder (Since the OCD is a type of anxiety disorder)

    I am sorry to nitpick on what is otherwise a great article, but seeing as I myself suffer from two types of anxiety disorders I feel it is important, especially with regards to various psychiatric disorders, not to muddle stuff as that can cause confusion for people who are not familiar with these things.

    So to be clear: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a type of Anxiety Disorder, not the reverse.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      Thank you – fixing it now.

      • CaidKean says:

        No, thank you John!

        Both for taking my nitpicking in good spirit and for an article that gives young(er) people like myself who have similar troubles an example that one can overcome these issues and that it’s important not to give up hope.

        I really do believe that every single article on this subject that is as genuine as this one performs an important service to people in general who are suffering from mental disorders of various forms because it helps reduce the stigma that still surrounds these disorders to a far greater extent than ‘traditional’ physical impairments/disabilities/disorders.

        This is probably one of my top three articles ever on RPS, both because of the subject and how well you handle writing about it.

  48. shagen454 says:

    I think gaming might help a little depending on who you are.

    I suffered as well from anxiety disorder in my mid-20’s into my early 30’s. I certainly felt at ease playing WoW back then and getting lost in it’s beautiful toonery.

    What cured my anxiety was ,seriously, a 60mg “breakthrough” on DMT. No joke. Did not have anxiety for years after that. So depending on who you are, why not LIVE the hyperspace video game reality every once in a while ; that might clear it up and quite literally.

  49. Aetylus says:

    In their way games can also help those without mental health issues understand them. My wife suffered from post natal depression after our first child and it was very difficult for me to understand the sudden change in her. Depression Quest gave me by far the best insight into what was going on and why she couldn’t just ‘snap out of it’. I’m certain it made me more sympathetic to what was going on,and thus helped her to deal with it.

  50. LennyLeonardo says:

    Love and hugs, John.
    Martin Seif’s words really resonate with me, especially the stuff about intrusive obsessive thoughts, which I have struggled with all my life, which nearly ended as a result many years ago. Games have been both poison and elixir through it all, but figuring out how to game in a healthy way has been a big part of improving my life in general. Anyway, thanks for this, Mr Walker, you’re the best.