Ive been called out on here with having anxiety and social issues as if that makes my points moot. Its true, I do struggle socially and have some anxiety issues and depression, but I think that makes my points more poignant, as I make them first hand. In my life, Ive hardly ever touched drugs, Ive never had a drinking problem and Ive managed to maintain healthy and happy relationships. In my times of need when I didnt have people to reach out to, or they werent willing to help, video games became my way of escaping this sense of isolation.
I moved to Massachusetts from Maryland almost ten years ago. I didnt know anyone here, outside of my mom and her wife, and my exit from where I spent the majority of my life had its fair share of hostility. So I became that guy who lived in his moms basement.
Video games have always been in my life, they still are. As a kid, I remember playing on my dads Atari and him getting my brother and me a NES. Later I got a Genesis and I remember squealing with delight, I was 10. Throughout the years, Ive had a number of systems and have spent a large amount of time with each. This didnt become a problem until I had moved to Massachusetts and fell into my own pit of despair. Apologies for the cliché.
My best friend here at the time was a big gamer. He wanted as many friends as possible getting whatever system he had playing whatever games he wanted to play. When I met him, he wouldnt shut up about me getting a PC that would play World of Warcraft. Little did I know that this would take over my waking life and send me in an emotional tail-spin.
I played that damn game for nearly four years. I finally stopped after my now fiancée gave me an ultimatum and made me see what damage the game has done. I skipped work, often shirked plans and would spend my weekend obsessed with doing dungeons, raids and daily quests. Unfortunately the game missing from my life left a hole that I felt like I needed to fill as soon as possible.
My spending problems got worse again and my skipping out of work continued. I horded games and movies and they took over the majority of my attention. This caused a rift between me and my fiancée and I started therapy and continued to struggle. Having to learn things the hard way, as I often do, it took both my job and my relationship hanging by a thread to make me realize that I really did need to get my shit together.
My problems dont stem from video games alone, but from a lifelong miss-lesson that stuff is love. I believe doing stuff that makes you happy is important in life, but its also the balance of priorities and realizing whats really important that helps. Im by no means through my issues, but I acknowledge them and am now not ignoring them. I still enjoy gaming and know what games to avoid. I dont condone the use of gaming as a tool for healing depression, however. I believe that too much of one thing can lead to addiction/ emotional dependency, which leads to other kinds of issues and even more depression and instead of lessening the problem, it can expand it in other ways.