Disclaimer: I'm not talking about clinical depression, as I know very little about it and there're people who do know much more about it. This is merely my experience, feelings and perspective.
Not entirely sure where to begin with this. I want to write about my experience with depression and the connection gaming had in a direct or indirect manner with helping get me out of quite a bad rut. But I've no reason to divulge information about myself simply for the purpose of you guys knowing. The aim of this article is to hopefully reach out to those in a similiar position or disposition, as it were. I've seen other people in the community talk about how low they feel and I've read some posts regarding this topic, this is simply my two cents and while I don't assume it will help anyone, I do hope that even one person, will understand and know that all is not lost.
Long Ass Intro
When depressed, the easiest comfort is to succumb to the feeling of bleak, hopelessness. Sleeping is another powerful tool, it can mean blissful unconciusness, wto skip various hours of the day, thinking it would lead you closer to an end or a magical cure. But there is no magical cure to absolute discontentment and loss of hope. At least no instant one. People often ask "how" when they are discussing getting out of a rut and getting 'better'. How is a difficult question to answer coherently and words lose all meaning when you're at the lowest point. I don't want to stray here, but Yoda said it best "Do or do not... there is no try". Well there is no manual on 'how', it merely is.
You hate how people would say that "time was the greatest healer". I couldn't understand that and didn't want to.You don't see anything changing and that was because you hadn't actually given it time, instead being so adamant that a possible aid to sadness was ridiculous and yet was actively fighting it, shutting out time, like some sort of rum-loving Dr. Who.
But this is about the connection between gaming and how it helps. I wrote about it in a simple manner here
The main steps to breaking the curse of situational depression, is to be active. To not lie in bed, hoping for miracles. No you need to be the miracle worker, because any joy you start to get in those bouts of sorrow, may seem like a temprary miracle. Do simple things and if you can, you do big things as well. Take risks, without risking your safety.
Finally we get to the games
I've always played video games,. Games are a great form of entertain but also a means of time passing and if enthralling enough can make you forget for a moment whatever currently plagues your mind. A lot of the time when times were quite bad I wouldn't want to do anything, but when I did and played games I would play them all night long. An example being, in the space of a handful of days I had replayed Dragon Age II alone in order to get all the achievements, I also started to buy expansions to give me more games to play, to kill more time.
I joined a gaming forum, after being a front page lurker and started to frequent, reading blogs belonging to other gamers and found that they weren't just specific in their content, that some would speak about the social aspects and share similiar notions. I got back into blog writing myself and submitted them on Dtoid, my own blog site and this year, to others. The latter has had me interact with a wider audience, meet cool people and go to events where I get to play games, drink Japanese beer and see what it's like on the other side.
Via the main site I frequented, I met people online initially and would be talking to them daily on Skype or other mediums. Not only were they people to listen, but people to offer an ear to be heard as well. Jokes, gaming and meet ups occurred via this group, which kept expanding. You came out of you shell somewhat, while still maintaining 'safety first' protocols. You get into Steam and stick with it, go to conventions you hadn't before and have great times drinking and watching films like The Room with people. You know who you are. Yeah fallings out happened, that's inevitable when you're in a mixed group of strong opinated people.
Gaming as a direct hobby, occupies our minds. But you don't have to just pick up a game, play, immerse and leave it at that. Seek other avenues of interaction, try and make friends who share your hobby and get in-jokes you might make. Go to conventions, go to meet ups. Start a blog and write from the heart. Try new games suggested by people and make suggestions yourself. Read and be open minded, be true to your convictions but be aware that sometimes you might simply be just plain wrong.
Games exist at the moment, such as Actual Sunlight, (a game about, love and depression) that are covering common human emotions. Games are now delving into territories that use to be exclusive to literature, music and film.
The Definate Do-Do's& Donty Don'ts
Don't dismiss aid from people, especially if they've gone through depression themselves, but have no fear in believing that certain aspects you've summarised are correct. It's not about being right or wrong. Depression is something that means to consume you, but you alone can fight it off and it seems so impossible that it will ever go away, but it will.
You just need to - pull your finger out and do something about it. I'm serious, don't think no good will come and you will be miserable forever. Slap yourself...twice...because it's not the case. You'll push people away and push yourself down further. You can read lots of essays by people, you can talk and talk about the same issues, but at some point the talking will be repetative. The doing needs to be activated, the sooner that happens, the better.
I'm not very tactful, not that wise and am extremely stubborn at times, but I am humble. I acknowledge my flaws and try to better them and I acknowledged that after a year of sleeping through the day, walking at night and crying no matter daylight or dark, nothing will change unless you do something, even minisucle, seemingly pointless actions. There's no time frame on how long you're allowed to feel pangs of depression, but for your own sake, making an effort before it gets too long is advisable, heck it should be mandatory.