Mental Health

This is the place where you can conflab about all the other stuff besides videogames
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arry_g
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Mental Health

Post by arry_g »

Hi guys,

As part of the whole Time To Change/Time to Talk campaign I am trying to raise awareness of the different aspects of mental health. Recently I have had health issues partly related to stress and anxiety and am keen to get the word out to as many people as possible that mental health comes in many forms (including this one). Would some of you be willing to share my recent blog post (http://wp.me/p3Hx75-M) on your Twitter feeds, Facebook feeds or even just have a read yourself or if you don't feel comfy with that maybe point people towards http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/?gclid ... tAodBCgAyA?

Sorry to bother you with a personal crusade/agenda but I feel like at least some of you (like me) have fallen victim to stress, depression or anxiety and I just want as many people aware of as many different iterations of it as possible.

Aaron

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arry_g
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Re: Mental Health

Post by arry_g »

Hmm... I've already have had negative comments from a family member about being open and have been told that in discussing or encouraging people to understand all this just makes me look "mental" to other people. Bit of a knock to my self-esteem.

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ratsoalbion
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Re: Mental Health

Post by ratsoalbion »

I think it's an admirable thing to do.

As a fellow sufferer I'm always honest with people about my propensity towards anxiety and bouts of depression (sometimes mild, sometimes moderate, occasionally severe).
Some people still don't want to talk or hear about this stuff but it affects so many people.

I'll definitely be sharing your link Aaron. Please don't be discouraged.

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Scrustle
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Re: Mental Health

Post by Scrustle »

arry_g wrote:Hmm... I've already have had negative comments from a family member about being open and have been told that in discussing or encouraging people to understand all this just makes me look "mental" to other people. Bit of a knock to my self-esteem.
That's abysmal. Exactly the kind of thing that shows why we need to be more open about mental health issues. So insensitive and ignorant.

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ratsoalbion
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Re: Mental Health

Post by ratsoalbion »

Scrustle wrote:
arry_g wrote:Hmm... I've already have had negative comments from a family member about being open and have been told that in discussing or encouraging people to understand all this just makes me look "mental" to other people. Bit of a knock to my self-esteem.
That's abysmal. Exactly the kind of thing that shows why we need to be more open about mental health issues. So insensitive and ignorant.
Agreed.

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arry_g
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Re: Mental Health

Post by arry_g »

Thank you guys. Very much appreciated.

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Beck
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Re: Mental Health

Post by Beck »

Hey bud,

It's a brave thing to do and I wouldn't let anyone say otherwise. One thing I would pass on is that you shouldn't rush back into your old lifestyle. As hard as it may be, it's your health and that's more important than what people think.

In 2014 I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune condition which I very nearly died from last year. I was so eager to return to work, I didn't want to be seen as I was faking it. I was keen to prove that I was OK. I went back too early, and crashed, hard. I have since discovered that I was suffering from some sort of stress related thing, the first bit of bad news and I lost it. I didn't sleep, I stopped eating and just completely fell apart. I'm doing a lot better now and hopefully my condition will be controlled by the summer. Albeit with some lifestyle changes :)

Take your time and assess what's best for you. I found a great support group as a medium for release.

All the best :)

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arry_g
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Re: Mental Health

Post by arry_g »

Thanks for sharing your experiences. It's sad to hear you've been having a hard time too. There are some similiraties I think and honestly, I am terrified of going back because my work is very project focused with a lot of tight deadlines and pressure to deliver. So, I'll definitely take your advice on board - at the moment my approach is complete honesty with friends, family and work and hoping that if they understand why I need to hold myself back sometimes.

I have no clue if that's the right approach because some people just warn me off, others stay silent - not questioning, commenting or having any real reaction (which feels like silent judgement even though it might not be but others really engage and either try to understand or in some cases speak up and talk of their experiences. I hope this whole #timetotalk thing helps and at the very least I hope to raise awareness amongst the people who I live with, I'm at work work with and even interact with online.

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magicjoef
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Re: Mental Health

Post by magicjoef »

ratsoalbion wrote:
Scrustle wrote:
arry_g wrote:Hmm... I've already have had negative comments from a family member about being open and have been told that in discussing or encouraging people to understand all this just makes me look "mental" to other people. Bit of a knock to my self-esteem.
That's abysmal. Exactly the kind of thing that shows why we need to be more open about mental health issues. So insensitive and ignorant.
Agreed.
I just don't understand how people can react like that. There's support here :)

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Re: Mental Health

Post by BBoyEdgy »

Great post. I work in Mental Health as a low intensity CBT Therapist and we've been involved in the Time to Talk day last week. I can't overstate enough how important it is to try and talk and share what's on our minds (which I know is easier said than done) as it can really make a huge amount of difference at times. :)

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arry_g
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Re: Mental Health

Post by arry_g »

magicjoef wrote:I just don't understand how people can react like that. There's support here :)
...and that is one on the reasons why this site has become one of the very few where I consider myself a community member these days.
BBoyEdgy wrote:Great post. I work in Mental Health as a low intensity CBT Therapist and we've been involved in the Time to Talk day last week. I can't overstate enough how important it is to try and talk and share what's on our minds (which I know is easier said than done) as it can really make a huge amount of difference at times. :)
Thank you! Me speaking up and pushing this topic comes from three places really 1) There is a large amount of social ignorance and bias on this topic I want to help other people understand the different forms mental health takes 2) I want others who suffer from stress, anxiety or depression to know they are not alone and 3) it acts as excellent therapy for me. I am many things, professionally I am a programmer but I am also what I consider a failed writer. When I was younger I wanted desperately to either write about videogames, good programming practices or politics but life took me down the route of programming (which is fine) and I will never be a writer now, I know this sounds dumb but I'm too old. I'm 27 with no qualifications in writing, a wife and son to support financially and no connections to any of the industries I would want to write in but writing about my experiences with stress and anxiety or my views on politics recently has helped me express the things that I am struggling to express in my life right now. I struggle to verbalise my views sometimes, so now I go back to what I did when I was younger and I write and when I need to talk about stress, anxiety or anything really it is easier because I've already put those thoughts it into words and I can just repeat those things and elaborate on them to the person I am talking to.

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Re: Mental Health

Post by ratsoalbion »

For what it's worth I got my first professional writing gig at age 40. Alright, so I'm not doing it right now but I plan to try to get some more freelance work in the future.
I only did a year but it was a fairly prestigious gig writing for The Press Association. The only shame was that BT didn't offer the support we needed to make the games site we wanted it to be.

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arry_g
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Re: Mental Health

Post by arry_g »

ratsoalbion wrote:For what it's worth I got my first professional writing gig at age 40. Alright, so I'm not doing it right now but I plan to try to get some more freelance work in the future.
I only did a year but it was a fairly prestigious gig writing for The Press Association. The only shame was that BT didn't offer the support we needed to make the games site we wanted it to be.
That's certainly food for thought.

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Re: Mental Health

Post by adwild1982 »

Hi Aaron
First of all mate nothing to me ashamed of in fact i think it should be commended that you have been open about you mental health issues in fact i think it shows an incredible strength to talk about it so openly. As someone who has suffered from similar issues i can tell you with good people around you it does and will get better. If you have read my post entitled Thank you you will have seen i had what can only be described as a bit of a shit year last year, but also that things do get better. I also had a few negative comments from friends and family who said i shouldn't be open about it, but i didn't think that it was abysmal in fact i felt that it was in some case and generational thing and that for older members of my family you just don't talk about thing like metal health and that it just how they have been brought up. As for younger members of my family i felt it was just that they lacked for want of a better word education of the topic and that's why i felt it important to talk about it help them understand what it was i was going through.
What i can say is that you are among friends within the Cane and Rinse family and i can tell you that you will get nothing but love and support from eveyone of them as i did.
Stay strong and if you ever need to talk am always willing to listen and as Taylor Swift says "Haters going to hate hate hate"
My rambling post done.
Adam

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Re: Mental Health

Post by Electric Crocosaurus »

Another year and another Blue Monday draws to a close. I thought I’d resurrect this thread in case there are any people struggling with mental health issues currently that might benefit from knowing about my experiences.

For those who aren’t familiar Blue Monday is the name given to the third Monday of January, supposedly the most depressing day of the year. The jury is out whether it’s helpful to label a day in this way: on the one hand it sheds light on mental health issues, on the other it puts undue focus on a single day and can put pressure on those who are already struggling.

I was diagnosed with depression during my second year of University. I won’t detail how it came to light, but suffice to say it was messy. Luckily the support I went on to receive was life-changing; a combination of one-to-one counselling and medication, all provided through our wonderful NHS. It was also a relief to finally know what was happening to me. For at least a year I had known that I wasn’t feeling myself; I wasn’t getting any enjoyment out of my usual hobbies, and there were periods of despair where I struggled to have much enthusiasm for anything.

With the right support in place I was able to manage my condition, and knowing that I am susceptible to periods of depression means that I can seek help when I feel my mood shifting. Unfortunately I’ve also seen first-hand the impact that a decade of cuts to public services have had in the UK; after having a difficult 2019 I’ve only recently been able to get a place with a local NHS self-help group, a far cry from the rapid, one-to-one care I received in 2006. I can only imagine how much harder it is to seek help for people who do not have the local support that I’m lucky to have, which is partly why I wanted to write this post.

So where do video games fit in with all of this? Games have been a useful tool during my lowest periods, allowing me a safe space to take shelter during my worst periods. Part of my experience with depression is a tendency to dwell on thoughts, going over them repeatedly until even the most innocent situation feels like a personal slight. Games can help to break this cycle, taking me out of my head as I focus on learning a game mechanic.

I also recognise that sometimes they can be too much of a crutch. The modern design of open-world games can lead to unhealthy obsessions; the compulsion to complete every single task on something like Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey generates its own anxiety when there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. I also notice that my frustration levels can rise when I play games that require greater skill and therefore result in failure, which is why walking simulators and the ilk are great for managing anxiety.

I write this without any judgment on anyone’s personal lifestyle; the experience of playing video games is broadly positive. But if there’s anyone reading this and feeling similar thoughts of despair, hopelessness or anxiety then I would encourage them to seek professional help. I can’t promise that there will be an easy fix, but there are almost always methods of managing mental health problems and no-one should need to face these problems alone.

ThirdMan

Re: Mental Health

Post by ThirdMan »

Thanks for taking the time to write that. It's of enormous comfort to me because mental health problems can be a very lonely place.

I have experience with childhood depression and it resurfaced again recently. But drug and alcohol abuse, anxiety, paranoia and binge-eating disorder have always been ticking away in the background. I kept things mostly bottled up until 2014 when my step-father died. Then my sister-in-law, who was very dear to me, died in 2015 age 36 followed by my father's premature passing in 2018. Things really kicked into gear then, coming to a head in 2019 with a series of aggressive anxiety attacks, obsessive behaviour and bouts of paranoia.

I also suffer from different bowel and stomach disorders which are exacerbated by stress. When they kick off I'm out of work, often for months at a time. This has really held back my career. I was on the verge of fully qualifying as a solicitor, having studied law as a mature student, but those forced breaks threw a spanner in the works meaning I still haven't managed to get over the finish line. I've been in a relationship for 17 years but that almost came crashing down in 2019 because the things we want (children, marriage, our own home) are all out of our reach or worryingly impractical given how volatile and uncertain my private and professional life is.

I hope that doesn't sound like a self-pitying tale of woe. It's not meant to be. I just think it's important to shine a light on the multi-factorial nature of a deteriorating mental health. It's why being told to "cheer up" or being asked "what's wrong?" seriously pisses me off. The respective answers, "I can't" and "everything", never seem to satisfy my hapless inquisitor.

My experience of playing games throughout all of this has been broadly in line with yours. A useful therapeutic tool but also a focal point for so much of my obsessive and negative behaviour. My stop/start, love/hate relationship with games and consoles is a running joke on here among those that can remember my (now deleted) ramblings. In reality it's a major problem.

I've been attending both psychotherapy and CBT counselling for the past 9 months and we've been digging deep on why I have this problem with games in particular. In summary, I have an obsessive, box-ticking personality. Games offer me a way of satisfying that urge. Completing missions, seeing numbers go up, enjoying the finality of closing credits. Those are ways for me to close things off, to enjoy the feeling of a completed job. When things are going well then it can be useful. In 2017 I was flying through games, books, films and, more importantly, exams! There were boxes being ticked all over the place and I was growing and making progress where it actually matters, in the real world! My obsessive urge was driving me onward.

But when the wheels come off, as they did from 2018 onward, then my obsessive urge becomes a major obstacle. Being off work due to illness and not being able to exercise and tire myself out, means I have time and energy to focus obsessively on games. I become overwhelmed. Achievement/Trophy lists become unbearable catalogues of never-to-be-completed tasks. I delete game. I sell games. I delete entire accounts. I trade-in or give away hardware. I justify ludicrous impulse decisions. It's agony. And yet I keep coming back because I love games and on some fundamental level they offer me something I crave and cannot get anywhere else. Then there are games like Breath of the Wild and Red Dead Redemption 2 where the box-ticking all but disappears and I'm lost in pure exploration and pleasure. I challenge any therapist to make me feel as good as Arhur Morgan makes me feel! I have an insatiable appetite for finding the next game that offers me that feeling because in those hours I'm happy and satisfied.

And that's just games. I frequent other advice and support forums where I say similar things about food, about doing too much exercise, bingeing through unhealthy amounts of films and TV, about being driven to near breakdown when the team I support isn't doing well (I support Man U, go figure). All obsessive, destructive behaviour, that relies on a need to do or complete something. It's very destructive and drives me bananas.

Anyway I'm losing my train of thought and beginning to ramble. But that's my story. It's a work in progress. Thankfully things are on the up but I can't afford to become complacent. I need to successfully manage my hobbies and my health because they aren't natural bedfellows.

Edit: Apologies for the frequent typos and edits. I'm adjusting to a new and larger keyboard.

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Re: Mental Health

Post by Alex79uk »

I think it's fair to say this forum is definitely a safe place, though. I've found it to be a tremendous support network over the years, and once you start talking about things it's amazing how many other people open up about their own stories.

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Re: Mental Health

Post by Electric Crocosaurus »

ThirdMan wrote: January 21st, 2020, 1:19 pm I hope that doesn't sound like a self-pitying tale of woe. It's not meant to be. I just think it's important to shine a light on the multi-factorial nature of a deteriorating mental health.
*THIS* Part of the reason why I didn't get help for so long is because I've always been very independently minded and didn't want to talk about things that I thought I could just sort out by having a positive attitude and getting on with it. It felt like self-pity, and that had never been my style. But one of the best analogies my first counsellor said to me was that 'we wouldn't expect someone with a broken leg to run a marathon', and having mental health issues can be just as debilitating.

I live my partner who is currently suffering with a number of physical conditions, which is why I still struggle with feeling guilty when I talk about my own mental health. But someone else being in a worse condition than you does not invalidate your own experiences, and recognising your problems is always the first step to putting measures in place to manage them.

ThirdMan

Re: Mental Health

Post by ThirdMan »

Cane and Rinse and Gamers with Jobs are two of the safest and most encouraging places I've come across for speaking openly, particularly the latter because it's so active; within minutes you'll have people lining up to share their stories. Otherwise I definitely feel like I need a thick skin when I'm on forums. And I typically have one. My paranoid speed wobble in 2019 was very uncharacteristic. In fact I've been speaking quite openly on this site since 2016 with no regrets whatsoever. I felt it was in the spirit of the podcast (there aren't many shows where the hosts or guests get emotional, even breaking down occasionally, over how a certain game effected their life).

However there's a time and place for it. Someone logging-in after work to talk games and unwind may not appreciate being bombarded with someone else's problems. And I respect that too. So there's a balance to be struck there. But this current thread is titled 'Mental Health' and is tucked away in the Off-Topic forums. If somebody clicks in here, reads our stories and then rolls their eyes, well then that's their problem. To paraphrase the late Christopher Hitchens, if someone precariously balances a chair on top of their toilet so they can stand up and look in through their neighbour's window, well then there's nothing you can do to prevent them from becoming offended. I'm willing to 'offend' those people because someone may eventually read this thread and realise they're not the only one and that it's okay to raise your hand and ask for help. It's a tired old cliche but if it helps one person then it will have been worth it.

ThirdMan

Re: Mental Health

Post by ThirdMan »

Electric Crocosaurus wrote: January 22nd, 2020, 10:04 amone of the best analogies my first counsellor said to me was that 'we wouldn't expect someone with a broken leg to run a marathon',
Similarly, when my GP saw that I was anxious about going on medication, he said that if you came hear with your asthma you'd be going home with an inhaler, but you arrived with anxiety so you're going home with a prescription. Such an obvious and simple analogy but it kicked down my resistance. I was unwell, I went to the doctor and now I'm taking medication as part of my recovery. Simple as that.

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