In honor of World Mental Health Day, we have an anonymous post.
When I started playing MMO’s in my 20’s, little did I know that over two decades later I would still be finding joy, community and friendship in it. There are simply things I never knew would happen in my life and could never fathom them. I grew as the gaming community too grew. But while we both grew I also went through everything from being told gaming was a horrible addiction that would ruin my life, to hiding it from my friends who thought it was “weird,” to pretending NOT be a chick to keep creepers away.
Along the way my perspective changed as I grew older. I saw connections being made where oftentimes they wouldn’t have happened even if people tread the same paths in life. People connecting on a level that otherwise would have simply been missed, becoming part of a community where they could be supported and thrive instead of feeling shunned and different. I recall playing with a woman who hadn’t left her house in over 25 years, the grips of Agoraphobia triggering massive panic attacks anytime she had to open the door. WoW gave her the social connection that she missed out on for so much of her adult life. In the world of Azeroth she never needed to fear being out and participating in things.
I went through one of the darkest periods in my life near the end of Classic and it wasn’t because of the game. In fact it was WoW and the people I met that pulled me from that depth of depression and asked me, as my friends, to put away the bottle that was always in my hands. I had shut out everyone else in my life but could escape into a world where all the horrible things that had happened could simply cease to exist. Phone calls, Ventrilo till the wee hours of the dawn, raiding and planning, people far off in other places that genuinely cared about my well being.
I rose up, I moved on, I dusted off the old version of myself and made her whole again and could look in the mirror and see traces of what I had learned. Something I perhaps wouldn’t have been able to do without the connections I had forged while gaming. They were there, even at a distance, gently prodding me to remind me I mattered, that I had worth and something to keep moving forward to. That my gifts were special and that they were something only I could give to others. That it was simply one step at a time as they held my hands from afar and kept encouraging me to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
I found the man that I would end up loving with my entire heart and soul while playing WoW who gifted me with the most beautiful children in the world. I found friends that even though we don’t game together anymore we are still friends — we talk, we grieve, we laugh and we celebrate.
Twenty year old me never knew that making that very first character would give me so many wonderful things to be thankful for. That it would help shape me into the strong woman that I became. That the people I would meet would be with me still two decades later. That in the end life is the ultimate raid boss, we can let it wipe us and just never res; or we can run back to our corpse with our raid team, repair our armor and keep going.