My Silent War – Struggling With Depression

After reading about Robin William’s passing away today on Twitter, I immediately started crying. I cried because it’s a terrible tragedy to lose such a talented comedian and beloved celebrity, but I also cried because I immediately thought, “That will be me someday.” Not with the millions of tweets and support that his well-deserved fame earned him, but with a similar police support, a similar cause of death, and the similar tragedy of a life ended too soon.

I am a troubled young woman. I’ve struggled with everything from self-harm to eating disorders to anxiety over the years, but the depression has been my most constant and crushing struggle for over a decade now. At first, I wrote it all off as part of being an angsty and hormonal teenager, but as the years went by, I started to realize that it was just getting worse. I never wanted to wake up in the morning, I struggled to find any meaning to my life, and I couldn’t understand why I never felt as ambitious or motivated as my friends and peers. I would get panic attacks thinking about how unfocused and directionless my life had become, and the stress was crippling.

I hated when people would tell me to just cheer up or get tougher, so I stopped talking about it. I tried to cheer up by spending time doing things I loved (like writing creatively and playing videogames) or surrounding myself with family and friends, but it never got better. I just couldn’t get happy no matter how hard I tried to force it. And I had nothing to be sad about. My parents were loving and supportive in everything, my sisters were my best friends, I did well in school and in work, and I hadn’t yet suffered any kind of trauma or tragedy. I tried and tried, and I didn’t understand why I couldn’t just be happy.

So I stayed silent, kept everything to myself, and tried to just make it through each day. I thought talking about it would be admitting a weakness of character I didn’t want to have. I didn’t want my family to worry about me all the time, I didn’t want my friends to treat me differently, and I really didn’t want some stranger in a doctor’s office telling me I needed some medication to get happy. I thought I was stronger than that, and I was so sure I could take care of myself on my own.

But as the years went by, things only got worse. For seemingly no reason at all, there were so many times while I was driving that I thought, “It would be pretty easy and quick to run my car off the bridge right now.” I didn’t like getting too close to cliffs because I was afraid I’d have the compulsion to jump. My thoughts about killing myself had gotten so flippantly morbid and unprovoked that I found myself constantly thinking things like, “That way would be the quickest”, or “This way would be the cleanest.” When I went to sleep at night, I confused the thought of, “Well, I survived another day” for some kind of victory even though I just never wanted to wake up in the morning.

I started scaring myself with how often I thought about suicide. I knew it wasn’t right, but still I kept silent. No matter how afraid I was that I would do something horrible to myself, I was still more afraid of what people would think of me. I was terrified that people would just laugh and tell me I had a good life and had nothing to be sad about or that they would think I was disturbed and weak.

In December 2013, my best friend killed himself in our apartment. It was the worst night of my life. I still remember everything like it was just last night – racing down the freeway at 2am with panic and desperation in my chest and unstoppable tears in my eyes, the ambulance driving away from our apartment because there was nothing they could do, me telling the police grief chaplain to get the hell away from me because he kept telling me that this wasn’t an end but a new beginning, a new beginning without my best friend.

I didn’t eat or sleep. I don’t even know how long I stayed awake. All I could think about was that I wish he had said something to me. I felt like I had failed my best friend, no matter how many times people told me there was nothing I could have done if he wasn’t willing to seek help. He had always joked and seemed happy, so I had never even known he was suffering so much. I realized that outwardly I probably seemed the same way. I always seemed happy and upbeat to people around me, and that’s the scary thing about depression. It hides and lurks and crushes a person until they either seek help or until it’s too late.

I have relived that night so often in eight months – in nightmares, in waking thoughts, in writing. It was the worst night of my life, and it will continue to be the worst night of my life until I lose a family member (hopefully peacefully in their beds at a very old age).

And today I realized that I never want to be the reason for someone’s worst night, but that that was the path I was currently going down. I don’t want to be my parents’ worst night or my sisters’ or my friends’.

So I have decided to make a change and not be silent any longer. I’m determined to seek the help I need not only for my sake but also for the sake of the people around me that I never want to have to grieve over me. I can’t keep quiet about this anymore, not if I want to survive it. I need help.

To anyone reading this and also suffering from depression: you are not alone, you are not weak, and you shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it. Take it from someone who has spent too many years silent and afraid. There is nothing weak or shameful about seeking help for a disease, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Reach out to family and friends. They love you and never want to see any harm come to you. And if you don’t want to or can’t reach out to them, call the free national suicide hotline (number below). There are people there ready and waiting to talk to you anytime. You never have to go through this alone; don’t make my mistake by keeping it bottled up until it’s too late.

 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 

1-800-273-8255

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PAX Write-Up Part One

So PAX is over for another year, and it was FANTASTIC. I met so many great new people (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE), and I can’t wait to see them again next year. But most of all, I got to play SO MANY games, so I thought I should maybe write about them sort of. Since I didn’t get to play most of the games for too long, I’ll just be sharing some first impressions.

I went into PAX wanting to play certain titles, most of which I got to experience firsthand. The only two titles I wanted to play but didn’t get a chance to were The Elder Scrolls Online (I’m still crying about this one) and WildStar. The Elder Scrolls Online line was almost always capped when I stopped by, and when it wasn’t capped, the wait was two and a half hours long. Needless to say, that one went unplayed.

AND WILDSTAR. Let me tell you about WildStar: I waited in line for about an hour before deciding to fully boycott the game altogether. I initially approached the WildStar booth all wide-eyed and awed by the videos they were playing on their larger screens. I saw that they had several gameplay stations, so I got in line behind two people, eagerly waiting to try the game out.

After about half an hour, I was next in line. The guy in front of me had been playing for about ten minutes, and I knew my turn was coming up. And then someone working for the booth came up to the guy in front of me and apologized for the inconvenience, but informed him that this was a media demo line, and there was a member of the press ready to play. He was very gracious about it and stepped away, letting the media member step forward to play. She turned to me and said, “Sorry, this is a media demo station, so he’ll be playing next. You will be first up as soon as it is over though.”

Okay. That was all right. At this point, I wasn’t bothered. I knew I would be next up once the media demo was over since SHE SAID SO. Another half an hour went by, and the lady turned to me again: “You might want to get into another line. It will probably be faster since this is the media demo station, and there are three members of the media waiting to play.”

I waited in that damn line for AN HOUR. A whole hour in which the lady could have informed me that I would not be able to play the game in this line. A whole hour where she WATCHED ME WAIT IN LINE instead of saying, “How about stepping into the other line?”

So I boycotted their game for the entirety of PAX, and I will most likely refuse to play even after the game is released. I’m quite stubborn. Not that one person deciding to not play their game will affect them in the slightest.

But besides WildStar and The Elder Scrolls Online, I got to play tons of other huge titles!

 

Titanfall was as awesome as I expected it would be. It had the frenetic feel of Call of Duty with the addition of giant mechs. Your titan can be summoned in timed intervals, and climbing into one for the first time is pretty magical. When your titan is about to explode, you get to eject which is actually a pretty cool game mechanic because when you aim it right, you can actually land on rooftops and overhangs you might not normally be able to access.

 

Fans of the Fables comic series will LOVE The Wolf Among Us. I got to try that one out also and was very impressed with how accurately Telltale Games was able to recreate the details and atmosphere of the comics. The demo takes place in a gritty, run-down apartment building that – while not specifically from the comic as far as I know – feels as if it belongs in the universe. After scolding the building owner (an actual toad who refuses to spend too much money on camouflaging Glamour), Sheriff Bigby Wolf heads upstairs to confront the Woodsman, and a fight ensues. It seems as if there may be quite a bit more involved combat scenes in this game than Telltale’s previous release The Walking Dead. During the fight, nearly all the face buttons and triggers are used through on-screen timed prompts. At several points, you grab the Woodsman and can choose to throw him into different objects in the room such as a sink, a metal bedframe, or a wooden shelf.

The demo was fairly short, but I’m looking forward to seeing how a player’s choices throughout the story will develop and evolve our beloved Fables characters.

 

Battlefield 4 was Battlefield. The graphics were amazing, but I am admittedly not great at the Battlefield games. The map was very large, and since I am terrible at following maps or directions, I was usually just running around not seeing anyone. Battlefield fans will not be disappointed though!

 

And Transistor was FANTASTIC. There wasn’t a thing I disliked about the demo. I loved the graphics, the music, the bit of story shown, and the battle system. The graphics were just as colorful and artistic as Bastion but with a more futuristic, sci-fi atmosphere. The battle system is quite different from Supergiant’s previous hit title. When enemies appear, the player can hit the right trigger to pause time and queue up attacks and movements.

Overall, this was one of my personal faves from PAX Prime and can’t wait for the release!

 

Dying Light was disappointing. I am a HUGE Dead Island fan, so I was looking forward to trying out Techland’s new title. For one thing, it was very difficult to tell which way to go to reach the objective in the demo. For another, the camera was pretty awkward for a game that focuses pretty heavily on parkour and free-running. There were several jumps I made where it initially looked like I succeeded, but then suddenly hands would be pulling my character up onto the roof of a building. The zombies were still quite terrifying though, if a little slow.

 

While it wasn’t playable, I also watched the Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag video since I am probably the world’s biggest Assassin’s Creed fan. The game looks so promising; I love that they added underwater diving and SHARKS! The setting looks glorious as usual, and the naval battles look EPIC. It was pretty annoying that they decided to make the video an “interactive” experience where they asked people to shout “ARGH!” when they saw something they liked since the guys behind me WOULD NOT STOP SHOUTING.

 

I think that covers all the big titles I played! I’ll be posting my thoughts about the Xbox One and Playstation 4 controllers as well as the indie games I played in the next couple of days, so watch for those. Overall, the lineup of games coming out is looking pretty impressive, and I can’t wait to play more!

Xbox One Reveal: I’m a Gamer, and I Like Television. What of It?

First of all, yes I am an Xbox fangirl. Most of you should know this already.

That said, I’m still a little surprised by all the negative reactions to the recent Xbox One reveal. Granted, the name is pretty lame (and really, they should have seen “XBone” coming [that’s what she said?]), but everyone is hating on all the television features, and that’s weird to me.

You know what I do on my Xbox 360 all the time? WATCH HULU PLUS. I barely watch live television because I can never remember when anything is on (which apparently, the Xbox One will tell me), so when I miss the new episode of Parks and Rec, I power up the Xbox. People tried to say to me, “We’re gamers; we don’t watch TV.” I’m a gamer, and I watch TV ALL THE TIME. Even when I’m playing games on my Xbox, I am constantly running television shows in the background. I almost can’t function without the background noise and pictures.

And can we talk about remotes for a second? I have SO MANY. If I only need ONE remote for my television and my Xbox will handle the rest: hell yes.

The always on Kinect is a little creepy, I’ll admit. There are things I do in the comfort and privacy of my home that really aren’t meant for people to see (plus, as most know, I’m rarely actually wearing pants at home). But if the Kinect, Xbox One, and I are meant to have a “special relationship,” maybe they should see it. I mean, they’ll have to take the bad with the good in our relationship, right? Maybe they should see me on the couch for days without showering BECAUSE I HAVE SO MANY QUESTS TO DO. Maybe they should see me with Cheeto dust on my boobs because things fall down my shirt and NO TIME FOR NAPKINS WHEN I’M TRYING TO SURVIVE THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE! But really, if anyone actually “hacks” my Kinect or the government wants to spy on me, knock yourself out. There are some things you just can’t un-see.

I also saw a lot of people whining that the Xbox One looks like a VCR. I could not care less how my Xbox looks. If we want to get into it, I think the white Xbox 360 looks pretty ugly and unappealing too, but I still love it just as much as if it were a pretty console. Plus, we don’t even know how Sony’s console looks. For all we know, it could look like a phonograph or Wall-E with a Blu-ray drive (which now that I think about it could be pretty cool).

Obviously the presentation did not target their core demographic; I’m not denying that. Most gamers wanted to see games, and all they got was NFL and internet browsing while watching a movie. Microsoft either doesn’t understand their primary consumer base or are trying to reach out to a wider audience, which didn’t appeal to the core gamers who actually watched their presentation. I can respect the fact that they wanted to reach out to a broader audience, but their new console reveal was really not the right time and place to do that.

It seemed like Microsoft asked themselves, “What shifts people’s attention away from their Xbox?” and came up with friends, internet, movies, sports, and television. Then they asked themselves, “How can we put all of that on the Xbox so people NEVER HAVE TO LEAVE THEIR CONSOLE?”

I am a core gamer. But I also watch hours and hours of television (while gaming), browse the internet (while gaming), and chat with friends (while gaming). So basically what I got from the presentation is that all the media consumption I currently do on four different platforms I can now do on one console. Which is awesome.

However, while they showed off what their new console can do, they really failed to go into what their console can’t do. Or can do, but with a fee? As all of the aftermath of the presentation revealed, they were very unprepared for the used game storm. As one of the world’s foremost technology giants, Microsoft should be no stranger to the piranha-infested media waters. It just seemed like they struggled with the internet backlash coming at them from all directions and failed to present a united front on the used games issue.

There are many questions on this issue that Microsoft has failed to answer such as games in a multi-Xbox household, borrowing games, buying used games, going to LAN parties, etc. With all of these questions floating around the internet, Microsoft needs to get it together and clearly state how used games are going to work (or not work…or work, with a fee). Either way, I know Microsoft is getting my money in the fall, but I deserve to know the specifics as a loyal Microsoft customer.

Overall, did I want to see more games? Yes, absolutely. But E3 is so close. That’s where I know Microsoft will pull it together and show us the amazing games they have lined up for the Xbox One. I don’t mind at all that the reveal only really showed off the hardware and the new television and Kinect features. Because I know (hope) they’ll bring the games at E3. Sony has in-house talent such as Naughty Dog, Thatgamecompany, and Quantic Dream, so Microsoft’s “15 exclusives” in the first year will need to present competition.

I love my Xbox 360, and I just hope that Microsoft can continue to deliver the engaging experience that I – as both a gamer and general media consumer – have come to expect. Microsoft has consistently been a pioneer with entertainment innovation for this console generation while Sony always seemed to be playing catch-up. With apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Last.FM, Microsoft has shown that they are dedicated to making Xbox what you need when it comes to all forms of media and entertainment. I hope that Microsoft can keep this track record while also providing quality games.

I mean, worst case scenario, I buy a PS4. Right?