New Year's Resolutions From a Gamer with Depression and Anxiety
2016… you were honestly the worst year I have ever experienced. If it was a video game, I was beaten by every monster in every level, and somehow ended up with negative points. The worst part was the haters and trolls I faced in real life weren’t nearly as nasty or mean as the voices I had in my own head from my depression and anxiety.
In 2016, we saw international political turmoil, death of famous celebrities and other disasters such as “Batman v Superman.” A parody account of George R.R. Martin tweeted that he wrote the screenplay for this year, so our suspicions were correct. Jokes aside, my year consisted of workplace bullying leading to job loss, debt and loss of our house, and periods of being bedridden due to pain and burn out. I know how hard the year was.
I started this year with manageable depression — but now have a beautiful mix of depression, anxiety, fatigue and stress that are with me all the time.
It was during the Christmas holidays that I learned a life lesson. I thought I would be happy once I got recognized for the effort and tough cases I was handling at work. I thought I would be happy once we moved into our dream house. Every time I thought I had made progress in my 2016 game, it turned out I had only beaten my “low score” records and somehow had bugged my PlayStation with a bug in the process.
Last week, a conversation with my family pointed out that I was pinning a lot of my future happiness on labels. “The dream house.” “Recognition at my job.” “Starting a family.” No longer having the label of depressed and anxious, but live like a “normal person.” Like life can’t quite happen without all those things. But they didn’t work out no matter how hard I worked. I was losing myself in the process. Would it be worth it if I put myself in the hospital? Would I stop once I had become “successful?” What is my definition of “successful?” Would I ever satisfied? When would I actually start living — and being happy — instead of waiting for the right label?
So for 2017, I’m making new resolutions for this year:
Never ever miss a session with my counselor. Also trying to not be late for a counselor session. I know the weeks when I don’t go, everything is just harder and less positive. My counselor is also amazing for putting things in perspective. Don’t give up if you have had a bad experience with a counselor – I thought I was beyond professional help until I met my counselor. It’s OK to keep looking until you find someone who understands what you are going through.
I’m going to exercise. I have plans for adopting a puppy so I can focus on his health benefits as I struggle to make my health a priority. Puppies and other animals are amazing in helping others with mental illness . I also have plans for using awesome apps and music to keep me interested in visiting the outside world more often. It’s part of “Temptation Bundling” when you do something you love — like listening to a zombie podcast — only when you are doing exercise.
Eating more vegetables. My depression and anxiety make this even more interesting, as I get so tired by all the people, noise and information I need to process while working… when I had a job. By making one small chance, it won’t be as scary as “no sweets” or “no sugar.” I won’t be making one big chance and then giving up when I can’t go “cold turkey.” It’s been scientifically proven not to work. Then I can do things at a slow pace instead of being consumed by guilt if I don’t follow through for a day.
Planning on leaving the house and seeing a friend/s once a week. I’m lucky to have such good friends. I’ve started booking them for an outing in advance so I won’t cancel last minute, or not call at all. I’ve organized with close friends and family so that I can’t miss certain visits – but can leave if I feel like my anxiety and depression get too much. Usually once I’m out and seeing my loved ones, I never leave and I have a great time. It’s just making sure I don’t listen to the depression and anxiety voices beforehand and getting too scared to go.
Finding new experiences. This will be the hardest, as I’ve started to see the world outside my apartment as dangerous, perilous and uncertain. I’ve been trying to find new experiences or places to visit at least once a week. This also links to seeing my friends, because if I see a new place with my friend/s – I can have two positive experiences with limited effort. I hope I can keep this one as I get torn on the weekends between being bored and too scared to leave my home.
So all this falls under the promise of “making myself a priority.” I don’t do this well — but I hope 2017 will change that. I get that these changes can be hard for anybody, but it feels like a giant mountain with the baggage of mental illness to carry as well. I do try to think now that my depression and anxiety can benefit me somehow. The support I have from my family, friends and online is amazing and there appears a lot more acceptance and understanding for my illness. It also has some helpful skills such as empathy, detail-orientated processing and a fuel for my creative outbursts.
So please 2017… I hope you are ready for the new start and resolutions I’m putting together. Just like a video game, I am ready to restart and gather all the points and shinies. The biggest improvement already is that I’m not longer “Player None” with myself as a hater yelling abuse — but now I’m “Player Won” with a bag of interesting tricks instead. (I’ll also have heaps of Player One puns to keep me company…)
My best wishes for everyone in 2017 and I hope you also have a good year.
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