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How the Game 'Overwatch' Helped With My Mental Illness

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Since around mid-May in 2016, I have had agoraphobia so severe it was difficult to leave my home. As the months went on, I went from occasionally leaving my house to leaving maybe four times a month. I had very few friends and only my fiancee was physically in my support system.

However, on May 24, 2016, the video game “Overwatch” was released to the world. It was love at first play. As time went by I met new friends through the game. I was part of every special event. I played daily because it was the only thing I had as a social life. The game helped me meet friends and eventually, I became friends with a group of individuals who I can now call my family. I had goals and for the first time in my life, I had a game I was really good at.

As I went through recovering from two years of depression and anxiety, I enjoyed the personalities of the various characters. I barely saw my family because I was so scared of the outside world. Because of this game, I now have friends who could last a lifetime. Video games have been part of my life as something my father and I enjoy; now, I finally found my game.

“Overwatch” recently celebrated its first anniversary; now, I have been part of a game that has transformed before my eyes over a year. “Overwatch” was one of the big things that kept me going. It keeps me grounded in the moment. It helps me learn to deal with frustration and anger better. I gave me the will to get up on days I didn’t want to. For a good amount of people, this is just a game, even if they love it. For me, “Overwatch” is an anchor — one of a handful of things that kept me down to earth. It was a distraction while I was feeling suicidal; a gateway to meeting others with a love for video games.

“Overwatch” is one of my favorite games and here I am, a year later, watching a trailer that shows all these things I was a part of — all the competitive seasons and events, the many changes. I have been helped because of this colorful and inspiring game. I regularly watch one of the voice actresses on YouTube and I enjoy talking to my friends. Without “Overwatch,” I wouldn’t have reconnected with an old friend on Xbox whom I hadn’t spoken within about seven years. “Overwatch” has been such a beautiful way of helping me deal with my agoraphobia, and with being jobless while my fiancee supported me. I was so scared of the way others looked at me, scared of the various attacks and murders that took place near my home, and I found myself thinking of suicide. I dealt with self-harm and mental illness easier because of “Overwatch” helping me all the way. This year has been a journey and every day I enjoy seeing how new maps and characters add to it.

I honestly just want to take a moment while my voice is out here to thank all of the artists and people who have made “Overwatch” possible. I want to thank all the voice actors and actresses for bringing such wonderful characters to life. I just don’t know what my life this past year would have been without “Overwatch.” This beautiful game has been a big part of my life. For that, I am so grateful. So thank you a million times over for creating this game. If I ever get to meet any of you, I promise you a huge hug — with your permission of course — and a lot of tears. Thank you so much.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

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Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Originally published: June 28, 2017
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