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Why Sonic the Hedgehog Was My Childhood Mental Health Hero

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

If you or a loved one is affected by infant loss, you can find grieving resources at The Grief Toolbox.

Sonic was my hero during a nightmare time when I was a child. When I was little, I had a brain tumor and nearly died twice. Even though I survived the surgery, it was recovery that made things very hard for me. I was 11, my hair was shaved off, I was overweight, I couldn’t walk and the worst part of it was that I had to go back to school — sixth grade in a public school. It was a nightmare.

I had bullies left and right. I pleaded and cried for them to stop, but it’s those kinds of things that made these bullies laugh and harm me more. Teachers shrugged with excuses. What is a young, disabled girl currently in recovery to do? I had no friends at the time because everyone thought I was, “Ewww, gross.”

At a check-up, my doctor told my dad I needed to find an activity to help me with my hand-eye coordination skills. He suggested I play video games since holding the controller and tapping the buttons while focusing on the game would help. My dad took me to the store and I had had a few new choices in front of me. Super Nintendo had been released and Sega Genesis had a few new games, so which system do I choose?

It was Sonic the Hedgehog that won my heart. It was love at first sight. Maybe it was because Sega had that cool black sleek system design vs the grey color of Super Nintendo. Maybe it was because blue was my favorite color and the cool graphics kept my interest. Whatever it was, it was Sega’s gaming mascot, Sonic, that won my heart over Mario.

My first Sega game was the first “Sonic the Hedgehog,” which I played religiously. And to my surprise, I wasn’t aware that by 1993, Sega had released other Sonic games two years prior. And now there was a comic too? Well, when you’re living with headaches, puking your guts out from the food you can’t keep down, a stiff neck, losing eyesight and many other serious health concerns, your mind is not on the latest video game released.

As I played Sonic, I began to really fall in love with this character. I got interested in the comics and watched the shows that aired on TV. But what made Sonic so darn amazing to me?

It was the fact he was all I had at the time. Recovery was a nightmare; I had no friends in school and was getting bullied. Of course, it was only natural to escape the bullies into a video game I loved. And I was quite happy. My parents bought me Sonic 2, 3 and “Sonic Spinball” when they noticed how happy the game was making me and how Sonic inspired me to recover faster.

I beat all the Genesis games with ease and even felt confident in school when I did my work, and the bullies’ voices seemed to wash away as I put my mind on playing Sonic when I got home, reading the latest comic or watching the shows.

Bullies will say I am a “freak,” I am “obsessed” and many other mean words, because they are just jerks and possibly jealous of me. But, as much as it hurt, it was worth coming home to the hero I loved who had saved my life. I don’t like to think of kids who are terminally ill due to brain tumors, or kids who die by suicide cause of bullies. But the sad truth is… it is true. Brain tumors are killing children, and so are bullies.

I survived both. I always felt God sent Sonic into my life to save me. There is no shame in falling in love with a video game, a comic, a show. If this heals you, helps you and keeps you happy, then continue to smile and be happy! It’s in your life for a reason, so ignore the bullies and keep on smilin’ and going forward.

I admit, sometimes I wish Sonic was real so I could tell him how much he helped me and how much he still means to me. Maybe someday I can say, “I love you, Sonic. Thanks for saving my life and being my best friend.”

Image via YouTube

Originally published: August 19, 2018
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