There are various subjects that a lot of journalists and writers refuse to touch out of fear of upsetting the internet – depression being one of the biggest ones. This has led to a huge amount of unawareness for these topics. I’m here today to talk about one that hits very close to home for me. Depression. As a disclaimer, what will be discussed here can be very real. If at any given moment you feel that it is all too much, please don’t feel obligated to read on. Keep yourself safe, both physically and mentally.
Let me start with giving you guys some perspective. Going through school (mainly high school) I was picked on pretty hard by the other kids. I was often lambasted for having South American heritage, being of the Christian faith (no that does not automatically make me a homophobic bigot) and being a gamer. I was neither athletic nor the handsome kid. I was the prime target for any form of bullying. This led to many years of depression and regrettable decisions as a result. I struggled with self-harm and suicidal thoughts. School was a nightmare and, as a result, I dreaded getting up every morning. I would wish that one day I just didn’t wake up. This constant barrage of belligerence and bigotry towards me also left me with ludicrous amounts of anxiety, which only made matters worse because I then became incredibly shy and quiet. Of course, I did still have my friends that I hung around, but I never spoke to them about what was going on inside my head. I never even spoke to my family about it. No one ever heard a thing about how I was doing mentally because I felt it would be selfish of me to tell anyone.
3 PM used to be my favourite time of the day as it usually meant that I could go home, switch on my Xbox 360 and ignore the world, which put my anxiety at ease. I remember spending a lot of time playing Call of Duty 4 and Halo 3. Those were my go to games. Now before you cook up some crazy theory that I was one of those annoying kids on Xbox Live, let me get this straight. I never told people I banged their mothers because I was too busy actually doing it. I jest. I would always mute everyone in the games and I never plugged a microphone in. The last thing I needed to hear were the recent virtuous endeavours that my beloved mother had involved herself in with 12 year-olds. I was just a kid who enjoyed shooting aliens and other people over the internet. I didn’t take it too seriously, nor did it consume me. It was merely a therapeutic practice which helped me get through what was my nightmare. Somedays I would take my Nintendo DS to school just to tune out everything during the recess and lunch breaks with some Pokémon Emerald, Diamond, SoulSilver or Black. This also helped me get through school, a lot.
Things did get a little easier in Years 11 and 12 as I managed to get a lot of free periods by attending Tafe courses (which gave me knowledge that I actually apply all the time). Being away from school and in a different learning environment that was so much more welcoming helped, a lot. It was here that I met one of my good friends Patrick. He, to this day, is one of my best mates even though we don’t speak too often. I’d often look forward to Wednesdays as it meant hanging out with oldmate Patrick. He was one of the few people that accepted me for me, he didn’t care about any differences in our characters because he was welcoming in every aspect. Regardless, when I was getting ready to graduate with extracurricular certifications under my belt, I felt that things would’ve gotten easier at the time. Boy was I way off. My relationship at the time quickly turned toxic as my partner had decided she wanted to abuse me in various ways. But me being me, I didn’t give up on it (you idiot, Jordan). She had, at the time, cheated on me an innumerable amount of times (I didn’t learn about this until long after she destroyed me), she would lie and she would emotionally abuse me, among other things. This just made things worse. I still, for some reason, stuck around until one day (ANZAC Day 2015 to be precise) I received the most belligerent and hateful message I had ever received. It basically said that I was a mistake and that my partner was in love with this other dude the whole time. Life – 1, Jordan – 0. The weeks and months following that were excruciating. With no job, no drive, nothing, I would wake up in the morning and throw up with nothing in my stomach purely out of stress. Anxiety levels were at an all-time high and self-esteem was at an all-time low. I refused to sit downstairs by myself as I would often find myself staring at the knives just thinking that all it would take was one simple cut. One. Simple. Cut.
This is once again where gaming came into the picture, but this time it was a little different. I had become hardcore obsessed with Destiny, which was part of how gaming helped me then. But something else happened. My friend, Luke, caught wind of how I was doing and decided to swing a round with his copy of Terraria. He and I would spend hours playing and he would always ask what was going on. If it weren’t for this simple medium of entertainment, I’m not too sure if I would have felt comfortable to actually open up about what was going on. The game opened up doors to a friendship that has only grown stronger. I would definitely consider him one of my closest friends, if not the closest friend I have. After a while I stumbled across a recruitment post for DYEGB. Given that I was literally doing nothing aside from being depressed, I figured I may as well join as the site’s Destiny expert – little did I know it was going to become so much more (but we aren’t here to talk about that). Fast forward to January of this year (2016) and I start genuinely being happy. Things have been looking up since then, and they continue to. Yeah there are bumpy moments, but constantly moving forward is the way I lead my life now.
So, what does this have to do with talking about depression? Well let’s get into the meat of it with some statistics and facts courtesy of youthbeyondblue.com:
- 1 in 16 young Australians is currently suffering from some form of depression
That statistic is ridiculous to me. 1 in 16 (6.25%) YOUNG Australians, that’s right, YOUNG. People who should be looking forward to their whole lives ahead of them are instead suffering from depression. Does that not seem out of order to you? But this is just the start.
- 1 in 6 young Australians currently experience anxiety
The definition of anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. I can tell you from firsthand, ongoing experience that this is not fun. Most nights I am kept up with a thousand thoughts about every hypothetical situation possible. I always assume the worst is going to happen and it’s crippling. I would never wish that upon anyone, not even my deplorable ex-girlfriend, but still 16.67% (1 in 6) of young Australians suffer from the same issues I do. Sleepless nights? Get used to those.
- 1 in 4 young Australians currently have a mental health condition
The term mental health encompasses a massive variety of issues, but that doesn’t deter from the fact that this statistic equals one quarter of the young Australian population. But still a lot of people don’t see mental health conditions as real issues. Right…
This next statistic will be the last one I pull, if you want to read more of these, feel free to click the link provided above.
- Suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians and accounts for the deaths of more young people than car accidents
This just blows my mind. Suicide is one of the touchiest subjects you can find, especially on the internet. This has caused a fear to be open or upfront about it, but the fact that suicide claims more young lives than car accidents just seems crazy. How can society be so afraid to talk about one of the biggest issues claiming more lives every day?
The Therapeutic Capabilities of Gaming
As I mentioned in my story, gaming proved to be therapeutic for me. It helped relieve stress and tension by letting me place myself in another world. By letting me release pent-up aggression through various means. It allowed me to forget everything that was going on around me and let me focus on a singular task at hand. I know for a fact that gaming allows others to experience similar things. It’s ultimately a distraction from the world, sometimes an all too essential one.
One of the brilliant things about gaming is that there is an extensive variety of games for you to sink your teeth into. Games like The Last of Us or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt offer compelling tales such as the story of the Bloody Baron. Scenarios like these can be very relatable and often reminds people that they are not alone. That other people have suffered similar things and struggle with it – let’s just disregard the ending of that quest line this time. There are other games like Call of Duty or Battlefield, which offer a range of completely ridiculous to realistic gameplay in gritty war settings. For people who aspire to join the military or just want to shoot other people in a game, these have proven to help. But it’s best advised to mute all chatter and keep the microphone disconnected. You have strategy games like Civilization V and Halo Wars (two of my personal favourites) which allow you to command entire armies and birth nations. The amount of power that these types of games make you feel is incomparable. You have your sports games which now give players the option to create a character with their likeness and make them the most talented and well-rounded athlete in the world. The sense of achievement that comes with this is incredibly uplifting, regardless of the fact that it’s essentially just a bunch of code doing what it’s told. You have large online games like Destiny and The Division which often require teaming up. This can lead to befriend people you never would have met otherwise. I can tell you from my time playing Destiny that I have made friends all over the world and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It really gives you a sense of meaning, belonging and community.
For Every Head, There Must Be A Tail
Unfortunately there are some negatives which must be pointed out. For starters, there is the well-known online gamer toxicity. To a lot of people’s dismay, gaming online often puts you at risk of a slew of hate. Some people are just awful and will say absolutely dreadful things with the sole purpose of bringing you down. This is where the mute function is superb, if only you could apply to people in real life, am I right? Now here is a big downside. Addiction. Some people become so addicted to the feeling that video games gives them that it consumes them. It becomes the sole purpose of their lives. Usually this results in the dissolving of friendship and the cutting of ties. People essentially become hermits for a screen. This then leads to more mental health issues as loneliness is pretty much always a factor, no matter what. My advice here would be enjoy your games, but please do so with grace. The last thing you need is to become addicted and make matters worse for yourself.
As we come to an end about this rather… personal discussion, I want to leave you with a few things. Firstly, people do care and they want to help. Please, talk to someone about it. I can guarantee you that your friends and family want nothing but the best for you. No one wants to see you down and out. Truly wishing that upon someone is an evil that I believe a majority of us are not capable of. Secondly, if you find yourself in a relationship where you are abused, whether it be mentally, physically, emotionally or sexually, tell someone. Silence is the real killer here as there will always be someone who wants to help, you just need to speak up. I wish I had that advice with my last relationship. Lastly, suicide is not the answer. One thing about suicide which is never stated is that suicide shifts the pain from you, to your loved ones. There is always a bigger picture, you are a part of something beautiful. You are beautiful. Please, don’t end your life. Live. Your friends want you to live. Your family wants you to live. I want you to live.
If you have feelings of depression, negativity or have suicidal thoughts (or even self-harm for that matter) there are helplines and websites which are always available to you, should you feel like you need to seek outside help. These helplines and sites will be listed here for you.
Carers Australia – 1800 242 636
Headspace – 1800 650 890
Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800
MensLine Australia – 1300 78 99 78
mindhealthconnect – http://www.mindhealthconnect.org.au/
Relationships Australia – 1300 364 277
SANE Australia – 1800 10 7263
QLife – 1800 184 527 (3pm-12am)