I’m only happy when it rains.
There is a song by the group Garbage called Only happy when it rains. It is one of my favorite songs to listen to and has been for years. It is a song as Shirley Manson (Lead singer of Garbage) describes as, “…about wanting love, but knowing that life will always get in the way, and of knowing that, and yet not being obliterated by that. It’s a song for people that know what it’s like to live on the dark side.” It is catchy, kind of poppy yet the lyrics are dark and one of the many great songs from that era of Alternative Rock. Now you may ask, “But PieRatKing, why bring up this song?” Great question, this article is going to be about my personal struggles with my own mental health and how Gaming and streaming have helped me. Now before I delve to deep into this, a few things. Firstly, we are all individuals, our chemical make up is different, and what works for me may not work for you. This is not a definite cure-all, I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist, or mental health expert. It has taken me a long time to find what works for me. Secondly, I am going to be open and honest about many things that have gone on in my life and there may be some sensitive subjects that are touched upon. So lets jump in to the deep end!
Personally, I have struggled with depression since I was a young teenager. I was a year younger than most in my class, I was a lot smaller in stature than many, I then moved to a new city right before my freshman year of high school. Being 4’11” in a new place, with no friends, especially during the transition from a junior high with less than 1,000 kids in the entire school to a High School with over 10,000 kids, the feeling of significance disappears. I have always made friends quickly, thanks to my being an Army Brat, but I never “fit in” I gravitated to the outcast, the weirdos. Let alone, my mother was afraid I was too small for football and when registering me for school decided Tennis was the sport I would play. I still give her a hard time about this. I am a Texas boy, football runs in my veins, yet here I am playing Tennis, at a Texas school. I wasn’t bad at Tennis, my apathy for homework kept me from making the team. But I learned very early in high school, that if you don’t want to be picked on you make a point to stand up for yourself in a very public venue. For me it was lunch, when a kid who used to smack me in the head every day, got punched out of his chair by me. Look I am not advocating violence, but that event sparked much of my growing up, I learned that respect isn’t given all willy nilly like gold stars in kindergarten, but had to be earned. And, each time I stood up for myself, through my voice or physical altercations I earned respect from those around me. Other than those moments, I was a fairly normal teenager, i went to school, hung out with friends, and the like.
Then came my Junior year; my younger (yet taller) brother joined the high school ranks. Now, you may say, “But why did this change everything.” Well my brother and I have always been competitive. I am still a very competitive individual, I love the adrenaline rush of competition. No matter fail or succeed, I enjoy it. Well my brother took this competitiveness a step to far. He has since apologized for this but it did affect a lot of my high school years. Any time I would show interest in a girl he would swoop in and date them first. I lacked the self confidence that I have now (though sometimes I doubt myself, especially when it comes to females), and his giant ego would grant him the relationships with girls because he had the cajones to jump at the chance, while I sat in my own head wondering why she would ever be interested in me. This caused even more confidence issues and amplified the depressive tendencies I was already holding. Problems came even more to the front when the depression turned into anger, with myself and him. I remember one night sitting in my kitchen after everyone was asleep holding a knife to my arm, contemplating my self worth. A few days later, I attacked my brother while he was laying in bed, only thinking how much better my life would be without him, and if my mother hadn’t investigated what the kerfuffle was about my young adult life probably would have been drastically different. But after these instances, I started dating girls I knew were not his type, and while this alleviated much of the strife between us, there was damage already done to our relationship. We our now very brotherly towards each other but it did take many years and many apologies from both of us to where we could spend more than a week together.
After high school, I went to college, didn’t fair to well due to my partying too much and studying too little, and when I was academically suspended my father gave me the ultimatum of join the military or GTFO. So off I went to join the Army. Young 18 year old PieRatKing, bright eyed and bushy tailed completes basic, AIT, and airborne school.I was in a good mental place. I had self worth,and self confidence.For a couple years at least. My unit got deployed to Iraq, a week of being in country my best friend, whom I loved like he was my brother, was hit by an RPG during an ambush. After initially being told that he was in stable condition and being transported to Landstuhl, we were informed he didn’t make it. This crushed me, it tore down my moral compass. I wanted nothing more to go and kill any and every Iraqi for taking him from me. If you were never in the military, there is a bond between soldiers, especially ones in your squad. This is because we have to be able to trust each other to have each others backs, no matter what, and be willing to give our life for each other. You spend so much time with each other, eating, sleeping, drinking, playing, everything. There is a reason we call each other brothers and sisters in arms. We are more than coworkers, friends, we are one giant dysfunctional family. But after his loss, I went throughone of the darkest times in my life. I was filled with rage, pure and unbridled rage. there was no room for sadness as this anger filled me fully. After some time it did simmer down, and that is when an overwhelming sadness started. I drank a lot, I spent a lot of time alone, and I cried a lot. Soon after my unit returned I was discharged and came home. And for a while I got better, I kept myself busy with work, and falling in love.
I found that video games, let me have an escape from my problems. They helped me release anger that built up inside me, they helped me distract myself from sadness. My Ex-wife whom I was with and I started gaming heavily, would join me, and allow me to vent through video games. For a long while it worked, my bouts with depression, with survivors guilt, and the rest withered away behind pixels, animations, and stories. Meeting and becoming friends with those I played with online gave me a sense of belonging. I had a slip up a few years ago where I lost my control of my issues due to extreme stress, and it cost me my marriage, which spiraled me even further. But I returned back to Texas and surrounded by my familial support and a even bigger passion for video games I recovered. While it does creep up from time to time, it doesn’t consume me anymore. And I credit this with knowing when I am slipping, with the love and support I receive through my community, friends and family, and with the help of video games to release my stress through. Streaming has brought many new people into my life who I can talk with, and bitch to, (because talking is as much help as anything) and I am thankful for them. It also gives me another way to express myself, and share much of what I have learned over the years with others.
Final thoughts are these, I am in a good place currently, if you have a friend who suffers from depression offer them your ear, sometimes just talking about things helps a great amount. and I will leave you a link to this awesome song I enjoy when I am feeling down. It is called Keep My Head High by Echo Movement “I say ‘ohh, I know that I’m gonna get by’ Ohh, I just gotta keep my head high.”
Till later days,
Love and Tentacles,