The Long Dark Road: How Being a Creator and Playing DOOM Has Helped Save My Life
I finally let my mask fall off.
If you were to know me, you would find me to be that funny friend, that one that would be known as the class-clown goof, and the one that would eventually stop being funny from day-to-day. You would never know, however, that the reason the jokes stopped is because the reality would set in that I've grown comfortable enough to drop the act. That I finally let my mask fall off. You wouldn't also know, I'm one of those ones, just like Robin Williams, that I'd be the funny guy up until the very end. That I would deflect my suicidal thoughts, my self-harming tendencies, and my inner struggles into forms of toxicity while gaming.
I'm statistically proven that if I don't die from age or illness, there is a likelihood that I will openly become one who died because I took my own life. Just like Robin Williams, I am one that struggles with my own mind, that fights day-to-day battles to get out of bed, to get dressed, and to tell those around me every day that everything is okay. I'm the one that laughs the loudest, smiles the brightest and loves the most. It's a natural way for people like myself to shield the world around us from the pains we know within our hearts.
As a writer, as a human, and as a gamer; I've seen a world that many would never know. If you were to ask me how many writers, comedians, and creative personalities I know suffer from some form of depression, I would be lying if I didn't say there's a good chance that "all of them" will be my answer. You may ask me how that's possible if you were some naive person. You may ask me how it's possible for people like myself to be so selfishly destructive to the point we end up breaking down. To be honest? You would get a blank stare from me before I tell you my story.
Let Me Drop the Act for You - Suicide, Self Harm, and Depression are Real
If you are wondering, I don't know how my idol Robin Williams broke down. I don't need to know what caused him to take his life. I can tell you from experience on having tried, there's no reason that it's a good idea. It's an idea based on pain, it's based on ones own mind turning against them, and there is always a dark side to being as creative as I can be. It's unfortunately a curse astonishing gift to convey how we feel across the internet.
I say this because I have colleagues who suffer from anxiety disorder as portrayed by my very own online-only friend Julius Vargera. I can tell you that even friends I game with suffer from PTSD from war, that one of my closest friends suffers from social anxiety disorder, while one of my other closest friends suffers with self-harm disorder and manic depression much like myself.
I could drove on-and-on about how hard it is to live with mental illness. Why? I was diagnosed by the time I was 17 with manic depression, self-harm disorder, and anxiety because of the depression intertwined so passionately with the destructive self-harm disorder. These are disorders that are truly destructive and could take ones own lives. If you asked what my ankles looked like? I could take you pictures of the hundreds of scars that line my skin and the fact I wear socks that go to my knees to cover them (mind you they are usually of DOOM, Fallout 4, and Call of Duty).
Then There's Creators
You may be saying that you've read my articles, some of them are half-ass satires, and that they reserve no room for admiration. That's actually true in many forms, but you know what? I don't care what you think. I never have. Creators is my outlet. It is the place I come to cope and write about games. It's a place where I feel safe, where I can feel my safety blankets consuming me as I lay on my bed, my pitbull Beth beside me, and my now-empty Nintendo 3DS case beside me (thank you asshole that stole my Majora's Mask 3DS. I really wish I could punch you in the face).
But you may be wondering, why now? Why this far into my life am I just no finding myself to be some tortured literary genius that tears and scours through the internet to write about information on games that others found first? It's because there's always another angle. There is always something new. There's ALWAYS a new approach to everything there. Trust me, I even have to tell myself that from time to time when I'm not making jokes about boners while gaming online with my friends.
In many ways, I owe Creators a thank you I can never give them. I owe them, much as I owe you, the reader, a nod for allowing me to see my life the way I should. To see some form of normality with a coping mechanism that I didn't know was there way later than I needed to. You wouldn't know through my dark humour, my streams that have viewers running away faster than they tuned into my Twitch streams, that I'm just as fucked up as the person down the road, but you know what? I have Creators. I have their platform to help me maintain a sense of being normal that I don't get anywhere else.
Game Over Man. Game Over.
Before you read on. I want you to know, what you are about to read? I haven't told my parents. When I were to tell you how it all started, you wouldn't give a damn. You don't know me, so why should you? You've never joined me on my childhood trampoline. You probably haven't even gamed with me. If you had, you would know that somewhere in my life, something, or somehow my head got jacked up. However, I knew from a young age I wasn't normal. I knew I was different. I was the kid that was picked on. I was the kid that was abused by those kids that I called friends.
I was the kid who was called fag, I was the kid that was called freak, I was the kid that almost through-out his entire K-12 era, that I should have just killed myself before I even graduated high school. Throughout much of my life, I was one that was quite capable of getting his hands on games such as DOOM to help pass the time and take out much of my frustrations. I was also one that later on found the world of Fallout by the time my depression, anger, and to bury everything that was wrong with me.
For many of you, it's hard to imagine that there's some form of buffer that people like myself keep. One that we used to hide the reality of how shitty we feel about ourselves. How horrible it makes us feel to hold those we love back. Can you imagine being 31, turning 32, and never being able to hold down one passion that could surpass a livelihood such as writing about games, reviewing them, and freelancing? That's my buffer. That's my protection. My accomplishments, even if they don't bring in huge paychecks. They are the ONLY things that help keep me safe as I push those I love away so I can focus on the things I do. The further they are, the more I do. This is the very thing that helps make things over and allows us to almost press that "End Game" button so that we may quote that famous Bill Paxton line from Aliens.
I Hit the Reset Button. It's Hard, but I'm Still Here.
By now, I know you, my parents, and my family are wondering: How did you hit the reset button? Did you try to commit suicide?
As much as there will be questions to answers. I'll admit it. Even if I'm ashamed of my past. Yes, I did. It's not something I will flaunt around. It is not something I will pride myself on. It's harder than you'd imagine. I use video games to cope. I use writing to cope. It was a long time ago I knew that IT wasn't for me. That I knew I wouldn't be programming routers, that I wouldn't be backing up hard drives, flashing ISO's. I knew that the moment I started writing about video games. I knew what I want to do with my life. I know what I want to do with my life.
Even the attempts that followed later on, but turned into mere self-harm based episodes. It was because the fact I tried to end my life in such a not-so-glorious way that I discovered my calling. A calling no one may understand as my life carries on.
id Software, You Don't Know It, but You Saved My Life
Let me be straight here. I have friends that work there. A lot of friends. I have friends that work at id Software as artists, sound technicians, level designers, and even concept artists. I have friends that work in their PR departments, I have friends that work at Bethesda itself. What they don't know? Their game saved my life. You may be scratching your head at how this is possible. How is a game that represents you as a demon-slaying bad-ass who gives literally not one f-bomb save my life if you are breaking necks, snapping legs, and beating demons to a bloody pulp save my statistically numbered life?
It's simple really. I have a project I'm working on. One that I promised would be ready for QuakeCon 2017 so I can distribute the download code almost two years from when I first saw a glimpse of the game. Two years since I stood at the House of Blues in Dallas, TX, laughing with Jason O'Connel and even Hugo Martin over rather odd ideas I had for their game. Not because I was just trying to impress them, but because I know the potential of their upcoming game, which wasn't set to release for another two years.
It's because of this project that I found myself sitting in my chair, tears going down my face, and multiple red streaks across my ankle. Yes, I won't lie to you, I'm metaphorically naked and afraid as I sit here, fingers on my keyboard, exposing myself to a world that may not even care who I am. A world who will see me as one little spec of dust and may never even see me make my dream as a personality within the gaming industry. It may not happen, but you know what? I was saved by a single game. One that wasn't ashamed that it would help me, that it would help me find my way through a dark part of my life, and continues to do so even days later.
It's a game that has helped me escape as I found myself moving through demon infested rooms I've designed, that it helped me focus my mind on something else, and shield myself once more from what caused me to try and head for the darkest part of me. A part of me I'm ashamed that exists. A part of me that no medicine, that no therapist, and no amount of art has helped. It's a part of me that will only be helped my finding outlets, finding coping mechanisms, and finding myself helping deliver a message to those that feel so alone.
Trust Me. I'm Crying As I Type This Last Part.
If you are like me, you are sitting here with tears in your eyes. Trust me when I say this. I've been crying since the moment I started this. Not because I hurt inside, which I do. Because I know there are millions of people like me, ones that feel like there is no one out there, that we must silently suffer. That if we do speak up, that we will be medicated, that we will be forced to see a therapist. However, what if I told you that one small action, one tiny little moment, can cause the biggest ripple in the ocean?
What if I tell you that in many ways, that a year ago when Dana Abeln, Julian Arde, Tim Horton and Jay Ricardi welcomed me to Creators that my life would in some way, forever be changed, and that I would have found a place to tell you: It's OKAY to get help. It's OKAY to feel down. It's also okay to let it out. IT's okay to reach out to someone, even if it's your readers, to know that they are there. That you aren't alone even if they never respond
It's because of Creators, Movie Pilot, and Now Loading that I am here. That I am safe and recovering. That I have met some beautiful, wonderful, and amazing people even though I've only met them online. That I am thankful to meet the people I have and to continually meet people that I've yet to meet because of Creators and the Conventions I look to attend. While I may not know you yet. I really want to thank you, all of you. I want to thank you for the impact you have yet to make in my life. I want to thank you for helping drive me to do what I love and to continue chasing my dreams.
If you, or someone you know or love is suffering with depression, self-harm or suicidal thoughts. Please, help them. Have them reach out to the National Suicide Hotline at Call 1-800-273-8255. They are there to help and to save them.