Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gaming as My Way of Dealing...

I'm going to let you in on a little secret, it's something I've tried to hide, because I don't want people to see it as a weakness. I suffer from fibromyalgia. You're probably going fibro-what? I don't blame you, the disease was first coined in 1981, and it came at a time of complete confusion. Fibromyalgia is a disease where people suffer from extreme long-term, wide-spread body pain. Suffers also experience various tender points that range from their joints, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues. I deal with chronic pain on a daily basis, and every day is a battle I have to fight. It's never not there, and there are few answers. Medications take a bit of the edge off, but there is no magic pill to make this go away. My sleep is also greatly disturbed by it, and for a long time, I've had a hard time getting over how this has impacted my quality of life.

There's nights I sit awake because I'm in a momentous amount of pain. Do you know what has helped me get through all those trying times? It's video games. I sit there, game, and try not to focus on the pain. As much as video games get flack, I don't think they always get credit for the good things that they do. For a brief moment, a game can take you to another place - lead you to a different path. It's an escape from reality, but it's also a chance to experience a character that sometimes we identify with and sometimes we don't: you can be a version of yourself or somebody different entirely. I mentioned in my previous post that BioWare does in excellent job of letting you experience a journey through a character you create with decisions that say a lot about you. This has been a fantastic way for me to experience an alternate life for a while. Suffering through chronic pain, I've seen the positives that can come from gaming. Sometimes, I'm not sure how else I would focus myself away from the pain if I didn't have it.

For those still reading, don't pity me here. Life throws a lot at everyone, and I'm sure you're dealing with some hardships yourself. People may think me suggesting to game through troubles is simply promoting escapism. But, so what? I think sometimes in life we need to be taken away from ourselves. That's why I love games; I can get lost in another world, a different reality. I could sit here and say more on how gaming has been my saving grace to fibromyalgia, but I don't want to bore you. I will say that having any type of illness or disease is not a weakness. If anything, I think people who go through these feats and come out on top are among some of the strongest people out there. It also teaches you to appreciate the little things.

For now, I'm hoping to be a positive person for people with fibromyalgia to look up to, it's what drives me to be the best game journalist I can be. I hope to keep up my work, and maybe, one day, I can take my talent to newer and even more exciting heights. I don't want it to destroy me or take away my dreams. We all must fight our own hardships, and I think gaming is a great way to keep it all in check - a great balance for the negative we often face in life. In the end, we really have only one life, I don't want to sit here and say I gave into the pain and stopped pursuing everything I want out of life, and you shouldn't either. And if you need to game to get through it? There's nothing to feel ashamed of...nobody said any of this was easy.


  1. I think, when used in the right amount of doses, escapism can be very therapeutic. So long as you don't become totally dependent on it or lost in that virtual world (galaxy?) for too long - and you're still taking the time to tackle your problems as well (again, that balance!). It's viewed too often as a negative thing, but just like books, movies and whatever else for hobbies - it can get people through bad spells.

    I always say whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. No different here. ;)

  2. Lost in a galaxy? You have been playing too much Mass Effect, speaking from experience? :-P No, but that's why I stray away from MMOs, easy to deposit so many hours into those. I think playing different games allows me to have that break, so any addiction tapers off. Balance is key - it can't be everything, but it can be something to get your through.

  3. LMAO yes, the Milky Way is an interesting place. :-P But yeah, I'd hate to sit there and just play one game for like five years... I'd definitely rather keep things interesting.

  4. I can totally relate with you, Kim. I can probably also understand why you don't talk about it much. I suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, which sucks cause people tend to think of it as an old people disease and I'm only 19. It sucks (understatement) that I am not going to live as long as other people, and it also sucks that towards the end I'll be so twisted and gnarled.

    Games help me get through it just like you on the nights where sleep is impossible. Reading a book hurts my wrists too much cause I have to hold it up and TV just shows crap at 3am :P. You are right, games don't get the credit they deserve in helping people.

  5. @ Starmongoose - I also suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, so I totally get where your coming from, and I'm only twenty four. So I get completely where your coming from.

    @ Kim - I think this is a beautiful blog post. I think it's amazing that your sharing an important aspect of who you are, and I think it's great that video games are a way to lessen the pain of showing that unfortunately, is with you every day. However, you show such resilience, and I think, like Kyuu I, said, it makes you strong every day. So thanks for sharing this vulnerable side of you. I think your already a positive role model in our industry, and I think you should be completely proud of your accomplishments.

    - Sam

  6. Sam said: "You're already a positive role model in our industry."

    Hear hear! Amen!

    You already know what *my* struggles are. They aren't purely physiological, though depression and anxiety certainly have an impact on my overall health. And, indeed, done properly, gaming can be good therapy. It was insane how I would feel *better* while playing 999. Shouldn't it scare me? It actually let me breathe sighs of relief. I may have just gotten out of an inpatient facility, but at least I wasn't stuck in the Nonary Game, amirite?

    Love ya, keep up the great work.

  7. Hey, I left a comment earlier, but it went away. >:( Basically, you're totally awesome and you should keep writing. Your presence in my life has made it better.

    (Also, oh Godddddddddd, my LiveJournal is so outdated.)

    P.S. It's Derek.

  8. Awww, Derek, you might my days brighter, too. In fact, all of you do! Thanks so much for the kind words.