When I first thought about tackling this challenge, I think I was a different person. I was negative and a prisoner to my depression. Sure, I wanted to devote this blog series to mental health awareness, and yes I love making games so I was expecting to have fun, but I had ulterior motives that I was blind to.
I was jealous and angry.
I didn’t know this going in until an incident on June 10th. I was upset with my stage in life, where I was career-wise, how overlooked I was at work, and how artists in my personal life didn’t take me serious. I wanted to show them what I was made of. I originally thought I’d prove my job that I was a worthy contender for a junior or associate game designer role, and I wanted the artists that I worked personally with to want to work with me even more. Deep down, and I didn’t realize this, I was letting my depression defeat me. It made me angry. I was viewing my self-worth as something only that job or those artists could give me. So, I worked extremely hard the first week and a half, losing an incredible amount of sleep to impress. I wanted validation. I didn’t know this, but that’s what I wanted most.
I was sleeping 2 hours a night for the first 10 days in order to finish a playable project, add art, sound, write the blog post, even make a video for non-readers, and finally I’d share on social media. I chose to neglect my health. I avoided the gym and I’d stuff myself with fast food. On the 10th day, I had maybe totaled 20 hours of sleep (I should have been at 80 hours), and I was out of my mind. I was obsessed with page views for my validation. My closest friend saw this and then realized how much of a mess I became. This friend stopped being my friend that day and left me to sit in the shit prison I made for myself. I lied to my friend prior to this project, and I lied to myself. I said I was doing it for awareness and for myself, to simply see if I could.
The day after, I decided to react. I got up, I bought a ton of vegetables, I grabbed my gym clothes, and I started a fitness plan. My depression had possessed me to push away the closest people in my life. It’s made me into a monster. I never do anything evil or criminal, but I’m a pain to be around. I decided to put my foot down and focus on my health. You are what you eat, so if my body is only taking in healthy foods, I’ll feel healthy. If I work out constantly, I’ll feel happier. If I sleep more, I won’t become the monster I’ve become in the past. I also decided to put my blog series in distant 2nd. I did always try to make a game a day, but rather than devoting 8-10 hours and no sleep to a project, I’d use 1-2. Often, I wouldn’t have art and sound, or I’d submit unfinished games. My blog entries all focused on my daily health accomplishments. And today, July 5th, I can say that my mission is working. I’ve lost 23 lbs, feel better, look better, and I got new glasses. I’m cooking more, making healthy meals for my family, and spending more time with my puppies. I’m trying my best to finally get rid of my depression, and in the process I’m creating the self-worth I lacked all along.
Shortly after doing this, I remembered what my blog series was supposed to be about. I was devoted to trying to challenge myself, learn new things, and have fun, while also making my happiness the number 1 priority. I mentioned this in every post. I want anyone who may come across the blog to understand how important mental health is. In the end, I was happy making games and I used the majority of my words to speak about mental health. I ended up doing what I should’ve been doing. I let go of the pain that I allowed my job or artists to give me, and I have been fighting as hard as I can to forever feel better.
I would consider it a success in that case. Maybe soon, “Anxiety Monster” will only be a name. I hope so.
Thank you all for reading. Please take care of yourselves. If you know anyone suffering from depression, know they can be helped. They can beat it. Sometimes you may not feel really helpful, but a simple “I’m here for you” goes a long way.
To any young designers out there battling depression, you CAN succeed. Keep making game after game until you get better. If you have questions, contact me. I’ll respond. I know the feeling. Things can feel overwhelming and impossible, but I know you can get through it like I’m doing.