Disclaimer: The views and comments made in this post do not necessarily reflect how other people suffer from depression. Everyone is different and everyone experiences things differently to others. These are purely based on my personal experiences.
Before I start with this personal post of mine, I’m going to try my best not to turn this into a sob story. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been dealing with depression for a very long time. This, naturally, has had an effect on many areas of my life: feeling shy and socially anxious around people (especially women), putting too much pressure on myself due to societal and family expectations, saying negative things to myself when I do something wrong, even if it’s miniscule (“useless”, “idiot”, etc.) and so forth. Luckily, though, I have learned overtime to accept my depression and realise that it’s a part of who I am. By acknowledging this fact, it’s made the coping process a bit easier for me these days.
Most of the time, whenever I’m in a slump, I turn to the things that make up who I am: anime, music, favourite TV shows and movies, pro wrestling and video games. Naturally you will get that one person who will simply write them off as forms of escapism. Yes, they are forms of escapism because they help me to take my mind off things. It’s better than using drugs or alcohol to take your mind off things (I’ve never done any of those, just by the way. Don’t do drugs, kids!).
On the topic of video games: I’ve recently been sinking my time into Dark Souls 3. For those of you who have played a Dark Souls (or Bloodborne and Nioh, which was heavily inspired by Dark Souls) game before, let’s get the obvious out of the way:
DARK SOULS IS FUCKING HARD!!
The game is notoriously hard not only because of its difficulty, but also because of its steep learning curve for newcomers. It’s also a perfect example of what I like to call “masochistic gaming” (deriving pleasure from the emotional pain that you feel while playing the game). When you start the game you will be met with some messages on the floor which tell you what the controls are, along with some seemingly easy enemies for you to kill. Once you start getting the hang of it you’ll then be met with this:
Of course, overtime you’ll get used to the games mechanics and start fighting harder enemies, but one thing will always be a definite in Dark Souls:
So then what is the link between Dark Souls and my depression? Firstly, Dark Souls is a very dark and gloomy game. From its set pieces and colour palette to its character designs and lore, there is nothing happy or cheerful about this game (except the warrior of sunlight who loves saying “Praise the Sun!”). As someone with depression, I mostly see the world like this: dark and gloomy. Most of the time, when I think about something that will only happen in the future, I mostly tend to think about the worst possible outcomes that might happen. Say, for example, I want to ask someone out on a date. The first thing I think and prepare for is rejection because it’s something I “expect” to happen. I hardly give any thought to the possibility of them saying yes because it’s something that’s hardly happened to me.
As I mentioned earlier, Dark Souls is a very difficult game and sometimes I blame the world for being unfair when things don’t go my way. I get angry and frustrated and feel like I just want to give up (same thing happens when I play the game). However, despite the game being difficult, it’s not unfair. The thing I’ve learnt from Dark Souls is the greater the risk, the higher the reward. Sure, you’re going to get beaten to a pulp a couple of times and start calling BS to the screen, but nothing beats the feeling of finally beating that difficult boss that you struggled with for the past few hours; which brings me to the second thing I learnt from Dark Souls: never give up.
Dark Souls has given me a platform to face my fears and inner problems head on, even if those fears and problems are represented by the countless enemies and bosses I encounter. Although there are other games out there that tackle with the theme of depression in greater detail, Dark Souls gives me hope that with hard work, effort and learning from my mistakes, I can overcome my depression and work towards becoming a better person. So in the iconic words of Video Game Dunkey: Thank You, Dark Souls!