So I thought I’d maybe do an opening post on where I am now. There is only one real answer to that, and that is Skyrim. I know I know I am super late because it’s so old now and everyone’s already played it yarda yarda etc., but I wanted to do a post about how video games can really help me improve my mental health. They are obviously not for everyone (only for those of us who are slightly more inclined towards the geekier side of things), but since moving, Skyrim has been a seriously special thing to me.

I used to game a lot when I was little, but I had this absolutely horrendous, abusive boyfriend when I went to university who essentially told me I was rubbish for doing it because I wasn’t paying him enough attention. He’s a douche and waaaay out of the picture. But anyway, by the time that was over I was totally locked in anorexia so gaming was still a really difficult thing to get into again. It was only once I gained weight and recovered from anorexia that I was able to game again. I started out with some old classics like Metal Gear Solid and moved on to Tomb Raider Survivor, Uncharted and some Resistance: Fall of Man. I found these super cathartic as I was so engaged with something else, visually, physically and audibly, that I could escape my own feelings and emotions and put them to one side whilst distressing emotions within me calmed down. However, the situations I found myself in meant gaming became harder and harder. I installed Baldur’s Gate on my iPad (if any of you are old and naff enough to remember this) so I could game on the go, but my life was really hectic.

There are other was to calm down your emotions obviously. I could have a nice bath, or read some Neil Gaiman, but, you know, I could beat some dragons to death with a war-hammer. For me, it’s the dragons that work every time.

See, I find books difficult to engage in when I’m stressed. It’s uses like, one sense, and that just isn’t distracting enough, and if I’m in a bad place, the last thing I want to do is stare at my body. I don’t hate it, but like basically any girl living in a world in which unrealistic expectations are expected of or bodies, I don’t think “wowzas – what a hottie.” I need to find something with a story that can engulf me, something complicated enough to engage me in puzzle solving, and something beautiful enough to stare at for hours. Enter Skyrim.

Since moving, I’ve had no internet. I’ve not been able to binge watch tv series till I’m blue in the face. I’ve not been able to sit and let something mildly entertaining wash over me. I think this has both pros and cons. I find it incredibly easy to let my emotions run wild when I’m just casually watching something, and I also find that the background noise has become a part of my ritual for self-harming. Stupid, but true. Nothing grabs me enough. When I first moved, I watched a lot of shit T.V. – me and Parking Mad became good friends I won’t lie. I’d watch reruns of T.V. shows I hated on Dave at three am. No fun for anyone.

One evening, I had my brother and a mate over. He’d previously given me Skyrim (the legendary addition with all the DLC already on the disk) and that night he installed it. I’d like to say the next day I was suckered in, but that’d be a lie. I spent the whole day not sleeping and ended up watching Dirty Weekenders in France (the one with Richard E. Grant), under a duvet, on my sofa, eating Super Noodles. The next day, Skyrim happened.

You start the game, pick your gender, race, hair colour, makeup (fuck make up – my Wood Elf has war paint bitches), spend a while giving them some sort of maybe acceptable face and giving her some kick ass curves then off you go – in to the world of Skyrim.

Skyrim is part RPG, part soap. There’s like a main storyline involving dragons and shouting and all this crazy stuff. I’ve been playing it for over 75 hours and I still don’t really no where that’s going except for the fact that, at some point, imma have to merk some proper badman head dragon with all my shouting. I get most of my fun in the side quests. I just finished the Thieves’ Guild side quest (which took many hours) and now I’m really good at pickpocketing, lock picking and being super stealthy. I am Queen of the sneak attack. I play the longest game in the longest way. I hide, shoot a boss with an arrow, run away till I’m hidden, then go back and do it again. See, the Thieves’ Guild had lost it’s reputation as being proper hard thieves, and I had to restore it back to its immoral street cred. Now I am MASTER OF THE THIEVES! This has nothing to do with the main story, it was just fun.

It isn’t just big side quests. There are miscellaneous, teeny tiny quests too. Like finding someone a book. One time, I had to find three, flawless amethysts for this lizard dude so he could make an engagement ring for his wife (as per lizard customs obvs). And you can buy a house! You can buy a few houses, but because I have the DLC stuff, I’m saving my p so I can build a fucking huge yard once I get the 100,000 gold achievement, so my one house is pretty shit. It’s full of cobwebs and hay, but fuck that. Imma build a mansion and then get married and adopt some children. Because you can do that in Skyrim. You can get married, pimp your house out and adopt some kids. Complete and utter soap opera drama. Except every now and then, a dragon pops up you have to deal with. My weapon of choice here is my Nightingale bow and my elven war hammer. Beat them to the ground and absorb that dragon soul init fam.

It is so addictive and so engaging. It’s actually hard to write this post because I want to play it more now and I know my Mum is sleeping over tonight to watch lots of Avatar (the last air bender variety – don’t get twisted). I only have five hours to play it and I need to get dressed and stuff. Urgh. People get in the way of my Skyrim dreams.

But back to my main point. Yes, I admit I am a bit of a geek, but it’s one of the best ways to distract myself from my own distressing emotions. I get to engage in all the ridiculous lives of made up characters and I temporarily forget my own ridiculous life. Yes it is an avoidance thing, but in all honesty, distraction as a technique is better than cutting yourself in a moment of severe, emotional distress. You can deal with the problems once you’ve got your emotions back under control and through the use of emotional regulation skills like building mastery (a.k.a. getting shit you find hard to do done, even if it’s the washing up) so you feel like you’re achieving and making progress forward. It’s so much easier to do once you’ve let your emotions calm down a little by engulfing yourself in this mentalist world of ridiculously silly fun. And also, you can not play video games when you are off your face trashed on Valium. You just get shit at it, so it’s a really good way of distracting from addictive thoughts as well. Honestly, Skyrim has been so good for my mental health that I’d recommend anyone going through a rough patch to get themselves involved in some seriously addictive gaming.

Just be wary. You may end up forgoing sleep all together. Then you’re not really addressing your problems, you just play it till 10am then sleep all day, the play it again. Avoiding avoidance is something DBT tries to encourage. My support worker hates me because I’m never awake. Sometimes, you have to plan to not play it so you can be awake. I had to take a week off to be productive, be social and have a bit of a life. I was a little sad. No lie.

So this is what I’ve been up to recently. I can be more detailed in how I got here. Or not. You decide.
And remember – you have been warned.


Filed under Addiction, bad day, bpd, coping strategies, general, life, Progress, recovery, self harm, therapy, Video games

6 responses to “skyrim.

  1. oh my gosh yes video games are so so so good for helping with mental health. i swear i can sit and play zelda and completely forget everything else. it makes me so happy.

    and there’s this machinima comedy-drama show made with halo by this company called roosterteeth i swear it’s the funniest fucking shit ever with emotional rides
    seriously instrumental in keeping me slightly okay
    (start at season 6 for the really good shit but the first five seasons are hilarious but you can watch them after the *really* good shit
    they’re free online i just love them so much and want everybody within five metres of me and everybody on the internet to know

    i’m not advertising i swear

    it’s so good to know you’ve found skyrim helpful holy shit i’m so happy you posted!! i still follow all the blogs i used to when i was more involved with the recovery community because i care about you lot, whether we talked or not.

    i hope you find more video games after skyrim too to enjoy (hint hint mass effect go go go)
    (here’s an ideal retirement too: my dad was in the airforce and military. now he plays skyrim and final fantasy and is an inventor. he’s doing it right).

    • p.s. love the updates if it’s cathartic like skyrim go right ahead :)

      • Your dad sounds like a g. I think the blogging community is really great too. I kinda lost it when I got wrapped up in a new boy, but I kinda lost everything. All or nothing blah blah. Glad you’re still reading. Skyrim is the bestest thing in the world right now. When I’ve finished (bare in mind I’m not half way through and I’ve been playing for 80 hours….) maybe I’ll give mass effects a try. I’m not too good a shooters, but hopefully my training from resistance, far cry and Skyrim will help with my first person issues.

        Lovely to hear from you. Hope you’re well x.

  2. I can’t recommend Mass Effect enough. I think you will love it. Mass Effect 3, well, I can relate it to ED. Fighting these Reaper things that brainwash you, I want everyone who has/had an ED to play it! Also, it makes you feel emotions, all of them, in a safe way, while killing lots of enemies. It balances a really engaging story with shooting and stuff. It’s part RPG part shoot em up. If you did want to play this game, there are three and the story and your fully customisable character carries over between games, but the third one is the one I found related most to ED. I wrote about it here if you want to read:-

    Skyrim is awesome, but I had trouble with that game… Just for the fact that the graphics are AMAZING and I ended up just travelling around on a horse looking at stuff and not doing any missions. I do the exact same thing in GTA V.

    Obviously you know that I love gaming too anyway, and I agree with everything you said. Avoidance is unavoidable sometimes, and my nurses say that there are worse things to use as a coping mechanism, which we both know. The only problem my gaming causes me is when I get obsessed with it, and spend all my free minutes on it and stop going outside and doing stuff, so much so that the stuff I have to do builds up and I get stressed because of the stuff.
    Although, because of the boy, I started playing xbox more than I ever used to and now it’s nice not to have to play it everyday and I can just use it when I need it.

    Nothing helps me like gaming does. I love books, but it’s a LOT of hard work to read one. I read a page, and then my brains somewhere else while my eyes are still skimming the words, without actually reading them. I’ve found audio books help while playing Minecraft, but I have to be in the right frame of mind for Minecraft anyway because it’s not engaging enough to help with the brain noise.
    TV is the same as books. I love Walking Dead though, but I end up watching a whole series like 3 times because I tend to miss a lot of story when my brain zones out. I also like the comfortability of watching something that I know, so reruns help but end up being incredibly boring.

    Love love love. xx

    • I get so obsessed with games. I wana play mass effects but I suck out at FPSs. I think it’s a lefty thing, and I have to invert axis and southport everything and I still suck out. I’m improving though. I played resistance. And fallout helped, but it’s like a baby step towards FPSs. I guess Skyrim might help, but I mostly hit things with a huge hammer and it’s really fun. I’ve gotta get through Skyrim first. Maybe. I’m 80 hours in and there are all the side quests, and yes wandering around the beautiful graphics. I get so obsessed I stay up all night. It gets to like 7:30 am and I’m like “I’m a bit tired…. But fraiser starts at 9 so I’ll keep going till then.” Ridiculous.

      I’m trying to take days off to be more wholesome. Like have days of writing or reading in my garden. I have a garden now :). But it’s not as distracting and I find I freak out more.

      Saying that though, I just binged all of American horror story and that shit is too brilliant. Highly recommended. It’s always buffy and angel when I want something I know for me. Too much love

      Hope you’re well

      Lovelove x.

      • Mass Effect is a third person shooter, it does require a bit of ability to shoot at the right angle but the aim assist helps. It’s a 40 hour game for each Mass Effect. I can totally understand that being a lefty would cause issues, especially when you need to be pressing buttons while holding down the triggers and stuff. I do the same thing with gaming, I have to be careful with it and it sucks to go to bed at midnight to be up early, instead of still being up at 5am gaming and then getting up without sleep. It makes my mood crappy because I end up sleeping when I should be awake doing stuff.

        I TOTALLY get the whole “not as distracting therefore I freak out” thing. Some days I cannot handle anything other than intensive gaming.

        I haven’t watched American horror story but everyone keeps recommending it to me so I should probably get around to watching it.I need a new tv series in my life, I’m having Walking Dead withdrawals.

        LOVE back xx

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