At just 13 years old she was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. With a poor support network and unhelpful mental examinations at the hands of the NHS, Amber turned to the MMO Phenomenon ‘World of Warcraft’ and ‘The Elder Scrolls’ series to escape and seek out her online family:
Thanks very much for being the first interviewee for ‘Mental health in Gaming’ Amber. Firstly, could you just confirm your mental health status?
“I was diagnosed with Bipolar when I was 13 years old, I still suffer with it now. My condition isn’t as extreme as it was in my teens, but it still lingers.”
And was this diagnosed by a medical professional before finding solace in gaming?
“No, gaming has always provided me with a good outlet and allowed me to vent”
OK, thanks for being so open and honest. Mental illness is still very hard to talk about openly in 2018. But awareness is growing. Amber, do you believe that the appropriate triggers for mental health are being targeted by the world’s media right NOW?
“Yes and No. I feel that the world understands more about mental health than it did when I was 13. The introduction of ‘Mental Health First Aiders” in my workplace to help the relevant people is a great move, so much so I became one. But at the same time, I feel there is somewhat of a glorification of mental health conditions which is being felt by younger generations today.
Teenagers subjection to Social Media at such an early age is allowing them access to increasingly negative ‘trends’. For example, when I was a young teenager it was considered ‘cool’ to self-harm, go figure. I believe that today it’s considered admirable to have a declining stability in a teens mental health. This kind of behavior just makes it harder for people with real problems to reach out and get help!”
Some good points, this is such a grey area in discussions and forums all over the world. However, official bodies such as the World Health Organization should have 100% concrete evidence in regards to a disease or disorder before classifying it as I’m sure you’ll agree?
“Yeah, I totally agree. I think that there are people out there who are genuinely struggling with day to day life and are being pigeon holed. This isn’t their fault and they are getting the wrong help whilst gaining an unnecessary negative stereotype”
I’m glad we’re on the same page. So Amber, I’ve waffled on enough. In your own words, please tell readers all over the world the challenges you have faced and how gaming help you overcome these obstacles?
“For me, I feel that depression can be overly diagnosed and isn’t necessarily the cause of some people’s problems. Chemical level can decline which is a cause, but from my experience it’s a sign that something needs to change in life. Medication can help, however, finding a way to medicate life can also help. I managed to do with gaming. I’ve never had a large network of friends and the ones I do have are busy with their careers as I am or having kids.
Gaming helps me overcome depression and my condition by making new friends and escaping to another world, escaping my mind for a while. Constantly maintaining a work / life balance can be an amazing gift and a burden at the same time. I think that point applies to the majority of us, not just those who have an official mental health diagnosis.
One of my lowest lows was the loss of someone very close to me. My family didn’t provide much support during that time, so I turned to my online family and friends on ‘World of Warcraft’. The guild I was a member of helped me through this horrible darkness I was in. I also find that the people I connect with online over a given gaming platform have a lot in common with myself. This makes finding comfort and solace with new people a mutual experience that’s easy and beneficial to both parties.”
Wow, I would just like to state to all my readers that this is a 100% genuine individual who has agreed to be part of Reggie Reviews dive into mental health in gaming. Thank you so much for sharing such a dark and sensitive time in your life.
As i’m sure you are already aware, younger gamers are getting a bad rap from Schools, Government officials and even their own parents regarding their gaming habits. Amber, how did your family help you cope and manage at the time? And also did they attempt to understand why you used gaming as a coping mechanism?
“In all honesty, I was quite a self-sufficient child and teenager. As well as that, gaming didn’t seem to have such a stigma attached to it. It wasn’t an illness that needed to be monitored or restricted. When I had School, I was in bed early. If I had somewhere to be, I’d be there.
It seems to me that kids in 2018 lack that self-discipline and values towards everyday life, somewhere along the line that has been lost I guess. This probably won’t be the most popular opinion, but I believe parents that blame games for their own child’s lack of responsibility are in fact being irresponsible themselves and putting their inadequate parenting skills on display
Amber, if you had the power to change anything in regards to how mental health in gaming is dealt with in the public eye?
“I Would love to see gaming become part of some form of cognitive therapy or treatment used to battle depression and anxiety. Obviously, this won’t be a valid approach for non-gamers but lays another foundation for a positive outcome for gamers and their mental health battles. Maybe if more positive gaming solutions came to light in the public eye such as this, people might start to relieve the gaming industry of this false stigma.”