Today we have the pleasure of listening to ‘Hebas’ story (name created to protect privacy). Whilst serving in the armed services he was relieved of duty due to suffering heavily from P.T.S.D. Rather than this writer talking about him, lets get straight to it:
Thanks very much for taking the time to appear on Reggie Reviews ‘Mental Health in Gaming’, Hebas, I appreciate the courage it takes to agree to be so open about such a sensitive subject.
Firstly Hebas, could you just confirm for me the type of Mental Illness or Illnesses you suffer from?
“Hello Reggie, I suffer from P.T.S.D caused by events during my military service.”
For the first time in the series, we have an interviewee with a diagnosis before learning how to cope with mental illness with gaming. How did the initial diagnosis with P.T.S.D. affect you?
“Before my illness started I didn’t really have time to play much and would generally play 2-3 hours a week at most. After it started I would mostly stay in bed and not do much due to my lack of sleep. I couldn’t find a job since I wouldn’t go to job interviews most of the time and even if I did I would lose said job quite quickly. Naturally I didn’t even touch any games at the time. The diagnosis itself came much later but it was fairly obvious what I had at the time since the signs for it were quite apparent. The first one to notice it was my brother who helped me with the initial coping and was the one who got me to try using gaming as an outlet for my problems.”
I can imagine that being very hard Hebas, so glad you are on the other side now. Please tell the readers about your relationship with your brother during this time?
“My brother and I are just 2 years apart, however during my service I visited home only once every 2-3 weeks so we grew apart. Beforehand we were quite close and what little time I did spend playing games was usually us playing some multiplayer games such as ‘Heroes of Might and Magic 3’ or ‘Warcraft 3’. After he realized something was wrong with me he actually used that fact to make me start playing again, saying he missed the time we used to play together.”
That’s truly what family is all about, having a great support network is key to managing any mental health illness. So let’s get to it, how did gaming change your outlook whilst suffering from P.T.S.D.?
“Gaming didn’t actually change my outlook but helped me relieve the stress I accumulated during the day. Many who suffer from P.T.S.D will probably tell you the same thing, that the worst thing about it is stress. It triggers nightmares and episodes regardless of any particular triggers you might have, regardless of how you feel at the moment right beforehand (fireworks for me are a big one). My brother got me playing ‘Neverwinter Online’ since I liked playing ‘Neverwinter Nights’ so much in my childhood, playing it helped me feel more relaxed and by playing each evening for an hour or so which helped me sleep properly.”
The ‘Neverwinter’ series is certainly a classic in most gamers books. So where are you up too now and how is gaming helping you today?
“These days I still make sure to play for an hour a day but switching between other games, mostly RPGs and Resource management games. My illness is almost non-existent in my daily life with this except for the occasional nightmare on particularly hard days or some triggers that I try to avoid.”
It’s great to hear that gaming has helped you so much with your P.T.S.D. Do you agree with Gaming Becoming a disorder?
“While I agree that there are outliers that have developed an addiction to gaming, they are just that, outliers. I think the definition of gaming as a disorder is too generalized and is used to mostly demonize people who simply want to enjoy their hobby.”
The stigma that the gaming industry has regarding mental health, physical health and inappropriate content has spiraled out of control by mainstream media. What would you change in the public eye regarding this and why?
“While this is probably not going to happen, I would probably stop making shooters in general and focus the media’s attention on the amazing things achieved by gaming. A resource management game can improve lateral thinking (I think that is what it is called, English is not my first language), RPGs can improve response times and hand eye coordination and even shooters have their advantages. Also, there are some games that achieved amazing feats that are completely disregarded by the mainstream media. A good example would be a game in space that has Newtonian Physics instead of the regular game physics (unfortunately that game is too stressful for me so I don’t play it).”