I’ve been there. After my husband and son were killed in an auto accident, I got sucked into the great hole of depression. I found relief in something I never thought I would do. Online gaming.
At the time, I was unemployed and suddenly left alone with two young children to raise on my own. I was torn up with grief and as time went by it just felt like things were getting worse and worse. I felt like a failure because I couldn’t break the depression. I had no energy. It was a chore to even get out of bed each morning.
Then, one day my son had me try his game. It was Everquest. I found it to be fun and before I knew it I was on that game every day, all day long. I made friends and joined a guild. That was the only part of my life that was worth living, my virtual world. I hunted with friends and we conquered lands together. I had a sense of accomplishment and felt important again. I still took care of my kids. They made it to school and I made sure they had what they needed, but I sure could have put more effort into it.
The game became so important to me that when my computer crashed and I was without it for a few months, I almost lost my mind. I’m sure I made life hard on my kids, too, as I was very cranky. By this time I had been playing for almost five years. Those are years I will never get back. I wasted time that I could have been furthering my education and ensuring I had a good job for our future. I could have made more effort to get my kids involved in more school activities. I just couldn’t see past the little bubble I had made for myself. The corner room downstairs with the computer became my safe haven.
Now, I still love games and I have played many including Dark Age of Camelot, Lord of the Rings and World of Warcraft. The difference is, I play a little here and there as I can instead of making it my life. I can easily be without it for days at a time, and I’m fine. I almost prefer writing and reading blogs these days.
My twenty-one year old nephew lives with us. He has a HUGE gaming addiction, but he doesn’t see it. His entire life is his game. If he has to leave the computer for more than ten minutes at a time, he gets mad. He stays up most of the night just about every night playing games. He keeps most of the household up because he doesn’t even try to keep quiet and is hooting and hollering until almost morning. He is gaining weight and can barely walk the length of the house without complaining that his legs hurt. At the rate he’s going, he will have a heart attack or blood clots by the time he’s thirty.
In an effort to help him get out of this horrible habit, we turned off the internet at about 10:30 pm and made him go the night without it. He was furious!. I believe we should do that more often to help him actually sleep at night and be up all day. Once that isn’t too hard on him, we should restrict gaming to mostly evenings for a few hours. Once he gets to that point, it will be easier for him to adjust to a normal schedule and maybe be able to actually work! He doesn’t think he has a problem. Isn’t that usually the case with addictions? I didn’t think I did either until my computer crashed and I was without.
Once in a while, I think of those five years that I basically sat in front of a computer and ignored life. The game was so real that it was my life and reality was just an annoyance I had to deal with for short bursts. I lived and breathed my game.
If you’ve had similar experiences, I would love to hear about them.