To say the past two weeks have been a shit-show (scientific term) would be a massive understatement. I am in the process of weening off one antidepressant and going onto another, with the added bonus of this whole “Christmas” thing in less than two weeks. While I’m usually very organised when it comes to Christmas shopping, this time around I was finding myself obsessively searching; spending two full days trawling the web for the best presents on a dollar allowance.
I realised quickly thought that I was obsessing and stressing. I couldn’t sit still to write or even watch a movie; my escapes wouldn’t let me escape!
While on the phone with my mum, she reminded me of two things. One, Christmas for my family was never lumped everything onto one day. Every day we were healthy and happy was Christmas. Of course when we were younger Christmas was much different; our parents did the whole “Santa and his hungry reindeer” act, with presents aplenty and travelling up and down to see either side of the family. Now it’s much more relaxed and thus, treated differently – we see each other frequently and buy each other little things. “If you buy me, your father, or your stepfather anything, I swear, I will be so angry!” mum repeated down the phone, trying her best to sound stern but just came off sounding more adorable than anything else.
Before getting off the phone she told me to do two things. One, grab a vanilla Coke and take a deep breath. Two, go play some GTA.
Yeah, my parents enforce video games as a coping mechanism.
It sounds a bit stupid, but I know it works because I would watch my stepdad do utilise the wonder of animated action. After coming home from work early (usually Friday afternoon), he would cuddle our pets, ask me about my day, get himself a snack and settle in for some ultra-violence. Sometimes I’d even come out to take turns playing it or just watch him get into some hilarious law-breaking situations. It’s not really any different from when I would come home from my retail job, hang my eight hour “Can I help you with anything?” hat up in exchange for an hour or two of beating the ever-loving shit out of someone in GTA 3 or some other-realmly being in Mortal Kombat.
That’s my usual go-to video game genre. Fighting games, sometimes a dash of car-racing with a nice dose of parodying modern day culture (which GTA 5 has in buckets).
Does the idea of me playing video games makes me want to go out and wreck havoc like media has always insinuated it does? Hell no; I don’t want to hurt anyone, I just want to become engrossed in something, keep my mind a little active and maybe even work on my really crappy coordination skills. It’s fun though! You’re doing things you would never do whether it’s Mario Karting and freaking out when you hear that Final Lap Music, getting in touch with your Zelda side, exploring Andromeda, killing zombies, planting a damn farm or just running over loads of people because you want to – and can.
It’s a great stress-reliever 99% of the time (maybe not some quests or challenges make you scream at the screen, but games overall), something that colouring books or meditation just can’t quite get to. It also brings you into different communities and like I said before, helps with little things like dexterity and reaction time.
So if you find yourself sighing at your running shoes, almost reaching over for the next bowl of chips, perhaps head on down to your local games store (or see nearest child/ previously stressed adult) and play a game or two. You might not have any idea on how to move around or fire a gun, but it will let your mind focus on something else.
Just… make sure you don’t go all Manchurian Candidate when Black Flag comes on the radio next time you’re going to work. You cannot out-run the cops.