Toughing Through Hard Times with Gaming
by Tyler | Ozzymon68 | U.S. Navy Veteran
Gaming has helped my mental health by letting me play with people who share similar experiences and interests.
I was medically separated from the Navy after roughly a year in, and at that point, I was at the lowest point in my life. I didn't want to get out of bed, and when I did get out of bed, it was to eat or drink. I tried many things to help me get out of the depression I was in. I tried quitting smoking, tried working out, and even diving into work. None of these helped me because I couldn't talk to anyone about what happened. I tried to kill myself for the first time at the beginning of 2018. I was driving towards a rock wall as fast as I could until I remembered that I had made plans to play Forza with some friends that night. I was told that I would be eligible to reenlist after six months; I tried then and was told I actually had to wait two years. I then decided I needed to make a change. I got a job at a car dealership and moved out on my own. After nine months of living on my own, I lost my job and had to give up my apartment. I was doing well during this time while I had my apartment. I was doing things to try and keep myself happy. I found a group that I enjoyed playing games with. After a couple of months, I felt like I had gotten out of my hole. I got a motorcycle and started helping others to help change things. Then COVID happened, and I lost my job and apartment and had to move back in with my parents. I regressed back into my old shell.
Another two years passed, and I finally got a job I enjoyed doing with my brother as a Honda Tech. I did this for a couple of years through COVID until last year. This is when I found a veteran discord where I could play games with other veterans and talk about issues that we all had. A couple of months after finding the discord, my aunt died. She had been fighting cancer for two years, and it finally won. After returning from the hospital, I sat on the couch for a few hours, trying to process everything. I eventually went to my computer and started playing Fallout. I spoke with some people about the dumbest things, and we all started playing a game together.
The next year, in 2022, my grandmother and father passed within 36 hours of each other. While my father was in the hospital, I had several panic attacks because I felt like I couldn't show any emotions while in the hospital. I had multiple while at work and had to go home several times. Each time I went home, I just surrounded myself with video games. Anything that I could play, anything that would help me forget what was going on.
When he did pass, I decided to move to Texas to change my surroundings. This helped for a little bit, but it wasn't enough. I was eventually invited to Regiment, then Stack Up. At the beginning of this year, I thought of killing myself again. I tried the Veteran hotline, which only helped a little bit. I joined the “Smoke Pit” in Regiment, and we played Discord games for a while, and again, I was lost in that world and forgot what was happening outside of it. I eventually went home, sat at my desk, and played games all night. At the end of talking to people and forgetting the world exists, I lost all feelings to do anything but be happy.
Video games have given me a world to escape to when the real world gets too challenging. When I feel like I can't get any lower. Gaming with friends has helped me realize that there are better things in life other than feeling bad for myself and that others do care how you're doing. Gaming has also helped me find friends that I can go to when things get rough.
Tyler, aka Ozzymon68, is a U.S. Navy Veteran and Stack Up discord community member who has been with us for a year.