This is the last post in the “series” or whatever you want call what I’ve been doing this week. Just wanted to talk about some things I’ve changed with myself, things I’m working on, and changes in myself that I’ve notice.
The biggest change by far is that I’ve started seeing a therapist regularly. Like I mentioned in the first post of the series, I was originally struggling with work stress and it got so bad that I decided to seek out some professional advice and guidance. Seeing a therapist has really made me aware of my own mental state and given me a lot of tools I can use to fend off a lot of the negative things I was doing. I don’t want to go in to too much details on everything that I’ve tried, but I’ll share an easy one. She asked me to try out a “gratitude journal”, which was really simple: Everyday, just write down 3 things that you are grateful for. I was a little skeptical that this would do anything, but I told myself going in to therapy that anything she suggested I would give it an honest shot and try not to rule anything out before I at least tried out. So I started doing a gratitude journal, and it was a really great experience! I don’t think it was even the “being grateful” part that made me feel better. It was more that I was actually taking about 5 minutes to just sit and think about myself and the things that I truly appreciate in life. And that felt AMAZING! I probably hadn’t honestly thought about my own needs and feelings on my own in months if not years before that point. I don’t write in my journal every day any more, but it’s one of the many tools I now have at my disposal to help keep me at my best.
The second biggest change for me, I’ve completely cut caffeine and alcohol out of my diet/life. Caffeine was the hardest for me. I was drinking 4 – 5 cups of coffee a day. Work made it very easy for me to get in a bad habit like that. We have some decent single server coffee options provided to us and I was just downing them every 1.5 – 2 hours out of boredom. What I learned from my therapist was what that does to my body. When you’re stressed, your body releases a hormone called Coritsol. I don’t want to bore anybody with the details but go read this article if you’re interested about how it works. The gist is, chronic stress causes cortisol to be released in your body, and over time that leads to depression. Caffeine consumption also causes cortisol to be released in your body. So I was really just doubling up on the negative impact from chemicals without really even meaning to. (And just btw, it took me 2 weeks to slowly come down from that volume of caffeine. I tried to do cold turkey and felt miserable after about 3 hours into day 1. I would highly recommend that if you are planning to cut caffeine out of your lifestyle to take it down about 1 cup of coffee every 3 – 4 days so you don’t seriously hurt yourself). (Also btw, if you find yourself craving a warm drink in the mornings after you come off coffee, herbal teas come in a ton of different flavors, have zero calories, and the vast majority have no caffeine at all). Cutting out alcohol was for a different reason. I know there are probably some studies or articles out there that link alcohol to depression, but my main reason for stopping is that it was becoming THE ONLY activity I was doing and I wanted to do more than just drink and watch tv all the time. I think I’m still coming off of alcohol but I’m finding myself having the drive to want to do many things again. Like play games for my Backlog journey!
Alright, that’s enough about me. Thanks for listening. Now for some fun news. I have been playing FF9 again and LOVING IT! My next post will be all about that and maybe a little bit of MMO updates (and comics). See ya!
Well, I warned y’all, this week is not going to be about gaming. Read my last post for the background if you’re confused. Anyways, let’s dive back in…
Depression was an easy trap to fall in to with the way I was living my life.
But let’s take a step back to right before I think it all started going south. At my most recent best, we had just moved out of our house in the suburbs and in to a fun little part of the city where we could walk everywhere. We did this because we wanted to take a 1-year break from life before we were going to settle down and start our family. So, something great about living in a city vs. the suburbs… when you have the ability to walk around and be entertained, it is so much easier to get your ass off the couch and do so. I walked everywhere, hardly ever used my car. My Fitbit daily average steps went from somewhere around 5k to usually above 15k. I lost a lot of weight I had put on after picking up a desk job. I was rarely bored because there was always something to do. And the last few months we even had some long-time friends that ended up moving nearby so we had a group of good people to do all this with.
Then, the 1-year break was over, and we moved back to our house in the burbs (we were renting it out while we weren’t living there so it was easy to move back when the lease was up). There were a lot of things that changed when we moved back. I know this is not the correct order of events, but it went something like this: move back to the suburbs, now we can’t walk anywhere and have to drive, also our friends are far away now, can’t really have a night out at a bar now because we have to drive and don’t want to drink/drive, start drinking at home, stop going out, stop seeing friends as often because we get used to not going out and we’re far away, start putting weight back on because I’m not as active, don’t have as many outlets for stress relief now that all I do is stay home and drink, work stress starts to take over my life and on and on. It was pretty much a snowball effect for me.
Could I have handled moving back better and not let things get out of hand? Absolutely. It was well within my power to prevent all of that from happening. But it all came on so gradually over the course of almost 3 years that I didn’t notice any of it was happening at all. That’s what I meant earlier when I said depression was an easy trap to fall in to. It was very small changes over a very long period of time, and by the time I noticed it I felt hopeless.
Alright, I think that’s enough history. Next post I want to talk about some of the positive changes I’ve been working on in my life and some of the things I’m looking forward to doing for this blog in the future. See you in a few days.
If you’ve reading this blog post, you’re probably either subscribed to my blog or follow me on Twitter. And you’ve probably seen me talk about my great designs for playing through my Backlog of video games. And you’re probably wondering when the hell am I actually going to start playing the games in my Backlog and talking about them.
But before that I’m going to talk about myself for a little bit longer. So, if you are here looking for fun content about old video games, maybe skip this post and come back in a week.
I’ve been depressed for some time now. I got diagnosed back in 2012, got treated, got better (I thought), got off the meds, and slowly drifted back in to depression. The first time around I didn’t realize what was happening to me and my wife was the one who first pointed it out and encouraged me to see a doctor. When the doctor said I was better I thought “hey great, being depressed sucked and I feel pretty good right now,” so I took his advice and got off the meds. It took about 3 years, but over that time I think I slowly drifted back to being depressed. And about 2 months ago I started seeing a therapist again because it felt like life was getting the better of me. Originally, I was seeking help for managing my work stress, but she pointed out I seemed to have a lot of symptoms of depression. And she was right. I don’t know why I can’t seem to ever see it in myself when it happens, but I’m glad other people were able to point it out to me so I could start the healing process.
So, how does this relate to my aspirations of beating my Backlog? Well, when I was depressed it was really hard to build up the desire to actually want to do anything. Now that I’ve been taking some positive steps to get towards a more normal state of mind, I’m wanting to do stuff again. Like playing games, reading comics, going to the park, playing with my kid, and everything else I used to like. I’ve started to pick back up on FF9 as mentioned in my previous post and have really been enjoying it.
Writing these blog posts (and probably just writing in general) helps me put certain things in my life in order. So, this week, I’m going to do a couple more posts about some non-gaming related things like my healing process from depression, comic books, being a parent, etc. Please bear with me, I promise I’ll get back to talking about video games soon.
…and I haven’t done much work on the Backlog yet again. I was dealing with some stuff in my personal life and it just wasn’t a priority. I think I’m in a good place now in my life and I’m ready to start on some of my projects again, like the Backlog! I’m going to pick up with Final Fantasy 9 where I left off (I know, I’m changing games again, feel free to shake your head in disappointment). I was playing FF9 right before I started this blog, actually, and got away from it out of a need to start fresh for this blog project. That was probably a dumb idea at the time, BUT I did make sure I wrote down a summary of the game up to the point where I paused. Here is that summary, enjoy 😊:
What happened in ff9 so far…
Zidane and crew kidnap Princess Garnet at the start of the game. Turns out she WANTED to be kidnapped. On the way out of Alexandria their airship gets hit and they crash into a forest. Zidane/Princess/Steiner go through the forest and as they are leaving it turns to stone, trapping Blank (I think) inside. Princess decides to change her name to Dagger to avoid suspicion on their journey
At the first village we find out they are manufacturing black mages to be used by Queen Brahne for some as yet unknown purpose. Vivi has an existential crisis, what is life anyways? Team fights their way through the ice cave to meet the first Black Waltz (black mage leader maybe?). After they get through the mountain cave they arrive at Lindblum.
Turns out Regent Cid of Lindblum is Dagger’s uncle. Neat. Zidane participates in the hunt festival where he meets up with an old friend, Freya. After the hunt festival we reconvene at the palace where we learn Dagger has escaped (gasp). As Zidane is leaving to go hunt for Dagger, Freya catches up to him and convinces him to go to Burmecia (Freya’s home country) and help defend it against the black mage army. Guess we now know why Queen Brahne wanted all those black mages.
Zidane, Freya, and Vivi go off to Burmecia and fight all the way up to the throne room, where we see Queen Brahne and some strong crazy looking dude searching for the King of Burmecia (name unknown/I forgot it). Alexandria’s military leader (name also unkown, it’s a lady) fights the team and we lose.
End of disc 1
Cut to Dagger and Steiner going through the mountain pass attempting the get BACK to Alexandria. They get waylaid (sort of) by the remaining crew of the Tantalus and get diverted to Treno, some sketchy ass town near Alexandria where the Tantalus crew is headquartered. There we are searching for clues about something and meet Dagger’s old teacher. He says to meet him at his tower where he lives and he will tell us more about the something we were searching for.
I legit haven’t played a console game since my last post. What was that like 4 weeks ago? Yea… I’m not doing so hot. Last post ended with me being hopeful that I would have some time during my staycation to play some games. I ended up working a full week that week. Then my kid got very sick 2 weeks in a row starting around Easter, which means work from home and sleepless nights. THEN I decided I would hold work accountable and actually take my time off like planned. I ended up getting called in to work YET AGAIN during the re-do and didn’t get a chance to play games. Work has become a huge problem in my life. They are finally hiring somebody to boost the team headcount and hopefully that means I can actually get away from this damn place.
Other than that…
I’ve been catching up on comics! I used to read DC comics a few years back and slowed down when we had the baby. I’ve been missing it lately and decided to find a local comic shop near the new house and start up a pull list again. I’m also going back through some of DC’s greatest hits that I’ve missed out on in the past and that has been fantastic! Learning some of the deeper history around these characters and the story lines that changed the comic game has been educational to say the least.
One of my good friends also called me up the other day and basically said “we’re getting the band back together!” But in our case, it’s a online gaming clan instead of a band. I’ve been working with him on getting some of the website, chat server, and other type of infrastructure set up so we can have all the tools we need to do well and communicate. I haven’t done the clan thing in a while and forgot how much fun it could be. (If anybody is interested in joining a FFXIV clan then leave a note in the comments and I’ll get you invited).
Back to the topic of the Backlog though. I’ve been working on getting some sort of schedule created so I can actually accomplish this lofty goal. Like any other adult, I have a lot of responsibilities in my life and it hasn’t been easy to find which items to stop doing in order to work on the Backlog. I hope to have a schedule/calendar created that will ultimately lead to me making literally any progress on one of my games. Good luck to me.