I’d like to start off with a disclaimer that I am not video game savvy. While I’m using this analogy I’m imagining my favourite video game I played as a kid, which was Crash Bandicoot on Playstation 1. Even still I’m a little rusty on how the rules or the story went, I just remember it being fun but sometimes really freaking hard. So please do not harass me for my lack of knowledge on video game terminology and whatnot. I’m looking at you, brother.
And now I’m distracted because I found a terrible flash version of the game online and will be playing this for hours. I also just learned that the original game is being remastered and now I need to buy a PS4.
Anyway I’m back now. I got to the snowball level and had to give up. Not that this makes any difference to you.
What was the point of this post? Oh, right, to describe to you how I feel about my own personal struggle with mental illness with an analogy about video games. Hopefully you find it useful or comforting too. Or at least entertaining.
The thing about living with a mental illness, is that sometimes it’s easier to manage than others. You have periods where life is okay; you’re managing fine and day to day activities go by without too much struggle. There are still little obstacles you have to face but you seem to get past them without much difficulty. These are the beginner, or easier, levels. You feel good about yourself for getting through them, and start to feel as if things are coming together and you can face all the next levels of your life without problems.
Then you hit a boss level. Or face a giant ass snowball that keeps crushing you.
And it seems that as hard as you keep trying and as much effort you put in you just can’t beat that boss level. You try over and over again, only to become more discouraged each time. Eventually you give up on the boss level and leave the video game to dust. When talking about real video games this really isn’t such a problem. But when it comes to real life and you hit that boss level and feel defeated, this is where problems arise.
You let that boss defeat you. You see it as a roadblock you can’t get past and you don’t want to try anymore. You let your failure consume you, and it leads you back down negative, dark, and destructive paths. So you turn to other easier video games to get your mind off of that one difficult level. And it seems to take the failure away and these other video games distract you and give you the false feeling that you’re doing okay. This is the easy way out.
Because really that boss level is still gnawing at you, bugging you, telling you that you can’t get past it, and there’s no point in trying. But you have to. Because if you never beat that one hard boss level, if you never get past that stupid fucking snowball, you won’t get to see how easy the next few levels may be, or get to the reward that is the end of the game.
So keep trying. Even though it may exhaust you. Even though that stupid level may piss you off. When you do finally beat it, get past it, and move on, the feeling of relief and reward will be like no other.
PS- Wouldn’t mental illness be some much easier to deal with if it could take corporeal form and you could fight it like a video game boss? I think so.