Looking back, I’ve always been quite an anxious person from a young age and it wasn’t until I was around the age of twenty-four that I realised I should probably talk to someone about it. It did take me quite a while initially to get myself up to see my doctor and admit that I was struggling. But after a lot of support from my friends and family, I finally booked an appointment and it was determined that I was suffering from Generalised Anxiety. I’ve always been a worrier, I’m always worrying what people think of me or worrying about things that to other people see as small things, but two of my biggest panic attacks were brought on by knowing I was going to be travelling (especially on planes) and after my Grandad passed away.
I was the first one to arrive at my Grans house when she’d called, panicked to say she couldn’t wake my Grandad up. I was thrust immediately onto the phone with an operator telling me to start chest compressions. Unfortunately, when the ambulance turned up he had already passed away and there was nothing more that could be done. From the moment I left the house to go to my Grans to the moment I returned home later that night, I realised I had been on autopilot and that’s when I had my second big panic attack. I’d never experienced death first hand before in such a personal manner and it had a massive effect on me. I really struggled for the next year or so, especially with the concept of death. What I didn’t realise at the time either was that I was continually bottling up my feelings and not talking about it as much as I should have been, and this is where gaming came in.
I’ve been playing games since about the age of seven and it’s still a massive love of mine today. I love how games have progressed so much, even taking on more serious subjects like mental health. I think it’s important and by doing so I believe it creates much-needed discussions and gives people something to relate too. Characters going through similar struggles that we ourselves can relate to gives us some comfort or helps us to perhaps not feel quite so alone in what we’re feeling or even gives us that little push to seek the help that we need if we are in a moment of crisis. With myself, I found this with Life is Strange.
I played Life is Strange for the first time after being introduced to it by a close friend. I remember hanging out in their flat and them showing me this game they thought I’d be interested in because it had qualities I’d enjoy, in particular, photography. It was already a bit of a winner there. However, it wasn’t until I actually brought the game and played it through that I realised how much of an effect it would have on me. I found that I could relate to Max, a quiet girl who had a love for taking photographs who’d moved back to Arcadia bay to go to College. A little anxious and Insecure at times. She’d been too afraid to reach out to Chloe after leaving Arcadia Bay in fear of what she’d say. Then Chloe, her best friend, who had lost her father in a car crash and Max when she’d moved away. It was through the interactions of these two characters and the subjects of which the game itself presented that I realised perhaps I wasn’t dealing with the loss of my Grandad in a healthy manner. Much of Chloe’s outbursts in the game come from a place of pain and hurt and sometimes I really felt I could relate to those feelings. Losing some abruptly when you’d only seen them fine earlier that same day is hard to swallow. It’s confusing and it’s easy to take that pain and loss out on people around you and bottle those feelings up inside.
Life is Strange covers subjects such as loss, anxiety, depression and bullying and the effects it can have and I became so invested in the characters and how things played out in my game that by the end It really had me thinking about how I’d been dealing with my own anxiety and loss. It woke me up to the fact that perhaps I hadn’t been dealing with my anxiety in the best way and by the time I reached the end, I actually sat down and had a good cry and that felt good. It was something I’d been needing for quite some time. It’s a game I will always hold close to my heart and It was after playing this game that I booked another appointment with my doctor and went to see my CBT Therapist once again and today I’m a lot better at handling my anxiety than I used to be. I still get bad days but I’m able to calm myself down quickly these days.
I genuinely feel Life is Strange came along at the right time for me when I needed a bit of a nudge to realise I could do with an extra helping hand and for that, I’m really grateful. I could see so many different qualities in both Chloe and Max that I could relate too and sometimes when I feel the need, I’ll go back and visit Arcadia Bay and It’s like visiting an old friend. I think sometimes certain games come along at the right time. Had I played Life is Strange at a different time in my life I might not have felt as strongly about it as I do now but It’ll always be a game that I’m thankful for, for many reasons.