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How gaming helped me heal from an online trauma – by Oliver Whittaker

Back in 2012, I was in final preparations in starting my new life in the USA with my wife-to-be. We met online a few years ago prior, via a gaming lobby in World of Warcraft. From there, we fell in love.

We had so many things in common. Every time I saw her in real life or online, my face lit up with joy. We also suffered several trials & tribulations together, from her cancer to miscarrying a child. I was there for her in whatever way I could, from financial stability to emotional support. I knew I had to be there for her, so I was making my document preparations for my US entry. In the process, I encountered something that would haunt me for the rest of my life…

The woman I fell in love with for all these years was not who she claimed to be.

Her name, her age, her family background – it was all a lie. She was a known criminal in her state and had been arrested for financial fraud. What else was a lie? The cancer, the miscarriage…our love?

I was in complete disarray and fell into a complete shut-down. I had no one to support me. My friends and family had isolated themselves away from me as they thought our relationship wasn’t real. I thought, ‘how can it not be real if my feelings are?’

I was afraid to go online for quite some time as I thought she might be lurking on the internet, waiting to deceive me with more lies. Where could I go? What could I do? I told myself there were two options. One path being an easy but vengeful one, where it would lead to nothing but suffering and pain. The other, to be reborn, learn from my mistakes and not let the last few years get to me. It wouldn’t be an easy path to take, but I acknowledged and accepted it.

I started getting my old life back together. I moved to a completely new area, got a new job and started looking after myself. I looked after my mind and soul, ensuring that my mental health was always in check – having an appointment with a counsellor helped a lot. But I missed my old passion, the one thing that helped me escape from my reality. Gaming.

It was gaming that became my therapy whilst on this path of recovery. I could be whoever I wanted, temporarily releasing me from the burdens in my past. I started on single-player games, from recovering a rare artefact in Tomb Raider to saving Gotham in Batman. I felt like I was doing some good somewhere. Gradually, I tip-toed back into multiplayer games, where I fell in love with my flag-ship game, Overwatch. From there, I decided to get into streaming. I had my old bubbly personality back from before the trauma, so mixing the two would be fun!

Fast forward to today, and I’m still streaming and staying true to myself. I wanted to help Safe In Our World to spread the word of mental health awareness, online safety and empathy to those who have suffered and feel that there’s no one to turn to. It’s only recently after all these years of holding it in, I decided to share my mental health story. For those who have suffered from similar experiences, you are not alone.

You can follow Oliver’s gaming tweets and streams here:


DLive (streaming)