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I met my partner on Minecraft and changed my life! – By Jake Smith

At the age of 12 I remember being on a football field and having this nagging in my head, I was clueless to what it was, it would just scream at me, I kept it secret. It was the early 2000’s and no one talked about mental health. 3 years later it got too much, I broke down to my parents and we arranged some help via a school councillor where we discovered I had OCD intrusive thoughts. I tried my hardest to get help, nothing really calmed it down. But I never let it stop me from getting my GCSE’s and stopping my original dream of becoming an animal keeper. In fact, it fueled it more.

Moving into College was difficult to adapt and deal with the intrusive thoughts. Sadly in college, I then developed hygiene OCD and feared being ill or killing people by not doing certain actions. It got out of control, I’d be hours late to lectures due to showering for hours. The college was on my back about attendance at the time, I tried explaining but nothing happened, I carried on and I had a little help from friends but honestly, I was really struggling. I also knew this wasn’t going to define me, this was not going to stop me from achieving my dreams. I ran into many situations where people just said no, they didn’t want to know because of my issues, or I was told I should quit and go home, but I kept fighting. In the end, I passed the course, out of so much fighting I won and went on to seek the next challenge. And yes, I got to work with animals. Which yes, was amazing!

My story doesn’t end there, however. Like many who suffer from mental health conditions, things didn’t get fixed overnight.

In the years that followed bad things were happening in the background all the time. I turned to Minecraft in the evenings and escaped. I met another gamer, we got on really well and seemed to just connect. I was getting more ill, and turning to my new friends on a Minecraft server to escape. My friend that I met online was there for me like I’ve never had someone be before. Life felt better. And, like all true rom-coms, we fell in love.

7 years later I have a lovely family and my mental health issues are a lot easier to deal with. They’re still there. But I’m learning ways to cope and sure, my story is a lot longer than this, there are sadly a lot of moments that things went against me and constant obstacles have tried to shut me down. The thing that pushes me is that I will not let the illness define me, I will not let it stop me from living my life to the best I can do and getting where I want to be. While many others may have worse or easier experiences, I truly believe if we have a goal, we must keep that goal in mind and find ways to get through it whether it be counselling, therapy, seeking help from loved ones, family or friends.

We can do this, we can fight and we can win. There is help out there. I will never give up fighting for the rights of the mentally ill, that is also my ultimate goal, I want the world to see us equally, I don’t want people going through hell to get what they want and I will forever fight for that.

And when I’m not fighting, yep, I’m still on Minecraft.