Need help?
Click here Need Help?
Need help? Click here

How Minecraft Helped Me to Combat Loneliness by Sky Tunley-Stainton

It was Christmas Day and I was 6,000km away from my partner and family. I loved my job and had made good friends while abroad, but it was very isolating to be away from my loved ones at a time that was so built around routine and togetherness.

I got a message from my partner to join our Minecraft server. We’d been spending time on the server together from afar, so I was excited to be able to see him and hang out for a little while. What I found when I logged in is honestly still to this day one of the most thoughtful things anyone has ever done for me.

2 minecraft characters sit on a sofa together

In front of me, in the center of our base, was an enormous spruce tree covered in coloured glass blocks and light sources. We weren’t far along on the server at the time, so it must have been pretty difficult to create something on that scale. Beneath the tree were several chests (which were, of course, re-skinned as gifts for the season as always) and an enormous gift made of wool blocks. My Christmas gift that year was a set of fully enchanted diamond armour and tools, and inside the wool gift were two Minecraft cats for me to tame and keep.

If anyone’s ever drawn a picture for you, written a poem, or produced anything creative for you, you’ll know how this gesture made me feel. Even years later it’s a memory I treasure and helped form my belief that games are so powerful when it comes to forming and maintaining relationships.

Last year, on our anniversary, it was my partner’s turn to be away for work. Each November we would usually watch a fireworks display together, but with him away in Scotland – and with Covid restrictions still in place – this was not going to be possible. Inspired by his thoughtfulness in previous years, I spent hours in Minecraft working out how to craft all the different types of firework rocket and setting up a (very rudimentary) redstone fireworks display. We logged in and, as the Minecraft sun set, we were able to watch the fireworks together as we always did.

This isn’t something unique to me, either: the game has been used for people all over the world to stay connected during what was perhaps the most isolating time of all of our lives. For just one other of many examples, The Warren Project ran a Minecraft server to connect young people during lockdown, helping them maintain friendships, and make new ones, from afar.

At some of my loneliest moments, Minecraft has helped me connect and share experiences, proving that games can be vital in the fight against loneliness.

Words by Sky Tunley-Stainton

Skills utilised:
News, Stories

Eliana Zebro and #AudioIndustryGame (Safe Space Podcast Season 1 Episode 9)

On this episode of Safe Space, Rosie is joined by Eliana Zebro, creator of the recently released #AudioIndustryGame and audio professional in media projects.
We discuss the motivations behind releasing the game, which tells the stories of marginalised gender folks and their experiences within the audio industry; including stories referencing discrimination and harrassment. 
Eliana discusses their personal experiences in working as a marginalised gendered person within the audio industry and how issues are rife across creative fields. We highlight the importance of being able to tell these stories to promote positive change and transparency to those who can push for improvement from a more privileged position.
Links:

 

Skills utilised:
News

Safe In Our World Launch Safe Space: a Mental Health Podcast

We’re delighted to launch the Safe In Our World Podcast: Safe Space!

The podcast will be hosted by the Safe In Our World Team: Rosie Taylor, Jake Smith and Sarah Sorrell, and will feature a multitude of guests to discuss a variety of topics touching on mental health and video games.

We will be delving into mental health in the context of the games industry, through chats with key figures, Level Up Partners, influencers and content creators who exist in this space. We’ll be discussing the importance of representation within games, and the importance of lived experience, and how games connect us.

We’re also keen to explore the ins and outs of content creation and mental health, neurodiversity, community management, mental health stories and lots more.

It’s fair to say we’re excited to cover a broad variety of topics within mental health in games, get some brilliant guests and listen to a variety of perspectives!

The first episode aired on the 23rd September, with an introduction to the team, Safe In Our World and an insight into what to expect from the podcast.

Follow the podcast on Twitter!

Skills utilised:
News

Get Well Gamers – Children’s Mental Health Week

From the 1st – 7th February 2021, it is Children’s Mental Health Week in the United Kingdom.

The theme of this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week is Express Yourself, which encourages finding ways to share feelings, thoughts, or ideas, through creativity. This could be through art, music, writing, gaming – the creative process is in their hands.

We’re delighted to be teaming up with Get Well Gamers in order to raise awareness on the resources that are available for children in relation to their mental health, as well as the important work that Get Well Gamers are invested in, in order to improve wellbeing in children’s healthcare settings. Get Well Gamers is a UK charity that takes donated video games and consoles to hospitals, hospices and other healthcare settings. They recognise that video games are an effective and proven pain management tool, providing much-needed entertainment for young people during long hospital stays or in circumstances in which recreational activities can be beneficial, and are currently linked up with over 100 hospitals and organisations across the UK.

“At Get Well Gamers, we know that being in hospital for children can already be a really tough experience. Throughout these especially difficult, unprecedented times, we’ve been working hard on getting donations out to make sure we can do our bit in assisting the fantastic and vital work that the Health Play Specialists and other staff members do, supporting the mental wellbeing of the children in their care.” Eleanor, GWG

Joe’s Story

Joe has been a long-term patient at The Royal Alexander Children’s Hospital, and his Mum kindly shared their experience and the effect that games have had on Joe:

My 12 year old son has been an inpatient at The Royal Alexander Children’s Hospital for 5 months. Due to Covid, visitors are not allowed & Joe is not able to leave his room apart from short outings outside to the hospital sensory garden. It has also not been possible to socialise with anyone else. Therefore, keeping Joe occupied & entertained has been a big challenge. It is with enormous thanks to the Play Team that Joe has been able to play an Xbox & Nintendo Wii, watch DVDs & have access to many different games & movies. Joe has a severe learning disability so access to this technology in order for him to play games has been fundamental in making his long hospital stay a positive experience for Joe & has also relieved a lot of stress for him & his parents.’ – Joe’s Mum

 

Ben’s Story

Ben is 14, and attends the Hospital Youth Club at Derbyshire Children’s Hospital. 

“I love playing on the Wii with my friends at the Hospital Youth Club. It’s a chance to have fun and a laugh with people who are going through similar issues to me.”

~ Ben, Aged 14

“We are so fortunate here at Derbyshire Children’s Hospital to receive donations from Get Well Gamers. We support a wide variety of inpatients and outpatients. We are able to use the donated technology to support patients individually and in groups.

These donations mean so much to patients as they provide that bit of escapism from whatever they are going through. Whether it is a console for an isolated patient or a team game during our Youth Club session on the Wii, this technology always makes the time go faster and puts smiles on faces.”

~ Louise Melbourne, Senior Youth Worker at Derbyshire Children’s Hospital

 

Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, Brighton

I cannot emphasise enough the value of gaming for children in hospitals. Very few things can completely distract and involve a child or young person like video games. We are fortunate to have a range of gaming consoles, all of which have been donated either from the public or from charities such as Get Well Gamers. As we do not have a budget for these resources we are enormously grateful for these donations. Get Well Gamers has been fantastic as they manage to find specific games that have been requested by patients. For example a young oncology patient was very keen to play super smash bros during his chemotherapy treatment which Get Well Gamers was able to provide. This distracted him from the nausea and anxiety during treatment and helps him to have positive memories of his time in hospital.’ – Louisa Cusworth, Play Team, Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, Brighton.

 

Resources

Global

7 Cups of Tea is a free emotional support service with a special service for 13-17 year olds

 

United Kingdom

For those in the UK, find what resources are available to support children’s mental health from the NHS at this link for children and this link for parents and carers.

The following helplines are available to children as well as adults, and have professionals to support you if you need it:

Samaritans – 116123

Rethink – 0300 5000 927

Mind – 0300 123 3393

Youngminds – 0808 802 5544

Child Line –  0800 1111

 

There is a list of more specific situational helplines available here.

 

Teachers & Parents: 

Twinkl is an amazing online resource for those teaching children at any age. From lesson plans to mental health activities, it covers all ages and brings together online resources for many young people going through homeschooling.

 

Australia

Kids Helpline – Website – Phone 1800 55 1800
Free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25

 

Canada

Kids Help Phone – Website – Phone 1-800-668-6868

 

New Zealand

Kidsline – Website – Phone 0800 54 37 54

Skills utilised:
News

Hub World – Loneliness

Hub World – Loneliness (January)

Welcome to Hub World! Each month I will be discussing a topic we have been reflecting on throughout the month and how we, as a community, tackle it in our daily lives.

Loneliness and isolation is a complex feeling that comes in many forms, rather than it’s strongest association of being physically alone. You can feel lonely surrounded by hundreds of people, or even within a group of close friends and loved ones. This might be because you feel like you are unable to connect with those around you on an emotional level, which in turn leads to putting on a social mask in order to interact with others in the day to day – so as not to feel like a burden to those around you.

Last month at Safe In Our World, we thought about loneliness, the impact it has had on us and those around us and how we have tackled this feeling – particularly during the pandemic.

During this time, one of the most important things for me was to find a way to reconnect with my mum, who lives alone and has had a tough few months. When I was young, we used to play video games together – or she would watch and experience a game’s narrative with me. That’s something that we have been missing since we began living apart, so I hatched a plan to bring her back into that world via the Nintendo Switch and online play in Animal Crossing.

I spent several hours over Christmas setting up an ‘event space’ on my Animal Crossing Island, filled with presents and decorations. Once my mum had received the Switch, we spent time talking over the phone as she learned the basics of the game and after a couple of days I brought her to my island, where she was surprised with a variety of goodies! It’s one of the best decisions I have made during lockdown and it has been a joy to see her re-engage with games again and for us to be able to play together like we used to.

Antonela Pounder

Our ability to go wherever whenever has been taken away from all of us, which I’ve found brings about a feeling of loneliness, even if you don’t live alone. Forming new friendships with others through current friendships has been incredible. We basically now have our own online support bubble where we talk about anything and everything (but try to avoid COVID chat!) Calls almost every evening has helped hugely, whether this be on Discord or using PlayStation parties, as well as engaging in online multiplayer gaming sessions together. Regular communication has been key, whether it be with friends, family and/or colleagues.

Marie Shanley

As the world deals with loneliness caused by the isolation of the pandemic, the advice that I have given out over and over on the channel is to check out streaming platforms and try to connect with others who share your interests: whether that’s gaming, knitting, painting miniatures, or anything else really.

The best thing is seeing people find lasting friendships, as they are connecting with others through various platforms. My stream is centred around mental health discussions, so friendships are forged through helping to support others with similar mental health concerns.

Richard Lee Breslin

It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do and how many people you have around you. We can (and have) all experience loneliness in our lives.

Despite being a happily married man with a wonderful son, I can still feel lonely. I have a tendency to lock my troubles away in the back of my mind and my reluctance to talk can isolate me despite being surrounded by loving people. During times of the global pandemic we can be cut-off from seeing loved ones and friends. Thankfully we have modern day technology and social media at our call.

Social media has played a huge role in our lives pre-pandemic but now it’s more important than ever. If there are some positives taken from this pandemic, it’s made me cherish those smaller moments and I’ve even gained some great friends.

I know it may feel difficult at times not being with friends and loved ones, but if you can, don’t cut yourself off from your world. Let your loved ones and friends know that you’re thinking of them, because they’ll be feeling the same about you too.

Harry Burton

Loneliness can easily creep up on you, I have personally found that it can be the first step leading to a downward spiral – usually leading to less focus on caring for your own mental health and wellbeing needs.

Something which has helped me considerably is Digital Fitness through social media and applications such as Peloton and Nike. No matter your equipment or goals there are communities to help you stay focused, spread positivity and offer advice. Particularly on Facebook and Strava I have connected with new people through the shared vision of reaching our goals.

You’ll find people are eager to listen and support you through the pursuit of staying active!

The Demented Raven

Whenever some of my friends have had a rough day or feel alone, we decide to play video games to brighten up our day. One of these games is Overwatch and it always ends up with wholesome laughs, silliness, banter and pure joys of friendship. Video games have the power to really help people reach out and are a reminder that you’re never alone. 

Featured Recommendations:


Emma Withington is a freelance writer and PR account executive at Bastion who has worked on campaigns for a variety of titles, including Control and Final Fantasy XIV: Online.

She is currently spending time focusing on the wider community and how she can help others through her personal journey with mental health.

Twitter.

Skills utilised:
Covid 19, News

12 Days of Positivity

As 2020 draws to a close, we look back and reflect on the difficulties we have faced and overcome – instead of focusing on the negatives, we can look to see the positive things that have blossomed from this year.

New and innovative hobbies have sprung from lockdown, we’ve found different techniques to relax and wind down, and discovered new games that help us escape. It’s important to remember the positives, and be proud of ourselves and each other for getting through a really tough year, and to celebrate each other as we move forward.

Over the next 12 days, Safe In Our World will be sharing 12 of our positives that we’re taking from this year into the next – with thanks from everyone at Safe In Our World. We will be updating this page every day, so watch this space.

Stay tuned from the 13th – 24th December to read all the different things we’ve been up to, you might read something you want to try yourself!


Day 1 – Richard Lee Breslin

“Whether I’m feeling stressed, depressed, overwhelmed, suffering from tinnitus or just want to pass by an hour or two, there’s very little that lifts my spirits more than painting my board game miniatures.

Due to a lack of confidence, I had put this hobby off for years, but during lockdown I decided to go for it and now it’s turned into one of my all-time favourite hobbies.

With each miniature I feel like I’ve learned something new and I always look forward to the next. If there’s any hobby that you’ve wanted to do, just go for it as you might discover a talent you thought you never had.”


Day 2 – Stefano Petrullo

Patron, Founder of Renaissance PR

“Once coming to this country back in 2006 I was not able to call myself a chef, barely been able to cook eggs and some basic pasta dishes! Now, with years of experience, I’ve found cooking extremely relaxing, and that it completely disconnects me to the intricacies and the complication of day-by-day work.

We are so lucky to work in such an amazing industry which is not affected too much by COVID. At the same time we have to acknowledge how this intense this industry can be. There’s nothing wrong with stopping and having a break, and looking at a recipe (a simple Carbonara, an elaborated Risotto with taleggio, red wine and salsiccia are the perfect way to completely reset whatever stress you have).

Start simple with something you actually like and then gradually experiment. My love for cooking has recently led me to a passion for BBQ… from burgers, to more elaborate cooking techniques to create the perfect dish. Am I a master of this? No, not at all… but cooking gives me this moment of peace between too many press-releases, the occasional embargo being broken, and a difficult feature I am trying to pitch.”


Day 3 – RenjiPls

Ambassador, Content Creator

“The biggest thing I loved during lockdown was making sure I got in my government-approved walks every day. These last few months it’s been a bit more difficult, but I’m looking forward to getting out into the lovely winter weather!”

Just look at the views Renji has on his doorstep!


Day 4 – Lara Jackson

Ambassador, Journalist

“Seeing family is hard this year, so I’ve had to say goodbye to the traditional Christmas tree decorating with my loved ones. Still, the festive spirit is what you make of it, and decorating a winter wonderland in The Sims 4 is almost as good as the real thing! I created a house, got a turkey dinner in the oven and – with Christmas music blaring – I nestled in by the fire to decorate my home from top to toe. It might not be what I expected from Christmas 2020, but it was fun, relaxing and definitely has me in the festive spirit!”


Day 5 – Jack Mullen

Ambassador

“One little thing I came up with was using a resistance band for mini exercises. Back during the first lockdown in April I was in the Shielding category (This meant I couldn’t leave the house for 12 weeks, so became very conscious that I wasn’t getting exercise, from not even being able to go for a quick walk around the block).

I set myself up a little room to do some body weight exercises, including use of a small resistance band for leg side raises etc. I set myself a target of a certain amount each day and increased the amount by 1 each day as a little challenge. Naturally I got a little obsessed, and what was great is that with those exercises is that I managed to maintain the same weight over the period of being stuck in give or take a pound or two. Certainly important to me, as the condition I have that forced me to shield is kept under control by me maintaining a healthy weight.

An added bonus of these exercises is that they’re easy to do whilst multitasking, so quite a lot of the time I would be playing some games whilst getting some exercise, without really realising.”


Day 6 – Antonela Pounder

Ambassador, Director of Global Community at 505 Games

“As someone who knows too well how devastating COVID can be, I’ve spent a lot of 2020 trying to deal with grief. Communication has been key in the healing process. Online gaming sessions with friends and colleagues has helped a lot. Animal Crossing during the wobbly / difficult days proved to be a wonderful distraction and Flight Simulator has taken me places I couldn’t get to. Running has helped clear the mind and most recently, I’ve been spending my spare time making Christmas decorations, which I’ve loved! Keeping the mind active is important and will continue to be during Christmas.”


Day 7 – Nick Powell

Patron, Product Manager – Curve Digital

“Christmas! A time to eat, drink, eat some more and pack on the pounds. That’s how a lot of people seem to think this time of year, but last year I decided to do something a little more beneficial for my physical and mental health and committed to exercising on a daily basis. I challenged myself to come out of the festive period in better shape than when I went in. It’s not just Quality Street that comes in bite sized chunks – there’s a wealth of short, but effective exercise routines on YouTube you can follow from the safety of your own home and Frank Medrano’s calisthenics based exercises were my go to, and still are to this day, where I try and do at least 5 or 6 of them each week to try and maintain my physical health, which in turn really helps my mental health by improving my mood no end.”

This is Nick’s current workout by Frank Medrano! Are you up to the challenge?

Check out Nick’s Best YouTube Fitness Channels below:


Day 8 – SariaSlays

Ambassador, Content Creator

“Something that has helped me very recently is doing a little bit of DIY/decoration and updating my room so it feels more fresh and new.

I recently got some small bits/plants from IKEA to make my room feel more comfortable and it really perked my mood up! I would recommend anybody to try it out, even if it’s just changing the layout of your room, tidying your desk or putting on a nice candle.

I spend most of my day in this room doing work/streaming so it’s definitely worthwhile for my mental health.”


Day 9 – Jeane Wong

Patron, CEO of ONE PR Studio

“I’m a firm believer of staying positive and always trying to find something good in everything the world throws at you. Even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time, each and every experience and situation I go through teaches me something. Don’t get me wrong, everyone should expect to have good and bad days, but hopefully there are more good than bad, and know that you’re in control of your life and how you handle things. To me, being alive and having the liberties and freedoms many of us have is something I feel very fortunate to have and do not take for granted. Things can always be worse, and unfortunately they are for many people so I genuinely appreciate what I have and I humbly try to do what I can for others.

This year certainly tested my belief, and I’m happy to say there were so many good things that happened despite the bad. For me, the pandemic has allowed me to spend more time with my family – human and of the fur kind. There will be wonderful memories that come out of this time, despite what my two teenage boys think right now… mark my words, kiddos! I know my fur kids, 2 awesome dogs, are more appreciative of the time we’ve been spending together.  Even when the corgi loses a game of 3-way blackjack, as seen in one of these photos.”


Day 10 – Emma Withington

Web Team, Games PR at Bastion

It has been a year hasn’t it? 

For me 2020 has put a lot of things into perspective – most importantly, it has shown me who’s there when the going gets tough. Playing social games such as Animal Crossing, Fall Guys, and Among Us have been a huge part of what has made 2020 more than just ‘the year of the pandemic’. It’s allowed me to strengthen existing friendships and develop new ones. The brightest things shine in the darkest of times – so hold on to those guiding lights on your way to a better future. 

So, maybe you haven’t been able to take up a new hobby or try something new – that’s OK. Sometimes the facilities and the motivation just aren’t there and it’s OK to sometimes indulge in life’s comfort food. It’s a Christmas tradition for me to replay the Saints Row IV DLC: How the Saints Save Christmas – so I look forward to, once again, saving Santa with a Christmas-themed dubstep gun and spending time online with those who mean the most.


Day 11 – Nintendo Power Couple

Ambassadors

For us, the year started very rough. We were trying to move out and get back on our feet while finding ourselves depressed every day due to everything negative going on in the world. There were many days where the news was just unbearable to watch and all hope felt lost. However, for our 8-year wedding anniversary, we adopted a rescue puppy we named Milo who has changed our lives for the better in every single way! His constant kisses, cuddles, love and affection have been a positive influence on the two of us. His kindness washes away all of our anxieties and stresses and we find ourselves more at peace when he’s by our side. 

So our tip for not just the holiday season but also life in general is, if you have the means to, go to your local animal shelter and adopt a little furry friend. They’ll change your lives “fur” the better and you will find yourself wondering how you lived so long without them!


Day 12 – Ed Rumley

Patron

This Christmas, my intention is to become the CEO of the sofa in the Rumley household. This year I’ll be focussed on Watch Dogs Legion, Need For Speed Hot Pursuit and Astro’s Playroom. I also need to complete A Way Out with my son as it’s a co-op only game. There’s plenty more in my games playlist if I get through those! I will make sure I leave the sofa as a daily burst of exercise is really important to me. I’m a keen runner and love the “me time” when I chuck on my trainers and lose myself in some 90’s dance classics as I hit the streets! With that said, I’m currently nursing a running injury so am taking it easy on the distance so we will be continuing our family walks that we discovered during lockdown!”

Skills utilised:
News

LevelUpMentalHealth: How a Supportive Work Place Helped Me Overcome My Mental Health Challenges by George Osborn

When you’re having a problem with your mental health, having a workplace that understands what you’re going through makes a world of difference to how you overcome it.

I learned this the easy way, fortunately, when I joined Ukie. I know that in terms of my public persona it’s reasonable to say that I project a certain amount of confidence, of happiness, optimism and care for others – especially in work situations.

But when I joined Ukie as their Head of Communications last year, my mental wellbeing felt far away from the outward contentment that I was projecting.

Last July, my life briefly broke apart. A long term relationship ended; I moved to London to live by myself for the first time; I then started a fantastic, but high pressure, job while I simultaneously wound down my business.

It was, in truth, a bit much. But initially, I didn’t engage with how I was feeling mentally. I constructed some defence mechanisms to keep me going in the short term. I then studiously ignored what felt like a burgeoning spot of darkness hovering just over my shoulder for as long as humanly possible in the hope it’d just go away.

By September, though, it wasn’t possible any more. A hard-working August (as all are in the games industry) and a fairly hard partying one had not washed away my feelings. Instead, I was increasingly weighed down each morning as I dealt with feelings of sadness, guilt and anxiety.

It prompted me to go and seek private help from a therapist. It’s something I’ve done before and found great value in. After all, if you’ll go see a doctor because you’re feeling physically unwell then it makes perfect sense to talk to a therapist to bring some clarity to your state of mind. Straight forward enough, I think.

Previously though, I had been able to see a therapist completely on my own time. I was self-employed on the last occasion I sought help, which meant that I could simply pick a time during the day and build my work around it.

Having just started a ‘nine to five’, I worried I might not be able to do something similar. I was concerned I would either not be able to get the help I needed at all (work comes first etc) or that I would have to cram it in around the working day in an uncomfortable way.

That’s where having a workplace with a culture of understanding mental health issues worked so well for me. I chatted with my boss extensively about my life circumstances and took the opportunity to tell her how I was feeling. I then asked if I could, quietly, book out an hour from 9-10 on a week day to have my sessions, mark it as private time and remove it when I felt ready to.

She agreed on the spot. With that came such a wave of relief. This wasn’t just caused by the fact that I could get the help I needed to at the time. It was also caused by the feeling that I was working in an environment where my mental well-being was catered for and where something sensitive to me would be managed humanely.

In the end, the arrangement didn’t last very long. The fact that I had been to therapy before, felt ready to talk and, fortunately, spoke with someone I clicked with meant I was able to come out the other side of it in three months.

However, it wasn’t the length of the experience that mattered to me. Instead, what mattered to me was that I felt I had room to deal with my mental health issues without feeling like it affected anyone’s perception of me. I was still George, I was just handling some personal stuff.

Since then, I’ve had the best working year of my life. It hasn’t been easy – it never is, unfortunately – but I’ve been able to work on a number of major campaigns and initiatives that have made a difference (including to other people’s mental health.) And I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that I wouldn’t have been able to do all this without the support I received when I needed it.

So, when you’re thinking about how you can make your workplace as welcoming as possible, always, ALWAYS think about what you can do to foster an environment where someone feels able to talk about – and take actions to improve – their mental health.

A small act of kindness from a thoughtful boss made one of the toughest years of my life much more bearable. If you can make where you work similarly kind, I encourage you wholeheartedly to do so.

Ukie has signed up as a partner to Safe in Our World’s #LevelUpMentalHealth pledge to create workplaces with an environment that is safe and supportive for their team’s mental health. You can sign up your business here: https://safeinourworld.org/level-up/

Skills utilised:
Stories

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:

Twitter

DLive (streaming)

Skills utilised:
Stories

Nathan Drake didn’t only save Elena Fisher’s life, but mine too – By Simon Hill

Growing up was a constant daily challenge for me – I was bullied from the age of nine, right through to the age of 16, I witnessed my parents split, I moved houses multiple times and the friends I did have were all taken from me when I moved school. Gaming became a safe haven for me, an escape – my N64 was one of the most wonderful experiences of my gaming life, still to this day I hold this as my favourite console I have ever owned. I do put this down to multiple reasons, the most important one being the ability it gave me to detach myself from reality; from exploring the magical and enchanting worlds created in such games as Banjo-Kazooie, to the excitement I
felt whilst playing some of my favourite wrestling games to-date.

Fast-forward to 2009 and I suffered a violent attack whilst walking home after work that left me on crutches. By this time I had been working as a radio presenter for three years, I had also recently been made redundant from Kerrang Radio and moved over to BRMB (You may know this as Free Radio). During the transition I had a lot of time with my thoughts, realising how much the industry I was in love with, had a deep effect on my mental health. At first I wasn’t sure if this was just my mind overthinking, or being bitter about the fact I had been let go from my dream job. Then I sat with a friend who taught psychology at a local university and without me knowing at the time, he was testing me with various methods and questions – he then asked me for my mobile phone, where he typed out what he believed I valued in life, none of which were my own personal wellbeing.
At that point I burst into tears, realising that I was suffering from more than just frustration of moving radio stations, it was much deeper than that.

This is where my whole life changed. I suffered with depression and horrific bursts of anxiety, which for someone who’s job it was to speak to thousands of people every day live on national radio – wasn’t ideal. I remember at the time going into my local GAME store and whilst checking the charts, I saw that ‘Uncharted 2: Among Thieves’ had released on PS3, I remember having a fantastic experience with the first game so I took my chances on the sequel.

And oh boy, what an enthralling, wondrous adventure I was taking. During my spare-time I would sit and play this game over and over, once again detaching myself from the struggles of reality. I felt a real connection with the lead character Nathan Drake, as someone who was always chasing his dreams, battling his way through unexpected scenarios just to be considered as somewhat successful in the field he had chosen to pursue a life in. During my experience with Uncharted 2, I was taught a valuable lesson from Drake; despite all the obstacles that you have to overcome in life and despite watching your dreams crumbling to dust around you, all that matters are the people that help, support and guide you through those struggles to become a stronger person for surviving those moments in life, where it all seems like there is nothing left to give.

I’m not sitting here typing this and saying everything I was suffering just magically went away – I still suffer with my mental health now. I have good days and I have days where all I want to do is wrap myself up in a blanket and be invisible to the world. However, with that said, I have very strong people around me and I am lucky enough to be given incredible opportunities as a TV/ stage presenter within the gaming industry, that allows me to express myself and showcase my passion for this beautiful medium.

I may have only scratched the surface here, but I want everyone who reads this to know that you aren’t alone and there is help available. If my story helps one person – then sitting on the edge of my sofa telling my story to you has been worth it. Mental health is a very difficult subject to speak about and whilst typing this I have had to wipe a few tears from my keyboard. The first step is acknowledging that what you are going through isn’t “okay” and this action in itself shows strength and courage. For me, I have found a way to turn my ‘lost cause’ in to ‘treasure trophies’ and you can too… Find your Nathan Drake, find your one small thing a day that will put a little smile on your face, because YOU are important and so is your well-being.

Skills utilised:
Stories

Seeking help was the best thing I’ve done – By Lucy Hale

My experience of mental health had mostly been a positive one until last year. I hadn’t experienced much major trauma, was content with my personal relationships and work life, had a solid group of friends and a boyfriend that I lived with. Then things came crashing down in March 2018 when I discovered my partner of 7 years had been cheating on me. My world shattered; I felt utterly betrayed and unloved, had to find a new place to live ASAP, my mum was living in Australia… all while I was starting a new role at Square Enix.

It was a dream job – creating videos for the Just Cause YouTube channel. But due to what I was going through personally, it wasn’t the best start. My mood was so low and I was completely distracted by everything going on in my mind that I wasn’t performing at my best. And after 3 months, the company extended my probation.

This added to the downwards spiral of not feeling good enough, desired, worthy. My imposter syndrome was at an all-time high, and so to combat this I would start to work non-stop. I’d stay late every evening, skip lunch and work at my desk, work on weekends, cancel on plans with friends because I felt behind on projects. This continued for months, all the time my mental health taking a battering. I’d spend lots of time sat in a work bathroom cubicle sobbing and trying to hold off anxiety attacks. On weekends, I wouldn’t leave my bed the entire time. I was having regular, recurring thoughts of suicide. I didn’t even want to play video games. I couldn’t even find enjoyment in the escapism of adventuring through Skyrim or speeding down highways in Grand Theft Auto. Things were bad.

One day it all got too much, and I booked in to see my GP. As soon as I began to talk about what was wrong, I completely broke down. She was so understanding and listened intently and sympathetically, diagnosing me as depressed, prescribing SSRI anti-depressants and booked me in for therapy. I was signed off work and found it so difficult to stop my brain working overtime. But after a few days I realised that this had happened for a reason, and that I needed to practise self-care.

After around a month, the anti-depressants worked wonders for me. I felt energetic, wanted to get out of bed, felt positive for the first time in what felt like forever. Even better was that managers and HR team at work were very understanding. We organised my schedule to ensure I had plenty of time between video deliveries to make sure I could edit with no need to rush. We sourced assistance from a capture company to reduce my workload. I checked in with the HR team on a weekly basis until I felt that I was confident and comfortable enough to manage by myself.

Now, I’m doing better than ever! Seeking help was the best thing I’ve ever done and I truly wish I had done it sooner. I’m now off anti-depressants, have a loving, caring boyfriend who I adore (and love to play video games with) and I’m enjoying my incredible job on the daily. If there’s one piece of advice I could give, it would be to speak up when you’re not feeling good – don’t ‘manage’ or keep it bottled up. A problem shared is a problem halved.

Skills utilised:
Stories

no layouts found