Most days, particularly during the winter months, there’s a point where I hit a sort of metaphorical brick wall in my will power. It’s as though I’ve used up the amount I have for the day and have to find some way to replenish it, be it through food, sleep, or practicing self-care in another form such as something to keep your mind busy like crafting or by taking care of your hygiene via a shower. That’s when it hit me: my energy level – including my will to even continue living, if I’m being fully honest – is finite and must be renewed each day.
I had more or less become a video game character.
The best example I can come up with analogy-wise is the popular indie RPG Stardew Valley. In it, you play as a highly pixelated ex-corporate drone who moves away from the city to an old farm that you inherited from your grandfather, Harvest Moon-style. You are tasked with restoring the farm to its former glory, forging relationships with the villagers, and defeating the evil corporation.
All of this is on top of defeating a myriad of monsters along the way. Doing these tasks brings down your character’s energy level a considerable amount, and if you’re not careful, you could find yourself passed out and missing some of that hard-to-come-by gold you’ve worked so hard for. And if you don’t manage to get your character into bed before a set time, you wake up the next day without a full energy bar. The only ways you can refill it are with food and adequate amounts of sleep, much like in real life.
These are pretty much the only things in my own world that can help me renew my own sense of willpower, sleep being much more effective. When I reach that point in a day where I’ve lost that last bit of will to live, I remind myself, “It’s okay. You are going to be just fine. Once you let your head hit the pillow and you slip off into the land of Nod for eight or so hours, you’ll wake up to find yourself at the start of a new day and ready to take on the world. You will be whole again.”
Using this mentality has helped me manage those moments when my anxiety is even more of a pest than usual, and the depressive episodes that lead me to just want to curl up in bed and watch some fluffy, saccharine-sweet TV. Having a solid support network of friends has also been helpful. When I do reach this point, I can send a quick text to a friend and get a link to a fluffy fanfic or some needed words of comfort. With their help, I’m able to get through another long day where continuing to live just doesn’t seem worth it.
It’s incredibly easy to feel like your defeat in the battle for your sanity is inevitable, and that those mental monsters working to destroy your will to live will eventually reach their goal. And when people choose to ignore your boundaries (for instance, when you ask someone not to bring up a stressful topic in your presence, yet they do so anyway), it can amplify the problem.
While it might take some time for your mind to get back to a state of what for you might be considered balance, it does happen eventually. Recovering from depressive episodes isn’t linear. For the sake of being completely honest, making sure to take these steps isn’t easy. There have been plenty of times where it felt like doing these things was in vain; to quote British singer-songwriter Dodie Clark, “what’s the point in just drowning another day?” It’s a thought that will go through my mind, sometimes on repeat, when I’m in the middle of one of those depressive episodes. Then I remember that there are some things in the world worth fighting for. There’s still more shows to see, more things to craft, and more songs to hear my sister play on her bass or flute.
Comparing one’s capacity to go on in the midst of a depressive episode to a video game character’s HP might seem a bit silly, but for me it’s the most apt one that I can make. Video games have been an influence for me off and on throughout my life, so doing so makes sense. Seeing my character wake up the next in-game day with full energy and ready to take on the world makes me feel like maybe I too can handle whatever the world decides to throw my way after some rest.