How a Decade-Old Game Helped Me Cope with Seasonal Depression

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“This Vitamin D better work,” I assumed bitterly to myself as I tilted a brown plastic complement bottle into my hand. A tiny capsule rolled into my palm. It was a small yellow droplet, golden just like the solar, which I hadn’t seen in what felt like without end.

It was mid-December 2019, proper smack in the course of the Pacific Northwest winter. Even although we have been solely two months into the wet season right here in Washington (with seven months left to go), I felt just like the near-constant rain had washed away all the enjoyment and motivation I had left in my physique. 

“Most people in the Pacific Northwest are woefully low in vitamin D, and that’s part of what contributes to low mood,” Seattle-based therapist Cami Ostman informed me. “In my observation with clients, the lack of connection we have with others when it gets dark is part of the problem. The winter lasts so long. It kind of closes up life for us.”

Living this far north, the solar gained’t rise till eight am, and near the winter solstice it’ll set by four pm. Layer these minimal daytime with dense grey rain clouds and a few days it’s just like the solar hadn’t risen in any respect. 

That specific winter, I knew I used to be in bother after I couldn’t get away from bed, a lot much less take part in my common hobbies like mountain climbing or gardening. I’d caught SAD, seasonal affective dysfunction, which impacts 10.5 % of us Washingtonians this time of yr. It’s marked by many of the signs of despair, together with listlessness, joylessness, decreased vitality, and simply typically feeling bummed out. 

“When hope and stimulation are whisked away, like in winter or during the pandemic, suddenly all the things we would do to cope with stress, anything you might normally do to stimulate all those happy chemicals like oxytocin in your body, all of those things are taken away,” Ostman stated. 

That’s precisely how I felt. No gardening, no mountain climbing, no patio glad hours with buddies. I felt trapped inside my home with nothing to do, and when SAD set in, I felt trapped inside my head.

Then, the surprising occurred: My husband Zach bought me an Xbox One as a Christmas reward. This was a bizarre and surprising reward, as a result of neither of us are avid gamers. The final time I’d performed video video games was in highschool, when the man who bought me weed would smoke me up if I let him win at Mario Kart, and that was over a decade in the past.

When I opened the field, I marveled at its sleekness and trendy look. When I turned it on, I used to be amazed by the breadth of alternative on the tip of my fingers. Still, studying a new sport felt like a enormous raise whereas I used to be carrying across the weight of unhappiness on my shoulders.

I sat down in entrance of the TV and despatched out a group textual content to my faculty buddies. “Y’all this winter has me depressed AF, but Zach got me an Xbox for Christmas, any suggestions on what games I should play?”

A pal replied that we should always give The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim a attempt, and adopted that up with a lengthy paragraph about the way it was an “open-world” sport with dragons and cat individuals and magic. I had no thought what an open-world sport was, however the thought of escaping to a magical alternate actuality sounded attention-grabbing sufficient. I took the bait and plunged in.

The very first thing that struck me in regards to the sport was the standard of the graphics. The visible facet of Skyrim shocked me with its magnificence and artistry. From the detailed leaves on the bushes to the epic mountainous moonscape within the background, it was attractive. Following footpaths and dust roads by means of forests and meadows, I assumed to myself, “This feels like virtual hiking.” Usually, I’d encourage myself to go on a few hikes within the winter, however SAD had me feeling like I used to be on emotional home arrest. Going on these digital hikes within the sport turned sweet for my mind.

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