How Depression Quest helped me

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[Dtoid community blogger ooktar shares his personal journey through Depression Quest. Want to see your own work appear on the front page? Go write something! –Mr Andy Dixon]

In the wake of the death of the great Robin Williams, the topic of depression has become a hot button issue. Depression is a thing that lots of people experience, but not something that people can easily overcome. It can become an incredibly heavy burden that people have no choice but to carry on a day-to-day basis. It isn’t something that can simply be cured, and many people deal with it their entire lives. To try to explain depression to someone who doesn’t deal with depression on the daily can be a daunting task. Most of the time, there’s no way to pinpoint any single source, and it can feel like there’s a million different things floating around in your head. Attempting to talk to anyone about your issues makes you feel like a burden on everyone and you have no way to let them know how they can help you.

I’ve recently been going through bits where I’ve felt sad and exhausted for little to no reason. Some days it’s near impossible to get out of bed, and then at the end of every work day I’m almost too worn out to put forth any effort to do anything creative. Most of the time I’d rather stay home than go out and interact with people, and I’m too nervous and not confident enough to try and attempt any serious relationship. I’ve chalked it up to being overly sensitive, as I can tend to take things too seriously or get overworked easily, but lately it’s been hard to describe just what is making me feel this way.

Depression Quest helped me learn and feel more comfortable with these feelings, and how to go about dealing with them.

Depression Quest released over a year ago, but I only just happened upon it on Steam by random. I found it a little ironic given the recent sad news, but I was also quite interested. The basic story is you’re someone living with depression, and you’re given some everyday scenarios to overcome. The catch is that your choices can be limited depending on how you go about trying to “cure” your depression, or if you even decide to do anything about it at all. The scenarios are fairly generic, but are easy to relate to: from attempting to talk to your parents about your feelings, to getting invited out to a social gathering by your partner.

The game is simple; it’s a basic choose your own adventure-style text heavy game. At the bottom of the screen there are little status bars that tell you how depressed you are, if you’re going to therapy, and if you’re taking medication. Its simplicity shouldn’t turn anybody off, though, as this is a game that everybody should play.

When I first started the game, I couldn’t help but chuckle. Not because I thought the game was funny or stupid or anything, but because I couldn’t help but relate to just about all the details and scenarios the game gives. It was almost like playing an interactive version of my own life. Most specifically, the details about the character’s feelings about his job and his personal projects. I couldn’t help but put myself into the shoes of the character because just about every emotion that goes through his head I have experienced on many occasions.

The way it goes into detail about some of the feelings the character feels and some of the thoughts the character has behind the choices you make just hit home to me on a level that I wasn’t expecting. There was a part in which my character decided not to go to work in an attempt to rest, yet ultimately that rest was for nothing since the next day, “You still have to go to work.” This is something I’ve dealt with many times.

At another point, the character comes home after work with the intention of focusing on his “project” (presumably some kind of art piece), but because of the exhausting work day your only choices are to either force yourself to work (resulting in frustration), or attempting to unwind and ultimately missing any opportunity to get anything done. These are scenarios that I find myself in on a constant basis and to see these very similar scenarios in the game gave me a weird heartwarming feeling to know that I’m not the only person to experience them.

Of course by the end I certainly wasn’t chuckling; rather, I was struggling very hard to hold back some manly tears. In the end of my play through I ended up with likely the best case scenario: being only mildly depressed and everything ending on a fairly high note. Yet the game has no absolute happy ending, which the developers point out was intentional. Rather its ending is meant to be an optimistic view to help you look forward. The fact is you can’t completely cure depression, but you can learn to take the steps to make it easier to deal with.

Depression Quest is one of the best mediums I’ve seen to explain just how a person with depression feels and how they go about their life on a day-to-day basis. This game helped me acknowledge some of these issues and even how I can help get around them. It’s not exactly a happy or thrilling tale, but it’s one that everyone should experience.