So, this is actually a blog post I've wanted to write forever. As the blog has grown recently I was worried about how the numbers would look to possible sponsors and that I wanted to maintain a decent level of views or whatever. That took me away from why I started writing in the first place.
So here I am, back at the intended post. I'd like to preface this post in that its more about addiction and mental health, rather than gaming or Rainbow Six.
My friend Jack
Recently, I got the news that one of my friends had taken his own life, now the details aren't 100% accurate as its very recent but its believed to be a self induced overdose. He had been struggling with his mental health, having learned to cope with a girlfriend and a young child - all the associated problems that brings.
I knew him via my other passion, a physical sport called Rugby League. Although I didn't see him often, whenever I did see him we would have a few beers and watch the rugby together. In October 2017 we got stuck in Manchester after the Rugby final and ended up paying an Uber driver £200 to take us back to Leeds.
Jack, although he had his demons he reached out to our group and we helped him the best we could - although sadly that wasn't enough. So Jack, wherever you are mate, we'll have a beer one day again. I hope the demons that were haunting you are at rest now buddy.
Its reasonably well documented, I'm very open about it, but I had my own mental health issues. Largely as a result of working in a horrendous environment whilst qualifying as an accountant, I would be working 60-70 hour weeks end to end with very little life and overtime wasn't paid. I was stuck to my employer as they were paying for my exams and the whole situation was a mess and took its toll.
What used to get me through the day back then was gambling, I'd gamble on snooker, horses, dogs, football, cricket, anything. In fact my username is actually derived from a gambling background. In my peak I even owned shares in racing greyhounds, at one point the main greyhound I owned shares in was a pupper called "Fweshfromthesesh" which I changed to fit into an xbox IGN as "Freshfromasesh", that then subsequently got shortened to Fresh as I am such an introvert that I very very rarely sesh.
Anyway, my gambling got to a horrendous point, compulsively gambling on whatever I could. Naturally I didn't win, I didn't believe that I lost though and as the debt started piling up, I turned a blind eye believing that a big win was coming... Although one did come, at the time it barely scratched the surfact to cover it all. I nearly lost my family, friends and relationships through gambling. But actually none of that really mattered, as I nearly lost myself, with my mind being all over the place, such highs, lows, addiction really fucked me.
Luckily, I read a very good book (called the easy way to stop gambling by Allen Carr - not the comedian) and was able to quit gambling, I stopped 28th May 2018 - so I'm nearly 20 months down the line now. I wont ever go back to gambling, honestly, I am now free from it and the associated mental health issues it caused me. I changed my job to a more relaxed job, upped my interest in Rainbow Six Siege and then decided that I wanted to be in esports full time, something that I've only just got the ability to do but have been pumping hours of blood, sweat and tears into.
The importance of reaching out
I reached out, weirdly to certain people who are not who I would have expected, most recently that was with people inside the gaming/siege community, but at the time I reached out to the people I could and sought professional help. My friend Jack reached out to certain people, although he never got the professional help he needed.
Mental health should be seen exactly the same as physical health, sometimes its great, sometimes its not. Everyone has mental health, everyone has high and low mental health and unfortunately a lot of people live with mental health issues that cause them to have low mental health for prolonged periods which leads to illogical/irrational actions.
If you're feeling low, you don't need to categorise yourself as depressed, or anxious, or anything else (you may also be these), but please reach out to someone, let them know how you're feeling and be as honest as possible. People will help and will want to help, don't be ashamed in reaching out, don't be ashamed in reaching out for healthcare. Just because you can see a broken arm and you can't see depression doesn't mean that depression isn't as real, or as serious.
How this fits into gaming/Siege
As I said, it doesn't. But a large part of my support community come from the gaming/rainbow six community. There are certain people, some will be obvious being my more prominent friends and teammates within Siege, although others such as Stu from Thumb Culture, Stallion/Earlswood aren't as obvious.
On a side note, huge shout out to Thumb Culture, a project that I was a part of and wish I had much more time for. TC is a free, independent website thats sole aim is to review games and make money for charity. They have links with all major devs and do a lot of charity fundraising and giveaways across the year. Please do take a look, its not sponsored or anything and a broader gaming fan might well enjoy what Stu and his team consistently put out - https://www.thumbculture.co.uk/
Gamers, in general are introverts, this means that they like home comforts, generally keep themselves to themselves and as such are more vulnerable to mental health issues. Ask 10 of your friends from a gaming background and I would speculate that 3/4 have suffered mental health issues, maybe 1/2 will likely be suffering in the present moment with mental health. Therefore its important to reach out to those that you know, care for in the community, ask them if they're okay, how they're doing and if theres anything they wanna chat about. I often send messages to those I know, but don't speak to every day just to tell them that I value them and that they're great people. Its important.
Theres also another angle to this, which is don't be a shitty person. Now I'm lucky that Ii'm in a good position mentally with a solid support network, but if I wasn't and I was suffering, a shitty person on the internet could have sent me over the top. I recently received a death threat during the course of a ranked game at Plat 2 elo. The specific threat was "Jack Allen I'm going to come to your house and kill you". Now I'm a big guy, broad shoulders and I'm in a sound state of mind, I brushed it off for the empty threat that it is from some kid wanting his elo (we beat them btw). But if I was struggling, could that send me over the edge? If I was thinking about doing something silly anyway, would this factor in? Yes, yes it would.
I'm not saying to be a snowflake and censor everything you say, but just treat people less shitty. If you're getting to the point of using someones real actual name in game accompanied by a death threat, thats too far. Consistently harrassing anyone, is too far. As much as I love a "lol gn shitter" in chat, don't go too far past that as you really don't know what effect and magnitude your comments could have on that persons life, most of the time it may be none, but it only takes on time for it to be fatal.
Sorry to end on a sour note, but there really is a mental health crisis - shitty people being shitty to people on the internet doesn't help that. Needless to say, if anyone at all is struggling, reach out to me on twitter, discord, whatsapp, snapchat, jesus even get in the twitch whispers or whatever they're called. I wont tell a soul and you can just rant at me if you need to.