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Hello Darkness: The Black Dog on the Leash


Heads up, this is pretty dark. Lots to do with depression and suicidal thoughts so... yeah...


She'd fallen alseep. In a way I was glad, it meant I could stop the act - I didn't need to pretend to be okay anymore. I was free to my own sorrow. But acting at least gave me some escape from it: the nothingness, the void - and now I had no reason to not fall into it. It was inevitable, I had stopped trying to resist it. By this point it was simply a ritual. It was better to just get it over with.

When I was sure she was out for the night I'd leave the bedroom, sometimes when walking into the living room (well, open plan kitchen/living room) my eyes would pause on a knife that had been left on the table. I don't know how long I'd spend staring at knives during these times but I know once my eyes fixated on one during the dead of night and it wasn't until the sun had broken through the blinds that I came back to myself. I was afraid to touch it, I'd picked one up before in such a state and was terrified - not because the idea of taking my own life upset me, but because I didn't seem concerned about such an act. I was terrified that the idea didn't scare me. I didn't desire to do it, but I was neutral to the idea. It played in my head like simply something that would one day happen. As natural as a cough.

I don't recall when my depression got as bad as it did. I've known people refer to depression as 'the black dog on a leash' - if you can tell when it's going to lunge forward or start dragging you along you can prepare for it. But this crept up slowly, I didn't see it coming until I was all but consumed by it.

I wasn't in a good relationship. I wasn't a strong enough person and I made bad choices for what I beleived to be the right reasons. My issues were seen as trivial, and even now long after it's over, I find it hard to argue otherwise. But the 'trivial' things in life can eat away at what's important until it's all just ash.

She had (still has, it's for life) endometriosis. I'll save you a google search don't worry. A woman's normal period can be uncomfortable, painful even - but this was more than that. Instead of the tissue lining inside the uterus, it lines the outside. This can lead to organ damage amongst other things but the thing we're mostly dealing with here is Chronic Pain Syndrome. I'll let Google define that:

Sometimes pain evolves into a poorly understood condition known as chronic pain syndrome. ... It's marked by pain that lasts longer than six months and is often accompanied by anger and depression, anxiety, loss of sexual desire, and disability.

I forget how much medication she was on, she was taking so many strong painkillers and they didn't seem to help at all, and when they did her body would build up a tolerance to them and thus she would have be on something else for months before she could go back to the few that helped. This wasn't a 'on and off pain' - this was constant, neverending pain. She'd describe it as if she was being continually gutted by endless knives. Even on her good days the pain would still be there, but she'd just manage to it. Somehow she'd have a few days of just being used to it. Living with it.

It's hard not to see myself as selfish while writing this, maybe I was. Is being happy a selfish desire? Or is happiness a right? I don't know. You can come to your own conclusions. I gave up being happy. I loved her. I was going to support her anyway I could. I lied. I lied and lied and lied. Every day. Without saying a word. I had simply become so good at wearing a mask, of being the guy who was there for her - that I lost myself. I couldn't talk to her as me, only as the guy who wanted her to be happy, at any expense of my own happiness - I became her carer.

It was a stupid move. They say love conquers all. Conquer means to overcome something by force. It's a poor saying. Because forcing anything to do with love, it damages you. Damages everyone involved. 

So that was me, my needs, happiness, whole life really - stepped into the background of her health and wellbeing. And I was fine with that. I was more than ready to accept that as my life. I don't know if she could see how unhappy I was, hiding depression had been a sublime skill of mine, or if she chose to ignore it, if she needed an escape from me, if she was pursuing what made her happy or what - I don't know what her motives were, but, whenever she was doing well, when the pain had slipped away to a point that it was moderate, that she could do things: I was not who she chose to be with. She'd go visit family or friends. I was never her first choice. Maybe she knew I couldn't talk to her as myself anymore, and she didn't want to face that. We had talked before, it never went well, my needs cast aside as trivial. 

There's no other way of saying it, I'm a sexual person. I enjoy it, I'm good at it - it's a large part of my personality and before the pain began worked well in the relationship - we both were, back then. But it wasn't the lack of sex, it was the lack of anything. Her condition meant her temperature would go from boiling to freezing, repeatedly throughout the day, so any form of holding in bed died. Soon it seemed even the slightest touches became a thing of the past - and I mean the simplist of things like a squeeze of my hand. For the last year we we're toghether I think we kissed a total of 3 times, the last one when we decided to go our seperate ways - it hurt: it was all I had wanted for months.

But, we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves. So she had fallen asleep, and I once again found myself in the living room. I would just sit on the floor, normally cross-legged, and just sink, simply fall into the darkness in an almost trance like state. Sometimes I'd snap out of it in 10 minutes or so, sometimes it would be the morning by the time I came round, I'm sure once it was over 12 hours. And that was while she was asleep. I hated my days off. Having a day off work was something I dreaded like nothing else. Because the odds are she would be at work, and thus that would mean I would be alone. 

Her shifts would be 9 hours (don't even ask me how she managed to work in her condition - that would take a whole load of more writing to get into the stress and tears her work caused) - so she'd be out of the house for say 10 hours or so. I was massively ashamed of my depression, how dare I be depressed when she's in so much pain. I could hide it while she was there, but I didn't have the strength to when she wasn't. A lot of days I wouldn't even manage to get out of bed, or I would spend the whole day sat on the floor lost in my void or nothingness. 

This, lead to problems. I couldn't let her know how depressed I was, not by choice - I simply couldn't, my depression had stolen my ability to put such things into words. Telling someone you're not ok is hard. And I had been hiding it for so long, and lying too her so much about being ok, I simply couldn't. But she read the situation wrong. My background is, well, it's a bit dodgy. I've been very liberal in the past when it comes to sex, I swung with my partner before her, been to those kinds of parties, group stuff - you get the idea. I've never hidden my past from her, maybe I should have done. It bothered her. Chronic Pain Syndrome is more than just pain, it causes anxiety - and well, she was smart enough to know that a lack of sex wasn't doing me any favours. But well, boyfriend on his day off doing nothing all day and not being able or willing to tell you why - in her head I was stepping back into my previous 'life-style' - I was up to no good. My inability to speak about my depression pretty much lead her to be convinced of my dishonesty - her checking through my phone in secret became a daily occurance. Of course, I wasn't cheating on her, but that never stopped her checking up until the end. 

So, what does this all have to do with videogames, or well anything Destructoid related? Because games help you escape. Man, they won't solve your problems, not at all - but when every day of your life is so heavy with the feeling of nothingness and communication with the person you love has died to the point that any meaninful form of it has long since gone - escape is wonderful. And I needed an escape. My time alone was spent sitting on the floor. I didn't do anything. I wouldn't even eat or drink. 

For her birthday she had gotten a new phone and thus I was handed her old one. Before this point I had a Windows phone. I will now list all the great things about Windows phones.


Yes, Windows phones sucked. There's a reason they don't exist anymore. But now I had something running Android. In the past when my parents had come to visit me in York (the home of far too many great pubs so close you literally step out of one straight into another) the mother had been quite obsessed with Pokemon Go (yes this is a story about Pokemon Go) to the point it annoyed me. Back in Derbyshire (aka where they live and I'm originally from) Poke-stops pretty much don't exist and raids are not a thing that anyone is around for. Basically York was like a Pokemon Go heaven to her - which annoyed the hell out of me as I didn't play it. So, well, naturally I hated the damn game. Which meant it was obviouslly the first thing I downloaded when I got an Android phone - I saw it as a way of being more engaged with my mum when she visited, specially as we didn't really have any shared interests. I didn't think much of it at first, I would play it when walking to work and when the parents visited. It wasn't a big deal. 

But one day, while the fiancee (yeah, we were engaged by this point, probably not my best idea...) was at work and I was once again failing to even get out of bed - I loaded the game up. About a 2 minutes walk away was the black shadow of a Porygon. I managed to get out of bed. I managed to go outside on a day off, when I didn't need to. It felt utterly bizzare. The sun hurt my eyes, I felt like I hadn't stepped outside for years. The first steps were hard, I was doing something for me. Not for her, not to go to work. But just for me. I found a bit of myself again. I felt human. I felt the feeling of desire again. Sure, it may have just been for a dumb Porygon but it was the most I had felt in ages.

And so, I started walking. It was tough going at first, and some days I'd still end up just sitting on the floor or staying in bed. But it got better, each day off work got better. I'd check my phone, see what was near - and go and catch it. And then, then I'd feel ok. I could do normal stuff like clean the pots, have a drink with friends or simply play a bit of PS4 - it was all just about getting me up, getting me out of my void. Once I got onto Discord and joined the local Pokemon Go group, well, it became a bit too much of an escape. Pokemon Go may have lifted me from the pit I was in, but it was too good an escape - it allowed me not pay too much attention to how bad the relationship was going. 

I still loved her but all the affection had gone. Our time together was simply her watching Netflix and me just sat in the background. Pokemon Go offered an escape to that. But like I said, games don't solve your problems - it had just given me a way of avoiding mine. She had become the reason for my unhappiness, so if I could be out playing Pokemon Go, I would be. Towards the end she thought I was addicted to it, and yes, I enjoyed it - but I was addicted to running away. Depression still held my tongue, Pokemon Go just allowed me to not face it - to not be consumed by the void of nothingness every minute I wasn't at work. 

So... how did it end? Deep down, I guess I knew she was still going through my phone. I had confronted her about it before, my phone - the internet, it's an escape - a sanctuary. Maybe it's just me, maybe it's a reason why it died, but I still liked my privacy. She was having a bad night with her pain and temperature switching to extremes - her escape from it was Netflix, mostly watching Friends, but I had work the next day and thus decided to sleep in the other bedroom (which we used as a guest room) as I had to be up at 4am. 

And well, sometimes people just message you. Some people just know you too well or you simply can't lie to them. An old friend of mine messaged me, she simply put "Are you ok? Don't lie to me because I know you're not" and I guess I pretty much had a breakdown over facebook chat to her. Everything suddenly came out, the lonliness, the depression, the sitting on the floor through whole nights, the suicidal thoughts, the desire of escape - just everything. I got out of bed at 4am to get ready for work without sleeping. A massive weight had been lifted - I was going to talk to my fiancee, I felt I had that power now.

"It isn't your fault"

"It isn't you fault"

"It's not like that"

"It isn't your fault"

"That's not I want"

I don't know how many times I said those words. They never went in, I don't think she heared them. I wasn't really saying them, I wasn't saying anything. They were just words. Me hiding my depression had made her suspicious, I'd probably even say paranoid. I didn't like her looking on my phone, half my internet history at certain points were all about suidice, "thankfully" her beleif that I was cheating or thinking about doing so meant my messages and emails were what she checked instead of my internet history. So I made sure I knew where my phone was, I was protective of it - which you can bet didn't help her. The desire to hide my depression was strong, letting her be paranoid about that rather than her finding out I was depressed had somehow become the way it was. So obviously, that had to be the day I left my phone at home as I set off to work. 

Reading messages about someone you love longing for intimacy, or to have days out - to generally have a normal enjoyable life but "can't because of you" read badly. She blamed herself for my unhappiness. Her illness had robbed us of any form of relationship. I wasn't ready, not for everything to come out like this. I pretty much froze, saying "It isn't you fault" and other such things more than I'd like to admit. She was talking, I wasn't saying anything. I couldn't. Just pointless words with no meaning behind them. Depression had grabbed my tongue again. It was back in force. It wouldn't let me speak about it. 

I soon just became silent. I think she sat there for a good 30 minues staring at me, her face drenched with tears, as I said nothing - frozen, unable to even move a finger. 

"Please, say something"

And I tried. I don't know how long it was, trying to open my mouth to speak was hard, it felt impossible, it felt like it took hours. So much of me just wanted her to get up and leave while I sat in silence, to just leave and not come back. That felt easier than speaking. But I managed it. I manage to speak. To say everything. The mask had been broken, there was no going back to hiding behind it now. At first it was slow, at first I lied about how bad it was, I tried to sugarcoat it - but she had seen my messages in my breakdown to my friend, so the full truth came out. It was the first time we had talked, talked properly and honesty for probably a whole year. 

Like I've said, I liked my privacy in some regards. I'd never let her know my laptop password. I was fiercly protective of my laptop - it was mine and mine alone to use. But she requested to see my laptop, and I had ran out of excuses to not let her. I knew what she would see and I hated it, but I couldn't deny it her now. A folder was open. There was over 400 word documents in it, all dated. The earlier dates were closer together, some having 2 for a single day, but they got further apart later on, maybe about 1 every 3 days. They were all different, but they all said the same thing. I was depressed. I was lost. I wanted to die. I wanted to escape the nothingness. 



Communication got better. We were honest with eachother. We tried. You can't blame someone for trying. But sometimes, things are just lost. And you can't bring them back. You have to say goodbye. 

It's still hard sometimes. Specially living alone. But I can sense it better now, 'the dog on the leash' - I can feel when my depression is gearing up to bolt, when it's getting restless or when it's going to turn vicious. I don't think it'll ever fully go away, but I can manage it.

And it's such a stupid thing really. Sounds dumb even while I get to typing it. But yeah, the days where I know it'll be bad, the days where I know I'll just end up lying in bed unless I make myself do something - jumping on Discord and setting up a 5* Raid on Pokemon Go - it hits it back. It works. I set it up, I have to be there. If I cancel they might not have the numbers to do it. I don't turn up I'll be letting the community down. 

Catching  Pokemon, a Pokestop being controlled by Team Rocket nearby or even simply needing to walk to hatch an egg. It gets me out. It stops me from wallowing in depression's bubble. It gets me out of the darkness before I can't see anything outside of it. 

Sometimes you just need something, no matter how trivial, so stop you saying hello to darkness.

- As N-finity would say, be well.

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About Goemarone of us since 12:05 AM on 06.27.2017

I started as a massive Nintendo fan. I had a SNES before, but it was really the N64 I got on my 10th birthday that really got me into gaming. I stuck with Nintendo pretty much exclusively until the DS rolled out and I played NSMB - man I hated that game. It looked awful, sounded awful and was so easy it was hardly worth paying attention to what you were doing.

The PSP and Monster Hunter stole away hundreds of hours of life and that's when I really started to look at Sony. I had missed great games like Okami, God of War (it was cool at the time), Gradius V and Metal Gear Solid

With the promise of Metal Gear Solid and Monster Hunter on the PS3 I snagged one as soon as I was able. In the long wait (and Monster Hunter jumping to Nintendo...) I picked up Uncharted. My god, what a game! And more followed - Uncharted 2 was excellent, Catherine, Rayman Origins, The Last of Us - man the PS3 was amazing. Yes I still played the 'essential' Nintendo titles (and spent hours on my 3DS when Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate landed - and 100s more on Generations) but the PlayStation had become my main shabang for modern gaming.

I'm also a huge retro fan. Having loved the games I played as a kid, and discovering the earlier titles in franchises I loved - but it was really when I got into sprite ripping and the world of emulation that I truly discovered all there was out there on offer.

Top 10 Games:

Metal Slug X
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
Frogs and Flies
Doom (2016)
Mother 3
Day of the Tentacle