‘My First Sense of Belonging’

Hey everyone. How are you all? I hope you’re all in good mental health and enjoying this sunny weather we’re having in the UK; it’s too hot for my liking today, though… I’m going to talk you about one of the communities I belong to through gaming on my PlayStation, and how it’s helped me when playing, together with the help and the support it’s given me outside gaming.

It must be four or five years now – maybe longer – that I met a group of online players while playing Grand Theft Auto on PlayStation 3. We’d just muck around getting to know each other… there are around seven of them that I keep in contact with offline, and we we’d talk about anything and everything, putting the world to rights in just a couple of hours, while also taking the Mickey out of each other.

I felt that I could open up to some of these lads about my mental health, and they wouldn’t judge me at all. Sometimes I would log off without saying ‘bye, and that was because I was starting to have a panic attack. But, if you asked the lads, they would say I was scared because my partner had just come home, and I was making it look like I hadn’t been on the PlayStation. This was always a shared joke that made us laugh.

I then started talking to them about some of my mental health issues – not too much, as I didn’t want them to think I was a mad man, or weak, or useless. The voices I hear in my head would really play me up at times like these, and make think that my friends wouldn’t be interested; they would also tell me I was weird and a loner. But once I started to open up to my friends a little bit, some of them revealed they had suffered their own battles with life. It was nice to know that I wasn’t the only one that struggled, and that we could help each other if need be.

One of them set up group for UK players and made me admin, which I loved, and this made me feel a part of a community; that was awesome, giving me a sense of belonging. I’ve never met a single one of them in person, but I now count them as lifelong friends. I hope we have many more years of gaming, talking and laughing.

Thanks for reading, everyone. I wish you all good mental health and, once again. thank you for all the support you give me.

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