By Gio Pacheco
For me playing video games is a way to unplug from reality and focus my thoughts on the objectives at hand in the game. While gaming may appear simple enough for most, sometimes it’s all I have to turn to.
For as long as I can remember I have always had a passion for video games and my ultimate goal as a child would be to try and beat them all. At the age of 19 I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. At that time I had to put my passion on pause and focus on my training and getting my mind right for what I was about to experience.
I felt like this was it, this was how I was going to be able to distract my mind and give it that break from reality. I can honestly say it worked. While I was playing I can feel myself feeling somewhat relieved and relaxed. Although there are times when I am playing that I feel frustrated and upset but the feeling is different. It’s almost as if I am filtering my emotions through the playing of a game rather than trying to battle the emotions locked inside of me. The point is, I feel better after I play games even if while playing games I may feel angry and upset.
I love playing First Person Shooter games like Call of Duty and Halo. While I play I get the feeling of rush and adrenaline that flows through my body like I used to feel. It almost makes me feel normal again. When ever I get in one of my moods or feel depressed I pick up a controller and distract my mind and I take myself to a place where those feelings get a chance to exist but only in the context of the game. I find it best to let the bad emotions escape while I play a game of team death match then randomly in public or worse around my family.
One way I can explain it more clearly is like this: When the cartoon Tasmanian Devil goes bonkers and starts spinning, he pretty much destroys any and everything in his path. This can be interpreted as my emotions when I fall down that hole. Video games are like a giant stadium where only the Tasmanian devil is allowed to spin and go bananas. I hope that makes it a little easier to understand.
So to answer the question: How do I cope with PTSD through the use of video games? It's pretty simple. I once read somewhere that "your mind is your instrument, learn to be its master not its slave.” Once I realized when I get stressed or when I have so much on my mind that I feel overwhelmed, I need to break away from everything and everybody, turn on my console and do something that has made me feel like that happy little kid many years ago. If it wasn't for video games I don’t know where I would be today.