If you’ve kept up with my rather sporadic posts over the last fifteen months you know that there has been a lot of “life” in my life – including a lot of strong emotions to work through. (You can read the highlights here and here.) All of the sadness was sometimes overwhelming and really impacted my creativity. I wrote very little – blog posts or stories. I just couldn’t. I’m sure plenty of authors would write through the pain but mine was just too raw. Even though my brain was still working on stories, I just couldn’t put them in writing.
However, stories are too big of a part of me to turn my back on completely. I found my salvation in the stories of others, but not in books – in video games. During my grief I continued reading but it was easy for my attention to wander away from the pages and find its way back to all of the things that were so overwhelming. That way lies anxiety and panic attacks.
During this time my husband was playing Fallout 4 from Bethesda Game Studios. I wasn’t planning to play because I’m not a huge fan of open world games. (Also known as sandbox games.) There are a couple of reasons for this: First, there is SO MUCH to do in these games and I always feel like I have to do ALL of it which kind of sucks the joy out of the experience after a while. Second, the quests in most open world games tend to become a bit repetitive after a while and it starts to feel like you are just doing the same thing over and over in different locations. In spite of my trepidation, after the fall that started my father’s decline, I created an avatar in Fallout 4 and begin playing.
Many thanks to you, Bethesda. Your game helped me retain my sanity during a very difficult time in my life. I spent at least a portion of virtually every night for the next three months wandering the wasteland, building settlements, and avoiding Preston Garvey and his inane quests. When my heart was aching and I was tired of crying I could enter a virtual world and work through those emotions while I rescued settlers, battled ghouls, and avoided super mutants. At the end of a couple of hours of playing my emotions would once again be under control and while I might not be ready to face whatever the next day held, I was able to do so.
However, dear Bethesda, it was your decision to use Brandon Keener as the voice actor for so many of your characters that ultimately drove me to leave your game. How could I stay in the wasteland when those dulcet tones had me picturing the face of Garrus Vakarian at every turn? Nevertheless, in spite of that decision, it is you to whom my first thanks for helping me through the past year must go. So, thank you again Bethesda. I am forever in your debt.
How do you deal with extreme stress?