While this year’s GaymerX convention was in part a celebration of all things related to diversity and the positive side of the tabletop and video gaming communities, it also served as a staging point for open discussion on some very serious issues. Speakers Zachary Snader and Adam Rickert kicked things off on Friday December 11 with a conversation about their experiences living with and fighting depression. In his opening Snader explained, “In the game industry and creative industries in general, we are doing something we love that should be fun, but the work behind it is not always the same as the output.”
After listening to Snader and Rickert, it seemed apparent that they had extremely different battles when it came to the manifestations of depression in their lives. Rickert described one of the hardest times he had was after a severe back injury left him virtually bed-ridden for a period of about six months. The resulting depression attacked his motivation to do even the most ordinary daily activities, some of which were made incredibly difficult as a result of his injury. He explained, “I tend to look at life as having three major pillars holding it up, if you got a good job, a stable living situation, and a stable relationship, those are the three pegs. For the longest time the only thing I felt I had going for myself was the fact that I had a rent controlled apartment.”
Snader on the other hand described a life-long, and still on-going battle with depression that has fluctuated between highs and lows. He explained previous incidents where suicidal thoughts had become so overpowering that he, “Had the knife in my hand.” The thoughts of how his actions may affect his family and friends were sometimes the only thing stopping him. While the thoughts of those people helped Snader pull himself out of some of his darkest moments, Rickert suggested, “You can’t always rely on having a really solid support group.” He went on to explain the reason for this advice relating it to his own experiences being perceived as a “downer” especially on his social media pages. “If you are consistently down and vocal about it, it is easy to get dismissed as a result. One thing that I had to fight against a lot, was that my natural mental state was negative for a long time, because I didn’t have a lot of those things [life-pillars] to lift it up in my day-to-day life.”
Depression not only affected Snader and Rickert differently, but they also adapted personal techniques to combat the emotional symptoms brought on. Snader saw more improvement in his own life, by focusing on the positive aspects of the things he managed to accomplish. Rickert on the other hand saw things differently and stated, “What I found was that by doing other things that made me happy, I started seeing things more positively. Rather than focusing on the realities of the situation, I was focusing on little things like getting out of bed, taking a shower, eating breakfast, maybe try and going for a walk.”
Snader and Rickert ultimately opened up their discussion to the audience, encouraging others to share their stories, ask questions, and find support among the other attendees. Snader also made sure to mention an online resource he made available to anyone interested that catalogs groups, books, videos, and even games to help those wrestling with their own depression.