Wil Wheaton Saved My Life

The thing I think we have to remember is that there is no finish line with depression, anxiety, or any other sort of mental illness. We’re on this path, and the path is constantly changing. Sometimes it’s flat and well-marked, and we can see all the way to the horizon. Other times, it’s so heavily shrouded in fog and mist, we can’t even see past our fingertips and we need someone to show us where the path is. And sometimes, we come to a wall that we don’t think we’ll ever get over.
tears in rain | WIL WHEATON dot NET

This is one of the reasons I love about Wil Wheaton! He is very open about his struggle with mental illness.

The main reason I wanted to share this post is because the conversation he shared, towards the end, really hit home with me.

Wil is also hilarious. This line made me laugh:

there is no such thing as a good morning at bullshit o’clock.

And also, this:

(If you can spell bananas without Gwen Stefani doing it for you in your head, you’re missing out on something great.)

Note: His post is really long and he is mostly talking about some game that I know nothing about, so I skimmed over that portion of it. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, I’d recommend reading up to the part where he says, “We went on like this for a few more minutes, my anti-morning sass offset by Ashly’s relentless happiness and positivity.” You could probably go a bit further if you wanted to. Go as far as you want. Then skip down to about where he says, “Still with me? Good.” and continue reading from there. Even skipping that big chunk in the middle, it’s still long, but it’s worth it!

Wil has said on several occasions (on social media and interviews, etc.) that he hears stories like this all the time, which in some ways makes it feel less special, but for each of those people, it is deeply personal. At least it is for me. But knowing I’m not the only one also makes me feel good at the same time.

This is the paragraph that got me:

I extended my hand and thanked him for playing, because it was a genuinely fun and challenging match. He took my hand and he said, “I was really hoping that I’d get to play with you, because you saved my life.” Before I could respond, he continued, “everything you’ve written and shared about anxiety and depression helped me get treatment for my own mental health.”

If I ever get to meet Wil Wheaton, I hope have the opportunity to tell him he saved my life too!

He is also, all around, a pretty cool dude, so meeting him would be an honour!

I knew who he was and that he had been on Star Trek, but I only started following him on social media after he appeared on The Big Bang Theory because I discovered that he was a huge nerd and that is freaking awesome! I just wish I had figured that out before I attended my first (and second) convention (Calgary Expo 2012 and 2013) because he was there both times and I didn’t bother to get a photo op or autograph because I really only knew him from Big Bang, and that he was on Star Trek: The Next Generation, but I wasn’t that big into it, so I didn’t care that much at the time. Plus, I was busy meeting Amanda Tapping, Michael Shanks, Richard Dean Anderson, and Nathan Fillion! Now wish that I had added Wil to my list of people to get photos with, or at least an autograph! But back in 2012 and 2013, he didn’t mean to me what he does now.

I’m sure I’ve written about it enough times on social media that by now most people reading this probably know, but I’ll share it again anyway.

I suffered for many, many years with self hatred, poor self-esteem, and basically zero confidence. I worried constantly about what people were thinking about me, whether they liked me or not, whether the group of kids on the other side of the room were laughing at me because of how fat I look, how terrible my hair is, my ugly clothes, or something stupid I said. I also had horrible situations constantly popping into my head, triggered by things as simple as one of my parents being 5 minutes late getting home from work which means they got in a terrible car accident and I’ll never see them again, or I forgot to lock the front door and now there could be a serial killer somewhere in my house waiting for the perfect moment to jump out of a dark room to murder me.

After moving over 3,000km away from the friends I’d known since grade 1, to a teeny tiny little town in the middle of nowhere, I began to retreat into my own little world inside my head where I pretended all those old friends were not slowly drifting away and losing touch and we’d all be together again some day, while in reality they were growing up and moving on with their lives. Today, very few of them are still friends with each other.

On the outside, I was completely miserable.

High school is traumatic enough without being the new kid who just moved from another province, and completely different culture. Moving across the country at 13 years old, when all the kids have formed their little groups and refuse to accept anyone new, add in anxiety disorders that have begun to create physical symptoms, but no one seems know be able to figure out what is causing them, so the mental illness remains undiagnosed, and you get a teenager who has lost all interest in the things she was once passionate about and struggles to find new things to be love, and thinks the entire world is against her.

Fast forward to adulthood. In November of 2014, at age 26, I was driving home from a convention for work. (A 7 hour drive! No joke. The joys of living in the Canadian prairies!) I had planned out all the podcasts I was going to listen to on my drive there and my drive back. I listened to Wil Wheaton’s episode of Girl On Guy on the drive home. I’m glad I didn’t listen to it on the way there! It would have made for a very rough weekend otherwise!

I had heard Wil speak about having depression in the past, so I was a little bit aware, and kind of expected the topic to come up, but I did not expect the reaction I had to it this time.

If you listen to the episode, at 1:24:58, Wil gets a notification on his phone which he then explains, “that’s my alarm telling me, ‘it’s six o’clock, you have to take your brain pills.'”And then Aisha asks if they can stop talking about Google+ and start talking about that.

So, he goes on to explain his situation, and then it ties back to their earlier discussion about how he was always so angry when he was younger.

As the conversation continues on in that direction, I am suddenly hit with overwhelming, brick wall of emotion. I’m driving in the dark, on the highway at 115km/h, and I can barely see through the tears in my eyes, I’m hyperventilating through violent sobs, my whole body aches, my nose is completely plugged up (does crying make anyone else congested or is it just me?), just trying to keep my car between the white lines. I debated pulling over, but I couldn’t seem to get my body to do that, and I knew if I did that I might never stop crying and then never get home, and I had to be at work at 8:30 the next morning, so I kept driving.

It wasn’t because I felt his story was sad or that I felt sympathy for him or anything like that. It was because it felt as if he was talking about me. He was describing my life. My situation. My feelings.

I was just so unbelievably stressed and overwhelmed with life, and had been for at least a year. I felt like I wasn’t going to survive much longer.

Something I realized recently: If it wasn’t for the fact that I had my dog, Mosley, depending on me to feed him and keep him safe, I probably would hate attempted suicide at some point in the past 3 years. I thought about it frequently, but the thought of Mosley being left alone with no one to take care of him before anyone realized I was gone, broke my heart and kept me from going any further, kept me from turning my thoughts into actions.

I know I said earlier that Wil saved my life, but obviously my dog did too. If it wasn’t for Wil talking about this on Aisha’s podcast, I wouldn’t have gotten help when I did.

Listening to Wil’s story made me realize that there was actually something wrong with me, medically, and no matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t going to be able to fix it on my own. I needed help.

It took me about a week and a half to work up the courage to call my doctor’s office and book an appointment. If it wasn’t for the feeling I got listening to Wil, I never would have even talked to my doctor. I would have continued down the road I was on full of so much stress I was making me physically ill, completely irrational anger towards people and situations that were entirely out of my control, self harming because I didn’t know how else to escape the overwhelming hopelessness of it all, and hating myself so much that I just didn’t want to live.

If Wil’s story hadn’t encouraged me to take that first step, I don’t know where I’d be right now. I know things would have gotten worse. I don’t know if I’d be alive right now. It may have gotten to the point where Mosley wasn’t enough to keep me alive.

But I took that first step because of Wil Wheaton.

Wil Wheaton saved my life.

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