(Sorry Felicity not trying to derail your thread)
It’s been a while since I read Depression Quest so I’m going on the impressions it left me since I don’t wish to revisit it, so there may be some paraphrasing.@Bagelthief, I actually agree with you. Just to clarify, I’ve worked in a profession that has one of the highest rates of suicide out there. Depression, burnout, Severe chronic stress, PTSD, Severe anxiety, you name it, sooner of later you’ll probably see it in to one degree or another in some of people you work with unfortunately. (And that’s just a subsection of the people I’m talking about it’s not like it’s that uncommon in the general community, it just remains hidden due to percieved weakness/stigma associated with it).
I’ve actually been very lucky, no one close to me has committed suicide. I’ve done grief and stress councilling, to be honest I was very under-prepaired for it at the start. Stress, anxiety and depression can be very individual and very complicated. Among other things I experienced long term severe bullying and the isolation that brings at one time in my life. I’m aware it’s more than sadness. As a very simplified form of stress induced depression, Stress to me, seems to be where there are things that are percieved to be beyond your control and are affecting you negatively. Depression is where you can’t see any end to it and have no idea how change it. There’s a degree of helplessness there, no matter how much someone might want to change what it happening, a dark hole that is isolating and hard to get out from. Anyway, what I’m getting at is I do understand to a degree at least. I hate the stigma and mis-understandings that are out there regarding the above conditions.
What people can’t see, they often deny exists. I listened into a conversation just the other day where a group of people were discussing something they’d seen in the media about stress and depression rates in high school kids and the opinion seemed to be that they just needed a solid kick up the butt to sort them out because “first world problems.” As if high school students had anything to worry about, I mean look at the starving kids in Africa." Obviously that’s wrong and a very harmful attitude to level at anyone with depression. Anything that can positively influence understanding, including Felicity’s work, gets a big thumbs up from me. Unfortuntely I personally don’t think Depression Quest is a good model at all and possibly does more harm than good.
Why is a few fold. Firstly, as you’ve said, some people who experience severe depression physically can’t make it out of bed. It’s not because they’re lazy or unmotivated. They just can’t. The way this is sort of thing is portrayed in Depression Quest is pretty shallow, it comes across to me as being more melodramatic, whiny and lazy, rather than the mc just CAN’T do it.
Secondly is it presents treatment of depression as having right and wrong answers which I personally feel is quite dangerous. It says you must go and talk to a doctor first and then you must go on medication. Anything else is the wrong path. Some people with depression also have denial, anxiety or trust issues. If you’re reading depression quest as a model for helping someone with depression, pushing them away with “you can’t talk to me until you’ve got professional help” (or on the flip side if you have depression, there’s no point in talking to a trusted friend because the only solution is medication and since you’re not confident enough to go there you might as well give up now because nothing else will be of any use) is an all round bad idea and this is what this game seems to be implying. Baby steps.
I know two instances where people were pressured into going to therapists when they didn’t want to, sure they went, however both ended very badly with both people refusing to ever go near one again after a couple of sessions. It caused a lot more grief rather than less. If it hadn’t been pushed on them so hard, perhaps it could have worked out differently.
What is right for one person, isn’t always for another. Not everyone requires therapy or medication, it depends on the person, the cause, duration and the degree of depression. Even if someone should seek professional help, that’s no reason to exclude the inclusion of other options, if fact it probably should be encouraged.
A third reason why I disliked this game is the ending I got at least (I don’t know if there are others since I couldn’t bring myself to play it more than once, from what you’re saying there is) was it ended with a “It’ll never get any better than this” sort of ending. Now while there are certainly people who struggle with depression their whole lives, that is not true for everyone, some of which will recover temporarily or permanently. Even for those for which it’s an ongoing process, there are ways that things can get better (therapy, medication, support structures (ie family, friends, groups etc), exercise, diet changes, meditation etc.). Making out like this is as good as it’ll ever get when the mc is in the depths of dispair, is positively dangerous in my opinion. If you already have someone close to the edge reading that, imagine the damage it could do.
So yeah anyway, I wasn’t intending to cheapen your experience @Bagelthief, I do realise that medication can be a very positive step in some cases, I just objected to the way Depression Quest seemed pretty shallow in places and made it about right and wrong paths as being potentially harmful. Anyway, moving on back to the topic discussion.