How Pokémon Go Helped Me With My Mental Illness

How Pokémon Go Helped Me With My Mental Illness

Maybe it can help you, too.

Pokémon was a huge part of my childhood. My brother and I watched the anime and it was one of our favorite shows, if not our absolute favorite. We played Pokémon on our little Gameboys and collected these stuffed creatures. I would scream if I couldn't find my stuffed Pikachu or thought I lost it at the mall.

I stopped playing Pokémon in middle school, trading games and Pokemon cards for clothes and library books, basically becoming a book geek instead of a game geek. However, I recently started playing Pokémon Go, admittedly because everyone else is playing it. Part of it is nostalgia and part of it is for a geeky, scientific reason, which is that it might be good for my mental health.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 43.8 million adults in the U.S. experience mental illness every year. I suffer from anxiety disorder and I used to suffer from depression in middle school and high school, so obviously I am a part of this community. People like me enjoy video games when we play them because, according to studies, the video game community is a magnet for people with anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses.

So what are the benefits of PokémonGo on mental health? For starters, you get exercise, which isn't just good for getting toned legs and losing some belly fat. Exercise also stimulates the brain. In addition to burning fat, you get sunlight, which regulates sleeping patterns and calms you down. We college students could use better sleeping patterns for sure. Most of all, in the words of Elle Woods, "exercise increases endorphins, endorphins make you happy."

I suffer from social anxiety and I have gotten better, though I am not cured. People with social anxiety treasure any connections they make with people, strangers or familiar, and Pokémon gives us that opportunity. If you bump into someone on the street or in the park who is playing PokémonGo, you easily have something to talk about. Also, we are constantly worried people are staring at us or talking about us but since a lot of people are playing Pokémon Go, they probably aren't even aware of other people, let alone care. People also will be less likely to think you're weird for looking for Pokemon.

I said I used to suffer depression. That meant getting out of bed was hard and doing anything was hard because I was embarrassed just to exist and was afraid I would do something wrong. However, certain things, like Pokémon Go, can motivate you to do small, difficult tasks that make you feel better. Something as enjoyable as Pokémon Go is definitely motivating and fun, definitely worth leaving the house or bedroom.

Another disturbing aspect of depression is apathy. You're more apathetic than sad, meaning you just don't care, which is scary. Pokémon Go can pull you out of the fog by enticing you to catch cute or cool Pokémon, hatch them from eggs, defeat trainers in battles, etc.

Another benefit Pokémon Go might have is social interaction, which, frankly, is a little disturbing nowadays due to technology and social norms. People have become bad at face-to-face interactions and Pokémon Go encourages players to interact with each other. The game has also motivated people to create Facebook groups. Team enthusiasts are meeting and conversing daily on how to catch Pokémon, dominate the gym, etc.

Cognitive mapping is another important skill people are lacking in. Cognitive mapping means the mind makes mental maps of landmarks and geography to gain a full perspective on your environment. Searching for Pokémon helps build cognitive maps and also helps maintain a higher level of mental agility.

Feeling out of control is a problem for mentally ill people like me, who often feel others have to take care of us. Pokémon Go as well as video games in general give us a sense of control, whether we are a trainer, gladiator, dragon, whatever.

Everybody, even "normal" people, face stress, especially in a world where terrorism and attacks on police are increasing every day. Silly, cute things like Pokémon Go distract us from these problems. More importantly, they remind us not to dwell on bad things and to enjoy the little things. It makes a big difference. Take it from me.

Okay, mental healthy isn't entirely the reason I started playing Pokemon Go. But it is a good reason nonetheless. Whatever the reason, you should play it.

Go and catch 'em all. Just don't get stuck in trees, enter a lion's den, walk onto a highway, or other crazy crap. That's crazy even for people with issues.

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Is Social Media Keeping You Out Of The Real World?

Are we all getting sucked into the vortex of the digital age?

What is an addiction? Addiction is defined as the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity. When most people think of addiction they think of drugs, alcohol, or sex. But there are other forms of addiction too. The latest one that has been brought to my attention is Social Media. On-line websites or platforms such as Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, Kik, Instagram, and Twitter can take over a person’s life and suck up their time.

I have been through this myself, especially in my younger years. Facebook was everything for a while. First thing I would do in the morning when I woke up was to grab my phone and check on the latest from Facebook. I could spend hours on the games that Facebook had or chatting with friends on messenger.

A lot of people may think that they aren’t addicted but they really are. Next time you’re in the mall or driving down a busy street just stop and look at all the people on their phones. Social Media has sucked us all in. If we aren’t posting what we did minute by minute, I have friends like this on Facebook, we’re checking in to see what other’s have posted.

It’s affecting the way that we behave with one another. People don’t know how to react to live interaction with another person. It’s become a foreign concept to all of us. We’d rather socialize online with people that we don’t really know that to actually speak to a person, in person

What’s this doing to our children? My son is 3 and he already knows how to operate his kindle and my phone to look at YouTube videos. Hours of his day could be spent looking at a screen if I allowed it. I want him to grow up being involved in life not watching someone else on a screen. I often think of what the world is going to be like when he is a grown up. Will communication be like in the movie Wall-E? will everyone communicate on a screen even if they are sitting right next to each other? Is the internet really taking over our world with Social Media?

Is Social Media ruining our real-world relationships? Are we all getting sucked into the vortex of the digital age? Is there a way to stop it? It’s become such a way of life that we don’t really think about what it’s doing to us in the long run. Instead of spending time doing the more important things in life we get sucked into the tiny screens on our phones. It’s almost as if the digital world is the real world and the real world is fake and non-existent.

I’ve made one simple rule for myself. When everyone is home and no longer busy with the daily tasks my phone gets put away. I turn off my notifications and just live in the now. Whether it be playing with my kiddo or watching a movie together as a family.

I challenge all my readers to unplug from the social media and experience life in the real world instead of living in the digital world. You might be surprised by just how much you notice.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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Media Coverage: What's Okay?

Media, media, media

If you know me personally, you know that I am a big social media guru. I use social media everyday. Whether it's to give updates to friends and family about my daily life, share funny memes, or just find out what I missed on the Ellen show, social media is essential. But before I really go into the point of this article, I just want to say that I will be talking about my own personal experience and expressing my personal opinions. I apologize in advance if this article hurts anyone feelings. So here goes nothing.

This past week, my institution received a threat of an active shooter. The campus was immediately on lockdown and it stayed that way for a few hours. Thankfully I was in my dorm when the threat happened, but I had friends that were on campus. I immediately texted my parents, my friends and put a post on my Facebook page to let everyone know what was going on. I was scared for my life. Within about two hours, police were knocking at my door asking me to go into the lobby of my dorm building. I was one of the first students they got, but I was soon surrounded by 30-40 kids, our Area Coordinator as well as some state police and a few local police. While I was in the lobby, I was constantly checking social media. I also was receiving texts, comments and calls from my family and friends at home making sure that I was okay. A friend of mine who lives in Maine also heard about the threat within hours and checked in on me, which I really appreciated.

Let me stem on that. Fox News, the Washington Post, ABC News as well as other big news organizations heard about our threat. They heard about a threat that was said to a college campus in central NY. Well, first off I think it is absolutely necessary to keep the media informed and to gain more awareness. However, I definitely think there are restrictions when it comes to the media and ongoing investigations such as threats and school shootings.

For example, when I was in the ninth grade, my high school had a bomb threat. This was something that scared a lot of people because we never thought something like this could happen to our little high school. The media did cover it. However, not to the fullest extent. They conducted interviews, did reports at the high school and gathered as much information as they could to be shared to the general public that maybe didn't know what was going on. That is okay. You're giving enough information to the public.

The incident at the college was a little bit different. Certain media platforms were taking photos of students in "safe zones" as well as students hiding under desks. In the moment, I'm sure it seemed like the right thing to do. However, this also plays into ethics. I personally believe that it should not be glamorized where students were hiding. If there really was an active shooter on campus they would know to keep an eye out for those specific spots. Also 70 percent of shootings occur in some type of learning environment. I had heard stories about students that were in those photos and they were not really impressed.

Therefore, I definitely think the media has the right to inform, but at the same time I don't think it is right to take photos of students during an ongoing investigation such as the threat. It endangers them and even though I was not in the "safe zones" or hiding under a desk during that time, I'm sure I would not have wanted my photo taken.

Cover Image Credit: google

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