Tag Archives: Social Anxiety

Depression in Stardew Valley Sucks

A few days ago I became legitimately depressed while playing Stardew Valley. It was both kinda funny and sad at how awful I felt over the game; I didn’t know whether I should laugh about it or feel depressed by being depressed by a video game, let alone Stardew Valley. This incident also shined some light on my own personality and the lack of self confidence I have in life. This post will probably be deeper than you might expect from a Stardew Valley inspired post, but here goes.

Here’s where I give a shitty overview of the game in case people don’t know what I’m talking about: Stardew Valley is a game where you farm stuff and live in a tiny village. You can talk to, befriend, and even marry some of the residents in the town. I don’t know how important all of that is to the main story of the game, but the game does stress the aspect of community, which freshens it up from being only a farming simulator. Anyway, it’s also a cutesy, 2D top down, “kiddie game” as one of my friends described it. This almost makes the incident worse because as stated it’s a kids game: It shouldn’t punch me right in the feels, especially as directly as it did.

In-game Jeremy wandering the fuck around.

There’s a community dance (The Flower Dance) that happens in the forest around day 25. It’s an optional thing to do so whatever, no big deal. I went to the dance because I’m trying to be the friendly new guy in town who is trying his damndest to fit in and be accepted in the community. I should also say that up to this point in the game I’ve been a very diligent and socially-isolated farmer: I’m toiling away in my fields every single day either chopping wood for fertilizer, planting/harvesting/watering the crops, or running into town to buy more seeds. While some people might be fucking around socializing in town all day, I’m trying to turn my farm into the most fantastic farm ever and give the community something to be proud of. Because fuck the JoJa Corporation and Capitalism in general. I’m all about seizing the means of production, even if I haven’t told Mayor Lewis any of my intentions yet…

Pam is a beauty…

So Jeremy who is the new resident of Stardew Valley — let’s call him in-game Jeremy — shows up to the dance and starts talking to people. Some of the townsfolk he sort of knowns, and others appear to be new faces. Mayor Lewis allows in-game Jeremy to decide when the dance should actually start (since the game sort of revolves around in-game Jeremy for some terrible reason. Unbeknownst to in-game Jeremy he is, in fact, the player character. The story literally revolves around him). After talking to most of the people in-game Jeremy realizes that he can ask people to dance with him. Oh shit! He actually found this when he accidentally asked the emo gothic guy to dance with him. Luckily he said no but it was still awkward. (“Hey bro, you want to dance with me? No homo tho, I just think those skinny jeans look really good on you.”) In-game Jeremy then proceeds to confidently ask the females, being picky at first but then growing desperate and asking anyoneeven the trashy, alcoholic Pam but you can’t actually ask her — if they would like to dance. They usually replied with something like this:

“Oh! Oh! I’m sorry…I, er…have plans to ask someone else.”

“I’m flattered! But…no.”

“That’s flattering…but I’m gonna have to say no. Sorry.”

“I’ll be honest. I don’t want to dance with you.”

“Eww…No.”

Holy fuck game, thanks for the hefty dose of rejection. So in-game Jeremy, with no one to dance with, finally walks up to Mayor Lewis and gives him the go-ahead to start the dance. In game Jeremy wants to just get the stupid-ass dance over with so he can head back home and go to sleep. He’s sick of these people, their rejection, and their unappreciation of him, his hard work, and his farm.

After the dance in-game Jeremy goes to his house and goes to bed. It’s night and there’s nothing to do. He almost thought about watering the crops before bed, but fuck the plants too, they can wait. In the morning, in-game Jeremy stares at the crops and doesn’t actually want to do any work, but he sure as fuck isn’t going to town today to socialize with those assholes. He doesn’t want to work on the crops but there’s nothing else to do with his life so he begrudgingly gets to work. Watering. Weeding. Planting. Harvesting. Urgh. Not that anyone appreciates it. “Fuck this place,” In-game Jeremy says as he toils in the fields the day after the dance.

A few days later, still feeling shitty but not quite as shitty, in-game Jeremy realizes that it’s Emily’s birthday, and that he should give her a gift. Maybe a flower? After he picks a few flowers and heads into town he stops and thinks, “Is she even going to like this? She probably won’t even give a shit if I give her a gift or not. If anything it’ll be the wrong gift and she’ll hate me.” In-game Jeremy goes up to the “shipping bin” where you place products your farm has created, and chucks the flowers into that. Emily has no idea in-game Jeremy was even going to give her a gift and goes about her day knowing nothing of the conflict that occured in in-game Jeremy’s head. In-game Jeremy continues to sulk and overthink things as he tends to his garden daily. “Pretty sure all the fuckers hate me,” he thinks to himself.

The next day in-game Jeremy finally drags his ass into town. He ran into Haley, a young and beautiful blonde lady who lives in town. He tries talking to her, just to say “Hi” or “How’s your day going?” The game informed in-game Jeremy that: 

HALEY IS IGNORING YOU

“Maybe you should, like, kill yourself? No one likes you or your stupid farm!”

Jesus Christ, Stardew Valley is depressing as fuck.

In-game Jeremy then stops into Pierre’s store to find some rope for a noose, but sadly Pierre doesn’t sell rope. Not that in-game Jeremy has unlocked the noose-crafting node anyways. In-game Jeremy, as depressed as he is, is hopelessly stuck in the world with no way to escape.

While I was trying to strike a clear difference between me — IRL Jeremy — and my avatar in-game (in-game Jeremy) I found it kinda difficult to do in practice. When you play a game that is as absorbing as Stardew you kinda become the player character and this is a good thing. (“This game really makes you feel like Spiderman!”) While in-game Jeremy felt like shit over being rejected by everyone in town, it also became difficult for IRL Jeremy to also not feel rejected, even if there was no reason to feel that way. While IRL Jeremy was laughing at the brutal and consist nature of in-game Jeremy’s rejection something inside was also being stirred around. The vague shadow of repressed memories, fears of total social rejection, and loneliness from high school/college swam at the corners of my consciousness. What if everyone I know actually hates me? What do people say about me when I’m not around? Am I really as awkward as I think I am? Does anyone actually appreciate me? It was kinda scary. Faced with the “fun, kid-friendly” story and graphics of Stardew Valley, it almost seemed surreal in a way. This game was making me feel like shit about my own life and had me questioning all my real relationships and my worth in the world.

I also felt bitter and angry towards the damn in-game townsfolk; these people aren’t even real and I was pissed at them! Logically it made sense that no one wanted to dance with in-game Jeremy because he was the new guy in town who has only been around for 25 days (or like 2.5 months if you take Stardew time in terms of a year) and who wasn’t being social at all or making zero effort to socialize. The town basically sees in-game Jeremy as a recluse farmer who never talks to people but then shows up and creepily asks every person available to dance. No shit they said no! If I was a video game NPC like these people I’d also say no! In-game Jeremy — you socially-inept idiot — you have to make actual effort in relationships for them to work. And if that isn’t hitting things a bit close for IRL Jeremy as well. I found myself questioning how much effort I put into friendships and if I expect other people to do all the work. Or do I just show up and expect people to like me when I do nothing likeable at all? Do I show enough interest in other people? Or am I self-centered asshole that metaphorically is a recluse farmer who tends his fields all day? Once again I wasn’t expecting goddamn life lessons from Stardew but here we are.

One of the highlights of the game so far. I was pissed and fishing off this bridge just because, and Abigail walked up and stood next to me. She stood there for hours watching me fish and neither of us said anything. In-game Jeremy was utterly focused on catching those damn fish and gave no outward sign of his appreciation, but he loved her for being there keeping him company.

I’m complaining here but you have to give the game credit: usually people play video games just to kill time, to have fun, or to escape the real world for a little bit. To feel some progress in a game world to counteract the utter difficulty and lack of progress in the real world. It’s a rare game that somehow acts as a mirror and puts yourself up there on display for you to analyze, especially if said game is usually viewed as a “kids game.” This allows you to lower your defenses and to be vulnerable, not realizing that you’re about to get utterly punched in the feels so aggressively that it resonates with your actual self. Stardew Valley made in-game Jeremy feel like a loser who would never properly fit in with the townsfolk even if he really wanted to, and that made IRL Jeremy also feel the same way, constantly searching for approval, community, and appreciation. The depressive mood didn’t last for long, maybe twenty minutes or so, but it was twenty minutes that I was not prepared for at all. It was an eye-opening experience that I wasn’t at all ready for. Fuck you Stardew Valley for being such a good game.

Anxiety Sucks

So its currently 8 a.m. and I’m writing this post on my phone (recall I hate writing on my phone). As I lay in bed. Totally unable to sleep. I typically don’t write posts this way. Usually I get an idea, sit down with a cup three cups of coffee at the table, and type up a semi-pre-planned idea on my ‘puter. This usually happens around 1 or 2 p.m. as I typically don’t wake up until noon. (..and so what?!) Being awake and typing on a phone screen at 8 a.m. is unique and not a good sign at all.

So what’s going on here? As the title says: anxiety. Anxiety is why I’m unable to sleep and anxiety is why I’m writing currently. I’m hesitant to get too far into this post because surely I’ve written about anxiety before, right? It seems like such a general and overarching topic that I’ve had to made a post about it already. But maybe since it’s so large of a topic I haven’t even attempted to write anything about it. It’s just too imposing to even attempt tackling.

Part of this is because I don’t think I actually have anxiety. Being an individual leaves you constantly confused as to what’s “normal” in life, i.e. how similar am I to my fellow humans? I have nothing to compare my internal anxiety to because I’m hopelessly stuck inside my own head and body as myself. All I can know of other people is what they tell me through actions, words, music, or whatever else. Basically, are people like me or am I unique with [insert trait here]? In this case, anxiety. Does everyone feel this way or is it me, and hence, an actual problem?

My anxiety doesn’t seem to be life-crippling (like I can leave the house or go to a store) but it also seems to keep me chained up in a way. I hate going shopping alone even though I will if I must. I hate trying out new restaurants. I have no idea how people actually “network” or “ask around” to find jobs, opportunities, or whatever. A good example is finding a possible editor for my two ebooks: how the hell do you find people to read and give feedback on your book? It all seems so difficult to talk to people and most of the time I just do things on my own as much as I can. This totally limits what I can accomplish while not completely crippling me. In regards to my books, yes they’re finally published, but they’re probably not as professional as they could’ve been. Is this normal?

Or is it totally normal to be laying in bed at 8 a.m. after falling asleep at 3 a.m. writing a blog post on anxiety? I love my sleep, am currently very tired, but my mind will not shut the fuck up. I keep thinking of stuff I need to do, and how I’ve been needing to do this stuff for the past two weeks. I need to make a blog post here. I need to work on/post some stories on my other site which is a whole new level of anxiety with people reading fiction you’ve written. I keep thinking of possible chapters and ideas and mentally “writing” them in my head (and forgetting them in the morning). I think of work and sort of visualize how the day will go. (I start at 5 p.m. so have 8 hours before I even need to be getting ready for work. It’s not a pressing matter at all.) I reflect on the past day and continually think about “what people said/did” and if words and actions have deeper meaning than on the surface (“We’re they joking with me or do they fucking hate me?!”). I think of topics to discuss with people in the upcoming day. I think of social media and how I’m trying to create a presence for myself and how utterly stressful that is. I think of the Amazon on fire, the hurricane about to bitch-slap Florida, and the amount of CO ₂ in the atmosphere. I think of how useless I am. I think “Hey, wait. How do wind tunnels work?” and go down a Wikipedia rabbit-hole. My mind won’t shut the fuck up about anything.

One thing about anxiety that sucks is how pervasive it is with the rest of your life; it’s not that you are anxious and, oh well, you deal with it; it seems to subtly or not-so-subtly fuck everything else up. Currently, insomnia seems to be a good example of an anxiety-induced side effect. And naturally, lack of sleep also affects your mood, physical health, eating, and appearance among other things. When I get stressed I usually eat a ton of food. I’m not a stress-eater by far, but I notice it’s difficult to eat healthy if I’m anxious. Anxiety also makes you susceptible to shitty behavior like drinking or drugs which only makes the general problem of anxiety worse.

My anxiety usually comes from worrying about life, and struggling to make progress in life facing this anxiety. So in a way anxiety also makes itself worse by paralyzing my ability to move forward. Consider those fiction stories I want to write/post; the more I think of what to write and how I should be writing the more pressure I put on myself until I’m too scared or terrified to actually move forward. Anxiety is paralyzing and leads to endless procrastination. Earlier I was wondering why I don’t just give up this blogging/writing/self-working/self-publishing “hobby” if it stresses me out so much. It would be easier and comfortable for me to just give it all up, decide it isn’t for me, and to find another pursuit. At least that way I could, ya know, be peaceful and sleeping instead of furiously smashing letters into words on my phone as I lie in bed.

Since I know I have anxiety about being open, writing, and creativity in general that I feel that this is the way forward. Like the anxiety is pushing me out of my comfort zone, being a compass leading me to what I need to focus on. I realize I can’t sit in my comfort zone all day and do nothing and that anxiety is somewhat a part of life. Like if I want to move forward I need to sometimes just deal with the anxiety and press forward in spite of it. It just doesn’t feel good in the moment. 

But, once again, is this unique to me or is this a problem? I’ve really thought about seeing a psychologist or a therapist about this possibly crippling anxiety, but guess what? It makes me anxious even thinking of finding someone to go to! Will insurance pay for it? Will I be put on meds? What if, what if, what if…? It’s always easier to suffer in silence. And am I really suffering or…?

I’m really curious for other people’s opinions on this topic. Do you guys feel exactly like this daily and just force yourself forward? Is this perfectly normal? Is the stress I’m under now what’s actually forcing me forward? Did you use to be this way and finally discovered it was a problem? How did you find someone to help you with the problem? Did they help with the problem? Are you glad that you’ve gotten help with anxiety? Does anyone have any tips on managing anxiety without seeing a professional? I’d love to hear any/everything involving personal experiences with anxiety!

As for me I’m going to pop a Benadryl and see if that helps me sleep.