So, the big unspoken flaw in this whole project is that I’m massively unqualified to answer just about any question. Here though, we’ve got something even more out of my range than usual. Dragging a young person out of depression is not an easy thing. People are all different. Depression looks different from the outside to the inside, and if the boy you’re talking about isn’t talking and trusting you, there’s probably nothing you can do.
I’m tempted to offer myself as a counter-example of sorts though. I would probably have called myself a depressed computer game addicted 15 year old once. I appear to be doing a certain kind of alright now. Maybe.
Of course, my route out of it was a steadily increasing self prescribed and wildly varying drug habit. This successfully bought me out of my shell in the outside world, but probably crushed me further inwards at home.
Also, my depression was probably more angst and lovesickness than anything else. But that’s teenagedom for you.
And that’s one of the problems. We assume that emotional brutality of adolescence is just a proving ground. We all remember the hell it was then, and we all know that we’re still alive now. So we naturally brush it under the carpet. It’s a phase. We’ve all been there. It won’t be so bad when we look back at it. It’ll be fine.
Maybe it does. In fact, it almost certainly does, but that doesn’t mean we should just leave everybody alone and useless. It really is a difficult time. There really is more hormones thrashing around inside you than is sensible, along with huge pressures from peers, and a genuine, all abiding fear, that as you slowly enter the adult world, this might just be all there is.
I think teenagers have a certain perspective. Nothing but hope to stand in their way, they see the world with a certain clarity. They recognise just how bad it is. It rages up in front of them, threatening to eat them up into this hideous landscape of monotony and adulthood.
Ever increasing self control is accompanied with the realisation that there are some freedoms you never really get.
Maybe that’s a bit harsh. I should probably explain that I haven’t really had enough sleep.
Anyway. The point is, that a 15 year old boy has plenty of reason to be depressed, and computer games give you a world you can control. I don’t think they are dangerous, they are just another world to get lost in, like books or drugs or make up or politics. As a young person, you’re likely to drown yourself in an obsession. There are more dangerous ones than gaming.
The answer though, is to provide better alternatives. Make a better world around him. Show him what it’s like to be happy. Talk confidently about the world you’re trying to build. Hopes and dreams are what life should be alike, teen or not.
So build dreams.
Illustration by Hannah