Gaming and streaming for better mental health
TRIGGER WARNING: this blog contains sensitive content which some readers may find distressing. TW // self-harm, suicidal ideation
We’re always proud to share our fundraisers’ stories, and this month we spoke with Ninja Space Unicorn, who promotes mental health awareness through her gaming and streaming channels. Her creative efforts in aid of Manchester Mind raised over £9,000 in just 24 hours…
Up until two years ago I never had the support nor strength to become a streamer, to push myself outside my comfort zone or reach out to others in a similar position. I’ve always suffered from social anxiety, PTSD and depression. I was raised in an abusive household and by 18 years’ old was off the rails; my mental health was a mess and self-esteem very low. This self-destructive path continued until one day I realised if I didn’t change I would die. I joined the RAF – only for a short period of time – but this taught me self-worth and discipline. I relocated to another city, falling back into negative patterns and entering a controlling relationship. Eventually, I moved to Manchester and started addressing my trauma through therapy, medication and a network of friends I could lean on.
Sadly, things spiralled out of control again, a new relationship left me feeling suffocated, but I stayed in this relationship for ten years and my mental health fell to a new low. I was so heavily medicated I couldn’t feel anything. I believed that everything was all my fault, everything about me felt wrong. My anxiety started presenting as Agoraphobia, and for 3 months I didn’t leave home. I needed to feel something, anything. One day I walked into a door handle. I felt pain, and in a whirlwind of emotions I laughed, an inexplicable joy that I had felt anything at all. I started “banging” into things more often, which then turned to self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
The birth of my daughter changed everything. Whilst I was suffering from the most awful depression, during this dark period all I could think about was the example I was setting my child and the environment I was raising her in. I felt a newfound strength and had the courage to move out. With the help of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (and charities such as Mind and the Samaritans) I turned over a new leaf. I came off medication and started to feel whole again, a stronger version of myself. I began streaming as a way to reach out, to offer support and to let people know that they are not alone. These days, so many online networks exist to help people who feel alone; this is why I do what I do, to support as much as I can; I have the strength, I have the drive. Through the amazing gamers and streaming community I hope to encourage people to talk about their experiences. If I can help even one person then all of the time is worth it.
Streaming has always been an opportunity to make this complicated world just a little bit better, in tandem with the support of charities such as Manchester Mind. During the last few years more people are struggling in isolation due to the impact of Covid-19 and the cost of living crisis. I share Manchester Mind’s belief that nobody should to go through a mental health crisis alone, and I channelled my love for streaming into a 24hr online event in aid of their work. Leading up to the stream, I was rapidly going through, borrowing and diminishing my supply of spoons (Spoon theory-mental health). I was anxious, would people join me online, had I done enough, or was I just letting everyone down?
Streaming is hard because you put yourself out there for the world to see. Part of my anxiety stems from my appearance and how people perceive me, getting on camera for a usual (4hr) stream is tough, so my 24-hour stream felt nearly impossible. For anyone considering raising money for Manchester Mind through streams, I offer this advice…
- Drink plenty of water (no alcohol, not too much caffeine)
- Take rest breaks of 10-15 mins.
- Have someone with you to support and remind you to look after yourself
- Have fun, play content that makes you happy, which you’re comfortable with and that will translate through your stream.
- Don’t do too much – keep it simple, plan the stream and timings
- Most of all, be yourself and focus on the goal of helping people. Even if it’s just one person and no monies raised, you have still made a difference 🙂
I wear my scars on my sleeve, they don’t wear me anymore. I am NinjaSpaceUnicorn: Mother, Space Lover, Massive Chatterbox, & a huge advocate for Mental Health and wellbeing. HEAR ME ROAR!