A few years ago, I was curled up on my bathroom floor, crying so hard I was having difficulty breathing, alternately sobbing and screaming into a pillow. The thing that set me off wasn't a fight with my spouse or losing my job, it was trying to decide what video game to play.
Doesn't make any sense, does it? Just pick one, what's the problem? The problem is my brain doesn't work like yours. I have PTSD, and certain situations render me completely broken until the storm passes.
It sucks, but over the years, with a great deal of help and support, I've learned how to deal with it and incidents like the bathroom floor rarely happen anymore. I can't see real well, so I wear glasses - my brain is a little wonky, so I take medicine. Ho hum.
Getting to the point that I could shrug about having a mental illness took a lot of work and a willingness to admit I was sick. That's a massive hurdle for a lot of people, which is why I'm making Keep in Mind Remastered my game this week.
Keep in Mind, which will take you about 30 minutes start to finish, and begins with a shot of Jonas and his wife in bed, back-to-back. Their marriage is troubled. Jonas drinks himself to insensibility every night. His wife wants to help, but he won't let her.
He nods off, then wakes to find himself in a strange place that looks like his life, but is off somehow. Take Jonas outside and you'll meet a monster who seems to know Jonas very well, and who clues you in on what you're supposed to do next.
It's difficult to call Keep in Mind a game, given how little you do. You walk through Jonas' small neighbourhood, and do a bit of talking. That's it. And yet it's one of the most profound and accurate depictions of mental illness I've ever encountered.
As harrowing as Keep in Mind is, it's also incredibly reassuring to know that someone else gets it. Someone else out there has had those conversations and put those words together to express those thoughts.
The realisation that I wasn't some isolated freak who was just too weak to cope with normal life was an enormous weight off my shoulders, and it put me on my path to wellness. Keep in Mind is about Jonas' journey toward that first step, as he confronts his inner demons and the incident that created them in the first place.
I'd urge you to experience Keep in Mind so that you might better understand what depression and anxiety can do to a person, because I absolutely guarantee you know someone who's dealing with one or the other or both.
According to an NIH study, one in four Americans is dealing with a mental illness at any point in a given year. Nearly half of all Americans will experience some kind of psychiatric disorder at some point in their adult lives. And if you are on the wrong side of those statistics, Keep in Mind is your reminder that you're not alone. Support and help is there for you, so long as you take that first step.
Occasionally mental illness is the restraints and padded cells you see in movies, but more often it's far more mundane. Social anxiety, substance abuse, depression, PTSD, OCD, ADD - they're all mental issues that, like any other chronic illness, people can live with and manage if they get help.
Read more of Susan Arendt's columns on Pocket Gamer, and find out more about Keep in Mind: Remastered at the game's official site. If you're looking for more columns, then check out Harry Slater and Jon Jordan, who are always on-hand with sharp, tasty opinions too.