This post was originally published on this site


by Mark Evans aka wildfairyboi 

As a sufferer of anxiety and depression, and suspected Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), I spend a lot of time alone in my room. I find it extremely hard to start a conversation and when people begin to talk to me I get dizzy. My heart begins to race and I find it hard to catch a breath so I kinda shut off to the world. To some I might seem extremely ignorant. But this is not the case. I would love to be able to just walk up to someone random, introduce myself, and have a good old chat…

However, since I can remember I have always freaked out at the prospect of meeting someone new .. Some days I even find it hard to talk to people I know very well including my own family so I’m always looking for reasons to give me confidence to leave my room… 
As a 90s baby I grew up watching Pokémon and I loved it throughout my childhood…. And, not gonna lie, I still watch it to date… So when Niantic released Pokémon Go I was really excited to give it a go to the point I ordered a new contract mobile specifically to play… I was so taken in to the game catching all my favourite Pokémon I started going out all night when there was nobody around to play the game. I started to go out nearly every night. I walked around town and the lake every day for nearly a year.

Then I got ill and also had to look after one of my mates so I stopped playing so much. I actually didn’t pick up the game for nearly 9 months as I was with my friend every day trying to fix her life up. Or I was really sick myself, and in and out of hospital. So I stopped my evening walks and began to spend all my time either at hers or hiding in my room again as I slowly got more sick. This made my depression and anxiety worse to the point I stopped going out again at all.
In the last 4 months I have picked up my fone and begun to get out walking again as I convinced my mate to do the same. She also got a fone to come and play Pokémon with me. So we began walking round in the evening, then we decided to start doing some of the daytime tasks on the game including meeting other players. I noticed my anxiety was still there but having Pokémon to talk about distracted me enough to get into conversations about it.

We met more people to share Pok
émon info and tips with and began to get invites to X raids for a chance to catch legendary Pokémon … So I started to go and meet random groups to play Pokémon although still feeling anxious .. Playing Pokémon Go gave me a reason to meet up with these random people and a reason to talk, so I slowly gained confidence to the point I’m now out most of my day playing… I’m either walking round town or the lake several times hatching eggs or walking Pokémon or even just chasing cool Pokémon on the near by. 
I’m even trying to get groups of people to come and meet me to help at some of the Pokémon raids and awaiting any one asking for help on the chat. If anyone asks for help I’ll try to get wherever the raid is. 

So I’ve gone from having no confidence and staying indoors all the time to walking round the town for hours on end not wanting to go home some days. I’m meeting lots of new people and re-meeting old ones – all out playing Pokémon. I noticed there’s quite a few really anxious players but all eager to come play when they can. 
S is another regular Pokémon Go player locally who has been 
struggling with her mental health. She says: 
“Playing Pokémon Go has literally changed my life.�
Big thanks to Anne Woods who is a Participation Officer in our team but also a very keen player of Pokémon Go. Anne has been playing since the day it started in the UK. She very kindly created the infographics with the Pokémon Go basics for the newbies amongst us…