On Mental Health

Abstract: Mental health is important.

Executive summary: My mental health fell into the shitter in 2010 and I’m going to focus on fixing that this year because mental health is important.

So hey, guess what? Mental health is important, and mine has turned to crap over the last year. And that’s okay! At least, inasmuch as I intend to fix it. Because poor mental health is actually not okay at all. And I suppose the first thing to happen when your brain disintegrates is you start contradicting yourself mid-paragraph.

Let’s try this again. In 2010, I broke my brain. While I had a generally successful year as far as game development goes (mainly on the learning and networking fronts and less so on the Actually Finishing Anything front), day job despair finally got the best of me, and by mid year, I had become depressed enough for my productivity outside of my day job to take a nose dive, which meant games did not get done, which made me more depressed, which meant games really did not get done.

When your hatred for your job starts affecting things that are not your job, something needs to change. Which is why, effective January 3rd, I went part time at said job. Starting this year, I work three days a week for the corporate machine, and two days a week for myself.

The biggest change on the home front is that my income has now been cut by 40%. I had originally intended to wait until I was bringing in some money on my own before I scaled back on the predictable paycheck, but my first game has been in the pipeline for about 18 months now, when a full time head working five days a week probably could have finished it in 3. This is asinine. It’s time to step up my game, so to speak. So my wife and I looked at our budget, and figured out how we can make do with less money.

(Which, in the end, all independent workers need to learn to do ASAP, anyway.)

How does this relate to mental health? My theory is that the extra momentum I’ll gain by having two days each week dedicated to Work and only three wasted on Job will help me finally beat down the depression issues I’ve had over the last couple years. This should have a cascading effect. By having more hours to work with, I’ll be able to move along faster on games, which will lower my depression, which will help me work more efficiently, which will move games along faster, which will lower my depression, ad infinitum.

Also, game finished faster means that 40% pay cut gets replaced faster. Key point.

And so, I’m declaring 2011 The Year Of Mental Health. Game development is a 100% mental exercise, so without a cooperative brain, games do not happen. This year, I will beat depression, fix my brain, start finishing some games, and get this fucking career moving. HOO YEAH.

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