I apologize in advance for the length of the post.
I have vivid memories of my freshman year of college. One that stands out in my mind are the "techies." They were the only guys on the floor to have internet access and my roommates and I would visit their room to check our e-mails.
I can still remember the stale stench which radiated from their room upon opening their door. Looking around their dorm room, one would see empty pizza boxes, old soda cans, and piles of dirty laundry. Books and notebooks scattered messily around as well.
After checking our e-mail and thanking them for allowing us to use their PCs ~ we would stumble back to our room laughing. We could not fathom how this "Quake" would be so enticing as to prevent them from going to class, going to parties, or going to the cafeteria. We were vibrant, pretty, and alive. It made no sense to us.
~Six Years Later~
I gaze around my room and see empty soda cans, old pizza boxes, discarded food wrappers and unpaid bills.
But who cares? After all I have 3 level 60 toons on WoW. Epics too.
When I met Bryan, I was baffled by the fact that he sat playing this Ultima Online game every night before we would go out. I would urge him to hurry up whatever he was doing (which I could not ever see being more important than spending time with me) and that it was time to go.
He played less and less as our relationship grew which made me content. When my job let out for the summer (I'm a teacher) I decided to play around on his PC for awhile and see what this Ultima Online was about.
I remember spending about 45 minutes picking out the proper skin and hair color for my character and not being able to wait to see what would happen next.
Wow! Instant friends!? People wanting to help me? Give me things? "ZoMg you're a girl!?!" I was immediatly engulfed. Bryan didn't mind me playing -his- game ~ and said he thought it was kind of cool, really.
Bryan proposed to me after 7 years of dating and I gladly accepted. After all, I had finished college and begun a job. Clearly marriage was the next logical step.
I remember very well the night it should have occured to me that MMORPGs were not healthy for me. Bryan and I were sitting side-by-side at his PC playing UO. We were killing dragons inside of a dungeon and my character died. I looked up at him with panic and said "I am so sorry! I didn't mean to die!" He looked at me and said "That isn't you.. you know.. That character isn't you."
The summer before my wedding, instead of picking out dresses and rings, I completely immersed myself in Ultima Online. Bryan picked out the music by himself because I didn't "feel like" going. I loved my friends on UO ~ I loved the guildlife ~ I loved the drama ~ I loved it all.
I developed strong feelings of fondness for a man who I met in UO. He was six years younger than me ~ but he was quite mature ~ and very good at UO ~ and was very kind to me and concerned about my welfare in UO. His concern eventually stretched beyond UO and I began to confide in him more than I did in my fiance.
That summer, I played UO every night until 6 AM ~ spending more time with this man than my fiance or my "RL" friends.
The morning of my wedding I remember crying softly as I put on my dress that was a bit too big due to the fact that UO > eating that summer. I got married with my head in a fog ~ thinking about UO while walking down the aisle.
I remember crying hysterically in the car and we drove to our honeymoon. I remember crying on the cruise ship and telling Bryan that I had feelings for another. I remember spending every night of the cruise at the Internet Cafe. I couldn't go without reading the UO:Stratics site nor could I miss nightly ICQ sessions with the man that I had grown to love and desire.
After the honeymoon I spent about 12 hours straight on Ultima Online. I remember the feeling of ease that engulfed me as I sat down after my honeymoon. Getting in teamspeak ~ logging into UO ~ made me content again.
I started back to work in a fog ~ again. "Why aren't you happy!? You should be a blushing bride!" ~ my coworkers cried. During the entire school day, UO and my UO boyfriend were on my mind. I would check message boards while the children were in the classroom (a thought that sickens me now) and would talk to my friend on ICQ and emails.
My family and husband were, naturally, concerned with my distance and with their prodding I sought mental help. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder: 2. I never shared with the psychiatrist my UO addiction because, at the time, I didn't think it was a problem.
I tried about 15 different psychiatric meds to help my problems ~ but I still found myself very unhappy in my marriage and my life.
My marriage ended quickly after 11 months of suspicion and mistrust and I have never quite felt relief like that before ~ I could play UO all day! I could even phone call my UO friends if I wanted to. I played Ultima Online day and night. I became more and more attached to the man I loved from UO and after almost two years of online correspondance through an MMORPG we decided to meet.
I am -beyond- lucky that he was as kind, gentle, loving, and good in person as he was in UO.
The two of us played UO for awhile and then decided it might not be helping my mental issues and that I should take a break. Money was tight ~ so we decided to Ebay some of the items. While I agreed with it at first, I remember crying in desperation for him to remove the items off of Ebay so I could please play my characters again.
Eventually, Ultima Online lost its charm for us and we decided to play WoW. We leveled our first toons to 60 together and it was a lot of fun. We did all of our quests/instancing together and everyone in our guild knew we were together.
I decided in February that I was playing too much WoW and deactivated my account. In 4 months I lost 20 lbs, became a 100x more effective teacher, and felt the healthiest I had in mind, body, spirit for quite sometime.
When school let out in May ~ I grew bored. I tutored here and there and planned to go to the gym every day and get my finances in order. I reactiavated WoW with the plans of rerolling casually on a new server.
Levels 1-40 were easy and fun. I'd play here and there, still go outside, return phonecalls, keep committments.
After about two weeks, the downward spiral began.
I stopped taking my medication ~ after all ~ my character in WoW didn't seem depressed. Quite the contrary ~ she was vibrant and happy and very popular. I stopped going to the gym and eating correctly. I wouldn't answer the phone when friends called ~ I somehow didn't think they'd understand that I didn't want to talk since I was getting Onyxia keyed. My life revolved around WoW. I showered while on Flight Paths. I "cleaned" the house on Tuesdays.
Over the course of the last few weeks, my health has deteriorated. My depression has bored on needing hospitlization and I sought solace in Azeroth.
Up until last night ~ I was quite content with this stangant hell.
In a raid last night I found myself increasingly stressed over what to do... and very afraid I would mess up the raid and make my guild upset with me. I was unsure where to stand and was very scared.
I made a mistake and someone in ventrillo called me out over it. And I began to /cry. IRL.
At that very moment I knew that I had a problem. I got up and looked down at my messy room and couldn't believe what has become of me. I ran to the restroom and looked at myself. My hair was dry and limp, my eyes cold and tired, my face pale and sunken. I heard the familiar and comforting sound of my James sound asleep in the bedroom and realized that every night I had chosen an alternate reality over spending time with him.
WoW had a clutch on my life unlike anything I have ever known. It had grown out of my control.
With very little hesitation I cancelled my WoW account and uninstalled the game last night.
My first day "WoW Free" has been successful with little to no temptations to reinstall.
A "guildmate" just IM'd me to tell me about an epic that Hakkar dropped. It didn't phase me like it normally would have.
I am hopeful..
Edited by: Solei at: 7/21/06 2:37
-6 Years Free of Online Gaming-