Hey, Gamers! This post is a very personal one, but I wanted to write it anyway. If you’ve been following this blog for just over a year, you might remember that around last May… I was going through some rough stuff. My own mental health has never been great, my dad’s health decreased and I had so many deadlines as well as huge changes coming up. Everything seemed unmanageable. After I got through it all, I wrote a post about the game that helped me. That post will be linked at the end of this one, but that game was Stardew Valley. It’s such a simple game; usually, I would hate it. I like being told what to do in games. I like story, I like just knowing what’s going on. After getting over 180 hours in the space of a month, I quickly got burnt out after finishing the community centre. This post is about going back to Pelican Town after that burn out.
But Josh (of course, all of my stories start with Josh) started watching a bunch of Stardew Valley stuff on YouTube. He started playing it again (not much, but enough to get me thinking about it). One day, I decided “you know what? I am relatively stable right now. I might as well check on the chickens,” and with that, I got on my Switch and opened Stardew Valley for the first time in months.
I will mention that I did very briefly go on SV a few months after the aforementioned burn out… but just looking at all my crops gave me anxiety. I assumed that this was why I stopped playing and moved on with my life, assuming that while Stardew Valley got me through a tough time, it wasn’t for me during my ‘normal’ life. Jokes on me, nothing about my life has ever been normal, and I was very mentally ill at the time so spilling some milk would have made me cry, never mind over 100 crops.
What an experience it was.
Just before giving up Stardew Valley (unofficially, of course), I had decided to get the all bachelor/ bachelorette 10 heart event thing. Despite getting down with all of the candidates, I had decided that 1) I will never marry Shane again and 2) I will go for Penny. Penny was so sweet and I wanted to get her far away from Pam. I didn’t feel this way going back to it, though. Instead, it was Elliot who caught my eye. I know Shane, Harvey and Sebastian are the usual candidates for most people, but I think this time around, I appreciated Elliot more. I’ve recently started writing fiction again, taking it seriously for the first time in a very long time and I aspire to be able to just go to a small, peaceful place and just write. It’s a luxury very few authors are able to afford, and the fact that Elliot has this is appealing to me. Not only that, but Elliot is so chill. Since we’re both writers, I can’t help but think of the wonderful conversations we could have, fuelled by our passions and our own worlds that we created. It just seemed so much more idealist to me than any of the other romance options. I first married Shane because he reminded me of Josh when we first got together. I now realise that… we’ve been together for nearly 5 years. I’m not looking back at the early days when I was the only person that he would talk to with awe. What I am happily looking back at is the 2am talks about video games and how he questions my ideas instead of letting me just ramble without listening. The validating moments when I’m talking about a character that I created and he stops me to make sure he’s thinking of the right one. The times when we have in detail discussions about pokemon and the eco-system in the pokemon world. The times when he rambles on and on about a game that I haven’t played but I know the plot of because he’s rambled about it so much that it’s stuck in my forgetful brain. The times when I’m talking about my favourite thing in the world and he corrects me. There’s a lot to look back on when it comes to Josh, but a lot of it is not when he was an arrogant idiot who thought it was cool to not have friends. It’s all about how he’s been since that façade dropped, and I think that’s where I went wrong in Stardew Valley. This whole time I thought Josh was like Shane. No, my Josh is like Elliot. Not everyone’s cup of tea; he can be stand-offish but he’s an absolute genius and he challenges me and encourages me and I really think Elliot would do the same. I mean, as much as I can think about a simple character from a farming game doing. I was so wrong at first, and now that I’ve realised that, I’m thinking of starting the game all over again so I can do it right. Elliot was so hard to find, so I left him until last and glossed over him. But Josh was also hard to find, and I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time for him. I think Elliot is worth it.
Okay, romance and rambles about Josh over, time to talk about the real emotions. The first thing I did when I loaded my game is look over my farm (naturally). Something I didn’t notice in that very brief time that I went on Stardew Valley before this is that… all of my crops were watered. Every single outside crop was covered by a sprinkler. I cannot explain the relief and joy that I felt when I realised that. During my lowest point, I went out of my way to make things more manageable for myself. I’m the type of person that usually makes things harder for themselves, so this was a shock. I felt so… peaceful. I went around to pet all of my farm animals (and laugh because I had named all of the barn animals after UK politicians), I checked in the greenhouse and sold a bunch of stuff. I quickly picked up where I left off, which is something I never imagined myself doing.
I think that since I stopped playing, Stardew Valley has been a game that I always said that I’ll go back to it to 100% it, but I never had any real intentions of doing so. Finding the golden walnuts were what put me off doing that. But now, I find peace in the everyday activities that I would sometimes call boring. The only other example that I can think of that makes me feel the same way is Pokemon (because of course it’s Pokemon). When you’ve unlocked the national dex in the game and you have so many Pokemon to catch that you just… relax. You’ve beaten the game, it’s time to chill and catch what you catch. That’s exactly the same feeling I had with Stardew Valley. Obviously Pokemon is a new interest of mine, and it’s a special one (and I will be doing a post soon on why it’s so special), so I’m wondering if… if I hadn’t gotten into Pokemon, would I still be able to feel this peace? I guess we’ll never know the answer to that.
Walking into Pelican Town for the first time being back made me feel… nostalgic? I think that’s the right word. I remember how many hours I had spent, how many requests I had taken. I felt… I guess it kind of felt that I was home again. It was overwhelmingly emotional (especially considering we’re about to move in real life) and it just felt right. I think at first, I wasn’t planning on playing the game properly again. I was just going to go on it and then go straight back to Pokemon. But the second I walked into the town square, I knew I couldn’t leave.
I think the most important thing about Stardew Valley, for me, is that it made me feel needed. I’ve always had a problem dealing with my emotions when I felt like I wasn’t needed anymore. I’m the youngest of 3 girls so I wasn’t really needed growing up, but my parents did a great job when they were together at making me feel like I was needed and important. During the early years, I was the baby of the family and that was my role and I knew it well. I had to just sit there, be cute and get attention. I think as I grew older and my role became less clear, my emotions began to be unstable and as an undiagnosed autistic kid, I was a mess. Everyone assumed I was jealous, attention-seeking, everything. But really this whole time, I just wanted to feel important and to know what my role was. I think that’s a compartment of my relationship with Josh that’s pretty important and we don’t really talk about it. We are both super co-dependent on each other in different ways, and it works for us because we both need to feel needed and having each other is enough. But coming back to Pelican Town reminded me of that time last year when I felt utterly useless and like all I did was make things worse and how these NPCs literally kept me going. They always made me feel so needed and wanted and loved, and that was what I needed at the time. I thought I was fine without it after I stopped playing, but when I went back to it… I felt more needed than I have in months. I felt helpful. I felt wanted. These feelings are incredibly difficult for someone with mental illness.
On reflection of this post, I do know that I need to go to therapy instead of using gaming to cope with absolutely everything in life… and I am moving to get that therapy. I don’t usually like to state what’s going on in my life as it’s happening but I’ve decided that I need more mental health support than can be provided in my county, so I’m moving back to where we used to live because the support is significantly better there. I wanted to include this in this post because it’s insanely obvious that I need actual therapy here and I didn’t want all the comments to be about that.
But that’s it for this post, Gamers! Do you have any experiences like this? Let me know in the comments! Follow this blog for more gaming content (I’ve just planned the next month and I’m super excited for you guys to read them!), follow my socials to be social and follow us on Twitch to check our streams. See you next post, Gamers!
EDITING NOTE: Today we hit 50K views! I just wanted to add a quick note to this post to thank each one of you that visits my blog, likes my posts and even comments. You all make my day. Thank you so much for your continued support, and I forever hope to become a better blog person for you guys. -Love, El.