The monsters of depression, anxiety and self-loathing? Believe me, they’re no myths

kid icarus of myths

Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters (1992)

We’ve had a lowest ebb, all of us, even if we came from a life of refinement and privilege. And unfortunately, not all of us make it out of our funk. There’s someone dying of suicide out there every 40 seconds. And according to the WHO, it’s possible that for every one of those adults taking their lives, there could be more than 20 others attempting it. What we can’t know is how many people are or have ever contemplated doing the irreversible.

In truth, I never knew what it meant to “contemplate suicide”. Does that mean going as far as plotting out what method you’d use? Or is it just to be thinking about what it’s like? How your family would react, or your friends if you were lucky enough to have any? Wondering what everything would be like if you had never been born. But then, haven’t we all wondered that?

Actually, on that note, I never really knew the meaning of the word “depressed”, either. And it doesn’t help matters much when you have faux-depressionistas online muddying the definitions by claiming and self-diagonising depression through stupid, self-deprecating memes and tweets. I used to wonder if I was ‘qualified’ to have depression, because surely my lot wasn’t as bad as other peoples’. After all, I had a happy family unit, did well in school and had friends. So, when there was a period of my life that I was down, I felt more shamed than depressed.

But I don’t mind telling you of my lowest point. It wasn’t going well for me at all, and I suppose it’s a moment that hits everyone when you realise you aren’t special, that you’re not gonna be a main character in life. Just an NPC, doomed to be forgotten. But at this time, around mid-late 2011, I really had nothing going for me.

It was the end of my second year in college, which in gerernal was a tremendous letdown. I seemed to enjoy school a thousand times more – in college, even in a class as small and obscure as mine, you just got lost. The economy was in a dreadful state as well, and I regarded full-time office work as being the absolute end of a young person’s life, so for me dropping out wasn’t a viable option either.

Mind you, it might have been imposed on me, because I’d failed one of my end of year exams, notably the one exam that I couldn’t cram the night before (morning of). This’ll shock American readers, but education in Ireland is free, or almost free. It’s free if you don’t come from one of the more desirable postcodes, put it that way.

But that’s only free for each year of your course – repeat a year and financially, you’re on your own. That was about €2,500 at the time – again, chump change to our American collegiate, but about €2,400 more thatn I had to my name at the time.

Not a nice thing to have over one’s head, and it brings me neatly to the next cause of despair in my life – I was potless, as in brassic, as in gutted. Remember that the economy was in bits, and a feckless unemployale loser brereft of condidence wasn’t about to put it back together again. Still, I did manage to land a part-time job in retail, and that’s where my trouble really started. I won’t name the outfit but every Irish reader will know who I mean at once when I say it was an Irish supermarket notorious for treating their staff like animals.

Well, if I didn’t know that going in (and I didn’t), then it was definitely hammered into me mere weeks into my desperate tenure. I couldn’t even hide away and be a shelf-stacking pleb either, I had to be on the tills and be all extraverted while putting up with grief, not from the customers but the many, many managers and supervisors, several of whom should have been drowned at birth.

Got paid a pittance too, so much so that I was already eyeing up the loving arms of the dole. Bitter? You bet. It would have been trouble at home if I’d quit as well, not to mention no money. So, those evenings when I’d be sat in the toilet cubicle, staring absentmindedly at the door, nearly huperventilating before my shift would begin, thinking life can’t possibly get any worse than this, I’ll at least be able to use that grim and vivid view / memory as a means to spur me on, and how my life improved immeasurably from when times were bad, so so bad.

Add to that I was having not an ounce of luck with the opposite sex, chasing like a deranged stalker after more than one oneitis, contradictory as that seems. Mind you, this was before Instagram and Tinder were really around, so things could have been far worse.

Right now, I’m sure there’s a pale, 20-year-old equivalent of me in exactly the same wretched situation except he’s got even less chance at getting a job and getting a woman. What can I do but pity that lad, wish him well and hope he doesn’t take the fatal way out? Even the Zelda game that year was terrible, for God’s sake.

But there’s always that phrase that a depresso doesn’t want to hear: it could always be worse. But it’s true, circumstances can always be worse, and in my case, I’m just awfully lucky that I ever picked up the Gaem Boy’s Kid Icarus title because that could well have finished me off.

That’s not meant flippantly – I genuinely think that this is the most depressing game of all time. Worse than Hydlide, worse than Dragon’s Lair and yes, worse than the NES Kid Icarus game. At least that one was in colour, or at least half a palette of colour. Of Myths and Monsters take the same drab gameplay, but now it’s been squashed onto a tiny screen and given that black-and-poultice Game Boy paint job.

It’s a torrent of massive sprites against a small screen, you can’t see where on earth you’re meant to go next, but it’s just like when you’re at your lowest point in life – the only way is up. Or out, I suppose, but only if you mean ‘out of your Game Boy’. The music is unappealing and even if you sit down and do this one the courtesy of giving it more than five minutes of your precious time, you’ll find it gets balls-hard very quickly.

No, life is too short to play a game like this for any length of time, and I’m afraid to say that prolonged exposure to this game may indeed bring your life to an abrupt end. At times, playing this game, I was flying too close to the sun, to oblivion. Believe me, even if you may not think it, you will be missed. This game isn’t missed, nor will it ever be.

If you find a copy of this in the wild… maybe add it to your collection, because unfortunately that’s what collecting is all about, showcasing the dregs as well as the jewels. If you find a second copy, though, you can take great pleasure in smashing it to a thousand pieces with your trusty sledgehammer. Since 2011, I’ve smashed a copy of Kid Icarus: OMOM every night and twice on a Sunday. And nowadays I’m feeling bloody marvellous, thank you very much.

1 September 2020

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