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Warhammer 40k Saved Me From Depression

I’ve only recently gotten into the tabletop gaming scene.

The story on how I got into it is a bit of an odd one. This time last year, I was in a relationship with someone I was entirely convinced was “the one.” We were two years strong into our time together, bonding on everything from our taste in movies, to our taste in games, and enjoyed each other’s company.

Around late May 2018, shortly after we had to cancel our plans to attend Rock on the Range in Ohio, I was blindsided when she saidI just didn’t feel that connection anymore.

I’ll spare the details. there’s not much there beyond us going different ways.

However, there I was, sitting on a small nest egg I’d been setting aside in secret, not only for an engagement ring, but to either move her here or allow me to relocate there and find new employment. I looked at that money, and I could feel depression starting to seep in as my plans for the future had suddenly been shattered. Everything that money had been intended for had been blown away, and in a depressed state, I came to the conclusion that the money was tainted.

As long as I had that nest egg, I’d have a reminder.

For years I’d had some friends trying to get me into the tabletop game, Warhammer 40,000. The aesthetic had always been interestingI enjoyed the brutality and grim-dark sci-fi aspects of itand it looked like they’d be fun to build and paint. The game itself looked incredibly complex and fun to learn. It led to me browsing both Games Workshop and ForgeWorld, just admiring the different factions the game had to offer, which then led to me picking the Space Wolves of the Adeptus Astartes (the “space marines”).

With a design that looked like vikings in space, how could I say no? It started with a few Space Wolf tactical squads, a Stormfang Gunship, a Venerable Dreadnought, and Ulrik the Slayer. Over the next week, I built them all up and painted them. Not bad for my first time doing anything like this, if I do say so myself.

From there, I was hooked.

Over the next several months,my army expanded. I suddenly had a massive collection of rule books, I was even pulling family members into the hobby. All the money I’d saved for a future with my ex was now building up a massive tabletop military. The numbers grew, but I had been painting them one at a time to make each one is something special, while using each as a chance to hone my skills.

The game itself is a blast, but more than anything, assembling this army in a way I see fit has been cathartic. Even liberating.

All the weight of depression that sat to sit on my shoulders went away, and while it wasn’t perhaps the most fiscally responsible way to handle a breakup, it got me into a new hobby that I cherish and enjoy as I have with my many years of video games.

In a weird way, 40k became an antidepressant when I needed it, and now that I’m through that dark time in my life, it’s here to stay as another notch in my nerd belt. My little story is one of many reasons why gaming in general, whether it be tabletop or video games, has become something so special to the communities involved in it.

It’s not just that it’s funit’s an escape from some of the sudden turns in our lives that may have otherwise shattered us. Any number of games out there has helped contribute to saving someone from the depths of despair in one way or the other, and aided them until they were in good spirits again.

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  1. Core of Envy on February 15, 2019 at 10:38 pm said

    Gaming always has that power on people. I don’t think the games that you play is what matters but the people you play them with.

    side note why is the text in the comment box text white i cant see what I am typing….

    • Johnathan Irwin on February 16, 2019 at 9:03 pm said

      Oh yeah, it’s not so much the games that you play you just have to find one that lifts you up. In my case, venturing into this new hobby and taking my first steps into the world of tabletop gaming really did wonders to keep me on track!.

  2. 40k is a great hobby. A fantastic part of it is that each miniature you buy or paint is yours forever. Videogames come and go but you will always have those minis that you painted to look at and show off to family and friends.

    • Johnathan Irwin on February 16, 2019 at 9:08 pm said

      I know a lot of people strip they’re old minis down and repaint them, not me though. I’m enjoying seeing where I started and how far I’ve come when I look back at my first few. Now I just need to build better display shelving.

  3. Interesting coping method. 🙂

    Put a few pic’s up next time, would love to see the collection.

    • Johnathan Irwin on February 16, 2019 at 9:09 pm said

      Not the most financially responsible coping method I can admit, but it did wonders and it got me invested in a new hobby I had no idea I was missing out on!

  4. Huh, what do you know?

    One of, arguably, the most depressing Sci-Fi Settings ever created, helped cure someone’s depression.

    That shit’s fucking poetic.

  5. Happy for you. Keep fighting the fight.

    • Johnathan Irwin on February 16, 2019 at 9:12 pm said

      Thank you, I’m in a much better place now. My bouts of depression are far between and only seem to ever crop up when everything seems to go bad at once. There are people out there fighting much harder fights than mine was, I wish them all the luck and I hope 40k or something else in gaming can help bring them some joy!

  6. Type text here… Great article. Having suffered depression myself I’m very happy to here someone else get through it alright. Just one issue, there’s something grammatical wrong with this sentence, “All the weight of depression that sat to sit on my shoulders went away…” Thanks and please write more articles about 40k.

  7. Great little story bud, and I can relate.

    To anyone who likes Warhammer 40K, check out ‘LUETIN09’ on YT. He does really good lore vids that you can hobby to. ^_^

  8. Warhammer (and GW in general) is a product of Nottingham, England.

    If you’ve ever lived there, you’ll see that the Warhammer 40K universe is a paradise in comparison. Warhammer was one big coping mechanism for a bunch of creative people who were living in one of the bleakest places on the planet 😀

    • Johnathan Irwin on February 16, 2019 at 9:18 pm said

      There is some phrase about creativity existing in bleak places I think. It eludes me right now, but I think that shows some validity to it. 😉

      • For real man. I’m being hyperbolic for the lols, Notts ain’t that bad in the grand scheme of things, but it’s definitely produced some seriously creative people.

        The imagination that went into the two Warhammer universes is pretty deep. Yeah, there’s a lot of recycling of ideas from classic sci-fi/fantasy and the occult but they did it in such a unique and vibrant way that it’ll stand the test of time as great art, I think.

  9. Painting 40k Minis helped me keep my sanity during my horrible bout with depression about 11 years ago, to this day I try to paint 3 minis a month.

    • Johnathan Irwin on February 16, 2019 at 9:17 pm said

      It’s cathartic, and it’s so much fun to see these little bits of plastic come to life so to speak as they’re painted up. I’m glad that 40k was able to help you as well!

  10. The Emp’rar Protects.

  11. earthmanbrick on February 17, 2019 at 2:21 pm said

    Quite the uplifting story, man.

    Really glad you pulled yourself out of that rut, break-ups are never easy & can make us go off the rails, crazy & start circling the drain. It’s never the same for anyone but everyone eventually goes through it.

    40k is certainly a healthy outlet, it’s a solid franchise with deep lore, global appeal & has really pushed the miniature gaming franchise to lofty heights nobody thought possible.

    My personal love is the artistic/crafting side of the game, it was especially the sculpting aspect that helped me with my own depression when my Brother committed suicide. I pooled my skills into making unique sculptures, anything to push my focus onto something constructive & away from people who are walking on eggshells around you.

    Maybe it’s catharthis but it works. Paying homage is also a great relief & helps you move forward. When my cat died in my arms, I was lost so I donated a hefty sum toward a crowdfunder for a new cat cafe where they named one of the cats after my late little faithful companion.

    Loss wounds us all but the never-ending intergalatic war on all fronts has no time for mourning or pity, xenos everywhere pushing their own genocidal agendas & you have no time for tears only to cry, ”Glory! For the Emperor!”.
    So brandish your bolter & get ready to rid the cosmos of corruption

  12. I think building and painting are the best parts of this hobby, to be honest, the game can be like monopoly a lot of the time, people already know who has won but it still takes hours to finish. But painting and modelling, it helps get you into the ‘the zone’, when I studied positive psychology we called this state flow, and I think a lot of men are drawn to it, that state of not thinking but doing without thinking. The clear and empty head where thought and action connect is one of the highest states of happiness and I think it is more important for men. But that is a study I don’t think I will get to do ha ha. Anyway man glad you found a way out of it. Have a good one.

    • That’s really interesting you mention the idea of “flow”: I think painting Warhammer minatures was one of the first hobbies I had where I became really aware that I was losing hours in a really relaxed but focused way.

  13. I read this article not long having left the hobby. It had become a source of depression for me for reasons too long and convoluted to list here. I do miss it and the social aspect, though 🙁

  14. Daniel Dale on February 17, 2019 at 7:44 pm said

    It’s so nice to see articles talking about the beautiful power of gaming. Especially painting 40k so positively, the more of us there are the better the game gets.

  15. Connor James on February 17, 2019 at 9:27 pm said

    Wholesome read. Haven’t played it myself in years, but it was fun playing in-store at the time. Glad to hear you’ve got a constructive hobby, mate. Hope you meet someone better as you do what you enjoy.

  16. Daniel Real on February 18, 2019 at 8:01 am said

    I only just got into 40K recently as well, getting into both Genestealer Cult and Tau, as well as sucking in a few of my friends.

    Sitting down painting my dudes, is incredibly cathartic. Its the best way Ive found to wind down after a hard day. It might sound weird but I sleep better, now and fully believe painting expensive models are the cause.

  17. Raven Seeker on February 18, 2019 at 12:15 pm said

    Great, diary entries, top tier content, not at all like the shit that mainstream video game journalists put out, not at all “why x game gave me PTSD” or “X is full of mysoginy because i feel so”.

    Please for the love of all that is holy, put out something actually relevant.

  18. I still remember the day back in ’96, when my father and I was in a small local bookshop that had a corner dedicated to Warhammer and me being a kid, was completely fascinated by it all. I really liked the Blood Angels on the cover of the 2nd Edition starter set, so we got that plus a paint starter set. Although throughout my life I had had to put the hobby on pause, for far to many times, I still love it as hell.

    PS: I’m really looking forward to the ForgeWorld Sanguinius figure.

  19. Da big boss Gork (or possibly Mork) approves. Da’s ‘ow we get ’em ladz

  20. DeathBySNUSHNUU on February 18, 2019 at 11:25 pm said

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  21. Got the Blackstone tabletop for Christmas and it is AWESOME! It has Single player support and you can even save your game! Real-time turn-based PC-like game!

  22. Ive just recently got back into Tabletop gaming after a long stint playing nothing but PC games. Theres so much variety out there, and so many new games & rule systems.

    Osprey publishing sell a load of historical rulesbooks for £10 each, companies like Victrix sell boxes of 48 plastic models for £20. I find it cathartic to trim, assemble & paint the little buggers.

    Theres a huge range of manufacturers & games available, you dont have to rely on GW & their overpriced kit.

    The best thing is, NO politics! (at the moment).

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