Content warning: discussion of suicidality, self-harm, eating disorders.
At their best, our online communities can be sources of strength. At their worst, they can tear us down and do their best to destroy us. Twitch streamer Alinity has found herself at both those extremes in recent years, and this month, she’s opening up about the experience.
A week ago, Alinity shared the video above. In it, she spends nearly 20 minutes telling the story of her mental health journey. Today, she says that video games saved her life, and that’s why she’s sharing her story — to help other people who may be where she was three years ago.
In 2014, she was in nursing school, studying, streaming and dealing with depression, bipolar disorder and an eating disorder. When one of her viewers set out to destroy her life and get her kicked out of school using clips from her streams, her carefully balanced world came crashing down.
She was called in to talk to an advisor’s office to deal with the issue. “She told me all these things about how she felt embarrassed of the fact I went to the school,” Alinity explains in her video. “My grades completely, completely went down.”
Eventually, Alinity’s situation reached a point of crisis. She reached out to a friend, who helped her see a professional. From there, she was diagnosed and started treatment.
Talking to the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, she shared how the gaming community helped her recover.
She says video games — and now, being able to connect to her loyal community — enabled her to overcome those tough situations.
“I always felt really shy about discussing mental health topics … because with my family and with my friends, they didn’t understand. They would just tell me, ‘You’ve just gotta cheer up, life isn’t easy,’ ” she recalls. “So being able to have people that related to me, and what I was feeling, was just amazing. It was incredible.”
Mogollon has been very open about dealing with her mental health issues. Her community knows what she’s gone through, and she hopes people will feel comfortable getting support from her as she’s drawn support from the community, she says.
Earlier this week, Mogollon posted a video to YouTube talking about her mental health issues. She now starts all of her streams by simply talking to her audience, who can respond through online chat.
“I want to be there for people who might be a little sad or a little lonely, because they might be me from a few years ago,” she says.
Being open about our mental health issues can be scary, whether we’re dealing with a community we’ve built, our closest loved ones, or total strangers. For Alinity, as with many of us, it’s a risk that paid off.