I dabbled in gaming in my 40’s, but didn’t become a full-time gamer until I was 50 when I had something akin to a breakdown because I still couldn’t figure out how to make my own way in the world. By the time I was 55, I’d spent so much time playing MMORPGs that I suddenly had far more information about my mental handicap than I’d gotten in the previous 50 years of my life. Being able to compare my abilities with thousands of other people in a microcosm of reality taught me specifics about how my brain and nervous system function compared to the average person. I was able to find enough ways to describe my brain’s differences that a therapist told me that it sounded like I was on the autism spectrum. I eventually got tested for that and received a diagnosis for it.
I’m now 60, have a support system, receive government support and no longer expect myself to be someone I’m not. I now know what I’m capable of, what I’m not capable of, and why. I finally have the opportunity to learn who I really am and to build a life that supports me in being that. I no longer live in a state of constant overwhelm, dissociation, and anxiety. I’m learning how to notice what help I need, ask for it, and receive it. I’m learning how to be the handicapped person I always was, but never had the chance to be.
I never had a chance to be my real self because my parents never believed me about needing help, so they never helped me investigate my difficulties and threw me out into the world without the ability to make my own way in it. My father insisted that I just pretended to be dumb and acted weird in order to punish him. Until 50, I desperately tried to be the capable person everyone (even therapists) said I was. Eventually, I realized that I was trying to do the impossible and had my “breakdown”.
If this qualifies as something interesting for your project, feel free to contact me.