I try to resist making New Year’s Resolutions, but it’s hard to resist the clean slate of a new year, and the chance to write a better story on it. On the last day of 2013, I discovered a tool for healing well outside my usual hunting ground for resources.
Many survivors find the holidays challenging. I’m no exception. I live with an anxiety disorder that the church trauma made much worse. I can manage it most of the year with medication and good self-care. But over the Christmas break, my anxiety spiraled to alarming levels. On the 31st of December, I woke up determined to find a solution. I figured the TED Talks would have something for me, and I was right. Video game designer Jane McGonigal, who suffered a concussion that left her bedridden and suicidal, developed a game to motivate her to recover. She shares her story and the SuperBetter game in this engaging video.
I’m using SuperBetter to become less anxious. Others have used it to recover from depression, quit smoking, improve their fitness, heal from physical illness, and more. It sounds almost too good to be true, but it’s based on solid science and common sense. SuperBetter rewards us for doing things we would already be doing if we could get out of our own way. Left to my own devices, I might not have drunk that glass of water, called my parents just to say hi, or got out of my chair to look out the window. Those actions sound trivial on their own, but over time they build habits of mind and body that lead to a happier, healthier life.
The key, says McGonigal, is resilience, which helps us heal faster from trauma and injury. SuperBetter sets out tasks that build physical, emotional, social, and mental resilience. Survivors are all-too familiar with the long-term harm that trauma can cause. But how many of us know that trauma can help us grow stronger? McGonigal didn’t just want to get better from her concussion. She says, “I wanted to get SuperBetter.” She wanted to come out stronger and healthier than she had ever been.
It might seem strange to read about an online game on a survivor blog. But just as I’ve shared the books that have helped in my recovery, I’m sharing this game — which by the way, is completely free. It has already made a positive difference in my life. I’ve made good choices that I might not have otherwise made. After only three days, I already feel more confident and hopeful.
The bottom line: keep your eyes open. You never know where you’re going to find the key that unlocks the next stage of healing. Who would think that a technologically challenged 50-ish survivor would find hope in an online game? But there it is. God works in mysterious ways. Here’s to healing, wherever we find it.