A few months ago, my depression and PTSD reached heights previously unknown. It was a very dark, very scary time, and I just didn’t know what to do (therapy and meds aren’t an option for me at this time). I’d been playing childhood video games for distraction, but I felt disconnected from them somehow. I longed to escape my mind, my body, my world, for just a few hours, just long enough to find relief and recenter my focus.
The last Zelda game I’d played was Zelda II as a five-year-old. My husband, Michael, is a HUGE fan of the entire series. So, when we bought Twilight Princess for our Wii a few years ago, I thought I’d give Zelda another try. I quickly grew frustrated — I was used to side scrollers and platformers, and the controls and environment were so overwhelming that I finally quit. But then, a few months ago in the midst of my depression, I remembered more than just the unfamiliar 3D environment and difficulty of navigating in an unfamiliar world. I remembered how interested I’d been in the storyline, how amazed I’d been that a video game even HAD a storyline. And I thought, “Maybe I’ll give it another shot.”
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess quite possibly saved my life. At the end of a long day, I would come home, put on the rattiest sweatpants and T-shirts I owned, wrap myself in blankets, and play Zelda. For hours. And hours. The story intrigued me. The characters were lovable and complex. The bad guys ranged from hilariously stupid to frighteningly hard. (I may or may not have thrown the Wiimote and nunchuk across the room and gone into spasms when the boss of the Temple of Time was revealed.) I was able to completely engross myself in a world that wasn’t my world, and in this case a world that reflected the darkness I feared and the beauty I longed for. I was able to literally defeat that darkness. And that was so, so helpful to me.
A close friend, John, was delighted to learn that I had joined the Loyal Lovers of Link (I don’t even know where that came from, okay? I like alliteration). He posited that over his summer break, perhaps he would come over and we would all marathon through every Zelda game that exists in a week. Rather than terrify me, that sounded exciting — though I wasn’t convinced we could play through every game in a week. The idea stayed in the recesses of my mind.
And the two things suddenly melded together in my mind.
I wanted to play every single Zelda game. And I wanted to write about it.
But, after all, it’s dangerous to go alone…