My name is Ben Davis and I’m ranked #139 globally in Mario Kart: Double Dash for Gamecube.
It’s not something I talk about often. First of all, Mario Kart rarely comes up organically in conversation and, secondly, my respectable global ranking is a direct result of the worst time of my life.
At age 22, I weighed 365 pounds and was a despondent shell of a human. I had cut myself off from my friends and family, my girlfriend left me because I was so miserable, and I had let my grades slip right out the window along with what little drive and ambition I did have.
So I turned to my Gamecube. The glow from the TV was the only light in my dark bedroom and sad life. I was spending 12 hours a day honing my skills and it paid off as I climbed the leaderboards and gained some respect in the world of Mario Kart.
As good as I was, though, and as satisfying as it was to knock people off the top, I don’t remember smiling once during the year I dedicated to the cause. I was a miserable, miserable person and I couldn’t see a way out. There was no light at the end of the tunnel.
I never had thoughts of suicide, though, I see it more as an ultimately apathetic time. I waited all day to be able to fall asleep at night; I was passing the days away knowing that I’d eventually die a most likely early death.
Looking back now, I feel sorry for my past self. A lot more sorry than he ever felt.
On Christmas Eve of that year, though, I had a moment of clarity. I was sitting with my grandmother in her living room doing a crossword puzzle while I gazed out the window at the snow.
She would occasionally ask for help on a clue and I'd try to help as much as I could, usually to no success—if she couldn't get it, I probably couldn't. She's a brilliant lady. She asked me, though, when she finished the puzzle, how I was doing. If I was happy. In the moment, I assured her I was, that everything was good. She accepted it and wished me Merry Christmas before shuffling off to bed.
But as I tried to get to sleep that night, her questions rattled around in my head and I was finally honest with myself. I wasn't happy and I hadn't been in a very long time.
I felt a sudden rush of inspiration and motivation to do something about my life. Adrenaline kicked in and I finally realized that I could do something for myself. And luckily, the next day the motivation was still there.