Celeste: The game that thoughtfully depicts depression

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Page last updated: 24/10/2022

Celeste: The game that thoughtfully depicts depression

In this blog, we will discuss Celeste, a video game that has been praised for its thoughtful representation of depression and mental illness. 

Celeste: The game that thoughtfully depicts depression

Celeste is a video game that has been highly praised for its representation of depression through the characters as they struggle against challenges.

The story follows the character of Madeline who does not exactly win against the challenges but grows to love oneself and come to terms against the struggle that she faces with kindness and love. 

The game tackles the issue of self awareness and the process of coming to acknowledge oneself and our internal problems as well as issues like depression, self-loathing, and social anxiety. 

Throughout the game, the player has to help the character of Madeline learn how to self-reflect, and over time acknowledge their own struggles as she tries to make her way to Celeste Mountain’s peak. 

In the journey of this particular character as she metaphorically and literally climbs up a mountain, one of the biggest enemies that she faces is what can only be considered as an “inner critic” called “Part of Me” or “Part of You”.

This particular manifestation of herself is mean and it haunts her, discourages her, demands her to give up, and often creates this atmosphere within the game that causes much anxiety and loathing. 

This particular inner critic represents our inner beliefs about oneself, others, and the world which is often the cause of anxiety, depression, and eventual panic. The character of madeline portrays exactly what it is like to live with anxiety- making it harder for madeline to think, focus, and act. 

It is through this particular gameplay of Madeline’s quest that the game seeks to help  the player understand the constant struggle of having to live with mental illness like anxiety and depression. 

Another interesting characteristic of Madeline’s character is her struggle with self doubt and social anxiety throughout the entire game that is marked by her lack of self-confidence which makes overcoming tasks and challenges difficult for the player. 

The game eventually follows the character of Madeline who finally comes to realise that ehr quest to reach Celeste peak will not fix her rather she has to choose to change her approach towards life’s challenges. 

Unlike others who can persevere and overcome, Madeline and the player have to eventually learn that for Madeline – that when things get really tough, the best thing to do is stop and breathe. 

It is when Madeline is able to acknowledge herself and her condition, change her approach to this journey, she is then able to continue on her journey and towards her goals even if that means that reaching Celeste peak will not entirely “fix” her.  

Celeste: The game that thoughtfully depicts depression

What is depression?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a leading publication used for diagnosis of mental disorders by mental health professionals, Major depressive disorder or depression is a serious mood disorder.

Depression is marked by the following symptoms:

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day- either by their own observation or observation made by others.
  • Diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia. 
  • A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.

Depression symptoms also include extremely low mood and fatigue and is often accompanied by thoughts of worthlessness and hopelessness which can lead to suicidal ideation and even attempts. 

Depression related symptoms such as inability to focus, lack of energy, and hopelessness can impact a person’s ability to work and meet the demands of their daily lives. 

People with depression often struggle with low self esteem and self worth which can cause them to negatively assess themselves. They may fear rejection and abandonment from other people which may cause them to isolate themselves in a bid to protect themselves.

This social withdrawal can make it difficult for them to maintain social commitments and relationships as they might choose to push people away especially when they do not have the skills to communicate and manage their emotions and thoughts. 

While these are some of the ways depression impacts a person, the disorder itself can cause the quality of life of people who have it to drastically decrease and in extreme cases, if the disorder is left untreated, it can lead to suicide attempts and death. 

How to cope and manage if you have depression?

Here are a few things you can do to cope with depression:

Seek professional help

If you have not been diagnosed, do not stick to self diagnosis based on your symptoms. Seek out professional consultations starting with your GP who can refer you to specialists in the field. 

There may be different medications- some which might work for you while others that might not help you. 

Taking time to find a doctor who can help you with estimating the right dosage of medication and the right medical treatment can make the quality of your journey to recovery drastically different. 

Reduce stress

If it’s a job that is causing you immense stress, maybe it is time to consider taking a leave of absence. Or it could be your own family environment that is causing your symptoms to flare up- consider moving out if your financial situation persists. 

The intent here is to reduce or remove the things in your life that add stress. If it is a certain relationship, taking the time to set boundaries or communicate that you are taking time out can be one way. 

By reducing stressors, the thought of waking up and facing your day may seem a little less daunting, you might even look forward to it. 

Learn and apply coping skills

If you are depressed, you can learn coping skills and techniques and apply them at least once a day when experiencing depression. 

This can be learning how to tackle your anxieties and negative moods by regulating your breathing and engaging in deep breathing techniques. 

You can also try grounding techniques to help you cope with spiralling down a negative rumination. Make goals for each day and let your goals be small, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound, 

Make plans for your day that suit your pace- if today is especially difficult, make a step by step plan from your bed to the bathroom in the mornings. Reward yourself when you succeed and be kind when you slip up. Remind yourself that you are learning. 

Exercise

Engaging in exercise, even if it is only a 15 minute stretch can be a wonderful step towards loving yourself and caring for yourself. 

You can opt for joining the gym however, if this is too much you can consider yoga or pilates that you can start gradually; you can also go for walks or runs alone or with your loved ones. 

Getting out of your house and doing something that allows you to get your blood pumping in itself can be a great way of self care. 

Eat a healthy diet

Diet is an important aspect of overall health and is an important component of maintaining a positive state of mental health. 

There has been plenty of research studies that have been linked to what we eat and higher risks of depression. Research finds that well balanced meals with adequate intake of vegetables, fruits, grain, and healthy fats are related to lower risks of depression.

Sleep well

Take time to improve your sleep hygiene. Research has found that sleep disorders are also a core symptom of depression. Irregular sleep and not enough sleep can make your healing process difficult and can even heighten the risk of relapse. 

Some of the things you can do to improve your sleep hygiene are

  • Avoid substances that impact your sleep, this includes caffeine. 
  • Exercise daily
  • Avoid heavy dinners
  • Change your sleeping environment to be more soothing and sleep inducing. 
  • Make changes in your pre-sleep routine such as taking relaxing baths before sleep, avoiding gadgets two hours before sleeping time.

Connect with loved ones

Reaching out to people who love you and letting them know that you are having a hard time now, can bring you closer to people who truly love and care for you.

These are positive relationships we want and need around you as you begin your journey to recovery. Positive relationships help you discover joys and meaning to your life. 

Make plans to meet them for lunch, or go for a walk with them. Make sure you make clear what you can and cannot do and agree on something that both you and them can enjoy. 

You can also take the step to connect with other people who are coping with depression through group therapy or support groups.

Oftentimes, listening to other people’s successes can instil hope, it also gives you the opportunity to learn new perspectives of living and life along with new techniques to cope.

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed Celeste, a video game that has been praised for its thoughtful representation of depression and mental illness. 

FAQ related to Celeste: The game that thoughtfully depicts depression

Does Celeste have depression?

Celeste is the mountain that Madeline, the protagonist of the game, is trying to climb. It is Madeline that has mental health issues like anxiety and depression. 

What is the meaning behind the Celeste game?

Celeste is a video game that has been highly praised for its representation of depression through the characters as they struggle against challenges.

The story follows the character of Madeline who does not exactly win against the challenges but grows to love oneself and come to terms against the struggle that she faces with kindness and love. 

Is Celeste a sad game?

No, celeste is more of an hopeful and self learning game that is marked by themes of self love, perseverance, self reflection, and self acceptance.

The game tackles the issue of self awareness and the process of coming to acknowledge oneself and our internal problems as well as issues like depression, self-loathing, and social anxiety. 

References

Jordan Ramée. Celeste Is a Stunningly Effective Portrayal of Anxiety and Depression. TwinFinite. Retrieved on 30th April 2022. https://twinfinite.net/2018/02/celeste-emotional-story-experience/

Nathan Grayson. Celeste Taught Fans And Its Own Creator To Take Better Care Of Themselves. Kotaku. Retrieved on 30th April 2022. https://kotaku.com/celeste-taught-fans-and-its-own-creator-to-take-better-1825305692