How Online Usernames Saved Two Lives


Hi! Just a little warning here first since I’ll be mentioning some life events that are sensitive subjects
and could potentially affect some people. I do not wish to offend however I’m just telling part of my little story.

I don’t spend much time writing in forums (more of an observer) but recently I stumbled over a really cool thread here
on the Waypoint forums.
It made me want to tell my own story about usernames but it didn’t quite fit in there and I thought,
for once, I’d be brave enough to write my own topic about it instead of replying somewhere.
Usually anxiety will stop me but this time I’ll give it a shot.

First I need a huge chunk of setup:
I have since early childhood been diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety with a pinch of what they called GID (gender identity disorder)
Due to this my teen years were riddled with less than good decisions, alcohol and drugs
and a few suicide attempts to top it off. Thankfully with the aid of a very
strong and supportive single mother (and a progressive mental health care system) I pulled through
to adulthood. This is where I discovered the internet and how instead of hating myself all the time
I could pretend be someone else. Someone better?

I joined online RPG worlds, MUDS and MUCKS, created characters and worlds
that were far removed from my own and I saved princes and princesses from dragons and sometimes
I played the prince, sometimes the princess and sometimes we even got, well, romantic with the dragons.
Turns out of one of the GMs had a thing for dragons and this is where I discovered furries (and scalies).

Anyway, in these fantasy worlds some usernames rubbed us, the RP “elitists”, the wrong way.
Note that this was before “memes” really existed and there was no proper “420” humor about.
Names like MegaSephiroth, LordOfDeth and Vampyre~Goku were actually honest people not trying to be funny, and then once in a while someone were just named Pikachu or Charmander and actually
role-played as those Pokemon in the current setting, far removed from their own world.

We didn’t like these usernames because they were immersion-breaking,
and immersion is basically everything in RP.
Vampyre~Goku and Squirtle running around in more traditional Medieval Fantasy RP
settings just didn’t work for us.
Also somehow every time names like these popped up I remembered my real life and how I was essentially
just a pile of sadness trying find something to hold on to that could propel time forwards.

Ten long years of this basically being my life, I eventually met a person,
their character was this raggedy boozed-up human-hyena girl who did
whatever they could to survive and I for some reason just became transfixed with them.
Usually I never cared about the people behind the characters, it was in fact a rule
of mine to never get involved with “real life” affairs.
The few times it did happen I’ll just say things went really, really bad.

Still, something about this person made it impossible not to engage them.
During late nights and early mornings we would start conversing about real life things,
slowly prodding at the shaky but stubborn emotional fortresses we had built around us.
I learned that she lived in Detroit, sometimes had to sell drugs to survive, had an abusive boyfriend
who she finally caught a break from when he was imprisoned. Her mom was unstable and unreliable,
her dad being an ex-military had seemingly been trained to not ever show emotions but at least gave her a form of shelter. And beer.
She had no support system. She had no education and worked under the table at a local sandwich joint
killing time and basically waiting for, well, nothing.

Then there was me, living in Norway with what is often considered the best health care system in the world,
with an ok disability pay and big apartment given to me by the government. Still I was severely depressed,
not due to life situations as far as we know but just chemical imbalances in my head.
Maybe it’s a bad life, maybe I was born with it. Who knows.

At some point in our more and more intimate talks we start discussing the possibility of meeting one another,
and how hard that will be for us since we’re literally on different sides of the planet.
While I could sort-of technically afford travelling my anxiety had me locked up inside, barely able to
go to the grocery store to tend to basic needs. I could not step onto an airplane and even if I did
I wouldn’t be able to pay for a hotel or anything in Detroit.

We started looking for ways to support her trip from Michigan to Norway and then, it happened,
I found out she was Pikachu and Charmander all along.
While I had no real interactions with the two Pokemon, she owned their names and many others
spread across various online networks.
She was a username collector, and even more incredibly, she managed to sell
the names Pikachu and Charmander for $500usd to other name collectors.
I was utterly flabbergasted.

At that point I sent her the rest of the money needed to book her trip and despite anxiety and
depression punishing me and constantly reminding me I’m a failure and she’ll hate me,
we met and lived together a whole month. It was, by far, the best month of both our lives.
It was also probably one of the worst times of our lives when I had to watch her leave after that month
where … well, I felt a spark of life in me. And with her gone the choking, growing miasma of depression
could so easily snuff that spark out. And it almost did.

Focusing on the positive though, she went back to the USA and while it took a year or two she managed to sell
off more Pokemon names and others. Names like Stereo and Lollipop would surprisingly sell for
$50 a piece in some places. Every user name she had ever collected, big or small, contributed to her
next trip. And those names literally payed for the biggest trip of them all.
The one where she moved here permanently.

We have now been together for nine years, we’ve been married (civil) for six of those years, and
while I still struggle with my “disorders”, I have a life and it’s a life worth living.
The irony of course being that those usernames I once hated saved not just my life but hers as well.


This is really touching, thanks so much for sharing this with us!