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hansolo77

New Build Coming...

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Finally convinced myself to build another RetroPie.  :)  Gonna be a gift for my brother (don't worry, he already knows!).  I've talked with him about it, and he's wanting it built inside an old Sega Genesis.  Gonna be lots of fun!  I've already bought the case I'm going to use, as well as the hard drive (just arrived today) and the modification parts.  It's a labor of love, for my brother, so I don't care of the cost.  I've already explained to him to that this won't be an overnight thing and will probably takes months to finalize.  Just thought I'd share the building progress here with my gaming family.  And like with @RIP-Felix who knows?  It might spawn a creative spark in others!

So for starters, lets get the list going. 

  • Console
    • I asked him first off what console he would like build.  Does he want a simple little case just for the Pi, or legit console?  Then I asked about size, mini or full size.  Initially he wanted an NES just like mine, with the same modifications I did with adding support for NES and Sega controllers.  I told him it was a LOT of work, requiring shitty cutting and a lot of trial and error to make "ALMOST" work.  It's not a perfect system, and doesn't work all the time.  He said his wife would really like the NES though because of the NES controllers.  I explained to him that even though the nostalgia is there when using a real controller, you rarely ever do play with them.  Since we can use wireless controllers like the Xbox360, PS3, or anything Bluetooth, it makes more sense to use USB adapters for those times you want to play with "original" controllers.  So having that necessity removed, we agreed that a Sega Genesis would work best, seeing how it was the first true console we owned (remember, the NES was our friend's, not ours).
  • Controllers
    • I'm still waiting to get a definitive answer on this.  He already owns 2-3 Xbox360 controllers, so getting the dongle would be all that's required and he's off an running.  I pointed out to him too that you can use PS3 controllers, since they can connect via Bluetooth.  And that also opens up the possibility of ANY Bluetooth controller.  I showed him the 8bitdo website, and let him explore that.  I warned him though that those controllers are EXPENSIVE and not really ideal for start.  Maybe a future upgrade.  If it were up to me, I'd say go with the Xbox360 controllers with the dongle.  Then we can get a couple of USB controllers (he wants the Sega ones) or some USB adapters.  That will make RetroPie happy.  Unplug the dongle and connect the USB controller as needed.  The system reconfigures on the fly.
  • Hard Drive
    • I offered up the choices regarding a hard drive.  First of all, the system runs on an SD card.  Making backups of the SD card is critical to the building process.  If you have a LOT of games, you need a big SD card.  Sure, you can fit most of what you'd want on a 16gb card and be good.  BUT, he likes the idea of all the extra metadata like details about the game, box art, video screenshots, etc.  For that, you're going to need a LOT more space.  Plus he's wanting PSX and SegaCD games too.  Those eat up a lot of space as well.  So the only option is to get a hard drive.  The nice thing about the modification kit I ordered, it has a built in place to add a hard drive.  The NES build I did didn't have that.  So I had to get an external drive.  This kit allows you to install a 2.5-inch laptop drive with screws.  Really secure.  So I bought a 1tb drive and a SATA->USB adapter.  Testing will be needed before I know the combination works well.  But according to the reviews on Amazon, it works great with Raspberry Pi.  I know from experience that a large capacity drive (4tb for instance), it required an additional power source, and the Pi was not capable of supplying enough juice.  So I have to wait and see if this will run under the power of just 1 port.  Should be good though.
  • What games
    • I gave him the choice here.  I can give you EVERYTHING, like I have.  This is great for showing off, but sucks for when you want to play.  You run into the problem of having TOO much, that you can't decide on what to play and end up playing nothing.  Or you have so much to play, you'll never play them all.  I told him we can build a customized game list, with only games you remember playing.  But, he wants everything.  So that is another reason for the hard drive.
  • RetroAchievements
    • He was definitely interested in this.  I told him it would be no problem to get that set up.  He asked if there was a way to have a special list of games that support cheevos, rather than running the chance of yes/no on any game he picks.  I told him that I've been working with one of the admins over there an we've been developing a system that scrapes YOUR games against THEIR server and builds a custom list just for that.  The default method is to build a list for each system, so you can pick the console you want then see the list of games that support cheevos.   The way I do it though is to build a single list.  That way I can just use the random button and pick a game that way out of everything supported.  I told him when we get that far, I'll let him decide on which works best for him.
  • Kodi
    • I told him we can install Kodi on it too.  Right now, he has a dedicated Pi running Kodi.  It's great, but he runs it outside of a case, bare, sitting on his tv stand.  He said it's constantly showing the thermometer icon on his TV, saying it's overheating.  That's why he doesn't use the case.  I tried to explain to him when he got it that the Pi gets hot, and that he needs to have a case like from FLIRC.  It's designed to act like a heat sink.  But he said he can't afford it.  Whatever.  The modification kit I ordered for his console will come with a fan, so that should help.  I also ordered a couple of heavy duty heat sinks to try and help alleviate the extra heat.  With this in mind, his Kodi experience should be much better.  The only issue I foresee will come with controlling the interface.  I don't know if we can make it work with his remote or not, given that his game controllers will also be connected.  Something to look at.
  • Extra bits
    • I told him there is a lot of customizations we can do for his build.  Changing the LED (default is red, maybe we can go blue or green).  I sent him the link to RetroPie's multitude of skins.  There's the ability to have bezel art (just learned about this MYSELF last week!).  Does he want to see the bootup text scroll or would he prefer to have an intro video?  All kinds of stuff.  Also, what Ports does he want?  OpenBOR, Quake, Doom, Streets of Rage Remix, etc.  Also, we hope to finally figure out the issue with online co-op/competitive.  This is all "future" stuff.
 
So that's basically it right now.  I sent him an email highlighting those things, see where his head was about it all, come up with ideas, and finally start buying stuff.  Like I said, I already ordered the console, kit, and hard drive.  Waiting to see what his final decision on controllers will be.  Still have to buy the Pi and SD card (planning on doing that tomorrow).  For record keeping, here is the breakdown so far:
 
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So how's the build coming along?

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It's actually 99% complete.  I've been working on the software side of things for a while, and just got the mod kit from Germany on Thursday.  I've hit a few snags.  The power supply I got wasn't strong enough, been getting lots of undervoltage errors.  Just got a new one in today, so I'm going to see how it works out.  I also need a bigger SD card.  I had most of the stuff already.  Lucked out and found a spare Raspberry Pi 3 in a box, along with a PowerBlock (for allowing safe shutdown).  I also already had a pair of USB 6-button controllers I'm going to give him.  Things are coming along great.

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Would you mind capturing a few strategic pics of the rig and  controllers? 

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Sure!  I had to order a fan because I noticed last night that the thing was starting to warn of heat issues.  So I will be opening it back up to install that.  I'll take pictures then!

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1 hour ago, hansolo77 said:

Sure!  I had to order a fan because I noticed last night that the thing was starting to warn of heat issues.  So I will be opening it back up to install that.  I'll take pictures then!

Sweet! I like to see the pieces - innards, outtards, etc.

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Here come the pictures!

Spoiler

This is the Sega, in all it's glory.  The mod has already been completed at this point, hence the USB ports.  Buying from eBay had the advantage of getting something quickly from anywhere in the USA for a relatively cheap price.  Used, non-working, in this case, cost me $20 and I had it at my house in about 3 days.  Unfortunately, the disadvantage of buying from eBay means you're not able to see the quality of the product first hand.  I wasn't able to see the things evident in these pictures, like chipped paint and scratches.  Personally, I would have liked it to be in near-new condition, but giving it that "used" look has it's charm too.  Maybe my brother will appreciate it.  He's getting it for free anyway.

x2VBsKx.jpg

Spoiler

In particular, this item was missing the "trap door" on the side that is used to hide the expansion port for the Sega CD.  Would have been nice to have it, maybe I can still find a replacement online somewhere.  In either case, the side port is now converted to provide 2 USB ports and a MicroSD slot for the memory card.  For this particular build, one of these USB ports has been taken by the internal hard drive.  The other USB port will be used to hold the dongle for his remote control (for use in Kodi).  For my PlayStation build, I bought some rubber USB plugs to cover the USB ports that aren't being used.  I had a few to spare, so I'm giving him one to cover the port he'll never use.

W9M8UTv.jpg

Spoiler

This is a view of the back of the console.  We've modified this to give us access to other ports on the Raspberry Pi.  The HDMI port, RJ-45 (LAN) port, A/V & Headphone port, and the Power Supply,.  At first I was curious as to why the modkit would have something LARGE like the LAN jack be slotted in a small hole like the old RF port rather than the A/V port, but it makes sense.  The A/V port is now still an A/V port (if he ever decides to want to hook it up to an old TV with the appropriate cable).  RF, being "radio frequency", is kinda like a communication port.  A network cable still fits in the hole just fine, so I'm ok with it.  The power port was a new one for me.  I had to use the modkit's parts, which built a new barrel jack.  I've never used a barrel jack before.  Soldering it was interesting, and finding a correct power supply was a chore.  At first, I bought a standard old-school plug on the wall adapter with a cable that goes to the jack.  Before I got the kit, I had a stable system running with the hard drive.  But once I got the kit and had to use the new adapter, I discovered the adapter I got wasn't powerful enough.  It was 5v-3a, but driving the Pi AND the harddrive was too much when it was streaming video screen shots.  I replaced it with a much beefier 5v-5a adapter which is more traditional with a power brick and a cable running to the wall and a cable running to the console.  I've not had any power issues since.

JxFYXsy.jpg

Spoiler

Here in this picture, you can get a glimpse inside the console at the cartridge slot.  I think this "replacement" part was like $3, so I figured why not get it?  Now I can plug in a game and make it look even more legit.  Isn't that sweet?  As an added bonus (not yet available), this part also allows you to connect it to a "retrode", which is a device modders use to read roms from cartridges.  In some future build, it will be possible to hook that up and run it to the Pi, enabling you to play a game from a real cartridge and not rely on a ROM.

afOcG0K.jpg

You can also see better many of the scratches, including right across the paint on the logo.  Bummer.

Spoiler

Tada!  A (semi) working game cartridge!  The eBay auction actually came with this included, as well as 2 of the 3-button controllers, a broken power adapter (actually, only the prongs you plug into the wall were bent), and a Nintendo NES RF adapter cable to connect it to the TV.  I knew this item had the game, that's why I splurged on the replacement connector so I could keep the game with the console.

x2Amygv.jpg

Fun fact:  When we got our Sega Genesis, this was the game that was included..  And honestly?  Our console looked like this for almost a year before we got our 2nd game.  So seeing this guy popping out like that brings back a lot of memories.  Like being home again!  :)

Spoiler

Here's a shot of the front controller ports.  Originally, this housed 2 9-pin DSUB jacks.  The mod kit converts those into USB ports.  Typical day-to-day playing will be done with a wireless XBOX360 controller(s) using a PC adapter dongle.  Just plug it into the port, and press the button.  Then the button on the controller to "sync" them.  Once all done, you're good to go.  Then if he decides he wants to go OLD SCHOOL and play with a Sega 6-button controller, I have 2 USB controllers I'm giving him.  I've already got them all programmed in RetroArch, so it is really a simple matter of plug and play.  The system will work using either controller, in either combination, in either slot.  But if he's using 2 Sega controllers, the left one is set up as Player One.

mrpHfsj.jpg

Now that I'm looking at it, I guess I had the auto-focus set wrong.  It focused on the LED part of the console rather than the ports.  Oh well.  I'm sure you get the idea.  One thing to note... the USB plugs are "loose", and there's no real way to fix it without hot glue.  The plugs are solid, it's just what they're sitting in.  The modkit essentially creates a box that a USB extension cord sits inside.  It's not a precise measurement, but pretty close.  There's no front to back or side to side give, just a bit of twisting action.  It is 3D printed plastic after all.

Spoiler

Alrighty time for the guts!  This shows the underside of the lid.  The power switch and reset buttons are housed inside a plastic box provided by the modkit.  I veered from the original intended design here.  The modkit was made to house a capacitor for the switch, and then that switch runs to a circuit board to turn everything on and off.  The reset button then goes to a set of pins on the Pi's GPIO.  My modification here comes from the need to provide a safe poweroff function.  I'm using a spare PowerBlock (from the original designer of the RetroPi project).  So rather than have the switch go to the circuit board provided in the kit, I have it going to the PowerBlock.  The reset button still goes to a set of pins on the Pi to perform a hard exit out of any game/emulator that's running.  The Power LED (located on the right) is modified to also go to the PowerBlock.  The PowerBlock provides a pulsating LED indicator whose speed indicates what the PowerBlock is doing (booting up, power on, shutting down, power off).  The only part that's not being used is the headphone volume slider.  The modkit creator said there IS a way to use it, but he hasn't developed a good working mod for it yet.  So the slider just sorta hangs there, and the headphone jack is removed.

tTnImWR.jpg

I did have to use some electrical tape to keep the wires under control.  I couldn't get everything to close up other wise.  I also had to use some hot glue by the reset button, as the only thing holding the modkit in place was a single screw (hiding under the white/purple and red/black wires).  Other than that, the top is pretty clean.

Spoiler

And here's the Pi, in all it's glory!  Everything is connected.  The hard drive, barely visible under the Pi on the far left, is connected to the bottom right USB port.  The top right is going to the side of the case, with the left 2 ports going to the front of the case.  All of the externally accessible  ports are connected.  The PowerBlock sits on top of the Pi on the left, and plugs into the first 6 pins of the Pi.  This is known as a HAT, in that it sits on top.  There are all kinds of HATs for Pi's out there.  I had to get creative though.  By design, the PowerBlock can be screwed down onto the Pi using some standoffs.  I have them on, but the modkit base the Pi screws into wasn't cooperating with the standoffs.  So I had to improvise by using some electrical tape to make sure the PowerBlock stayed on the Pi.  The power coming from the barrel jack is soldered to a cut off Micro USB cable (the only cannibalizing in the whole mod), which then connects to the PowerBlock (not the Pi). 

koQHiYh.jpg

I'm using a heat sink on all of the major chips on the Pi, including the main processor (with an extra large heat sink), the graphics chip, and the networking controller (underneath).  Without a fan, this build runs at 74c-82c.  Since installing a fan, it now runs 42c-51c.  In the top of the picture, you can see the "retrode" replacement slot, and the modkit's circuit board.

Spoiler

Here's a better look at the circuit board provided by the modkit.  It's pretty simple and straight forward.  Power goes in, then gets split into various other points.  At first, I was going to just install this and use it at is, but I figured using the PowerBlock would be a safer bet.  The board comes bare, and requires you to install all the components yourself.  I love and hate that.  I hated that I had to do it all myself, but loved the chance to practice more on my soldering, which is finally starting to get much better!  I installed all the components before I realized I didn't need all of them.  I have the fan installed on the fan box using the top hole for ground and the bottom for +5v.  The blue voltage regulator works to control how fast the fan spins.  The next regulator would control an LED, which I'm using on the PowerBlock instead.  The "PC" pins are used to connect to the USB plug for Power.  The +5v DC is connected to the barrel jack adapter.  The USB plug is actually why I needed the circuit board.  It provides the extra "un-filtered" juice for the hard drive, since running it off the Pi's USB power isn't strong enough.  When I built the NES project, the hard drive I used was designed to run on the lower power provided by the Pi, that's why I got it.  In this case, the modkit required a standard "unmounted" 2.5 inch laptop drive to be able to install it onto the modkits frame.  So that required a 2nd power source, meaning the need for the circuit board.  It all worked out. 

WkJIgy5.jpg

One thing to also mention here.  My modkit came incomplete.  I'm not going to raise any grief about it though, since it took 2 weeks for the package to arrive from Germany.  But, the circuit board is supposed to be mounted to another 3D printed part that screws into the base of the Sega Genesis.  It would have been nice to have it secure, but it's fine the way it is.  You can see the mounting hole on the lower left of the board.

So that's it!  I did take a couple of extra pictures, not included in this post.  Mostly just extras not relevant to the "story".  One is a bad photo I tried to take of the cartridge slot.  The other is of the barrel jack.  If you want to see them, look at the full size post here: https://imgur.com/a/D4PvZCW

@Draco1962 - Hope that suffices!

To everybody else, thanks for visiting and reading my story!  This was a fun project.  I've already got co-worker friends wanting them too.  LOL!  I told them to give me $300 bucks and I'll see about it.  Luckily for this particular build, I didn't really have to spend all that much because I already had a spare Raspberry Pi, spare PowerBlock, spare SD card, and extra USB controllers. :)

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15 hours ago, hansolo77 said:

@Draco1962 - Hope that suffices!

 

I think it does and once again exceeds my expectations! Well done! We definitely have a lot of talent in our membership and it is great to see it expressed in all its glory, even if outside of GameEx and PinballX. Color me green with envy!

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Especially cool that Han seems to have found his niche! Nothing more satisfying than a hobby that others can benefit from and enjoy! :)

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I'm still 100% for a Linux version of GameEx that will run on Pi.  :)  Sticking a Pi in things is no big thing.  The creator of the modkit did most of the work in this case.  I don't have a 3D printer and no way to make those frames the Pi and adapter cables connect to.  The NES mod I did was probably the biggest thing I ever did that was completely custom without the use of somebody else's hardware.  Still, it was a good project.  I've been sick lately and really down (depression), so this has helped keep my mind on something positive.

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2 hours ago, hansolo77 said:

 I've been...really down (depression)...

I am sorry to see this...so for the record, you are da bomb man. I love all the things you do for the GameEx community. You certainly have a fanboy right here.  :cheers:

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49 minutes ago, RedDog said:

I am sorry to see this...so for the record, you are da bomb man. I love all the things you do for the GameEx community. You certainly have a fanboy right here.  :cheers:

+1

For the record I deal with depression and anxiety as well. 

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Awesome work Hans. As ever, your text is a little tl;dr for me (please don't take offence) but love the work you done here. Especially like the 3D printing on the ports openings. For me, these conversions are all about how you integrate modern ports into old system cases - the less intrusive and more integrative the better. 

Just done a new one myself here, and produced a pcb which plugs into the Pi ports as a 'breakout' allowing you to just buy some quality usb cable (i.e. 22AWG for the power lines) and solder it on, rather than buying and butchering existing (and expensive!) top quality cables. Attached. Great work - hope you go left-field next time and put a Pi in something funky!

PiUSB2_V1.2.pdf

PiUSB2_stop.pdf

IMAG0034.jpg

IMAG0030.jpg

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Nice work. Super clean on the outside. I like the wear on the case. It says "I'm meant to be played with, not displayed in a glass case". I like the 3D printed mounts for the modkit components. I too have found this is an excellent use for my 3D printer.  

I'm sorry to hear you have been struggling. Just an FYI, I had a serious anxiety attack returning to work last December after the holiday break. All the symptoms of a heart attack, but It was just anxiety. I've never had such a physical manifestation of emotion before. I also struggle with depression. That was a life altering experience that kicked started my will to reclaim some joy. I started exercising and eating better. I started going back to the mountains to ski, something I hadn't done in ten years. I've tried to get out of the house as much as possible and immerse myself in social situations. While it's not as fun to do these things alone, the anxiety is less and the depression is too, but it's a constant battle. Actually I've been stuck indoors too long over the last five weeks and I'm starting to feel my anxiety meter rise (while driving is usually the first indicator). I think I'll plan a day trip or two to some local state parks in the next couple of weeks to balance. Long drives to unfamiliar places is great exposure therapy. It's empowering. The only way out is through.

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Don't read this unless you wanna be bored to death! :D

Spoiler

It's been a constant battle for me ever since I was 12.  Most of it is hereditary.  My Dad's side of the family is swimming in it.  It hit my Dad when he was in his mid 40's, but that triggered it in me too, when I was 12.  In fact, the original trigger was kids in school.  I was "just another guy" with the rest of my class mates.  Had a few friends that we played together with, etc.  Then we moved into a different school district that was snobbish and "uppity".  That was when the bullying started.  Day after day I was picked on because I was smarter than the other kids.  I didn't have the newest shoes every month, and wore the same ones the entire year.  My clothes were ragged and worn versus clean and pressed everyday.  You'd think we were bums compared to millionaires.  But the truth is, we had the same stuff they did at home.  My bully's came at me out of jealously for my intelligence, and my looks because I wore glasses and not the greatest clothes.  Living with that, knowing each day was going to bring more bruises home from school, meant a deeper self doubt, low self esteem, and depression.  We finally moved back into the school district i was doing well in, but the damage was done.  Kids were no longer kids anymore.  They were vicious bullies.  I would come home in tears some times just from the bus ride home.  I've always been weak, so sticking up for myself was also something lacking in my life.  Kids beat it in to me, literally, that I was worthless.  So I would often times, unfairly, take out my daily frustrations on my younger brother.  This, in turn, meant dealing with my parents in the same way.  My dad and I would get into physical fights, not just verbal.  I kicked him so hard one time I broke his rib.  My mom broke my nose.  I was a good kid.  Not the kind you would picture having issues like that.  Especially when you consider the typical bully in school.  The nice thing about it though was that my parents cared enough to try to fix it.  We did family counseling.  Within a month, the doctor wanted to have separate visits with just Dad and with just me.  We were both diagnosed with depression at pretty much the same time.  His came as a result of being unable to cope with bringing up a raging teenager because his own parents were both dead by the time he was my age - he had no parental figures to take clues from.  My own case was a developed from the tormented school life to be followed up by fighting with my parents at home. 

Then when high school came around, the whole depression took a newer depth when I started seeing people dating and finding myself passed over.  It got so bad, I would cry at home because nobody would even talk to me.  My pessimistic side, built from years of depression, had me believing nobody would EVER date me, that it's all do to my looks or hobbies (low self-esteem).  My saving grace was in my junior year when I finally got the nerve to ask a girl out.  Of course, she said "no", but hinted that I would have been a "yes" if I had asked 5 minutes earlier.  She said if she breaks up with him, I'm next on her list.  So my emotions and feelings were high.  I stupidly kept waiting, and watched as she broke up and dated half a dozen other guys.  Then my depression was worse than it ever has been.  She was single, I asked her to prom, she said yes.  I was on super high.  Bought tickets, reserved Olive Garden table, and even arranged for my co-worker friend to pick us up in his Limo (he refurbished a rusted out one and painted it bright red, ran a job on the side as a "Hot Rod Limo Service).  Then 2 days before the prom she gets a new boyfriend, tells me she wants my ticket because she's going with him instead.  I nearly committed suicide.  It was MY senior prom, she was a Junior.  Her new boyfriend was a FRESHMAN.  She had no business even being there.  I spent all this money, had a crazy fun romantic evening planned.  She shot the whole thing to hell.  I should have stopped talking to her then.  But I DIDN'T!!!  We were inseparable.  Even when she was dating other guys, I was walking her home from school, having dinner with her an her family, going to movies with her.  I even went to her house on Christmas Day to celebrate with them one year.  We were dating if it wasn't for the lack of the official classification.  Then it got to the point where she said "You're like my brother, if we dated it would be too weird.  And if we DID, and then broke up, it'd kill our friendship and I love you more as a friend and wouldn't want to lose that."  I agreed with her, and decided to just stay friends, even though I secretly still loved her more.  Then one day, after I had graduated, she is working at the movie theater that I took her on our first "date".  We were still in touch at this point.  She had told me she was seeing this guy who was 22 (she's 17 at this point).  He's apparently so much like me, it's creepy (yet it's NOT me...).  Her mom called me and asked if I could pick her up at work because she was working late and couldn't pick her up till real late.  It was no big deal to me, so I agreed.  I sat in the car outside the theater for 45 minutes waiting for her.  The parking lot was empty, the theater closed.  I waited and waited and she never came.  So I got out of the car, walked up to the front door and saw it was locked.  Then I looked inside and saw her laying on her back up on the concession stand with this guy making out with her.  I stormed off and went home.  Called her mom, told her she was 45 minutes late and making out with this guy (it's her bf, they worked together).  She said thanks, and that she'll deal with it when she picks her up.  Turns out, her mom left work early to go get her, and she caught her still on the counter only this time with the guy's pants down and her legs spread (if you catch the meaning).  She broke them up then and there, but the damage was done.  She was now pregnant.  I was so mad I stopped talking to her.  Years later, she invites me to be her friend on FaceBook.  She's got 3 kids now, been married twice, and is a single mother now.  The best thing in the world to ever happen to me and she had to go ruin it.  I rarely, if ever, talk to her now.

Time marches on.  I've had a few jobs, find compatibility in girls but they're uninterested.  My depression worsens.  I take medications, discontinue therapy because it's not helping.  I start getting lazy in life, gain weight.  Girls still don't talk to me.  Depression worsens.  I get compliments from a job well done at work with hopes of promotion just to get shot down when a new manager comes in who's a real dick.  My self-esteem worsens.  A new girl starts working I like, I finally get up the nerve to ask her out, she turns me down because she's "got plans".  Come to find out the single guy I work with is secretly dating her behind my back after I told him in confidence that I liked her.  They run off together, have a child, get married.  I'm still here, single, getting desperate.  More girls come and go.  Depression and self-esteem continue to go down the tubes.

Here comes GameEx!  A new outlook in life.  Something I enjoy doing, keeps my mind off of all the negativity.  Things are starting to look better.  I no longer have an unobtainable appetite to improve my depression with girls.  Then...

Mom leaves on a camping trip for the weekend and doesn't come back.  Comes back for 10 minutes to pack a suit case and leaves again.  2 weeks later she gets more stuff.  Leaves the entire family in a wreck.  We have no idea where she is or what she's doing, won't talk to anybody when she's here.  Gets things then leaves.  Then tells Dad she wants a divorce, that she's sick of him and his laziness.  His depression was so bad, he was given an immediate pass to Social Security and wasn't working, spent all day sitting in his chair watching TV, outside in the garage smoking his pipe, and watching Hockey.  He never wanted to do anything (he was always like this) like go to a high school football game to see my brother in the band, never wanted to participate in a party with the neighbors, etc.  She was fed up and left.  Her income was the primary source for the payment of the house.  So we had to move.  My brother joined the army and wasn't home.  I was living with Dad because it was cheap.  We had to foreclose the house and move into a strange condo that was somehow already available to us from a mysterious woman from Dad's past.  I was ready to move out on my own, but Dad's fragile situation with Mom meant the two of us needed to bond closer to overcome the incredibly terrible situation.  Things were looking great for me and Dad.  Our fighting from my teen years became regrettable.  We had moved on.  Then Dad starts "seeing" this mysterious lady from his past more and more often.  Some times not even coming home at night.  He claims this woman is severely depressed from a former abusive marriage.  She's turned into a recluse cat lady (with 8 cats) and nobody but herself to take care of her.  She'd been living alone for 20 years.  A spark between the kindled a flame that eventually led to them officially dating.  Then "THE FIRE" happened.  At this point of my life, I'd gotten most of the depression under control through the medication and the joys of GameEx keeping my mind from the girl stuff.  In fact, my counselor at the time said I was handling the fired very well, given that I lost EVERYTHING from it and was essentially starting over.  Then my depression started coming back in full force when we had to move in with this lady.

She is wrong on so many levels.  Our cats suffered smoke inhalation problems and one of them was very sick after the fire.  She talked Dad into putting the cat down.  Secretly, while I was at work, without asking my input.  Her OWN cat, blind in one eye, half it's ear cut off, and arthritis so bad it can't walk, is still living.  She's accommodated her cat's issues by having newspaper on every inch of the house so it can do it's business anywhere.  This cat should have been put down YEARS ago, but she'd rather make that cat suffer.  Yet, she convinces Dad to put OUR cat down because he didn't eat for 2 days.  I'll never forgive her for that.  Then she's ultra-controlling on my life.  Telling me to do all this stuff for her.  Bring in groceries so she can go in and sit on the couch while I do it.  Clean the house because she's old.  Demand I give her rent 10 seconds after I walk in the door on my payday.  I stay locked in my room to avoid her.  But that doesn't stop her from nearly breaking my door in to wake me up demanding I get groceries; wondering why I'm ignoring her.  Dad has started drinking, to the point of falling over drunk.  She comes running wanting me to help him because she's in her robe.  I'm in my boxers running outside to help dad up, while he's causing a scene.  She's in here hyperventilating and freaking out (her ex husband would come home drunk and beat her).  She's yelling at me to stop playing on my Xbox because the sounds of guns scare her (she had to identify a co-worker who shot himself in the face to kill himself),  So I buy a headset so she can't hear, now she's pissed I have a headset because I can't hear when she wants something from me.  She hates the idea of me build a Raspberry Pi for Dad to run Kodi because she thinks we're all going to go to jail for stealing, then turn around and she's telling him what to watch on it.  She's obsessed with Jeopardy because she got to go to a taping of an episode.  So obsessed, she demanded m Aunt change the channel on her TV one year at Christmas so she could watch it.  Um, you don't tell your host to change the channel.  Oh, but don't correct her, because she's super SUPER smart and knows the answer to everything (i'm being sarcastic).  It's funny hearing her try to answer Jeopardy questions, get it wrong, and then argue with the TV about how THEY are wrong.  She claims she's in MENSA, but has no documentation to prove it.  Her brothers though, ARE in MENSA, and DO have documentation.  Her one brother is a professor at a college, and her other is one of the CEO's of Odd Lots.  She, on the other hand, works at Michael's (arts and crafts).  She works 10 hours a week (on a GOOD week), and get's paid every other week.  Dad is on Social Security (as said before).  He gets paid once a month.  Every other week though, they are So desperate for my "rent", she's practically frothing at the mouth for it.  I talk with Dad about it, saying "where would you be if I moved out?"  I won't be giving them money, I won't be her "bitch" getting the house clean and the groceries, I won't be there to fix their internet, I won't be there to take care of you when you pass out drunk, I won't be there to pick her up from work because she put diesel in the unleaded-only car (did I mention that one?).  They say the'd love to try it, and would even help me pack.  WTF.  They are so dependent on me, I should get credit from the IRS over it.  I even mentioned paying them MONTHLY instead of WEEKLY.  That pissed her off because she blew all the money in 3 days buying crafting stuff to clutter the house up with even more.  So now it's definitely gotta be weekly because she don't know how to budget.  I just gave them $80 yesterday, and they're already asking me for an advance on next week.  I'm sitting here with almost $2,000 in the bank.  Then she gets all pissed because a package from Amazon comes in the mail for me.  "If you can afford stuff from Amazon, you can afford to pay us more on your rent each week".  Um, no?  "Well, the cost of food has gone up and we can't afford to buy food for 3 people on $80 a week".  I'm like.. I buy my own food.  You don't have to buy for 3 people.  When I was between jobs on Food Stamps, I got $110 a month, and survived just fine.  My $80 is supposed to be paying for the room, electricity to run my alarm clock, and the added cost of the internet speed I added.  "Well at least we're not charging you for the car payment, mortgage payment, insurance, etc".  No, you're charging me for HALF of the water bill every 3 months, when I only use the toilet once a day, the shower maybe every 2 days (I have really bad dry skin), and the washing machine maybe once a week, when I should be paying 1/3, if that.  "Well we're still not charging you for the condo fee"  No, that's the responsibility of the OWNER, not the tenant.  I mean, they even made me pay for the gasoline in the car because they had to take me to work everyday.  I BOUGHT ALL THE GAS, even though I only needed the car for a drop off and pick up.  Now I have my own car, make my own payments, have my own insurance, buy my own gas, and she STILL wants me to buy gas for THEIR car because it's part of my responsibility.  I finally convinced Dad I'm not paying 1/2 on water now that I have a car payment and insurance, he's not happy but is willing to settle on 1/3.  WTF, why would I pay 1/2 when there's 3 people with income living here?  I still argue all that with my $80 a week.  That was a pre-determined price set by Me and Dad when it was just us two and we were splitting everything 50/50.  Now she's married and living with us, but they never split it to 33/33/33.  I'm still paying HALF of all the utilities.  And it's because she's working a part-time job making minimum wage, and her income supports her scrapbooking and cardmaking hobby.  All the while, she does nothing, literally NOTHING around the house.  Dad's disability means he doesn't do MUCH around the house.  And she wants ME to do it all.  Look, I'm just a tenant.  You CHARGE me to live here.  I stay in my room, and come out to go to work or piss.  That's it.  I'm not responsible for cleaning up after you, or bringing in your groceries, or cleaning up your cat's litter boxes, or buying your f*ing toilet paper (she goes through a roll and a half a day, clogs the toilet at least 3 times a day.. and doesn't know how to use a plunger (sounds like a member of MENSA doesn't it?)). 

I'm so done.  My depression is exponentially getting worse every day I stay here.  My anxiety is so bad I don't even want to come home to deal with it.  Work has gotten so stressful.  They've reduced the hours in our department to the point where you can only have enough hours to support 1 person in the morning and 1 person in the evening, doing the job we used to have 2-3 people on each shift.  We have a huge cookie sale right now, and they want me to produce 20 cases of cookies.  6 cases typically takes (on average) 6 hours to make.  Figure an hour a case, from prep to bake to cool to package to being available for sale.  Management had me do 20 cases tonight, by myself.  Then a different manager had the nerve to come back at the end of the night and get in my face and demand to know why I didn't do anything else tonight, telling me he's going to write me up for it.  When I try to make my case, I'm apparently being insubordinate and being disrespectful, and will result in a further communication between the morning managers and my department head over my constant failure to be a supporting role with the company.  WTF WTF WTF?!  I've been with this company for 10 years.  Just because you're a closing manager, with no idea of the situation, you think you can just come in and throw your weight around and expect to get a bonus because you're making my life a living hell?  I've got enough problems at home, and with my life history, then to get bullied around by you.  BTW, I called my department head about it as soon as I got off work, and she said not to stress over it because I was doing what she told me to do (so if anybody was in trouble it was her) and that she was doing what the STORE manager (this guy was a co-manager, underling) told her to do.  And then I called our Union rep and was told not to sweat anything because they cant fire me or anything unless I get caught steeling or sexually harass somebody - however they will be sending in an under cover rep to witness the multiple reports (not just from me) first hand.

My life is a wreck.  Started when I was a kid with bullies.  Properly diagnosed with depression and anxiety and poor stress handling as a teen. Even had some schizophrenia when fighting with my parents.  Cause of depression changed over from bullies to girls.  Stress and depression changed over to source from work and my living situation.  Seems like I'm always going to have this suffering, but the cause will shifting from on thing to the next.  But don't worry.  I've been suicidal in the past but only in thoughts.  I'll never go through with it because I'm a little chicken sh!t.  Just ask my elementary school bullies.  :P  Long as I have something to keep my mind focused on things that don't keep me down, I'm ok.  Prescription Antidepressants help too.  Unlike @RIP-Felix though, I'm more like my Dad with the anti-social.  Going out and doing things makes my anxiety worsen even when it's supposed to be therapeutic.  I've gone out with co-workers in the past, doing things like bowling, going to the bar, blowing money in the casino, etc.  It's been fun, but the crowds stress me and I'm always left with a migraine.

I guess there's just no hope for me.

 

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You say there is no hope. But so long as you have something positive inside to share with someone else, there is hope to be had.

This hobby of ours brings people together that are different from the rest. Some broken. Many that don't fit in with the rest of society. But if not for us the innovations that drive the world would be harder to come by.

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     Just after my anxiety attack, it was worst when I left the house. Chest pain, lightheadedness, a sense of impending doom. Shit was real! It took a week for me to recover. I got help from the hospital, biggest was just the reassurance it wasn't a cardic event. I had gotten agoraphobic. A phobia is defined by an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear. I wasn't afraid to leave (in my mind, I wasn't aware of it at all), but fear (the physical manifestation - anxiety) didn't care. It bitched regardless of what I though I knew, and taught my ass a lesson. That subconscious animal brain is a real consideration to health. I had not been taking care of my basic instincts. We're not meant to be bottled up indoors all the damn time, we have to venture out or anxiety will trap us in. I refuse to be a caged animal. Fuck you anxiety! That's when I resolved to get out more..

     My parents were split up when I was a baby, but my dad visited all the time. He taught me to ski and we shredded everything steep or technical we could find until one day he shattered his hip. 2 weeks in the hospital, surgery and a 10in metal plate later, his skiing days were done. I saw my dad cry when the doctor told him that. I was on ski  team in high school and my coaches thought I could go pro, but we didn't have the money to pursue it.  After high school, I only skied a few more times before going to college. Then I gained weight, got lost in the books, started working and lost track of physical outdoor activities that gave me joy. After graduating College in 2015 I felt this sense of great accomplishment and relief, which quickly deflated into the drudgery of day to day life. An endless cycle of working, sleeping, eating, and working. One of the goals I had been working toward my whole life was now behind me. That thought haunts me. There are only a few of those goals we have time for. It made me feel mortal. A third of my life was spent and now I had to find meaning in the next chapter of my life. So, now I intend to get out more and enjoy the moment I can. I prefer to look forward to the next thing untill I can't anymore, rather than morn the past and fear the future.

     First I had to get past the agoraphobia. After a week of sick leave from work I was able to get working again. I started a 90day, 6day /week, 1hr/day calisthenics routine (P90X). I get up early before work to get it out of the way first thing, because I knew I'd be too tired after work. 4 months later, my weight was down 35lbs and my core/leg strength and durability were sufficient for the ski season. I went to Park City UTAH for vacation to kick the season off and afterward hit the slopes every weekend until spring break. I've been working hard, playing hard, and getting hard! I now look forward to next season. I've reconnected with something I've always enjoyed and that motivates me.

     It wasn't easy. I thought more than a few times I was going to pass out while driving on the freeway. I pulled off and stopped a few times. It took months to get to the point where my chest wasn't heavy, I wasn't short of breath, and light headed. Driving through rain/snow storms, getting up on in the mountains, just taking some me time, helped me to regain confidence and calm the nerves. It sounds counter-intuitive, but exposure therapy is the fastest way to build up a tolerance to stressful situations, even though it triggers anxiety. I just had to get out of the house, or my mind and job would suffer. I had no choice. It was that or become prisoner to my emotions.

     @hansolo77 You are a capable and hard working individual. You're worth it, whatever the cost. Take care of yourself first. You can't hold yourself responsible for the actions of others. My advice is to try your best to let go of resentment, anger, and frustration. The past can't be changed. The best you can hope for is to move on and heal. Mentally change the channel on negative thoughts and force yourself to repeat up building self images. it sounds corny, but it just means to focus on your positive qualities not negative ones. Feelings of worthlessness and self pity don't motivate, they beat you down and keep you there. You can't always help being bullied by others, but you can't heal and move on if you bully yourself. You can't expect to others to change their behavior, but you can change how you react. If shit gets real, do what you have to in order to maintain you own sanity. If that means moving out, get a roomy and share to cost. If that means taking off, blow off steam at the gym, pool, bowling, whatever. Our first responsibility it to ourselves, because those who depend on us need us at our best. Once you have your shit on lock, those other things will come with time. Have patience.

     I'm sorry if that sounded a bit preachy or was redundant, i had counseling when I was younger also. So some of that was coping mechanisms I was taught, but most of it was what I found works for me (besides meds). The point is, I feel your pain brother. I had a tough childhood too. Bullies, psychologists, medication, a whole society that doesn't understand or really care. The people in my life that give me the most grief also suffer from depression. The biggest thing I learned was that, when it comes to your own health, it's okay to be selfish. Sometimes that's all you can manage. Once I realized this, it gave me patience and understanding for others who did the same at my expense. So don't beat yourself up about burning out, we all reach a limit. Just know you're not alone and there is always a way forward. Build your future man, were pulling for you.

- Sincerely, RIP-Felix

 

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You guys are all awesome.  Nuff said.  :p

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