If you want me to be honest here, Pokemon saved my sanity twice over.

When I got my first Pokemon game, it was the year 2000 and I was stuck in bed due to a back injury. I couldn't move and even breathing was difficult for me; if I expanded my lungs too much, it would cause my back muscles to spasm. Prime had bought a Game Boy Color for me along with a copy of Pokemon Red and Blue; he took Blue and I started on Red. Picking my starter, raising my team, searching for a Pikachu, all of that and more kept my mind off the pain and made my recuperation a lot easier. Being stuck in bed all day wasn't so awful when I had a team to train.

Fast forward eleven years later.

It's now March 2011 and it's been about four months since I've had a major incident in my life: in the prior November my mother tells me that I'm not an only child and that I have an older brother. I'm lost, confused and feel completely adrift. Then I get my copy of Pokemon Black. The story immediately draws me in and gets my mind off of some of the crap that's going on in my life. An hour spent playing the game is an hour I don't ponder why I was born, why in heaven's name my mother couldn't love me enough to tell me the truth, did I even have a place in this world, etc. The Pokemon on my team became a digital family to me and hanging out with them helped easy my worries. They didn't judge, they didn't laugh and they were always there.

Then, I caught my Golett Riser and everything changed.

Riser became the cornerstone of my team, the Pokemon I could rely upon when no one else could get the win. Once he evolved into a Golurk, he became a force to be reckoned with and a true terror in battle. But he was also my faithful companion, the one who carried me from town to town on his broad back without complaint, the one who pushed himself harder and harder in order to get that win, the one who stepped in to protect a fallen teammate. He was in other words, my stability. I'd been wanting a Golurk since the Gen V sprites were revealed and having one was better than a dream come true. Golett and Golurk became a bit more than simply Pokemon for me, they were mirror images of myself: as I was an odd, clumsy creation who had no idea why she had been formed but existed anyway. Golett became my spirit Pokemon and my Pokesona; Golurk became my ideal guardian angel. Both of them offered a strange sense of belonging; but then again, golems of a feather seem to flock together.

Pokemon is, in short, my sanity. It keeps things in focus for me, it keeps my mind off some of the dark thoughts that love to come up from time to time. It's been two years since my life changed and having those carts around keep me grounded. So yes, the franchise has had a major impact in my life and I'm glad it has.