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pdallair91

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  1. TL;DR — To me, compassion = understanding how someone feels + desire to help. Self-soothing is acting on self-compassion in order to feel a little better. It's true that compassion and self-soothing can mean something totally different from one person to another, especially when we get down to the specifics. Personally, there are 2 fundamental components of compassion: Empathy — Understanding how someone feels. Desire to help. I think these are abilities inherent in human beings — I mean, there are experiments where babies show compassion. How accurately, "deeply" and towards whom we experience these can be nurtured. We can become more "skillful" at applying it. While many people, off the top of their heads, tend to define compassion as being towards "others" the recipient of our compassion can be ourselves as well. When I resort to addictive behavior, it is often because I, like my parents and peers too often (and probably inadvertently) did, am neglecting to understand my own feelings. I'll always remember that time I came home crying after being bullied and my dad just yelled at me for not resorting to violence. Just like my dad, didn't take the time to "skillfully" understand (the first component of compassion) how I felt and help me, I've inadvertently learned to do the same towards myself. Having "skillfull" understanding of one's own feelings and desire to do help ourselves is fundamental but acting on it... like, what do I do now? Whether we can do something about what is causing our distress or not, a reasonable amount of self-soothing, can be helpful. You know, as they, just take some of the edge off. There are a lot of external means to do this but I try not to rely on those because, well... I tend to become addicted. What I need to nurture the most is "intrinsic soothing" that doesn't rely on my environment. Personally, after a lot of therapy, I know that the most effective means for me now seem to be thanking or congratulating myself, and, knowing that my primary "love language" is physical touch, even gently caressing my own body can be really comforting. Basically, it's what my dad should've done instead of what he did. So, that's pretty much what these words mean for me. I'm glad that you know what you'll do. In fact, I'm curious. If you don't mind sharing, I'd like to hear what these things are so that I might learn something or two. Either way, keep taking care of yourself buddy. The same can be said to anyone else who reads this. Peace out!
  2. Hey Pochatok, since you've replied to my journal twice, I thought I'd check out what you've posted recently. Or maybe its just cuse I like corn on the cob. heuheu 😅 TL;DR — Trying to avoid cravings by staying busy is a good idea but it not does not always fix underlying issues. Cravings will still arise from time to time. Therefore, we should also learn to face and handle our cravings. Compassion and self-soothing is working for me. As someone who is currently on long-term disability due to mental health issues, I can definitely relate to feeling like I have "too much free time" on my hands. No doubt that what recovering addicts tend to imply by this statement is something more along the lines of "I'm not trying to avoid cravings enough". I don't like avoidance focused strategies, mainly because gaming, for me, was an avoidance strategy. I'm also not a big fan of "hustle culture". However, I must admit that avoiding isn't inherently "toxic", after all, when looking at a single timeline at least, when doing something, we are avoiding others. What we are avoiding and to which degree we do so will determine whether that particular case of avoidance "toxic" or not. When it comes to avoiding cravings, avoiding some (if not most) cravings is a realistic and valuable goal to have, however, I have to be realistic; to not experience any cravings at all is not possible and therefor shouldn't be something I aspire towards. To avoid cravings I must avoid the things that trigger them and there will always be times where I inadvertently experience some of these; whether I experience these things or not is often outside of my deliberate control. Having "free time" is one of those things that can't be completely avoid (at least not in a healthy and humane manner...); there will occasionally be "idle" periods of time, in between "active", where cravings can "sneak in" for whatever reason. I personally believe that I don't "truly" choose to when or how I experience cravings; I don't really believe in "true" free-will or this free-time, there will always be some conditions beyond our ability to notice and/or consider (i.e., reality is just too complicated for my brain). However, with enough mindfulness, I can at least influence how I end up coping with cravings when they arise, and with the "right" cognitive-behavioral skills at my disposal (i.e. preparation thanks to therapy and self-help) my chances of successfully making the "right" choice gets better and better. So, while there is no sense to exposing myself to unnecessary triggers, I wouldn't go so far as constantly "filling" my schedule. While I'm making some efforts to avoid cravings, I am also learning how to handle them when they occur. I recently listened to an episode of the Secular Buddhist Podcast (by Noah Rasheta) entitled "I See You, Mara!". Noah talks about this popular Buddhist story where Mara, the demon of greed, hate, and delusion (the 3 poisons), comes to influence The Buddha and all His Holiness does to subdue the demon is recognize his appearance (hence the title of the podcast) and invite him in for some tea. First of all I find this story funny as heck, a big bad monster subdued by treating him kindly is a common comedy trope. But seriously, when I experience cravings, it always has to do with one of the 3 poisons: Sometimes I crave games for the dopamine rush of getting achievements and quests done (greed). Sometimes I want to vent my frustration at trash mobs and unsuspecting newbs (hate). Sometimes I underestimate/forget how addictive gaming is to me (delusion). To be honest, often times it's all 3. The first step to subdue my cravings is compassion and self-soothing. A few times since then, I've managed to cope with small cravings by telling myself "I see you, Mara." with somewhat of a half-smile. It's kind of like the meme I'm sharing. Anyways, I hope you're doing well, and I hope you're satisfied with your education and that you find ways to enjoy a significant amount of what the future has in store for you. Peace out.
  3. I am glad you confirm the belief that I am alluding to in my previous post. That I am bound to find some satisfaction elsewhere in the future, as long as I keep trying. Have you contemplated why its hard to "get into" these other interests? Why these new behaviors/routines aren't as easily becoming habitual? I can't answer this question for you. However, in my case, I believe I tend to be burdened with the fear of failure, self-inflicted shame, and a dependence on external validation. What has lead me here today is, to say it bluntly, being a "sore loser". I just played and lost a game of chess online with a stranger (a old hobby I'm trying to get back into). It hurts, which dissuades me from playing again. I have similar experiences with electric guitar (another old hobby I'm trying to get back into). I try to play a riff or chord progression, but I struggle a lot. It hurts, which dissuades me from playing again. Why does it hurt? Well, in both cases, I'm going down the shame spiral with thoughts like "I should've been able to do better", "I can't do it", "what's the point". You get the picture. At some point I've dissuaded myself from doing anything that isn't instantly gratifying and I relapse. I really covet (to the point of envy sometimes) the "blessing" that some people seem to have cultivated: am intuitive positive but humble outlook on things, including themselves; a subconscious that doesn't pass hard judgements, with little to no fear of failure; someone that tends to accept the possibility or occurrence of failure, learns from their mistakes, and finds a sense of reward from within. Although there certainly is an unrealistic degree to which one can idolize this but I don't think it's too late or impossible to cultivate this myself now. This, in theory, would effectively counteract what is getting in the way of self-actualization ("really getting into" something, achieving ones "potential"). I guess I'm on the right track for at least believing its possible. So here I go... I'm going to start by saying: I am glad I persevered through the fear of failure and played a game of chess against a stranger today. I am glad I had the mindfulness to stop, listen and question the thoughts that came to mind. I am glad that I have all these journal entries and replies to look back on and managed to find some inspiration. I am glad I haven't given up, that I am, always have and always will be doing my best (at that moment in time). Thank you @Pochatok, I really appreciate your appreciation for mine and other people's posts. Judging from the statistics, you clearly a very active member of this community, I hope this behavior helps you as much it helps others. Take care comrade. REBOOT!
  4. Day 3 — Cost/Benefit Analysis Playing Video Games Benefits Stimulating/rewarding [ST] Distraction/soothing/comfort [ST] Fun gamer community & sub-culture [LT] Costs Time consuming and energy draining [ST] "Wasted" a lot of time and money. Problems accumulate. [LT] Kind of bad for my health [LT] Not satisfying. Shame. [LT] NOT Playing Video Games (aka Quitting) Benefits More time, energy, to do tasks and other activities [ST] More potential for "well invested" time and money [LT] More self-actualization --> more satisfaction (maybe?) [LT] Costs Boredom, loneliness, and apathy [ST] Frustration, shame, and anxiety facing problems I've been avoiding and new challenges [ST] "Missing out" on the community & culture [LT] ST = Short-Term LT = Long-Term I think the lesson for me here is that the long-term costs of continuing to play games outweigh the benefits which are mostly fleeting. What makes quitting so hard, in the short-term at least, is that I haven't been able to find a similar amount of stimulation and comfort elsewhere yet, especially during this pandemic. ... Anyways, I have to remind myself that, larger benefits will arrive in the long-term; I just need to be patient, keep trying, and appreciate the little things along the way. Peace out. P.S. Regarding Sucklife (insurance company), I seem to have managed to make them back off. Who knows for how long but at least they haven't tried to "bully" me this week.
  5. Day @*#&(@*&$^&*@$@ — Mental Health, Work (Job), and Insurance Companies I feel pretty distressed right now. For those that aren't aware, I suffer from multiple mental health issues including Borderline Personality Disorder, PTSD, and Depression. These stem from very early childhood and I will probably always suffer from them to varying degrees. So, yeah, I tend to have intense emotional reactions. So when I say distressed, I mean afraid, angry, and ashamed all at the same time. I feel pain in my chest, a bit shaky, and like part of me wants to cry but the tears won't flow... Anw... I've been on disability from work (job) since ~Feb 2020; I was on Short-Term Disability until June and then not so smoothly transferred to Long-Term Disability. This all started after I took steps to commit suicide and thankfully didn't go through with it. Everyone I know — my family doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, be it friends, family, and (ex-)coworkers — with a bit of hesitancy, in the end, supported my claim that I just wasn't fit to work for a living. My Short-Term Disability income was provided by my place of employment, that was very quick to approve my claim. As for the Long-Term Disability, that income fell on being provided by an insurance company (Sunlife [or should I say SUCKLIFE! <cuse they drain the fucking life out of me everything I have to interact with them>]), that was resistant — by way of incompetence or perhaps deliberate non-communication (masters of plausible deniability) — at validating my claim for 6 whole months (I didn't get any income for 6 whole months). Well, I received an unexpected (but unsurprising) call from them this morning. Turns out that 5 months ago they "updated" my "medical record" by contacting some (not all) the experts that are helping me and having a "third party" expert evaluate that according to this "medical record", I should be able to go back to work ASAP. So, I have 1 week to contest this claim by reaching out to the one person they haven't contacted, the one person that has followed me by far the most closely throughout these mental health challenges: My PSYCHOLOGIST. They concluded, without a word from my PSYCHOLOGIST (the GOD DAMN MENTAL HEALTH EXPERT that's treating me), that my MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS didn't prevent me from working anymore. I have 1 week to get him to write to them another letter that previously took him a whole month to write! The reality is that I don't feel ready to go back to work, at least not for the long-run, and that's what psychological issues are, it's when our own thoughts and feelings prevent us from behaving adequately. To be fair, there has been some improvements in my condition. Mainly, I don't generally contemplate dying anymore. However, I still tend to resort to destructive behaviors to find some sense of competence and self-worth. And like I may find those things in healthy behaviors for a bit, but I tend to constantly relapse and that's what I'm pretty sure will happen if I go back to work; it would only be a matter of time. The truth is that SuckLife (yeah, I'm sticking with this bad pun, get used to it) doesn't care about my mental health, they're only "supporting" me as long as they must (legally). Like every company, they will always put profit margins above everything else and in this case, it's my actual mental well-being that is threatened to be thrown under the steam roller of capitalism. I'm confident that, if it was legal and profitable, insurance companies would approve 0 claims. Yet, we live under the rule of the elite that strongly believes there's no harm to this at all, that this is the "free-market" is the best thing we will ever have blah blah blah. If only I had a Death Note... *cough*... Sick jokes aside, I am pretty distressed. I am afraid I am going to be pushed beyond my ability; I am angry that this is being done for the sake of corporate financial gains, and; I am ashamed that, even after all the therapy I've been through, I still feel worthless. SO NOT POGGERS AMIRIGHT CHAMPS!? Patrick "never have I participated in no nut November and I certainly won't now" Dallaire
  6. Day 6 — Values One thing that annoys me about listing values is that very few sources have a clear definition, rules, or steps to help us define our values; A lot of sources just show us a long list of words and tell us to "trust our gut". I don't know about you but following my gut hasn't always lead me to the "right" answers in life; one thing it has often lead me to was excess. What thing many sources do seem to agree on is that establishing an array or hierarchy of values is meant to solidify our perception of "good" or "bad" when it comes to making decisions — i.e., a "moral compass". Another thing to keep in mind as well is that these might change overtime; we may simply realize that one of our choices isn't that "valuable" to us now (or maybe it never was in the first place). Anyways, I liked the set of rules defined in one of the ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) "blog" posts I found and I ended up making my own guidelines (keep in mind that I'm not an expert; this isn't professional advice): What is a value? Values are used to help oneself orient their own behavior towards more satisfying outcomes. In other words, values are used to help oneself discern “right” from “wrong” in our own behavior. ACT Values are: Personal; Freely handpicked by the individual; feels important but not always pleasant to them. Self-sufficient; Focused on our own behavior, regardless of other people’s. Abstract; intangible (not an object) and unfinishable (not a goal). Flexible; adaptable to various contexts and invokable at will. Example of a “not-so-ACT” value: I value love/support that my family provides. (Not self-sufficient in the way it is described here [the value is an aspect of someone else's behavior]) I value hard work; I show this by taking on many minor responsibilities. (Not personal [the behavior being focused on is felt as less important]) I value financial success; I show this by diligently working and saving until I retire. (Not abstract enough [the behavior focused on is "finishable" — this is more of a goal than a value]) I value satisfaction; I show this by making other people happy. (Not flexible [How other people feel is out of our control and can't be invoked at will. Let's remain open to the possibility of failure to achieve what we want all the time.]) My Values (For now at least): I value compassion; I show this by trying to cultivate and use my ability to understand how people feel. Personal; this feels important to me. Meditation, therapy, and reading non-fiction has convinced me that compassion is the basis of all positive "inner" qualities (kindness, generosity, gratitude, etc.). I undoubtedly have an innate, subconscious desire to make other people, at least the ones closest to me, and myself happy. How effective I am at this depends on my compassion — my ability to accurately identify when and how people (including ourselves) are suffering. It just makes sense to cultivate this ability. Self-sufficient; Although I have yet to determine more specifically which behavior(s) the "ability to understand how people feel" encompasses, this behavior is my own. Abstract; Compassion is in fact an intangible concept (not an object) and there will always be room for further understanding. Flexible; Compassion is largely applicable to any context, as long as I am conscious and mentally able. I am aware and I accept that sometimes I won't succeed. What matters the most is that I continue trying to improve. Anyways, I've been writing for over an hour now. This motivates me to apply this value throughout the day. In fact, I could say that I am practicing it now by ending this post here; I listened to my body and mind and I felt a bit tension, a strong desire to make this unrealistically perfect, rising within me. So, I'm going to take the time go out for a short walk and meditate on this to relax. Who knows, maybe I will find opportunities to be compassionate along the way. 😊 May you feel safe, happy, and live with ease comrades. Take care. 💗
  7. Day 3 — Proceeding from Here As alluded to in my previous post, one of the reasons why I do tend to relapse in my addictions is because of my ongoing mild or moderate depression symptoms. I tend to perceive things in a negative light (pessimism — like wearing a pair of shit-colored glasses), resorting to instant gratification binges to escape, although temporary, this overall dissatisfaction and hopelessness. Still, I've accepted (in theory at least) and rarely renounce the fact that these means to find some relief are ineffective. In the long, problems rarely get solved as new ones arrive; shit piles up man. A more effective long-term solution regarding this overall dissatisfaction and hopelessness would be to challenge my pessimistic perception, i.e., look beyond the shit-colored glasses. Whether I manage to take them off completely isn't an entirely conscious decision, after all, I didn't choose to have them on in the first place. I'm not an expert and I haven't done much research, but I think there are 2 essential things I need to work on to achieve long-term cognitive-behavioral change: Believing that I can change — i.e., confidence — more often directly chipped at by voice #1 (as described in the previous post) Wanting to change — i.e., motivation — more often directly chipped at by voice #2 (as described in the previous post) Of course, these 2 things aren't completely separate, when one goes up or down it tends to drag the other one with it. Regardless, I assume that when these 2 things are high enough, relevant behavior is likely, if not bound, to follow. I'm tempted to start by addressing essential thing #2 first. My most recent relapse happened when I was in a relatively kind towards myself at least, what I was trying craving to escape was boredom, like I couldn't find any reason to do anything but game; I was unmotivated to visit any other "pleasure well" (the analogy described in my previous post). Essential thing #1 isn't unrelated either, one could say that I was over-confident. Still, it has been a recurring topic for me throughout therapy that I would probably benefit from working on my identity, my sense of "self". If I understand correctly this is done by finding and nurturing my "true" values and goals, or as some like to call it: Finding a sense of purpose (i.e., meaning[1]) for my life. The problem I think I have now in regards to this is that I tend to rely on external sources to dictate my values and goals. Suffering from BPD and PTSD probably doesn't help... no sense in ruminating on that right now. Anyways! I have some ideas as to how I can proceed in this direction but I'm running out of time for today. Again, I don't expect anyone to read this but I appreciate it if you do. Take care comrades. [1] I might benefit from reading something like Man's Search for Meaning (by Viktor E. Frankl) or Becoming Myself (by Irvin D. Yalom).
  8. Day 0 (Perhaps) — Shit Colored Glasses (a.k.a. Depression) Greetings comrades! Greetings future self! I relapsed again this weekend... Terraria and Gloomhaven this time... well, to be honest, I've been "cheating" for while. I never really uninstalled Steam. The reason is that I've been clinging to Tabletop Simulator to stay in contact with friends in my hometown or even local ones throughout this pandemic. Unfortunately, this game's multiplayer features are tied to Steam and I don't think I can launch it without opening steam. Knowing this, I've taken many extra steps to avoid some temptation (as they say: out of sight, out of mind). When I launch steam it immediately goes to my library and doesn't show me any advertisement. I have uninstalled all my games except for Tabletop Simulator and Rocksmith 2014 Edition (my friend uses this software as his amp when he comes to jam) and I only display the ones I have installed. The one thing I can't conveniently disable however is the "What's new" adverts portion of my library; ultimately I seem to have to disable adverts one game at a time whenever they show up. So, when I saw the adverts for the Halloween season update for Terraria and Gloomhaven finally leaving early access... well, you get the picture I'm sure, I felt and eventually gave into cravings. To be honest, the worst culprit is probably this mobile idle game I haven't mentioned, where I'm spending so much time and money one could say I'm riding it like an Olympic level tobogganist down the slippery slope towards full relapse. Luckily, after a few days of "binge gaming", which implies neglecting responsibilities, values, and goals, I start feeling cravings to "get my shit together" and I'll probably end up giving into those as well. As my therapist likes to remind me: "You've never given up Patrick. You always wanted to improve and in many ways you have." As much as it's a reassuring and compassionate statement I'd rather just as confidently accept something like "You have been through countless hardships without relapsing". This cycle of giving into addiction, coming out of it and repeat... 😔... Cosplaying Sisyphus for Halloween would be... poetic? Anyways, this cycle, I believe can be explained as a bouncing from one immediately dissatisfying situation, to a more immediately satisfying one, until hedonic adaptation (aka the hedonic treadmill) reverses the perceived immediate satisfaction, tempting me to switch back to the first. I'd like to get this cycle in particular to finally come to an end on the "right" side, if possible. While, yeah, fully abstaining from video games (deleting my accounts and only playing board games in person) may seem like a practical way forward, I have a feeling like doing this now might tend to push me towards another addiction (like drugs, porn/sex, tv/film, etc.). It seems wiser, for now, to tackle the toxic or lacking cognitive and emotional components that drive me towards addictive behavior. Judging from tidbits of Buddhist and Absurdist wisdom, off the top of my head, I think the most effective thing I can do — in the long run at least — is to control/change the way I see my life, and not every aspect of that life. That is, cultivate my own sense of self and relation to more fulfilling values and goals. This is much easier said than done... After talking with my individual therapist and addiction support group, I was reminded of the fact that one of the many mental health issues that influences my ability to do this — and consequentially making important decision — is depression. I've been taking anti-depressants every day for such a long time that I had forgotten what I was taking. I mean, I take several different medications on a schedule to a point where I sometimes do it on auto-pilot without realizing it; sometimes I just have to trust that I took them because I can't even recall whether I did or not 😅. Anyways, although they have gotten me out of major depression symptoms (like suicidal thoughts), there are still dips in my mood that leaves me feeling all around dissatisfied with whatever I'm experiencing in the present moment. I tend to feel pessimistic about myself, the world, and my environment — past, present, or future. This experience is what my therapist and I like to call my "shit-colored glasses", a pair that — like the medication I'm taking to make em a little less opaque — I often don't realize I'm using. I think I can narrow down the cognitive portion (the "reasoning", the "thoughts") that supports or triggers gloomy emotions to 2 different "voices" or "personas": The Harsh Critic That voice that likes to shame me for not living up to a vague standard. e.g. "You're so lazy. Such a piece of shit. Disgusting. Worthless." Regret and shame over my behavior not matching that of an ideal self. The Hedonistic Procrastinator That voice that likes to avoid any sort of boredom, or challenge. e.g. "Ugh this is so boring, you should be feeling good now. You shouldn't be working, you should be having fun." Sadness, anger, and disgust over my environment not matching that of the ideal world. Both of these voices are similar in the fact that they both judge things by comparing things to an ideal; a desirable outcome that quite often doesn't take the burdens of physical reality into account. I've been aware of the first voice for a longtime and spent some time working challenging some of it's claims. Honestly, it's as simple as dealing with a frustrated and lonely child sometimes and this makes sense given my backstory. I was bullied and ostracized by my peers growing up and this voice is what developed to make sense of what was happening to me at the time. Unsurprisingly these thoughts are often triggered in anticipation or hindsight of rejection; the fear of abandonment that is part of my Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis. So, ultimately, replacing this voice with a more compassionate, kind, and reassuring would probably help a lot. Sometimes I succeed at this, easily putting the criticism on the side, but that's far from always the case. Sometimes the voice gets really loud/invasive. My therapist is now encouraging me to stand up to it, to face it with something like "Yes, I haven't attained this goal or standard but these harsh comments aren't making attainment any easier. So, why don't you actually help me for a change if attaining these goals or standards are that important to you." As for the second voice, well, I haven't spend as much time reflecting on it. Maybe it's been a rarer occurrence these days or maybe I just haven't been as mindful of it. I believe it comes from having parents never really succeeded in helping me enjoy things outside of my comfort zone. I suffered from cancer when I was very young, and so I was behind when it comes to sports and popular hobbies like sports and schoolyard games. The only things I felt good at where video games and board games, fueled by peer pressure, I became pretty obsessed with those and avoidant of anything else. I don't remember if my parents ever tried to make me see things to appreciate in other hobbies. What I do remember is being coerced to try something and then being criticized for not enjoying it right away. At some point they mostly stopped and let me game almost as much as I wanted — having a Cable TV, consoles and my own PC in my bedroom and everything. They didn't stop me from trying other things but I often had to find them through others and if I ever wanted to quit they didn't question me. I think this is where the "things are supposed to be fun" mentality comes from; if I didn't feel like I had an "innate" talent or desire for it, I didn't make much of an effort. One of my peers in my addiction support group told me about a "pleasure wells" analogy. The activities in our lives can be divided up into a vast array of wells from which we can retrieve pleasure. Deliberate or not, overtime, some wells are better tended to, made bigger, more accessible, easier to use, and fuller than others. The problem many addicts have is that a small group of wells have been tended to far more than others to a point of overuse, while the rest have remained far more difficult to access and extract from. So, whenever we crave pleasure, even if we deliberately choose some of the smaller wells, the experience is far less satisfying than what the usual had been at some point. We end up finding ourselves, all the while thirsty, having to take the time and effort tending to and upgrading these neglected wells. It's an interesting analogy but I'd like to go one step further and say that, in reality, well quality isn't that different from one another; that is, yes, the content quantity, texture, sent, and flavor might be different but none of these characteristics are inherently good or bad. A large portion of this difference in quality lies in our perception. So, what I need to call into question isn't just which wells that I go to and tend to, but also how I judge the contents I extract from them. What I need to do isn't simply finding ways to make boring things fun, but also learning to enjoy these things as they are. Maybe I can stand up to this voice with something like "Yes, this is outside of my usual comfort zone but your negative portrayal of doesn't make this more enjoyable. So, why don't you focus on the things you can appreciate about this if enjoying things is that important to you." Anyways, I've been spending all afternoon writing this. I could get more specific about my values and goals, how these voices step in and what I could do but I think I've spent enough time here for today. I don't expect anyone to read this wall of text but if you do, thank you very much and I hope you found it worth your time. Either way, take care comrade.
  9. Day ??? — Self-Worth During my last therapy session I think my therapist helped me identify a common harmful pattern in my thoughts: a lack of self-worth. Some people prefer using terms self-esteem or self-confidence but I think self-worth resonates with me more because I tend to have thoughts along the lines of "I'm not worth..." and "I don't deserve...". I experienced quite a bit of alienation growing up and well... when your peers often treat you like a duck, especially at that age, you start thinking that maybe you are a duck. Anyways, I'm at a point now where I have more opportunities to flourish but these self-deprecating thoughts muddle my wisdom to take these opportunities. Anyways... I did some googling around the topic of self-worth and it was pretty astounding in the following way: Ideally, we should confidently (and to a reasonable degree, I suppose) assume we have some inherent worth regardless of our "performance", and what other people do or say; i.e. unconditional self-acceptance. This may be easier for people that conveniently have a solid foundation or external validation to fall back on (like religious faith, or a reliable social support network). I believe the rest of us however, have more mental/philosophical gymnastics to do. To me, everything is conditional; everything depends on something else all the way back to the big bang (at least). I think maybe my problem is that the reasons I use to justify my feelings towards something (including myself) are too narrow-minded, volatile, and outside of my control. I think this comes back to Buddhism's 4 Noble Truths: Life is full of suffering, the cause of which is often (if not always) unsatisfied desires, shedding said desires is the way to free oneself from suffering. When I notice I'm jumping to conclusions about my self-worth, I ought to try shifting my attention from the things that aren't in my control (like other people's behaviors) towards things that are (like my own thoughts and behavior). Yesterday was a shitty day. My "friend" didn't show up to our plans and didn't answer any of my messages asking him if he was coming over (this isn't the first time either). I don't know what prevented him from letting me know but even if I did, it's still outside of my control whether he chooses to do so or not. As difficult as it was, in hindsight, I believe I would've benefited from shifting my attention away this incidence and onto something more productive. Here's a quote in the same line of thought, that I could've used (dug up from some notes I have). I think that I think I'll print out now. Anyways, if anyone has any ideas, literature, or videos to recommend on the topic, don't hesitate to share.
  10. Day 26 — Walking, Meditating, and Frogs I often struggle to get started in the morning. I find myself, getting up to take my morning pills and going back to bed (I can't eat or drink for 45 to 60 minutes). As if it wasn't obvious enough, a lot of medical experts are saying it's probably better for me if I use that time to do something else (say, take a shower). Although I agree with this advice on a theoretical level, just acknowledging the facts hasn't implicitly triggered a more practical change. The reason, I believe is that I hadn't "fully" or "deeply" accepted the advice; I hadn't let it displace my often subconscious belief. That is, the belief that I should "enjoy" and "desire" doing the things that I do. The roots of this mindset is complex, with roots in my personal trauma and some parts of "centrist, white, middle-class" culture I grew up in. That said, it would take forever to write down my hypotheses in that regard. Anyways, recently, I've reviewed a few things from my dialectal behavior therapy handouts that was quite helpful. The gist of it was: Don't be willful, be willing; i.e. don't wait until you want to do something, do it because you can and it works. Of course that's easier said than done, whether actually have the ability to do something may remain to be seen, but we can at least try. All of that said, I managed to push myself to not go back to bed this morning. And while I did procrastinate a bit in front of my computer, I did manage to push myself to go out for a walk (one little step at a time) in the nearby park and trails along the Ottawa River. I was committed to meditating this morning as well and when I saw people doing yoga in the park, I said to myself "Hey, why not meditate outside for once." So, I did. Although I was distracted by bugs landing on me and my strands of hair tickling my forehead because of the wind, it was a pleasant experience overall. But it was really, when it was over and I opened my eyes that my positive sensations peeked. Seeing, the grass, trees, shrubs, moths, birds, the river and I felt a deeper sense of wonder rising within me. I looked around and I imagined how many critters there where that I couldn't even hear or see and then all the different types of cells and molecules involved in this so complex system in a yet so small portion of the earth. I brought my awareness to the texture of the grass, and trees, the feel of the cool wind, and the warm sun, the sounds of wildlife, and people at the park. All that for while before moving on to finish my walk. On the path, I stopped at a small bridge over the creek just a few hundred meters away from where I meditated. I was observing the clear static water until I saw a well camouflaged bullfrog (I believe, see picture). The frog wasn't making any noise, it wasn't moving at all. I sat next to the creek to observe the frog longer; was it waiting for moth nearby to come into it's range? Was it cooling off in the water? Was it laying eggs or taking a big poop!? 😄 And older woman (maybe in her 70s) walked by, said "hello" and I told her about the frog and she stopped to appreciate the sight as well. We talked about meditation, mindfulness, spirituality and gratitude for a bit; there was a human connection, a sense of feeling heard, seen and valued (as Brené Brown would describe it) and it felt pretty good. One thing she said that I think will stick is (paraphrasing of course) "Normally you wouldn't notice any red Volkswagens, but now that I've mentioned it there's a high chance that you might. Maybe you noticed this frog through it's camouflage because you're attention is set on observing nature right now." And I realized the same can be said about positive things in our life. Taking the time to find positive thoughts and feelings in the present moment, makes it easier to see more throughout the day. While I may not have the ability to prevent feelings from arising, I do have the ability to make some arise. Anyways, I've been typing for an hour now and I'm running out of time. 😄 There's a lot to be learned here and I think this will serve as a motivation to continue going out for walks and meditating. I hope you manage to enjoy part of your day as well. Take care folks.
  11. I believe it is normal to feel apathetic/depressed in the first couple of weeks, especially if it's the first time you quit. Personally, I'm like super motivated for the first 2-3 days and then I have huge cravings for several days. However, it does get easier. I've been conditioned to regularly and easily access an large amount of stimulation/pleasure in a single package. So like, quitting leaves this empty void that needs to be filled. 1) I suddenly have much more free-time on my hands. 2) I don't get the same satisfaction from other aspects of my life. To address these I picked up a variety of other hobbies; Yes, I have quit video games but I haven't quit on having fun and I don't think anyone should. The reason why I quit video games as a means of having fun in particular was because I seem unable to moderate my gaming. So much that there are long-term consequences. When I think about the long run, what I truly value, what truly makes me happy, video games aren't really there. I also try to enjoy the little things in life every now and then. Making a deliberate effort to practice compassion and gratitude towards myself, other people, animals, and other non-living things can be helpful at times. There's a lot of practical advice like this out there but it's not uncommon that to change our behavior we also have to change our mind. Sometimes it's our expectations/beliefs that prevent us from enjoying things or moving on from dissatisfaction or suffering. I know that I for one, have this counter-productive intuition/expectation that things should be "easy", that I shouldn't struggle. I have this "all or nothing" mentality that needs to change if I can ever hope to accomplish things that are really important to me in the long run. Anyways, that's why talking to a therapist is a good idea for me. The diagnosis and therapy is very helpful, in fact, I would say it was essential for me. A year and a half ago I was contemplating suicide but now I'm starting to have long-term goals and shit. Pretty crazy (in a good way). Anw, my point is, as I've said in the beginning: What you are going through now is normal. You're not alone and this won't last forever. As long as you keep trying and learn from your mistakes, you will find what you need. Take care mate.
  12. Thank you @liam. It always feels good when someone validates our thoughts and efforts as you did. After reading your June 25th post, I'm impressed you even have the time to to read other people's posts. The current circumstances of my life — being single, having no dependents, and having been on long-term disability for over a year now — gives me a lot more time to think and articulate those thoughts. There's a noticeable amount of self-awareness and self-compassion in your post. I'm left under the impression that you know your family is more valuable to you than your addiction. You continue trying and improving that ability to find and maintain a balanced life. That said, you did mention feeling "somewhat ashamed" to be back here. In my opinion, there is no shame to be had in returning here. As I've also included at the end of my April 5th post, Sharon Salzberg (A popular Loving-Kindness Meditation teacher in the west) said: "Healing is in the return, [by] learning to begin again." In other words, we improve the most when we get back up, like you have. I'm sure many people would agree that what you did is a milestone that deserves gratitude and pride. You could've sunken deeper but you turned it around. (If I say turn one more time my head might turn into a turnip 😄) I hope this post validates your thoughts and efforts as much yours did for me. Either way, take care of the ones you love, including yourself. P.S. If you're interested in SMART Recovery you can probably join in on some of these remote meetings. These meetings in particular are hosted by the Mental Health and Addiction Services of Ottawa (Ontario, Canada) but we have people from other cities, provinces, and even the US joining in from time to time and they are completely free. For more options you can checkout the official SMART Recovery website.
  13. Day 10 — The Actual Sequel Alright so the attempt to quit that got me to make my last post didn't last more than 4 days. However, I have managed to get back up and try again. Here I am, 10 days in and feeling alright. As I've described on the post I made in this thread on April 27th, I had been burdening myself with a lot of self-inflicted shame. This stems from the "all or nothing/now or never" bias I've developed as a child and reinforced throughout my life. This is a very common and pervasive cognitive pattern/schema amongst people suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder, like myself. Experts in the field of psychology call this phenomena "splitting". Anyone familiar with logical fallacies would probably see this as a strong tendency to invoke false dichotomies (i.e. "black and white" fallacy). As much as this bias has motivated me to deliver great results at times (perfectionism, "completionism"), it has also often motivated to give up and avoid challenges I could've benefited from persisting through. In regards to what I just described, I believe I experienced what I think is an important psychological breakthrough ~2 weeks ago. Turns out I reap more benefits from focusing on and being grateful to the process rather than the result; i.e., I benefit more from congratulating myself for trying my best rather than pushing myself to complete something to near perfection. I already knew this in theory and had experienced it at other times in my life but I guess it hadn't stuck — perhaps because I was often relying on others to provide it. A lot of times we claim to acknowledge something as true and yet never really apply or do anything about it (politicians are really prone to this. Sometimes it seems like they even do it on purpose! [sarcasm]). My therapist encouraged me to take the time to comfort my "inner child", to "parent myself" as I should've been. So, my homework was as simple as, at least a few times that week, take the time to put a hand on my heart (typical of self-compassion exercises) and something along the lines of "I'm proud of you kido", or "it's ok kido. I'm here for you." I had already done self-compassion exercises but not really referring to my "inner child". I resisted it at first because (and I still have mild discomfort) because, being a man, I don't want to equate myself with a "weaker" version of me. However, I wouldn't say we have no influence but we also don't really get to pick choose who we are entirely either. There's no denying that the result of my childhood trauma is a part of who I am and I would probably benefit from caring for it the way it should've been at the time of its inception. Anw, here I am. I've gotten over the bigger urges we get at the during the first week of "sobriety". It's not the first time I try to quit gaming so I had alternative "toys" at arms reach to keep myself busy and the mindfulness to make use of them. I actually bought a lot more toys. 😄 I got a new electric guitar, a bunch of new pedals and a new amp! 🤘 I believe it's a good challenge to take on, to put this new "I'm glad I tried" mentality into practice. P.S. here's a picture of my new guitar. It's an Epiphone Les Paul Standard. ❤️
  14. Day 1 (The Sequel) — Ending "Lapse" According to my SMART Recovery Program handbook, there are 5 Stages of Change: Pre-Contemplation "Games are not addictive!" When we resist change by not taking responsibility for our addictive behavior; either passively, by not being aware of, or actively, by rejecting the problematic nature of our behavior. Contemplation "... my life is a mess... Games take up so much time... I should play less but everything else feels so difficult..." When we admit we have a problem but have "mixed feelings" about change. We are weighing the costs and benefits of changing or not and have yet to decide between the two. Preparation "Apparently I'm not the only one who feels this way. Other people have managed to quit and make a better life for themselves. I wonder how did they did it? Maybe I can learn from them." When we have accepted and chosen change. We are gathering information, resources, and/or planning. Action "Time to uninstall all these PC games and sell these consoles. Then I'll have plenty of time to pickup my old guitar and go out for a walk in the park. It's gonna be hard but I got this." When we take on the first steps of the challenge of changing, executing our plans gathered from the previous stage. Maintenance "... I'm so tired... and bored... and lonely... I could play just one night... No!!! I know how slippery of slope that is for me. Look at everything I've accomplished since I quit. I'm going through a tough time now but succumbing to these cravings will likely only make things worst. I'm going through a tough time. This dissatisfaction, it's normal and it won't last forever. I'm strong. I'll be alright." We continue to resist cravings, building confidence and self-control. Exit "Oh yeah, we did used to play that game together. Nah, I don't miss it. I have no regrets. My life is so much better now. Hey! You should come over and bring your guitar!" Our new behavior(s) have become habitual, cravings are practically non-existent. Note that in reality the process isn't as linear as this, there can be overlap or "bouncing" between stages. We can also experience what we call a lapse — slipping back into a previous stage for a short period of time (days, weeks) — or a complete relapse — regressing all the way back to pre-contemplation for a long period of time (months, years). I believe what I experienced was a lapse, not just because it lasted less than 2 weeks, but rather because I never became ignored or rejected the problematic nature of my behavior. I knew what I was doing was harmful, so much that I didn't want my peers to know before I quit again. I knew I was indulging in a behavior that wasn't in line with my values and goals. This month has not been the best for me, I was expecting the new medical treatment I was scheduled to start undertaking this month, in accordance with my values and goals to be easy, but it was not and still isn't. I feel so tired and frustrated, as if I had done nothing but lose on daily basis. I wanted a way out, something that game me that sense of achievement/success, something that felt not too hard and not too easy to me. And that's what many video games are designed to do. You work towards a goal with little to no punishment for failure and tonnes of bells and whistles at various milestones along the way. Anyways... I don't know where I'm going with this. I got interrupted for a couple of hours and well... anyways... at least I didn't game today. It's a good start. Peace out folks. P.S. For those that are wondering SMART Recovery is a non-profit, science-based program to help people deal with addiction. A great alternative if you feel turned off by the theistic nature of 12 step programs. A lot of what I learned in this program lines up with what I'm also learning through individual therapy.
  15. Thank you @Zeno, this reply and the post you linked to sound brilliant to me. I'm certainly inspired to ponder. I'm not much of a reader but I did add Thinking in Systems, by Donella Meadows, to my wish-list. I believe I am currently experiencing the downwards drift described some of the quoted passages. for the past couple of weeks, I have been experiencing an unexpected amount of failure in the face a new challenge and succumbing to my negative bias, unnecessarily (or excessively) lowering my expectations and enabling "my system" (i.e., "my life") to deteriorate. I'm here today because I've relapsed; I wasn't following the 90 day program but I've ironically relapsed on the 91st. I've been binging for 3 days now, playing 12+ hours/day, alone and in secret, only stopping to eat, sleep, and respond to messages and appointments. I was too ashamed to admit it, until now. In hindsight, 3 days isn't so bad. Some of my binging sprees have lasted for weeks, if not months in the past. I suppose it's time to start ratcheting up again, I just hope I end up doing this at a realistic passe. I don't know if Meadows's book addresses this but it is difficult to evaluate what is or isn't realistic or effective when making changes to a system. Or heck, just modeling a system from scratch! Because the reality is I don't have an accurate model of "my system", the actual state of which is largely immeasurable, and constantly changing. ...sigh... Look at me, wishing I had all the answers and that I could somehow never fall short of my personal goals; look at me being afraid of failure. Such a torrent of emotions in my mind right now... I didn't get to write it all down but my cognition showed signs of anger (blaming others and not making any changes at all), depression (crying and ratcheting down too low), and anxiety (panicking and ratcheting up too high)... I have poor mental health (suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder and PTSD) if that wasn't clear. At least I didn't give in to any of these intense emotions, I'm still here, trying to be calm and non-judgemental, trying to learn. I guess my next ratchet back up, my next step in recovering from my recent fall, is going to be just this: mindfulness. Whether it's meditation, or journaling like this, I can probably benefit from observing and describing how I feel, what I'm thinking, non-judgmentally; at least, that's what I learned in my dialectical behavior therapy. I got this.