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  1. Days 25-27: We watched a couple of movies during these days. I just figured that it's best if I write something here at least. Just to keep the rhythm on with the journal. I received a killer haircut from my girlfriend yesterday, I feel a bit better because of that (I don't look like a cave man anymore). I had been pretty much craving-free for some time, but today they hit me like a truck. I was telling myself that it would be OK to play because that would temporarily put aside the anxiety from my mind. I knew that my brain was trying to deceive me and that it would lead into another disaster with my life-control and studies etc. Once again I told my girlfriend about this and we went outside for a walk. The feelings finally subsided when I went to buy groceries and I bought some sweets... It made me wonder, though; would gaming actually distract me so that I could be anxiety free and ACTUALLY RELAX for at least a couple of hours? I haven't really relaxed at all since I quit and it's taking a toll on my body and soul. I am a little worried... And it's not even that I would like to play some specific game, I just would like to sink my head into another universe for just some time. As a form of escapism it's now become different from what it used to be. If the relapse is going to happen, I think it will happen this week. But I will try to be strong and not let the addiction consume me again. At least I know that if I relapse now, I can just get on my feet again and carry on with quitting. Relapsing would be more of a few-day experiment to try if gaming has any impact on my current state of well-being. I would also briefly make contact with my friends, because after quitting I didn't really socialize (because I don't have friends outside gaming or music work). BUT, the question still remains: is this just my mind doing tricks on me or are these actual valid reasons to play, given the circumstances? Are there ever valid reasons to play video games at all? God, why is this so hard?
  2. Days 21-24: It was an exciting bout of music, traveling and happy reunion. My band had it's first official gig as a headliner. The gig was fine and we really nailed it and had a ton of fun there but I only wish there were more audience at the venue. But well, it's bound to be like this for a while... At least we got to play. I haven't even been thinking about gaming at all during the last 3 days. My anxiety levels have been pretty much uncontrollable lately, due to my medication and this ongoing life-situation. Currently I am taking steps into learning to meditate properly. So far it has given me some relief. In the coming week I will be trying to quit coffee. I am already having some headaches after 1 day of not consuming caffeine. This morning I already moved into drinking small amounts of panax ginseng. Kind of gives the same refreshing effects in the morning. I got a plenty of things done during these 3 days, but mostly it was about hosting a guest at our place, watching a couple of movies and traveling for the gig. Hoping for another great week now! Cravings: 1/5 Mood: 2/5, because anxiety/irritability Productiveness 3/5
  3. Nice progress and good effort with the journal! Obviously, as you had a lot of content here, I didn't quite read through all of it so I am curious after seeing the amount of meditation that you have listed in your activities... I have really been looking into different ways of meditation and have considered trying it out soon, probably first thing tomorrow. When it comes to, let's say, anxious thoughts or gaming cravings, would you recommend meditation to something like that or would it be just a way to relax a bit? Thank you in advance and keep up the good work here! 🙂
  4. I am not an expert but I am pretty sure that it is common and even likely, so yes. Warning: I will not be using any references for the text below, so reader's judgment and a pile of salt is recommended while reading! The scientific background would be that as you abstain from gaming for a period of time, the neurotransmitter system in your brain "resets". There are two major neurotransmitters at play here: dopamine and serotonin. Their effects are quite different though and, to my understanding at least, they have an inverse relationship. Simply put: when the other molecule reigns in the brain, the other one is suppressed. Harmful gaming is essentially really bad for your neurotransmitter system because it "fries" the dopamine receptors, making your brains crave for more dopamine. Again, this is a simplification and might even be wrong, but I might be pretty close to the truth. What happens then when the dopamine levels in the brains rise? It's expected that some kind of toll is taken on your serotonin levels. When you stop gaming, your dopamine receptors SLOWLY start to heal back towards the state where they used to be. What are the effects of the said neurotransmitters then? Simply put, dopamine is the molecule that makes you addicted to certain things, it gives you instant gratification and makes your body secrete other feel-good hormones as well. It makes you remember what you like so it's responsible for making patterns in your life. Serotonin on the other hand, is responsible for your mood and a lot of your behavior. I saw a picture somewhere once where they were separated by something like "Dopamine is the short term reward and serotonin is the long term contentment". Too much dopamine leads to addiction, too little serotonin leads to depression. This is where the mood upheavals are explained. Your neurotransmitter system is probably a bit messed up (depending on where you live, might also be caused by SAD or seasonal affective disorder or such, that's when the seasons affect the amount of light outside and people get all moody etc., but I am not a doctor so again, truckload of salt! 😄.) and the levels of dopamine and serotonin fluctuate, causing your mood swings. Obviously, there are other transmitters at play also, like norepinephrine and GABA but it's probably not that important here. TL;DR: Your neurotransmitter system is altered by gaming and it will start fixing itself when you do not play video games, causing a change in levels of 2 important neurotransmitters, which - in turn - cause mood fluctuations with their concurrent effects. I hope this was helpful, I figured that I needed some doodling around with my keyboard so it was also therapeutic for me to write this 🙂 PS. All of the above is not serious unless you feel really depressed or such, at which point I would suggest you to get medical attention. Stay strong and keep going with the detox! 🙂
  5. Day 20: DAY 20!? Already?! Time flies. Today was a somewhat important day. It's weird to say that the day was important because I FELT GOOD for the first time in many many days. There was also an important phone call that I will tell you about shortly below. I woke up fresh. First of all, that hasn't happened in such a long time that I don't even have a memory of the last time. I went to bed semi-early last night and I didn't use my phone at all - which I usually have done every night to be honest. Seems to me that I have to break that habit as well. After I got up I had a nice breakfast without any issues with my appetite. That's another wonder for the week, what's happening? 😄 At midday, I had scheduled a phone call with my support person from an organization that is giving free education and kind of phone therapy on game moderation/quitting in my country. A little story about the whole thing. So when I was still gaming and I started experiencing symptoms of depression that were obviously caused by my gaming habits, I started googling for something like "how to moderate gaming" or "how to quit gaming". I ran into this service which offered a program that lasts for one year. The program and the service is funded by the social and health ministry of Finland. The program starts with a period of 8 weeks, when each week you have an assignment to complete, along with a survey. The assignments go by themes, so each week it will be different and will be somewhat following the theme of the last week. The surveys stay the same every week. After completing the tasks and the survey, a phone call will be arranged each week with your contact person and you will talk about the tasks and their themes for the week. After that you will go through, if or when anything improved in your gaming behavior from the last week and if there is something that one would like to "spit out", like if there's something bothering them with the program or something. And yep, it's completely free and you can hop out whenever you feel like it. That's a neat system and I really wish that every country had something similar. I feel that I am privileged to have a service like this within my reach. Today was my first "surveillance call". It means that 3 months ago I was finished with the 8-week intensive period. The surveillance calls will be arranged first after 3 months, then after 6 and finally after 9 months. Over all you have 3 surveillance calls to use and you have to use them during the 12 months period after you start the program. In today's call I surprised my contact person by telling her that I had gone cold-turkey with stopping gaming and she was astonished. We then proceeded to talk about everything that had led to me quitting gaming and I made so many breakthroughs in my thinking. I could actually feel my chest releasing a lot of the pressure that had been gathering there over these few weeks. I concretely let out every fact and thought that had led to me quitting gaming and it felt GREAT! The anxiety - not all of it, but a lot of it - was being let out of me and finally my thoughts about my reasoning to quit and build a new life, started to shine more bright than ever. The call lasted for almost 2 hours. I got to speak it all out. At first I thought that my contact was not pleased with the decision because the whole point of the program was to make your gaming habits healthy and more manageable, but I had instead taken the "easy way out" and quit. As I was explaining myself to her, it became clear for both of us that I had done the right thing indeed. When I told her in these words "... all this led to me quitting games and I am proud of the decision. I would never even consider another alternative and thank god you didn't contact me when I was in my worst spot with my gaming habits, because that might have led to me prolonging the situation and my gaming problem wouldn't have resolved yet at all. I will 100% stand with my decision and that's the best decision that I have made during my whole adulthood...". When that last part came out of my mouth, I was almost in tears. The power of the words was so immersive and wholesome and it came directly from my heart. I got so much more willpower to stay clear of video games and everything related to them and I really needed it during these hard times. There were also some other remarkable moments of realization and epiphany during the call and I might share something about them in some future journal posts. After the call I just went to the university, had lunch and had the best programming session in a while. Also the food was good there again. And because the food was good and there was enough of it, I headed to the gym immediately after reaching home. I had the best workout in weeks. I bet that all the people that saw me today were thinking that I was under the influence of something because of how happy I must have looked. Well, I was intoxicated with happiness. Finally it was a good day. PS. I might make a thread elsewhere about The Program here in Gamequitters. I just have to find the correct place for that first.
  6. Days 18-19: I wonder what was so important yesterday that I didn't have time to write this journal 😄 Well. Not much happened yesterday and today. Yesterday I spent the whole day at home. I re-recorded one song that I was talking about in a previous post and it took me the whole day. After that I was still playing guitar for some hours! I guess music is really like therapy to me. Today I decided to go to the university to at least have lunch... and well. I had lunch there and that's about it. 😄 But I really like that I actually went there and didn't stay home. After that I was feeling a bit weak. These anxiety/fatigue/hypothyroid/who-knows-what symptoms are really taking their toll... Occasionally I have thought that if it's this hard for me to cope with these feelings and sensations, I should just give in and start gaming again... But then I think about this: would it really take care about those problems? I mean, sure, for a while I would probably feel better but those sensations and symptoms would linger with me and in the worst case scenario I could even ignore them as I get more and more depressed while gaming. Nope, not gonna happen. But honestly, I really wish that time would pass on a bit faster so that I get to speak to a doctor. It would take such a huge burden off my shoulders to know that everything is okay with my health and it's only a temporary issue with my thyroid gland or that I have some kind of anxiety disorder. It's sad but it feels that because of these health issues, my new life without games can't even begin properly because it feels so difficult to get up and moving. No plans for tomorrow yet. Can't really think too much forward because I might feel ok now and I might feel like a total wreck when I wake up or get home from the uni etc. It sucks a lot. I so so hope that it gets better soon...
  7. Day 17: Hobby-wise it was a really productive Sunday. I kind of restored a country rock song that I composed over a year ago and it turned out to be pretty nice. Now I just hope that the dudes in my band like it as well! Didn't have a lot of urges to play anything today, which is progression. I am still trying to get started on uni work and I still have a couple of hours before the night settles in... Tomorrow I am hoping to have a bit more active day... It's so much dependent on my sleep quality these days. I've had so much anxiety since stopping gaming that things like staying active and moving my butt around have become a bit difficult. But I guess that is the price that I have to pay to become healthy little by little. Next week is gonna be so exciting because of our (band) gig. I still have a lot to catch up with my bass playing before that but luckily I now have the time and willingness to practice at least a bit every day - thanks to quitting gaming. Cravings: 2/5 Mood: 3/5 Productiveness: 2/5
  8. I'm struggling with urges at the moment as well. I quit 17 days ago. The first days are a struggle, as you might already know. I started off by agreeing to do anything that my spouse had in mind because she was always suggesting stuff to do when I was still gaming. We went outside for walks, went to the gym and watched movies. I've been also confiding to her about all my feelings about quitting. Then I started studying (good that you found work, it's gonna be pretty much the most important thing for you) and studies have been the #1 activity that has kept me away from my gaming pc. In addition I picked up guitar again and have been playing around 1-3 hours every day after studies. All of this also resulted in a better quality of sleep, which is gonna be your best friend when you are working. So I'd suggest getting just one hobby, be it almost anything, alongside your work at the cafe. I can suggest chess, swimming, gym, picking up an instrument (bass,guitar, piano?), podcasts, drawing/graphic design or even programming. You're already on the right path and you're lucky to have someone who cares about your well-being and is reminding you and having patience with your addiction. I know it can be hard at times to live up to your gf's expectations but you yourself know best if she is right or not. I wish an easy recovery for you, you can kick the addiction! I hope this helped :)
  9. Days 14-16: Nothing much really happened during these three days, I've been feeling a little down and probably that's why I also forgot to post here. There was one incident today though, which felt pretty rewarding afterwards. Also a little self-reflection here and there. I am really feeling that I've moved into a different phase of recovery or it might be the phenomenon that comes and goes when seasons change and it gets darker. I've been constantly craving to play something, it's not even any particular game. But I would just like to sink my time and attention into something that makes me forget everything that is happening in life for a moment. Aside from my health, there is nothing even wrong with my life at this moment. During the last three days, I was tempted to get my PC from the closet at least 5 times. Every time I decided that I wouldn't even stay inside our apartment to let the feeling pass - because I know that the urges are usually really short in length for me - but I would rather go outside with my spouse to forget the urges in a completely different environment with some fresh air. Today those urges were at their maximum because I got my blood work back from the lab and the results were a bit concerning, like not way off the charts but not normal either. It seems like I've been having some viral infection or something...? Obviously I started Googling a lot (it never brings anything good to you when it's related to your health :D) and the only results were pointing towards something like: "Lymphoma, chronic lymphatic leukemia, HIV" and what other disease deadlier than the other... I can tell you that reading something like that is far from making you relax about the situation, even though you get "information". That was when I was at a trigger point. I was in a situation that I desperately wanted out of. I wanted to forget everything that I had just learned and I wanted to get the blood work results out of my head. For a moment I was almost begging my spouse to let me play something on a PC for just a moment so that I could escape from all this. My financial situation also kinda sucks after today (had to get some music gear for next week's gig) so I was getting stress from that as well. I wish that I could share how I prevented relapsing but I can't. I really can't tell how I managed to just push away the thoughts and carry on. My willpower is not that strong and I am known to be a very self-deceptive and self-sabotaging person. I guess I just took my guitar and started doodle-practicing (new term for mindlessly playing medium hard guitar parts with brains on idle xD) Eric Johnson's Cliffs of Dover. I did that for maybe like one and half an hour and after that I was pretty much in a better state of mind. So I guess I could say that I just found some distraction almost as strong as gaming and took advantage of it. Or maybe I have truly learned something about my urges finally, because honestly I don't even remember what gaming feels like any more. And it's been only a bit over two weeks without gaming! I hope that this even slightly motivates anyone reading this. At least writing it down like this eased my mind a little. Tomorrow my goal is to catch up with uni work, it's now been 3 days without even looking at my assignments. Cravings: 4/5 Mood: 2/5 Productiveness: 1/5
  10. Many good points in your reply but mostly, thanks for this one! 🙂
  11. That sounds really good. Relapses kind of teach us just like that; when you are in the process of trying to quit, you become more responsive towards the adverse or "minus-side" feelings that once made you stop gaming. It's worth noticing that it's FAR BETTER to experience yourself fading out from the gaming world like this, than almost forcefully making yourself escape the addiction - let's say - by making yourself hate the games and the gaming industry itself. This really tells that you are on the positive learning path right now! 🙂 Also I am really glad that I could help! ^^
  12. Day 13: Change is in the air. Let me share a huge revelation that occurred to me today. Today I felt the change hit me for the first time. It's been almost 2 weeks now. Initially after quitting, I would repeat - almost mantra-like - something like "You don't want to touch video games ever again" or "You will ruin your life with gaming, move on already!". Today was the point, where those thoughts became automated, kind of, for the first time. That is a good thing, it takes a lot of attention away from staying off of games but it has a downside as well. Let me explain. When you stop gaming, there is a surprisingly high amount of attention being used in many different ways to remind yourself not to game. It might go into avoiding triggers like ads, YT videos, articles etc. In my head these thoughts initially gather around and I make them work in my own way. Everyone knows the basic martial arts fighting stance where you hold your knuckles up waiting for your opponent to punch to your defense. That's how I see these mantra-like thoughts. After some time, that fighting stance wears off. Not completely, but it's not there 24/7 any more. The downside to the above facts is that when this fighting stance is in the off-position, you start to create scenes in your head where you "offer your little finger to the demon". So basically you start to question, if you are on the right path or not. There is a fine line between cravings and these feelings; today when I had a sensation like this, I didn't recognize it as a craving sensation, it was something else. That was weird. Honestly, I immediately started thinking if I am giving in to the addiction again and I started feeling a little down. But then I noticed something. This is purely subjective, but I found out that for me, keeping up this "fighting stance" actually had made the inner will to quit gaming for good stronger. So this time when I was hit with those feelings, I could immediately tell them back "Nope, you are not getting me. I am stronger this time and my goals and visions for the future of my dreams are within my reach now. It's just up to me to fulfill them. It might take some work and dedication. It takes some bad days, sweat, exercising and failing exams to reach but I can do it!". And the thoughts faded. Cravings: 2/5 Mood: 3/5 Productiveness: 4/5
  13. Day 12: I woke up really late again, but this time I got like some kind of a super-boost. Had some dreams about gaming again and as I woke up I thought that I had relapsed lol. But I was packed with energy for the day! So I went to the uni as usual, did some HTML coding for the coursework for 4 hours and had a really delicious lunch (good nutrients, good everything - what a change to my diet lately) At 4 pm I left uni and went back home by bike. I knew that I had a lot of energy so I hit the gym with my girlfriend. It was the workout of the year. Oh boy... I am so sore now and I know that tomorrow and the day after is gonna be pure agony! In the evening I just prepared more food and played bass. Now it's 9:45 pm here and I am already feeling like catching some z's shortly. Tomorrow again to uni and some guitar stuff and so forth. 🙂 Cravings: 3/5 Mood: 4/5 because not tired today Productiveness: 4/5 because went to the gym and stayed focused really well
  14. I want to emphasize the same; be in control of your urges or they take control of you (even though you said that you are in control). Do you want to be controlled by something else than yourself? I bet you don't, because no one does. Relapsing is not as bad as it sounds. We are all people that represent the human race - and human race is notorious of making mistakes. Our race is also known to learn from them. It's really good that you recognized the point where it was time to stop after the relapse, because not everyone can pull that off. Many people will just let the sensation of gaming again get the better of them and that's where they end up playing for hours and hours for more than just a couple of days. I know because that is what happened to me last time. I would question your urge to play this Hollow Knight game and your plan to detox after that. The reason being, you are just feeding the addiction and quitting gaming is not about feeding the addiction, it's about recognizing the addiction. Now, I don't know you at all so it's hard to tell but to me having thoughts or excuses like that to play a game, is a sign of an addiction and you don't want to feed it. I know it's hard to tell yourself "Ok just forget it and don't play it" but that is exactly that you have to face here and that's how you take control. The urges go away when you occupy yourself with other stuff to do. I didn't write this to be mean or anything, just wanted to help by reminding 🙂 I hope you get back on track and just move on from the relapse. Well done so far, keep it going.
  15. Day 11: One word to describe this day: busy. First I woke up too late, like 11:50am and I was supposed to go to a blood test. In the lab I was questioned because I didn't have a doctors referral. Ultimately, luckily, they drew the blood. What is concerning is that my blood work was fine and I still have this symptoms of terrible fatigue, anxiety etc. which make me wonder if there is truly something really badly wrong with me... Scheduling a doctor's appointment tomorrow. Afterwards I went to the university to study for 4 hours and came back home to study for almost another 4. Then we took a walk outside. My day was literally this simple, yet it was still so full of chaos and thinking. Good things about today: really productive studying-wise and I didn't really think about gaming at all, so no cravings. Let's see how I can get up tomorrow morning. I have to wake up pretty early and it's not one of my best qualities at the moment. Cravings: 0/5 Mood: 1/5 because general malaise, yet good blood tests Productiveness: 4/5, because feeling sick and still getting things done really well