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Progress Journal


rkalajian
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7/21/22 - Day 5

Making the choice to cut video games out of my life has been both liberating and nerve wrecking. It's a hard thing to do with 5 other gamers in the house (wife and 4 kids.) I can't avoid conversations about video games, though I do keep gently reminding the kids that dad doesn't play them anymore.

At this point I've uninstalled all the games and gaming services from my computer. Even Solitaire. I've moved my Switch out of the bedroom and back into the living room so I'm not tempted to play at night. I've removed all my gaming posters and stickers that I had on my walls and devices. I even changed my PC's wallpaper to something non-gaming related. The only thing I cannot remove is the Hyrule Crest tattoo on my calf 😄

While I understand gaming has been a huge part of my past, I'm trying to erase as much exposure to video games as possible to help keep my mind off of them.

While gaming isn't the only addictive behavior I'm giving up, it's certainly the one that was most pervasive in my life.

Over the past three months I've made many changes in my habits:

  • Moderating video game usage, leading to giving them up entirely 5 days ago
  • Daily 10-minute guided meditation
  • Reading, almost daily
  • Taking time to enjoy downtime, not looking to always fill it

I'm also trying several hobbies, some of which I've had in the past, some of which are new:

  • Crafting tabletop terrain for use in D&D
  • Gunpla model building
  • Board gaming (a longtime hobby of mine that I had stopped when my video game addiction was at its worst during COVID)

So far I'm enjoying the fact that I'm not always waiting for the next time I'm going to play video games. There are still plenty of times where I'm tempted, or I try to convince myself that gaming an hour here or there won't be too big of a deal, but I'm able to reframe my thoughts and move on to other things. Of course, it's only Day 5. Time will tell how well I do in the future.

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7/24/22 - Day 8

The weekend has been a bit harder, as expected, but I've been managing to keep busy. I've done a TON of reading, went to the pool with the family, and are planning on starting to watch His Dark Materials with the kids. I tried to sit down and do a puzzle, but it made me more anxious than anything. I've also decided to re-inventory my board game collection in hopes that it will provide a few evenings worth of work to help the times when it's hardest to resist playing games.

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7/26/22 - Day 10

After a tough weekend I'm back into the swing of the work week, which makes things a whole lot easier since I've got something to occupy my mind for most of the day. Evenings are a bit tougher, as it is getting harder and harder to find things to occupy my time when my wife and kids take an hour or two of screen time to unwind. While I'm still working on my board game inventory, I've also decided to pick up work on the (tabletop) RPG I had started working on a while back. Other than that I've still been doing a TON of reading.

Here's some daily habits I've maintained so far:

  • 10-minute guided meditations
  • Reading

Books I've finished recently (over the past 3 months):

  • Good Omens
  • Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
  • Stormlight Archives books 1, 2, and 2.5
  • Trigun Vol 2

Other hobbies I've picked up, or re-picked up, but cannot be done every day:

  • Gunpla model kits
  • D&D terrain crafting

Interests I've been looking into, but haven't started

  • Mini block architecture kits
  • Knitting

While I also have been enjoying the occasional meal out with the family, I've dropped a significant amount of weight over the past 6 months, unrelated to giving up gaming. I'm down from 300 pounds to 258 pounds, and am lucky to have enrollment in Omada Health through my insurance to help me keep on track and to give me tips on better eating. Can you believe that I actually CRAVE salad sometimes? It feels weird.

The craving to game has not gone away, and I don't know if it ever will, but I'm sticking to this.

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7/28/22 - Day 12

A rough day today.

I work for an advertising agency as a web developer, and I was invited to a brainstorming meeting for a new client that just happens to be a company releasing a new MMO. I'm now trying to find the best way to tell the owner of the company that it is not in my best interests to sit in on this meeting, even though I have a very detailed past with video games and content creation.

So here I am, writing this even though I really want to play a game right now. I'll probably end up reading instead, but my skin feels like it's crawling right now.

Oh yeah, turns out knitting isn't a good idea to try. Years of gaming and typing has left me with pretty severe carpal tunnel, and arthritis in my fingers. Apparently knitting is the best thing for my hands.

Time to find something else to try out!

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8/1/22 - Day 16

Just got through a really tough weekend, where the urge to game, specifically Fortnite, was strong. I was able to get through it again, keeping myself busy with a trip to the library with the family, followed up by a nice walk, trips to the public pool, and a good book. Last night was probably the hardest, so my wife suggested I take my oldest out for some parking practice before his drivers test. I honestly didn't want to do it, but he and I ended up having a great time jamming to some music while he practiced his different parking styles in the local middle school parking lot.

In other news, I'm started to get rid of some stuff that I no longer need, putting my 3DS, Steam Controller, and PocketGo up on eBay. I've also started to open up more, letting other people in my life know of my addiction, and how I'm purging video games from my life. Support has been surprisingly positive, even from some of my "gamer" friends.

Here's some daily habits I've maintained so far:

  • 10-minute guided meditations
  • Reading

Books I'm currently reading

  • Oathbringiner
  • Impact Winter
  • The Monsters Know What They're Doing

Interests I've been looking into, but haven't started

  • Mini block architecture kits

I'm continuing to eat better and lose weight. It may be time to add some exercise into the mix.

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8/5/22 - Day 20

20 days in. I wish I could say it's getting easier, but it's felt much harder lately. On top of that, I've been starting to question my own identity. I know it's not reasonable to define one's self by their interests, but I've always identified as a "Gamer". Now, almost overnight, it's gone from "Gamer" to "Addict."

I know I am many other things. I'm a father, a husband, a friend, a storyteller, and more. Gaming has just always been such a huge part of my life. I've given talks, run programs, presented awards, written news/reviews, managed streams, and more. Now all that has been replaced with a word that's not presented in the best light.

I'm sure this is all part of the healing process, but it doesn't make it any easier, especially going into a weekend. What looks like a rainy weekend at that.

SO...what's the plan? I'm hoping to get the kids back to the table for some D&D this weekend, and maybe sit down as a family to watch a movie. I'm still in the middle of a few good books as well. If worse comes to worse I'll just have might wife strap me to the bed (Kidding...though, hey. Could be fun.)

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Here's some daily habits I've maintained so far:

  • 10-minute guided meditations
  • Reading

Books I'm currently reading:

  • Oathbringiner
  • The Waystation
  • The Monsters Know What They're Doing

Interests I've been looking into, but haven't started:

  • Mini block architecture kits
  • "Book Nook" model kits

 

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8/11/22 - Day 26

Overall, things have been going really well and I've been feeling pretty good. Cravings still come and go, but they mostly come from a specific trigger. Sometimes it's a song that reminds me of a Fortnite emote, sometimes it's the kids talking about a game, or even just seeing someone with a Zelda t-shirt or something. My wife has been a huge help when my cravings hit, helping me work through them and finding something else to distract me from thoughts of gaming. I'm lucky to have good support at home. I've read way too many stories here and on reddit of people who aren't so fortunate.

I have to admit that I have found myself scrolling through Facebook more over the past week, though each time I catch myself doing it I stop. It's not like I'm actively doing much other than scrolling, so it's a completely pointless activity. I've started to browse Thingiverse for items to 3D print instead, hoping to turn the scrolling into actual printing/crafting for the various tabletop games I own. I also took some time to queue up a stack of books to read once I'm done with the current series I'm working on. I think I've got enough on there to last me another year or so now 😄

I'm still planning on attending GAA meetings, though I'm waiting (and actively helping to advertise) for a local meetup in favor of attending the Zoom meetings. I'd love to both get some extra support, and offer support for those who don't have any other support system.

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Here's some daily habits I've maintained so far:

  • 10-minute guided meditations
  • Reading

Books I'm currently reading:

  • Oathbringer
  • The Waystation
  • The Monsters Know What They're Doing

Books I've finished since my last post:

  • White Sand Vol 1, 2, and 3 (graphic novels)

Interests I've been looking into, but haven't started:

  • Mini block architecture kits
  • "Book Nook" model kits
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8/16/22 - Day 31

Progress is steadily moving on, with daily life becoming easier and easier to manage without any major cravings. That's not to say they've gone away entirely, but they are less frequent and less severe.

This past weekend I kept busy. I took my 12-year-old fishing, took a nice long walk with the entire family, started to cut up a fallen tree in our yard (as well as stacking the wood,) and got the lawn mowed. My entire body hurt by Sunday night, but honestly, it felt kind of good knowing I spent a majority of the weekend outdoors.

I finally feel like I'm getting to a place where it will be easier to work on other aspects of my life that need attention, like my ability to pay more attention to those around me, as well as being more patient.

I still need to attend a GAA meeting, as well, and may hit up a zoom one sometime this week.

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Here's some daily habits I've maintained so far:

  • 10-minute guided meditations
  • Reading

Books I'm currently reading:

  • Oathbringer
  • The Dresden Files: The Law
  • The Monsters Know What They're Doing

Books I've finished since my last post:

  • The Waystation

Interests I've been looking into, but haven't started:

  • Mini block architecture kits
  • "Book Nook" model kits
  • Yoyo tricksd
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8/23/22 - Day 38

I'm coming down off the high of a pretty amazing weekend, celebrating my oldest son's 17th birthday, as well as other things. Cravings have been minimal, with a few here and there due to some video game music popping up in a Spotify playlist. All-in-all I've been doing pretty well, and am slowly starting to reduce social media use as well.

I've decided to continue work on my tabletop RPG system, as well as its first setting. I had started this over a year ago, and did some streaming play tests on Level Up Dice's Twitch channel for a few months during the pandemic. I'm working on this mostly for myself, and don't plan to really market it or anything. It's just something I want to see finished for now.

Other than that, I've found a reliable way to inexpensively make quality stickers, and have been having fun doing that so my kids have custom stickers to plaster all over their stuff.

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Here's some daily habits I've maintained so far:

  • 10-minute guided meditations
  • Reading

Books I'm currently reading:

  • Oathbringer
  • The Monsters Know What They're Doing

Books I've finished since my last post:

  • The Dresden Files: The Law

New Hobbies:

  • Creating stickers

Interests I've been looking into, but haven't started:

  • Mini block architecture kits
  • "Book Nook" model kits
  • Yoyo tricks
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Your daily journal has been really comforting and motivating for me. I really see a lot of similarities in your story.

Like you, I also have a family of gamers. My mother, siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews; family gatherings always involve party games on the Switch or the PC.

It's also really hard to separate myself from the conversations about video games. Especially since we used to enjoy those conversations in the past, and now it's hard for them to understand why I'm cutting myself out. I have been trying to share other interests with my friends and family, and it was a bit of a challenge at first, but we have started to discover other similar interests that aren't related to video games.

I also had to go through a video game "purge" outside of the games themselves. T-shirts, posters, memorabilia, search recommendations on my browser, songs on my playlists. Every day I seem to discover a new thing that acts as a trigger and causes a thought to enter my mind which leads to a craving.

It was also hard to wrestle with my own identity as a gamer. Even now, when I think about past moments playing videos games with friends and family, the memories feel so warm and nostalgic. There's like a cognitive dissonance between the joyful memories of the past and the negative reality of the present.

Congrats on sticking to it for 38 days.

Keep it up!

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On 8/25/2022 at 2:59 AM, sinirad said:

Every day I seem to discover a new thing that acts as a trigger and causes a thought to enter my mind which leads to a craving.

It's crazy. Every time I think I've found everything, something new pops up!

What's even crazier? Some point-of-sale systems at places I shop at use the Sonic ring sound when you complete your payment!

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8/30/22 - Day 45

45 days! Half-way through the initial 90-day detox!

I'm coming off the tail end of having covid, which I managed to escape for 2.5 years before finally getting it. The whole family has it, minus my oldest son who's been locked in his room literally avoiding the rest of us like the plague. Thankfully it wasn't too bad. At least now I can safely know that I can be sick in bed, bored as hell, and not resort to games to keep my occupied. Instead I slept a ton, read a bit, and watch some videos on yoyo tricks. I also finally ordered a nice yoyo, and have already started practicing some new stuff, which has been a blast. My 12-year-old has been learning with me, so it's a great activity we can enjoy together.

All the kids go back to school tomorrow, which will leave me alone at home some days. I believe the summer has given me a solid foundation to keep me from going back to gaming while I think no one is looking. I also plan on heading into the office more days a week just to keep things flowing better.

I've been feeling great, and can't wait to see what the next 45 days bring.

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Here's some daily habits I've maintained so far:

  • 10-minute guided meditations
  • Reading

Books I'm currently reading:

  • Oathbringer
  • The Monsters Know What They're Doing
  • Homeland

New Hobbies:

  • Creating stickers
  • Yoyo tricks

Interests I've been looking into, but haven't started:

  • Mini block architecture kits
  • "Book Nook" model kits
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9/7/22 - Day 53

Things have been going very smoothly, with very little cravings to play video games, or other bad habits. I'm now starting to focus on bettering my relationships with my family and friends. The biggest issue I face now is I tend to dissociate when confronted, leading me to seem cold and emotionless. This is especially the case when my wife and I argue, generally escalating things past where they really should go. I'll be bringing this up with my therapist the next time we talk, but by doing some initial digging I've found that asking for a moment to collect my thoughts helps my emotions catch up to the situation, allowing to me have meaningful conversations without brushing things off and presenting a blank face.

I've also started to become more vocal about my addiction and my progress of sobriety with people other than family and close friends. I distance myself from video game chat with people at work, and politely tell them why. I've surprisingly gotten more support and acceptance than I initially believed I would. It certainly helps!

In other news, school is in full swing with the kids, which means there are days where I'll be home alone while my wife goes to work (I work from home 3-4 days a week.) So far it has been pretty easy to avoid gaming, and I hope that continues to be the case going forward.

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Here's some daily habits I've maintained so far:

  • 10-minute guided meditations
  • Reading

Books I'm currently reading:

  • Oathbringer
  • Homeland

Current Activities:

  • Creating stickers
  • Yoyo tricks

Interests I've been looking into, but haven't started:

  • Mini block architecture kits
  • "Book Nook" model kits
Edited by rkalajian
Removed excess spacing
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9/13/22 - Day 59

It's hard to believe that it's been almost 60 days since I've played a video game, but here I am. Things continue to get easier and easier, though I've recently been having dreams where I relapse, then feel guilty for breaking my streak. Thankfully these dreams don't lead to cravings, but it has certainly contributed to some nighttime anxiety.

This past weekend was super busy. I spent most of Saturday working on my car, a coworker coming over to help me take care of some issues that would have been WAY more expensive to have the shop fix. On Sunday the family and I went to a local fair where we ate some great food, saw tons of animals, and the kids got to go on some rides. An overall exhausting, though rewarding, weekend.

This week started off incredibly busy, and will continue to be so, but at least I get to hang out with a buddy of mine who's back in the office from Florida for a week. Even better news is that he's moving back to CT in December, so we can start hanging out regularly outside of work again.

Not much else to report. I'm still learning new yoyo tricks, which has been great for keeping me occupied in larger periods of downtime. I've also stared reading through some comics I've been meaning to read for a while, which has been a great supplement to the novels I've been working through.

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Here's some daily habits I've maintained so far:

  • 10-minute guided meditations
  • Reading

Books I'm currently reading:

  • Oathbringer
  • Homeland

Recently read comics:

  • Alien Salvation

Current Activities:

  • Creating stickers
  • Yoyo tricks

Interests I've been looking into, but haven't started:

  • Mini block architecture kits
  • "Book Nook" model kits
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  • 2 weeks later...

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! 🙂

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Meditation is great at helping so many things, but for me it's a way of calming anxiety and stress, both which have been major factors in my urge to game in the past. Keeping up with it daily has compounded the effects, and has certainly made me feel calmer and more in control of my emotions overall. I highly recommend it!

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9/22/22 - Day 68

Life has been flying by at a hectic pace lately, with both my wife and I extremely busy at work. Thankfully we've had moments here and there to slow down a bit, but I'll certainly be happy once things calm down a bit. As for cravings, they're pretty much gone, but I'm sure they'll come back eventually. I continue to keep up with mediation, reading, and learning new yoyo tricks. At day 68, my anxiety and stress levels are WAY down, and I feel like I'm even handling work stress better than I ever have in my life.

Do I miss video games? Hell yeah. Has my life been better since giving them up? Definitely. 

I'm way past the half-way mark of my initial 90-day detox, and I'm excited to see where things go from here.

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Here's some daily habits I've maintained so far:

  • 10-minute guided meditations
  • Reading

Books I'm currently reading:

  • Dawnshard
  • Exile

Recently recently Finished:

  • Oathbringer
  • Homeland

Current Activities:

  • Creating stickers
  • Yoyo tricks

Interests I've been looking into, but haven't started:

  • Mini block architecture kits
  • "Book Nook" model kits
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