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The One Year Challenge


Wildermyth
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Started thinking this morning about all the times I've physically hurt myself or broke something due to gaming. I've always been quite competitive when it comes to certain types of games, like racing games, shooters and fighting games. I've trashed many controllers over the years due to this as I just snap sometimes and all this aggressive energy bursts out of me. My two most major tantrums resulted in me hurting my knee so bad that I could barely walk and the second made me smash up a Macbook Pro that was worth at least 1k. In these moments I've been quite scared of what I'm capable of when I lose control. I usually clench my teeth together, ram my fist into something and hyperventilate to the point where I'm almost fainting. It's been a couple of years since I've acted out like this but some games still make me way too mad and it ruins most of my day when it happens. No doubt it's also related to how my autism behaves as emotions and loss of control are complicated matters when it comes to this particular diagnosis.

I am grateful though that I don't have these outbursts anymore, even though I'm a bit afraid that it's going to take shape in some other form. I've yet to act out like this in front of others because the thought of shaming myself is overpowering my need for aggression. Still, I've had a couple of moments over the years where the pressure has hit the roof and I couldn't keep it down and it usually resulted in me cursing or hitting a wall in front of someone. It catches people off guard for sure as I'm mostly regarded as a very calm individual so I believe it's important for me to be open about it so that it doesn't come as a surprise. 

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Had a really tough day yesterday where I completely zoned out at work. I was so tired in the morning and frustrated even before I reached work. My collegues commented on my behaviour and tried to cheer me up. It didn't really work and it wasn't until after lunch that I had started to get my energy back. It's hard to manage my energy right now because I finish work so late sometimes and don't get all the sleep I need. It's also hard to make my collegues realize that my autism affects my energy levels a lot. I think I have to start communicate this.

On the flip side I got some really good news yesterday about my training progression. My PT showed me my body measurements that revealed that I've gained about 6kg in muscle mass, which is an increase by 1kg per month since I started about 6 months ago. This shows that all my hard work in the gym has started to pay off which is great. Riding on that good energy on my way home from the gym I wanted to reward myself with something special and the two things that came to mind was food and video games. I choose the former of course but it's interesting that I even concidered gaming as a way to reward myself. I'm not sure if I had this mentality before when I was actually gaming. Maybe it was yet another excuse to get back into the gaming chair.

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Been thinking a lot about change today after a dialogue I had with a couple of colleagues. My life overall has changed a lot the last couple of years. I've moved around, been in several relationships, started up new hobbies, stopped with certain old habits and so on. Quitting gaming is just one of many of these changes that I've used in the hope of transforming my life into something better. It's hard to say that I've actually become healthier from doing all this or if it's just some impossible chase towards the wrong kind of goals. I stand by the argument that one should be more content with what they have and focus their attention towards the moment and not the future, yet I find it hard to live by myself. Ironically I also know that my autism struggles a lot with change so it's never a comfortable journey to try to take up new endevours. I also easily get fixated on things no matter their nature and so it becomes hard sometimes to see the line that shouldn't be crossed.

I'm not sure what to make of all this just yet as the only thing I feel is exhaustion. I'm tired to even think of change and betterment at the moment. It seems like it's dominated most of my adult life and it bothers me a bit. More so than I might want to confess.

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Over the course of my childhood and youth I mostly gravitated towards friends who shared my gaming interest. Some of these friends had better and newer gaming equipment than me and it felt almost like going to an amusement park to come to their home. Some of them I had very casual friendships with where we shared little else than this one hobby. Some people I felt I didn't like much at all but I couldn't resist the urge to discover new games so I befriended them against all odds.

This caused a lot of issues of course with people who wanted to hang out with me that weren't interested in gaming or had a collection of games that didn't speak to me or felt outdated. I had one such friend in particular and our tedious friendship lead to me making up excuses in order to hang out with other friends instead of him. I mostly wanted to hang out with my very best friend because he had all the latest gaming tech and he was totally fine with us just gaming back to back, on different consoles, for several hours.

With my problematic stance on friendship also came the issue of me not paying attention to the age of those I spent time with, and this is also something that has a strong correlation with my autistic nature. Because I was so drawn to games and people who played games I sometimes didn't make any kind of judgment in regards to their age. More than often in my teens I spent time with basically children (often cousins or friends to the family) as they knew I had lots of cool gaming equipment at home and was a fairly calm and easy-going person. My mother observed all of this and tried to give me hints which evenatually made me reflect upon it. But I had a hard time saying "no" when these people texted me about hanging out so I just rolled with it until it eventually died by its own.

In hindsight I feel like I needed more people around me during both my childhood and teens that were not interested in gaming. During college I eventually met such people, and it was a thrill, but I wish I had been open to such relationships much earlier. I felt that I had missed out on so much and that I was a bit behind everyone else when it came to social skills and life experience. Many people found me a bit odd (and some still do to this day), and while that is nothing wrong by itself it was something that I yet again used as an excuse to isolate myself and play games. I had absolute zero thought about breaking that habit at the time.

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Was listening to a gaming podcast today about a guy who became obsessed with two online games. Made me think of my own obsessions and all the times I've struggled to put down the controller in order to be productive or go to sleep. I find some comfort in that most gamers know what it's like to become really hooked by video games, even though it may affect us differently.

There were for sure moments during my gaming days where I had more control; where most things in my life went on without much hassle. I managed to stay on target with my exercise, I stayed in touch with people, went outside and did some wilderness stuff etc. But as soon as I was met with any setback I started losing that control. At the moment it happens with food/sweets and scrolling internet and I'm not completely rid of this urge to kill boredome and stress with quick fixes. Gaming was just one of many things that I obsessed over whenever I felt loss of control. It has really started to dawn on me that the issue is bigger than gaming, which is not hard to understand. Having this kind of personality makes you sensitive to a lot of stimuli and it's only natural to try to mitigate that stress by forcing control through the repetition of potentially harmful activities.

Life wouldn't be what it is without some loss of control and some pure selfish endevours, but the balance is incredibly hard sometimes and because of that we fear to even enter that space. Leaving the door slightly open still means that it's open and instead of taking a peak we try to run the other way. The question is what's good for us in the long run. I for one am not really sure...

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Constantly fighting thoughts about taking gaming up again but with a different and stronger mindset. A part of me wants to be convinced that it can happen and that I can be happy without excluding things that I know will bring me joy. I'm closing in on 90 days gaming free which feels like a small triumph but I know I will be on the threshold of making some kind of decision again. I'll put a lot of thought and energy over the coming days into really reflecting over what has happened during these 90 days and how my life has improved in various ways.

The most drastic change is that I don't feel the urge to run back home to continue my gaming progress and to perfect my games with various achievements. I can manage some overtime at work, go to the gym more spontaneously and go on trips without feeling stressed. I hope I can focus on things like this when potentially making a new decision about how I should go forward.

A couple of days ago I spoke to my mom and she couldn't really believe that I've managed almost 90 days. To her my gaming interest has been part of my DNA since early childhood and I've never hinted at wanting to stop all together. It's almost like I don't realize myself how big of a deal this change is and that it's potentially going to affect my entire life going forward. I just hope this is truly the right decision for me and not just another coping strategy or escape from a bigger issue. Time will tell I guess.

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46 minutes ago, Wildermyth said:

Constantly fighting thoughts about taking gaming up again but with a different and stronger mindset. A part of me wants to be convinced that it can happen and that I can be happy without excluding things that I know will bring me joy. I'm closing in on 90 days gaming free which feels like a small triumph but I know I will be on the threshold of making some kind of decision again. I'll put a lot of thought and energy over the coming days into really reflecting over what has happened during these 90 days and how my life has improved in various ways.

The most drastic change is that I don't feel the urge to run back home to continue my gaming progress and to perfect my games with various achievements. I can manage some overtime at work, go to the gym more spontaneously and go on trips without feeling stressed. I hope I can focus on things like this when potentially making a new decision about how I should go forward.

A couple of days ago I spoke to my mom and she couldn't really believe that I've managed almost 90 days. To her my gaming interest has been part of my DNA since early childhood and I've never hinted at wanting to stop all together. It's almost like I don't realize myself how big of a deal this change is and that it's potentially going to affect my entire life going forward. I just hope this is truly the right decision for me and not just another coping strategy or escape from a bigger issue. Time will tell I guess.

What do you mean escape from a bigger issue?
The gaming is the escape 😄 if you escape the escape it's not an escape 🙂 
Anyway it's not a small triumph it's a big triumph. 
And treat every day like that! Every single day you held strong is a triumph of itself. 90 is a triumphx90, so give yourself some credit here mate!!!

Stay strong, you're not alone!

png-clipart-bicep-muscle-emoticon-arm-biceps-emoji-muscle-hand-people.png

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40 minutes ago, Yan said:

What do you mean escape from a bigger issue?
The gaming is the escape 😄 if you escape the escape it's not an escape 🙂 
Anyway it's not a small triumph it's a big triumph. 
And treat every day like that! Every single day you held strong is a triumph of itself. 90 is a triumphx90, so give yourself some credit here mate!!!

Stay strong, you're not alone!

png-clipart-bicep-muscle-emoticon-arm-biceps-emoji-muscle-hand-people.png

Yeah, I suppose you are right. I just can't help but feel that I've tried to quit so many different things for so many years now and it hasn't really led to me being more at ease. It's like doing all these constant changes is some sort of escape from a problem that I've not yet identified or dealt with. There is no shame in betterment and achieving life goals, but when it almost becomes systematic, like a bad habit, I have to wonder what behaviour causes it and if it's in my best interest at all times.

But thanks for the encouraging words! And you're right, it's a pretty big triumph. The longest I've been away from gaming before is when I went to travel for about six weeks. But then I was still watching and writing about games, which I'm not doing now in the same way. 🙂

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I've been in a really good mood today where everything just flows in the right direction. I wish I could have more of these moments because it's like a roller-coaster for the most part. And I don't think it's anything specific that makes me feel good, life just sort of balances itself out from time to time. Days like this I feel like I could live quite happily without gaming, even though I'm used to thinking about video games whenever I feel extra happy. Kind of like when you want to buy your favourite candy when it's friday and you're finally free for a couple of days.

I've also been thinking of an old swedish gaming forum I used to visit almost daily called Level 7. I started posting there when I was in high school and it continued up till my early 20's until they unfortunately decided to pull the plug due to low member activity. I loved being a part of that community because I had the role of informing people of the latest gaming news, and I always made really good threads with som quality discussion. Over the years I became known as "Mr. Hype" and was appointed member of the month not only once but twice. Level 7 was a key component in making my gaming hobby during my teens feel more meaningful. Most people that I played with online came from the forum and it was like being a part of a big family. When they brought the site down I gradually shifted over to bigger forums such as Neogaf and later Resetera, but it was never the same thing. Overall I tend to like smaller and more intimate communities; I've never gravitated towards big MMO guilds, large clans or that kind of stuff. When people know my name and when I have something to actually contribute, that's when I'm in my best zone.

Writing on this forum sparks some of that enthusiast but it's a different beast entirely. I'm here not for entertainment but for betterment and I have so much to learn before I can start to teach. I hope GQ eventually can give me a new kind of meaning that in some way surpasses the feeling I got from my old gaming forums.

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Memories of my school days popped into my mind today. School played some part in keeping my gaming interest the way it was because I found school really stressful most of the time. Due to my autism I have some difficulty with adapting to certain systems and social contexts. School was pretty chaotic for me, especially during puberty and my early teens when it became more and more important to socialize and find your identity. I kinda just wanted to chill and play games for an eternity. I had no bigger goals with my life and I barely had the energy to accomplish the small goals I set up for myself back then. The constant stress was of course one of the reasons why I immediately started playing games as soon as I came home. Games offered an environment with balanced challenges and lots of reward mechanics that made you feel special at all times. In contrast school felt like a really steep hill with some obscure goal at the top. I did not understand at all why I was forced to lean certain things and how I could waste so much time on them overall.

In an attempt to bring some joy to my days at school I started implementing gaming whenever I could into my school work. I wrote about my favourite gaming artists, directors, the history of games, how sports games related to real sports, what gaming meant to me etc. I even started my own fanzine with a couple of friends in college which became really successful. I believe I had this behaviour of always trying to work gaming into my school work up until university, and then it started to dawn on me that I had such a hard time finding any motivation to write about anything else. Gaming occupied 90% of my brain and it was also the key factor in keeping me motivated in stuff, which I started to realize was very problematic.

Today I don't feel this way. Before I quit gaming (almost 90 days now!) I had already begun my journey towards learning other stuff and discovering other thrills in life. I was still using games as a stress release but I wasn't thinking as much about games in other contexts. During my teens most of my life goals included gaming in some form or the other but today I don't really feel and think this way. And if I should ever include gaming into my life again I am certain it will not have the same kind of hold of me as it did back then. Still, the issue of growing out of control and becoming my main mechanic for coping with stress is still there, and that's why I'm hesitating on taking it up again as a hobby.

 

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Been finding myself watching a lot of movies lately and binging lots of shows as a replacement for video games. I think it's the last outpost of some kind to deal with the fact that I don't really know what to do at home. You always have that part of a day when work is done, all the chores are checked off and you don't feel the need to be productive, but there are still plenty of more hours until bed time. Weekends especially are kind of rough because I don't really long for the time off anymore, as I mostly wander around aimlessly. It's usually the same repetition where I do some chores, go shopping, exercise, go outside for a couple of hours and then head home to watch something on my computer screen. I feel somewhat at ease doing all these things but they don't bring me much joy and I miss the days when I was truly longing for some time off.

Life itself is so heavily structured around work that I don't know what's even possible to accomplish during those small hours in-between. When I was gaming I sometimes made it spiral out of control of course and work became affected. Gaming has that tendency to make everything else obsolete which is its most problematic trait. I'm happy that I don't feel that anymore and I'm trying to convince myself that it's a good tradeoff to feel some kind of boredome each day instead of having uncontrollable urges to play video games. Still, the exctacy of their most well defined moments are hard to completely resist; so hard in fact that I find myself thinking about them almost every day.

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I've decided for myself today that certain simulation games will potentially be part of my life in the future, due to their ability to make me cope with certain parts of reality. Because of my autism I have a lot of difficulties with driving in traffic for instance and I haven't gathered the courage to aquire a drivers license yet. Heading out in traffic scares me immensely as there are so many impressions and decisions that have to be dealt with in the shortest amount time. Back when I played games I found a lot of comfort in learning how to shift gears and drive slowly in a digital environment. It also led to me developing quite the interest for real world racing (F1 mainly) which is another reason why I want to continue to have these particular games in my life. Simulations offer us the opportunity to actually learn something a bit more complex and they don't tend to get their hooks in you in the same fashion as conventional games. Back when I played Flight Simulator I learnt a lot about actual aviation and even concidered becoming a real pilot, but due to my poor eyesight that's not gonna transform into reality sadly. It's a comfort then that I can learn all there is to learn and still fly in a simulated environment. And the same goes for racing, as it's near impossible to be able to drive a racecar on some of the worlds most famous tracks without a Super License.

I wont indulge in any of this at the moment though as I'm focusing on getting a new apartment. As soon as that goal is accomplished I might take some simulation game up again, or maybe I won't depending on where I'm at. Time will tell I suppose.

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Two days to go of my 90 day detox. It almost feels a bit surreal since I've gamed non-stop for over 30 years and now I've been away from it completely for almost 3 full months. It has made me realize though that I might want to introduce gaming into my life once again, but with proper boundries. I don't know how and when but I might want to give it another shot. A clean slate with a new mindset, a new user and a clear goal in mind with some friends that stand by to help me be accountable if I steer too much in the wrong direction again. I've realized over these 90 days that I have immense willpower whenever I put my mind to it. I've reached so many goals and completed so many challenging tasks just over the last couple of years and I've truly proved to myself that I can overcome almost any challenge. And all of this during a time when I was still gaming.

To name a few accomplishments just over the last years:

1. I've lost 15kg of body fat.
2. I've increased 7kg in muscle mass.
3. I've built a home studio.
4. I've managed to go to sleep every day before 11 p.m.
5. I've stayed away from porn for several months.
6. I've exercised 3 days a week for over a year now.
7. I've read several books (previously I hated reading).
8. I broke my ankle in 3 places but have built up my strength almost copmpletely.
9. I've started going to a therapist for my autism and I write a journal several times a week now.
10. I've switched work place 2 times and endured all the stress along the way to finally find myself in a successful place.
11. I've opened up several saving accounts and built a steady budget in order to buy an apartment in the near future.

I want to use this willpower to try and have a healthy gaming life because I want to have some of that joy in my life again of becoming engrossed in digital fiction. Many of the games that I enjoyed was an extension of reality and not necessarily a replacement. I liked racing games because I also liked racing irl, I wanted to fly planes in games because I wanted to learn more about aviation irl. I also made use of games to deal with some of that chaos that my autism causes as gaming has the benefit of structure, rulesets and easy to understand tasks/challenges. For me it was almost therapeutic to play at times.

There is of course a feeling creeping up inside that I'm betraying a code and that I'm not being worthy of visiting this site anymore. Most, if not all, users here talk about quitting for good and only a handful are trying to continue gaming with a more healthy mindset in mind. I really respect everyones struggle and I believe that gaming can cause a lot of pain when it gets out of control. For sure I've been there myself, many times. But as I hinted at I'm not fully convinced that this is the road I want to be going down in the near future. It will take some more time and reflection before I reach that final verdict. Until I do I'll make sure to post more thoughts about it here.

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Today I reached my 90 day detox goal! Feels a bit surreal but I think i've proven that I have lots of willpower whenever I put my mind to it. 🙂

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Focusing on doing some outdoors stuff now before the winter hits. It was snowing a couple of days ago but not it's back to dry weather again. My main challenge right now, besides gaming, is to save money for my future apartment. The goal I've set up for myself is to save 10k by the end of august next year, and so far I'm a bit behind on my calculations. It's not a surprise though as I've not really taken into concideration all of the expenses related to skiiing and other hobby stuff. Still, I'm gonna try and make the goal as best as I can. So far I've managed to put together almost 3k which is a good amount. I usually spend money like my life depended on it so it's a milestone for sure.

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Had a very productive meeting with my boss today where we reviewed the year that has gone by. He had a lot of positive things to say about my personal development and all the things that I had achieved. My work with our music studio continues to be successful and I've also started to take more place within the group. I've strugged with finding meaning in my work over this past year but it is slowly turning around. I'm also looking forward to what new projects the coming year will bring.

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Gonna take a short break from forum posting for a couple of weeks and try to focus on some other things. I'm in a good place in life right now and I want to explore some new things and try some new changes. I might be back at the beginning of next year and tell you all about it. Take care in the meanwhile! 🙂

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