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My 2nd introduction – After a whole year of no video games – And then relapsing during the pandemic


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Hello everyone,

 

I’d like to introduce myself again. I originally joined this forum in 2018. The first time I posted on this forum was honestly a life changing moment for me. That first post was the catalyst to a series of small steps that would lead me to my first initial success.

 

Video games had been a part of my life for as long as I could remember, as I grew up in a family of gamers. It took a really long time for me to realize that I was addicted, but when I finally did, and finally admitted that I was addicted (by posting on this forum), my life really did begin to change.

 

I originally started with the 90-day detox, and succeeded. While it was a struggle at first, I started to focus more on exercise, freelancing, reading, writing, and just general personal development. My relationships improved, my health improved, life in general was more fulfilling and enjoyable.

 

It’s amazing how getting out of video game addiction is like emerging from a fog. While I was addicted, all I could think about was video games. Time, energy, thoughts, everything was consumed by video games as I tried to squeeze in as much as I could to playing. When I finally overcame my addiction, it was like seeing the world with new eyes. Thoughts and ambitions that I’d never known I’d had, began to appear.

 

Which led my wife and I to make the biggest decision of our lives. We decided to pack our things, and move half way across the world, (literally from North America to Asia) to start our own business in 2019. The fear and excitement were intoxicating, everything moved so fast, but with each frightening leap into the unknown, not only did we land safely, little successes came with it, and this motivated us to plunge further forward. Things were going well, and the momentum was thrilling.

 

And then came the pandemic.

 

I suppose this is why time and time again, we see and hear the proverb the higher you climb the harder you fall. Our business came to a complete stop, as we were unable to operate during the pandemic. At that time we had no idea what was coming next and we constantly wrestled with the ideas whether to wait it out, or call it quits. The constant waiting for the unknown became an unbearable burden on our minds.

 

I managed to get back into freelancing so that we could maintain our income. But this is when I started to relapse. The lockdowns began to reveal underlying problems that I had refused to face. While living in another country was exciting at first, the excitement from starting our first business was masking the fact that I was terribly lonely. It’s hard to say exactly when I started to become depressed, but the lockdown forced me to come face to face with the fact that I was dealing with loneliness and depression, along with the stress of the pandemic.

 

Unfortunately, my solution for myself at that time was to start online gaming with my old gaming group. The relief from the pain was immediate, and I tried to rationalize to myself that this was okay, but this was a false cure. I began to deliver the bare minimum to clients, and spent more and more time gaming. We had a separate quiet room where I could work online, and my wife would avoid entering in case I was speaking with a client. But this left me with more time to my own devices.

 

Things really got out of control when my wife and I both had direct contact with someone who had had COVID. This was when Asia was dealing with the delta variant, there was a lack of vaccinations where we were, and fears were at an all time high. To make matters worse, my wife was pregnant at the time, and we both had a strong feeling that one of us was infected, but that perhaps we were asymptomatic. We were deathly afraid of my wife getting infected, so we decided to self-isolate. There was a small 3x3 meter room in the back of our house where I could isolate from my wife and we didn’t have to make any contact with each other. Since we wanted to completely eliminate the chance of my wife potentially getting infected from me, we decided to isolate for 21 days (we didn’t know what we know now about COVID!).

 

I decided not to work during that quarantine period, and for three weeks I just gamed and slept. I had food delivered to my door, and I ate while I gamed. I never left that room, except to go to the bathroom. My friends and family were also dealing with the lockdown, so we all just allowed ourselves to get carried away with video games. It’s safe to say I was sleeping maybe 4-6 hours a day, and then the rest of the time was just spent gaming. Since I was in Asia, even when it was 3 am for me, this was just the afternoon for my friends and family in North America. The whole thing is just a blur to me now as I think about it.

 

I don’t want to describe the games in too much detail lest I trigger someone reading this. But what was particularly addictive was that I was playing an MMO with my friends and family. I was allowing myself to get immersed in my character, the story, the lore, the world. I started to convince myself that there were elements of art to these aspects of the video games, convinced myself that these were things to be admired. Not only that, but my friends also immersed themselves in their characters, we were a guild, and we got carried away.

 

This made it much harder to limit my gaming when our quarantine came to an end. Over the next couple of months, I just continued to do the absolute minimum when it came to work, and squeeze in as much time as I could into gaming.

 

Flash forward to two months before today. The lockdowns had ended, lives were slowly getting back to normal. My wife and I were able to resume our business, but we still had a lot of obstacles as the threat of COVID and its effects on businesses still lingered. My wife had given birth and our child was almost a year old. Normal routines started to want to resume again, but I still couldn’t see beyond the fog of my addiction. My mind was back in that state where I could only think about video games.


I no longer had the excuse of the lockdown to rationalize playing video games. My mind had also experienced what it had felt like to be addicted, get over it, and enjoy life again. But somehow, I couldn’t stop. I would game for hours and physically feel a hole of anxiety open up in my stomach and expand into my lungs, I could feel my heart pumping, a twist in my gut, my accelerated breathing, my mind telling me I need to stop, there’s so much to do, *but then I’ll just do this quest and just be over it.*

 

During this time I also struggled with thoughts in my mind trying to rationalize video games. If they were such a problem, how would I have reached the point in my life that I am at now? I am not rich, but I also don’t really need to worry about money, and can live comfortably. I am also in complete control of my schedule, my clients are kind of like bosses, but I am also my own boss. I don’t have a traditional boss looking over me dictating what I have to do. Is my life so bad? Are video games so bad?

 

Yes. They are.

 

In the back of my mind there are still so many things I want to do with my life, and I know that video games are not only a fog for me, but a hungry little monster always wanting more.

 

Another one of Cam’s videos was really an eye opener for me when he described people as moderators or abstainers. I am without a doubt an abstainer. Which has also made me realize that this is also linked to an underlying problem that I have which is sometimes when I get too focused on things I have a lot of difficulty letting go, and I can have tunnel vision on that one thing. That was beneficial when I was starting my business, but it also caused me to develop some unhealthy habits which also contributed to my relapse.

 

Last week, I had an important presentation. I prepared for the presentation the night before with an all nighter, because I had been postponing the preparations with video games. I am someone who has kind of always gotten away with somehow delivering good results even when I procrastinated and rushed at the last minute. Except this time, I woke up, and felt like I had been hit by a truck. I couldn’t think at all. I had to cancel the presentation. What’s worse was that my wife was incredibly supportive, and said “it’s okay, you’ve been working so hard.” Right then and there I wanted to cry, I was so ashamed, disgusted, and furious with myself.

 

Which brings me to today. I have uninstalled all my games and closed all my accounts.

 

Here we go, again.

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You've got this!

It's always amazing to read peoples' stories and to be able to pick out so many similarities in behavior when it comes to gaming. It's also a strong reminder that we are not alone in our struggles. Congrats on realizing on your relapse affected your life and taking the steps to get back on track. 

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Thank you for your kind words.

I also read your introduction and I think we are both in similar situations. When I first tried to quit gaming, I also tried to switch to single player games and game in moderation. But I failed every time. I have also been gaming since I can remember, my first console was an NES, and I also had and played just about every major console that came out after that.

At one point in my life, when I was struggling to find a balance between work and gaming, I often considered trying to find video game related work, so that I could mix pleasure and play, and maybe I wouldn't feel as guilty about time being wasted playing video games. But deep down inside I knew I was lying to myself, and your situation certainly confirms what I thought would happen to me.

You have certainly made the right choice to quit for good.

You are absolutely right about how important it is to remember that we are not alone. Sometimes I would beat myself up over my inability to moderate. It really helps to know that we are all here working together to move towards that better point in our life.

We can do it!

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