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Recovery 101 - A Journal and Reflection


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Hi Readers, 

I'll start by saying the purpose of this thread is to track my recovery journey, with the goal of developing some content which may be helpful for anyone else seeking to change their life beginning the journey of recovery from gaming addiction. I've been gaming for as long as I can remember (6 years) with various intensities throughout my life. Currently 30, I have had a history of relapsing (being unable to control my gaming habits at the expense of my health and other important areas of my life) once or twice a month, however, I've struggled to ever abstain from gaming for an extended period of time (over a month). 

I seem particularly susceptible to being addicted to certian types of games, and my last relapse was 14 days ago, with the relapse lasting 7 days. After a particularly emotionally painful week/weekend, I've recommitted to sobriety from that particular game, which I know when played results in addictive behavioural patterns. I've been exploring therapy on and off for the last three years, and am currently attending individual sessions on a weekly basis, though addiction is not always the focus of these sessions. Any progress I make should also consider the importance of these sessions in helping me better understand my emotions and hold me accountable. 

I will do my best to journal as often as I feel necessary and valuable in this reflective journey. Here we go:

Sunday, October 1st to 8th (2023) (Day 1 - 7)

After a particularly painful 7-day relapse up until October the first, I was ready to recommit to sobriety before the following work week. The pain of knowing that if I continued to engage in the game I was experiencing addictive behaviour during the work week would lead to significant consequences to my mental health and work performance. The pain associated with another week of neglected relationships, postponed responsibilities, and 3 -4 hours of poor-quality sleep, outweighed my desire to continue this behaviour. In addition to this, I had two emergency sessions, with my therapist who helped me to identify the role gaming plays as an unhealthy coping behaviour when I experience stress. 

We discussed a few actionable steps for limiting triggers, such as blocking access to the game through external software and even self-sabotaging ranked games (when I am not relapsing), to acquire an internal ban within the game. Something I identified as a deterrent to playing. Connecting with this group was also identified as an actionable step.

Despite my commitment to externally blocking the game, I did not do so. Mostly, because following the relapse I didn't want to do anything related to game, partially to avoid any triggers and partially because I was exhausted from all the energy I had already given it. I will move forward with blocking the game, as I think this will be a good strategy, this coming week to continue taking actionable steps in the direction of sobriety. 

I downloaded a Gamified Task /Habit building app, which I have been using to structure my mornings and evenings. I'll share my current routine at the end of this post. I found that completing tasks and tracking different habits which would reward me with experience in areas such as Strength, Vitality, Wisdom, and Intellect, based on the type of habit fun and insightful. The app is called Life Up Pro and is a paid app ($4.00 CAD) I think. 

One of my goals was to engage in a reading practice every night, having neglected this goal for a few weeks, I started re-reading Awaken the Giant Within - Tony Robins, interesting enough this book was about making decisions, and how to make better decisions and change your life. I don't subscribe to self-help, woo-rah, but I found there were a lot of practical psychology behavioural tools which I could apply. Some which resonated with me were, taking an actionable step whenever I make a decision, and exploring how pain and pleasure are interconnected with behaviour. We've all heard the saying "Maybe they just need to hit rock bottom", well, some of the concepts of this book explore consciously working to change your pain/pleasure associations to change behaviours. I'll get more into this later, as it's not super relevant for this post. 

One day of recovery, I decided that I needed to engage in regular exercise, something that I am aware makes me feel amazing, especially when I feel depressive symptoms which was the case post-relapse. I decided the way to this was to wake up early enough to go to the gym early in the morning before my day started. This decision was also inspired by a conversation with a friend who was talking about how much he was enjoying morning workouts. I decided that in order for me to do this I needed to wake up consistently and early enough to actually go to the gym, something I have struggled with in the past. Aware, that the Huberman Lab Podcast is an incredible resource on behaviour modification I began making a point of listening to at least an hour of any podcasts related to sleep hygiene, circadian rhythm, sleep optimization, and the biological benefits of sleep. 

Monday to Friday, I set my alarm for 5:00 a.m., and woke up and went to the gym (with a rest day on Wednesday, that involved Yoga at home). Listening to resources on sleep, increased my convictions about the importance of sleep and provided me with new tools for optimizing my sleep schedule and habits which can promote sleep and rest. I'm going to continue learning about sleep for the rest of the month until the idea of not getting enough sleep (7 - 9hrs) and neglecting my sleep, becomes as foreign as the idea of not wiping my ass after a shit. 

The first few days were incredibly difficult, but it got easier. I keep my phone out of my room so I have to get up to turn off the alarm, and I have set my lights to turn on automatically at 5:00 am. I also noticed a former gym acquaintance attends at the same time as me in the morning, so I look forward to that. Waking up early has also caused me to be extremely productive with my day, and exhausted by 8:00 pm, which usually results in me winding down and being asleep for 9:30 - 11:30 pm. I need to work on this, as I do have a poor habit of some NSFW activities prior to sleeping which has delayed my bedtime and disrupted my natural feeling of sleep and rest. 

Overall, I've been feeling amazing, despite experiencing some fatigue during the days as my sleep schedule adjusts. I've increased my social activity by 10 fold since my relapse, found myself to be more productive, and even developed a consistent post-workout breakfast to keep myself energized throughout the day. After I finish working out and getting ready for my day, I usually head out to a coffee shop at 8:00 a.m. to begin whatever work I have to do, by 6:30 pm I've aimed to have eaten and usually minimize any artificial lights and engage in a bit of reading and my night routine, which includes a reflective process. 

I'm happy to share more regarding my routine, if anyone has any questions, I'm pretty exhausted from this long-post and probably will engage in 30 -45 of Non-Sleep Deep Rest or Yoga Nidra, which has been shown to be incredibly helpful for boosting dopamine and supplementing energy levels during the day. 

In regards to gaming, I've been so busy committing myself to learning about sleep and exploring the power of decision making it hasn't been a thought. 








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