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MmmWatermelon

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Hi my name is Caius aka MmmWatermelon and really happy to have found this community through watching a few of Cam's videos, I think one of my many struggles surrounding quitting games has been trying to do so alone for a long time...

(!) Long post ahead (!)

My story with games: like many of you, I got hooked early on when I was a few years old, in my case playing Prince of Persia on my mom's DOS machine. I thought it was absolutely wonderful. I'm 29 now and I grew up in Romania with technology back then maybe a little behind the US. We mostly had old 6-12Mhz DOS machines and a few friends had a Super Nintendo on which we played Mario and Duck Hunt. Most of my games as a kid were DOS games like Prince of Persia, Monster Bash, Doom, Duke Nukem, a bunch of the Lucasarts graphics adventure games like Monkey Island and Indiana Jones (that I only had access to in German, but I was so stubborn in getting through them that somehow I'd figure out the language even with the little I learned in school :)). In elementary school a lot of the boys in my class were really into games and we traded games on floppy disks and played a lot of split-screen Mortal Kombat 3 and oogled Lara Croft (yikes!).

My family moved to California when I was 12 and I missed my elementary school friends and all that we did together. My first couple of years in the US starting in 6th grade were rough. I had no friends and felt very different and isolated from everyone and sometimes people would make fun of my accent, my clothing, my teeth, how good I was at math (good!), and so on. I also discovered Starcraft through a demo, and later my family bought it for me so I started playing lots of Starcraft sometime in middle school, and started forging online friendships to compensate for my lack of connection with my American peers. When I was in high school I made some really good friends starting in 10th grade and one in particular I credit with steering me (unknowingly) towards exploring other avenues of life. By 12th grade especially I was hanging out regularly with a group of friends and started feeling more socially comfortable. I also did pretty well in school and found I was going to go to Berkeley for college so that made me feel pretty happy. The whole time in high school though I secretly gamed a lot at home every day I came from school. I would sometimes tell myself I would try to do my homework first and I should gain some discipline but I pretty much always felt smart enough to do my homework last thing at night or during breaks at school and still get by with A's in class. I think the most confusing part for me was that I didn't play games often with any of my friends from school, and it felt like something I needed to hide from people. I never had any of my friends over at my house, but always went out to theirs, for some reason it was kind of scary to introduce my Romanian parents to my friends and this also contributed to creating a sort of feeling like I was leading a double life. Sometimes I felt happy and connected with people but other times I felt really depressed.

I decided not to have a computer during most of my years in college because I wanted to try to quit gaming. One time I tried buying a Mac, thinking it wouldn't be too good for games, in my third year but then quickly figured out how to play World of Warcraft or something or other so I sold it off a month or two later. However, when I was back at home with my parents I would play games, sometimes for long periods of time. After my second year I took a year off school and in the summer before I resumed I ended up living by myself waiting for school to start and feeling really depressed, working very part time. This was the first time I played games completely out of control and with very little contact with other people. I mostly played Diablo II online and I felt very miserable and alienated. I would oftentimes play through the night and sleep at odd hours or go to work on very little sleep and just get through it for a few hours (I worked as a personal caretaker). I also wasn't eating very healthy. It was hard giving it up and trying to focus on school afterwards, I think I struggled with lots of social anxiety and I already felt confused and unsure about what I was doing in school and with my life in general...

#

I graduated about five years ago and since then I have had a hard time figuring out a career or path to go down. I've ended up doing a lot of math tutoring on my own hours and working a few summer jobs or backpacking / biking during the summers. I have found myself often turning to games as a way of avoiding figuring out my life. After school I was in a relationship for almost two years with a girl I had met in my junior year. We had / have an incredible connection and we are still good friends but I ended up choosing to leave the relationship because I felt I needed to "go work on myself," whatever that means. It pained me that I could not stop looking at porn when I was away from her even though our sexual connection was fulfilling. When we lived together for a couple of months I started playing some silly DOS games half behind her back. I still felt a lot of anxiety and inability to feel like I had gotten through my feelings of guilt, shame, and self-loathing that I had acquired from playing games compulsively. I felt like I couldn't be the person I told her I wanted to be or even the person she saw in me, and that anything good I did I was somehow faking.

#

From two years ago to a year ago I was in another relationship with another wonderful girl and ended up moving with her to Colorado. For the first time, she was someone who was willing to listen to me trying to talk about my feelings surrounding all this gaming stuff and I was open to talking about it, and she was a very helpful listener with her background in co-counseling; but I still felt a general feeling of anxiety / not knowing what to do with myself and was unable to sleep / started more and more to stay up late at night playing games in a different room of our house. I also ended up running away from this relationship with a similar feeling of "I'm not ready, I have more work to do on myself." One valuable lesson I learned from this relationship is to try to break this pattern of trying to hide my gaming problem from everyone. I think the suffering I've inflicted on myself by trying to hide it even from people who care about me has been just as much as the suffering from actually doing it and feeling helpless. I think invariably people I have opened myself up to with the attitude of "I don't need you fix this FOR me, but it sure is helpful to get someone to just listen" have been supportive.

#

Anyway, until last December I felt like I was at least slowly getting more and more over my lingering gaming addiction. I had been making connections, having new experiences, learning new things; I had not figured out a career and sometimes I had to borrow money from my parents which was and still is eating at me. I've been very stubborn about the kind of work I wanted to do and couldn't stand working an 9-5 for the brief couple of months I tried it. After I spent a few months at a summer camp and had some money saved up I decided to try to make some money during the winter hunting edible mushrooms in the forests in Oregon and selling them to restaurants. I felt very hopeful and excited by the idea of working on my own time and doing something I enjoyed, hiking in the woods. I had some mild success at first, but I didn't know anyone in Oregon so I ended up getting lonely and depressed pretty quickly and the weather was wetter and colder than I had even anticipated. I found a cheap room to rent and decided to buy a computer for the good ol "just a little bit of games to take a break for a few days" story we all know so well : \ Well, I ended up not going out to look for mushrooms for a month and just shut myself in playing whatever games I could torrent all day and night, conveniently in a different state from any friends who might have jostled me back to reality and more cheerful thoughts otherwise...I struggled with myself sometimes, trying to cook a healthy meal or go out into the woods, but I had been eating and sleeping so unhealthily that it felt like it would invariably end up being easier just to numb out with games a "little bit longer, then I'll take care of myself." I really enjoyed Cam's video about the instant vs. delayed gratification and found I could really relate to that.

I stopped gaming super compulsively during the first half of the year and I spent a lot of time getting into rock climbing with a high school friend I ended up crashing with for a few months, and preparing for a computer class. I did still game sometimes and for once with other people, telling myself that at least I was doing it more socially. Unfortunately I had some health problems at the beginning of June, after getting an intestinal parasite and having a terrible reaction to the antibiotics my doctor prescribed, I ended having to give up both the computer class and a a job as a cook I had lined up for the summer and moved in with my parents while recovering. This was particularly tough because it made me feel like my life had been a series of failures and any of my undertakings just weren't working out: the mushroom hunting, the computer class, the summer job. I blamed myself and my lack of discipline in doing what needed to be done to accomplish my goals and to take care of my own health. Anyway, long story short, I have been at my parents' for two months or so and even though it was necessary because of my health, it still feels pretty shitty to be staying with them for so long being 29 years old. What is really challenging here for me is that all of my friends who used to live in this area have moved away and I have a somewhat difficult relationship with my parents...they often seem more of a source of frustration than support. I told myself that if I would go into my habitual pattern of gaming I could never get myself out of this hole and I haven't touched games (and also porn, trying to quit that too!) in about a month and a half now. Although sometimes I have been spending way too much playing online chess or watching Tv Shows, I feel like I've made a lot of progress in various areas. I've been working on my health by cooking (which I like to do a lot), exercising in various ways mostly swimming, body surfing, and hiking, and I've been applying to jobs as I really need some bank to get to living on my own again. I fortunately have found a pretty well paying gig working at home for a jewelry company that I'm just starting tomorrow so I am feeling good about that. Anyway, I feel like things are starting to slowly roll forward and I will continue to work on things slowly day by day, and staying away from games (and porn for me!) and more importantly, doing positive things in my life. One of the biggest insights in this process which I have learned from other places and Cam emphasizes as well is how important it is to not define your life in terms of what you're not doing (not gaming is not something you're actually DOING, because you're not doing anything...you need to fill that hole in your time with other experiences you find more meaningful).

OK, I will have to stop for now and I apologize about not having the energy to proofread this big vomit of a post, it is hopefully intelligible enough : ) Take care and good luck to you all in your own individual journeys! Remember that it's your life and you're the one driving the boat : )

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I love watermelon! :D Welcome to the forum. Great to have you join us here. Your post was great. We all have ups and downs in our story but the key is to just keep learning what we can from our experiences (whether they are good or bad) and trust that by taking the right action (our keystone habits) we will continue to improve over time, we will get there.

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Hm... the more I read stories, the more I realize most of us have one thing in common: at some point in our lives during our gaming days we all struggled with Anxiety/Depression and we used games as a "cope" mecanism, I quote COPE cause in reality it never really helped with anything, it would only get us sunk in the very well known cycle of destruction: "I play cause I'm depressed and since I'm depressed I'm going to play to try to forget, repeat", glad to see things are finally coming your way now, only that this time don't try to quit on your own, we'll be around if you need us.

P.D. I do love watermelon too ;)

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