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NEW INTERVIEW: How Pauline Narvas Overcame Gaming Addiction to Become a Programmer and Build an Incredible Life!

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DeathandOpportunity

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Thanks both.

Immediately, my biggest reason to quit is so I can achieve and send a loud message to people from similar backgrounds. I've endured things many only know about from textbooks and newspapers, but I survived. However, I'm a lucky bastard who's dodged more bullets than most of my peers. Though I don't know what I'm doing, I'm doing it to show respect to people I've buried and hope for my peers.

What achievement looks like: Honestly, Cam's presented a pretty good model. I want to lead people out of my darkness, out of poverty and cycles of grief, and into empowerment. First though, I need to find my way out.

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Welcome to the forums. Definitely stay engaged with the community here and post daily. Journaling here daily will help you clarify your thinking and emotions, both of which can be jumbled when you decide to quit.  Also, Respawn is a great guide that may help you in the beginning stages. 

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The first few days of quitting anything are the hardest. Especially when you're counting it day to day. It's so much easier to keep it up for three days and say "fuck it, I'm bored, I'll begin again tomorrow." Believe me, though, every time that happens, you feel worse. Good on you for joining the community. The people here are a great resource. Stay strong!

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Borrowing some money for Respawn later this week. 

In the meantime: Habit Reversal Training helped me quit smoking and some toxic habits, so I'm adapting it to gaming and mindless media consumption.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habit_reversal_training

  1. awareness training: Step 1: detail events of compulsion: Whenever I'm emotionally overloaded (anger, frustration, feeling powerless), whenever I have lots to do but don't know how to start, when I'm bored.
    Step 2: External monitoring: Downloaded a activity tracker to my computer and iPad. Got a couple in life partners I meet with during down times to work on our separate projects. We keep tabs on each other. Holding them accountable makes me more receptive of them helping me. I periodically fabricate a task so I can step away and indulge. Being honest about these fabrications reduces the shame of relapse.
    Step 3: Learn warning signs (urges, sensations or thoughts) that precipitate habit: Exhilaration at industry developments, nostalgia, self-depreciation. 

    Step 4: Identify all situations in which compulsive behavior occurs.: I won't list all of mine here (too long). Addiction swapping (sex, media, alcohol, combat), behavior as reward, as an alternative to socially unacceptable behavior (mourning, aggression).

  2. competing response training: Replace compulsive behavior with a competing activity that isn't reminiscent of gaming, but meets the particular needs. Go for something readily doable but socially unobtrusive like doodling, origami, or mindfulness practice. I like Cat's Cradle because I learn new tricks and engage at different levels.
     
  3. contingency management: Basically, this means ongoing self-monitoring with communal aid, having a support team to help with relapse or risky times, and ensuring that you haven't simply traded addiction.
  4. relaxation training: I'm learning stress management and mindfulness because I no longer have gaming to help with my stress.
  5. generalization training: Extend the above into new situations like summer breaks and family gatherings, and apply this model to other areas of your life you want to own.

 

 

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Shoot.

My girl and I woke up late today, so I rushed her to school before coming back home to get ready. Going back turned into this amorphous morning of wtf, two drinks, and browsing. Originally, had only planned for 15 minutes of surfing, but that turned into "What the hell" and steadily grew to three hours. So, unscheduled wtf time is definitely a danger zone for me. I can often overcome this by opening my OneNote everything file and planning out my next actions. This works best with iPad, so I'm gonna start leaving my computer in the car.

A cool lesson learned though: Going on forum and addressing this is both empowering and frustrating. It's empowering because it acknowledges this scary drain on my life and it's frustrating because I want to get away from the damned computer and get back to life already.

Peace Comrades.

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One trick I've learned is to plan my day the night before. That way I know exactly what I need to do, when and why. The less I have to stop during my day to plan what I need to be doing, the more I'm able to follow through with it.

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One trick I've learned is to plan my day the night before. That way I know exactly what I need to do, when and why. The less I have to stop during my day to plan what I need to be doing, the more I'm able to follow through with it.

Good advice. How do you keep yourself from going overboard? I find myself fixating on ALL the things I need to do and scheduling 48 hours of work for a 24 hour day. Part of this is playing catch up with what my younger self expected of me, part of this is fulfilling obligations to family, friends and school, and little of this seems like something to do for myself.
Well, 48 hours doesn't fit into a day, so I end up starting behind schedule with no way of catching up.
Trying to catch up with a lifetime is unrealistic, I know. I don't know another mindset. 

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I focus first on the top 3 things I need to do that are the most important. I make sure I do those first, as early as possible in the day.

The thing is, it's more about consistency over time than going from zero to hero TODAY. Overwhelming yourself and falling off the wagon after 2 days is pointless. Trust that time is on your side if you work at small improvements each day.

The best book to read right now is The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. :)

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Thanks Cam.

Ok, first day of complete detox. No games, no porn, no memebase, no collegehumor, no relief. Bored and demotivated. Well, fuck motivation.

Great work!

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Note to self: measure the alcohol put in my mixed drinks. Those two screwdrivers hit like power drills. So, cheated myself at my two drink limit which led to relapse on web browsing and gaming.
A lot of this really is about intentionality. So, instead of allowing myself two drinks with a friend, I'll plan two drinks with a friend. Framing it actively should make me more conscious of what I'm doing.

Edited by DeathandOpportunity
Clarification

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Pulling this from April Challenge because this will be an ongoing development:
 

  • Commitment:  No video games (not even computer solitaire or minesweeper), no Memebase, no WatchMojo or Game Theorists videos, no porn, two drink limit, no Tinder/OkCupid/Omegle, and abstaining from my shows unless watching with a friend.
    • Risk times (incomplete list): Late at night while waiting for wife to come to bed. Her "give me a minute" can last an hour. So, express my need for communication and set up some bedside, non-electronic time consumers like Sudoku.
      • After class while waiting. Basically, any time I don't have a set schedule.
    • Exceptions & Alternatives: AsapScience and CrashCourse are great entertainment that motivate me to interact rather than withdraw. Have some learn Chinese apps and developing Quizlet flashcards for the dead time in between tasks.
  • Duration of Challenge: Shiiiiiiiiit. I'm super wary of the "what the hell" effect. Failing on these challenges leads to BIG relapse for me. So, I'll stratify my commitment.
    • Duration challenges:Bronze One week, Silver two weeks, Gold a month
    • Relapse Challenges (days lost): bronze ten, silver five, gold two, plutonium Null
    • Relapse Challenges (longest relapse): bronze three days, silver two days, gold one day, plutonium Null
      • Give me your feedback on whether you think this kind of set up helps or hinders. Results may vary between individuals obviously. I see the benefit of tiered achievements creating frequent and relevant rewards but also the detriment of an overly complex system.
  • Goals?
    • Mandarin: Tell my girl she's beautiful and order at local Chinese dinner without pointing at the menu or pictures.
    • Education: By honest with my study buddy about the shit semester (three deaths via drunk driver, one via suicide, etc.) I've had and get his help on three overdue papers.
    • Career: Figure out some damn career goal and contribute money to the household. I hated my army job, but I need to see if I like its civilian equivalent (logistics management). Ice breaker for those employers is the New Silk Road.
    • Music: Unless I find an instrument I can carry in pocket for under ten dollars, nope. 
    • Fitness: Wife and I have goal of 20 minute walks twice a week as established routine. We've already failed so far attempting morning walks (I stagger like zombie, she sleeps like log). We're walking home instead of taking the bus tonight.
    • Legal: Track down traffic ticket that I lost and need to pay for. Seriously, I feel like a jerk for neglecting this.
  • Why I'm doing this:
    • Because, well, Damn it! 
    • Debt sucks, I want to work in a more social field, I want to inspire my nieces & nephews, I want to feel stronger purpose.

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Progress Report:

  • Alcohol past two shots makes me stumble when I slip up. Thus, late last night I played solitaire on my computer which led to memebase, cookie clicking, and roguelikes then bled into this morning with more roguelikes and porn. It was like a cascade of "what the hell" effects So, limiting alcohol consumption to two shots per four hours unless required for negotiations or networking. That happens enough that I'll coordinate with my partner for a recovery model.
  • Despite relapse, my strategy worked really freaking well for me. Getting back on track required a long hard look at how easily declaring the day lost would extend into weeks and months lost. I'm gonna write on a calendar "just one day" on every day left to show where that thinking leads.
  • Mandarin: Měilì. That's Mandarin for beautiful. Gonna work on pronouncing that for a while.
  • Career: My resume looks like hot shit once I calculate and add dollar signs to the things I've done in the army. Submitted two resumes listing multi-million dollar management tasks that I did as an enlisted. Now worried they might think I'm overqualified. (plug)If any of you consider military to escape poverty and reclaim your life, talk to me. It's rough as hell, but damned viable.
  • Fitness: Wife and I've added an hour of walking to Friday and Saturday by parking in the commuter parking rather than on sight. She's happy.

 

 

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One of the first thing that "goes" when you drink is CAUTION. That's why you're more likely to drive dangerously when you've been drinking, go approach a girl you want to, play games, and so forth. Alcohol during your gaming detox is definitely something to be very aware of. Good job posting here though, that's really important.

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Report:

Alcohol: just gonna cut it out altogether for my detox. Too many celebrations in my community right now as friends graduate. 

TV: Restricting target behaviors to certain conditions is easy to cheat. Thus, reinforcing "only with friends" plan for watching my shows by actually contacting them to plan said showings. 

Career: Got a coding and career mentor. So, learning SQL for the next month. 

Fitness: cheating myself by making up for the calories burned with extra food.

Mindset: I'm paying more attention to my thoughts and feelings throughout the day. I tend to maintain some underlying irritability and anger alongside my typical emotions.  Cool thing is that people around me accept the validity of my emotions without the need for details. Thus, I don't have to choose between dealing with other folks' emotional shock from harsh topics or a cognitive schism from saying something unobtrusive but utter crap. So, I can tell my girl or friends that I'm angry or irritable, but that I'm not comfortable talking about why.

 

 

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Mindset: I'm paying more attention to my thoughts and feelings throughout the day. I tend to maintain some underlying irritability and anger alongside my typical emotions.  Cool thing is that people around me accept the validity of my emotions without the need for details. Thus, I don't have to choose between dealing with other folks' emotional shock from harsh topics or a cognitive schism from saying something unobtrusive but utter crap. So, I can tell my girl or friends that I'm angry or irritable, but that I'm not comfortable talking about why.

Lots of good decisions here. I'm proud of you for the decision to cut out alcohol, it's an important one.

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Dangerous times: Afternoons I start to lag a bit. Solutions I'm working right now: Take my anti-anxiety and Ritalin re-ups around noon. Coffee and nap @ 1. Check in with comrades.
Dangerous tasks: These damned papers I'm trying to catch up on. I keep framing them as <Giant Megalithic Task of Doom> rather than micro tasks like I keep planning. No matter how I frame the things, it just seems like something overwhelming. I need to just say fuck it and roll my face against my keyboard until I got 2 essays.
I might literally do that as a starting point.
 

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Try just 30 minute blocks with your essays. Then take a 5-10 minute (NON-DIGITAL) break (go for a walk), then 30 more minutes. Those 30 mins will compound quickly and you'll make a ton of progress.

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Fell off the wagon pretty heavily. But I think it's been a helpful experience. I believe I was over-focused on avoiding gaming instead of focusing on life.
Some things that happened:
New Medicine, Concerta, for my ADHD. It makes it more natural to focus, which is both good and dangerous. Dangerous because I would get set into focused grooves of <h1>not gaming</h1>, rather than productivity. This zero-product work was exhausting me from a lack of direction and an waisted energy. Thus, video games actually came as a relief with their clear set goals.

Code Academy: I've been using Code Academy as an alternative to gaming. It has clear set progression paths, challenges me, and even gives me Medals/Accomplishments for my completed work. I've done their SQL courses and am now taking HTML and CSS.

Adjusted my goals: I was mapping my goals too heavily. This meant a lot of time getting eaten up in redrawing plans and a mass of measured failures, or things I didn't do that I had to cut loose. I've made my long term goals more flexible, learned to prioritize different goals, and picked up hobbies with better established progressions (Example: Code Academy)

I did my graduation ceremony. I still have a couple summer classes, but I feel good for how it's made my family feel.

Probably not gonna spend as much time on here as initially. While the community is helpful, spending more than 10 minutes a day here is in line with avoiding gaming rather than focusing on myself. If and when I fall off the wagon heavily, I'll definitely touch base and realign.

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