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My Journal - GoldenGains


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Hey guys, my name is Mark! I'm a 20 year old college student. I get addicted to pretty much anything my brain finds immediately gratifying, which is a blessing and a curse. I have ADHD, and run ins with depression (though I feel good now!).  I know firsthand how harmful gaming addiction can be, and I'm here to get over it along with everyone else!

A Case Study

Figured I would write up as detailed a description as possible about my case - I gather it will be more useful for other people, as it is easier to relate to that way. It also gives me an opportunity to practice writing, which is something I struggle with doing (so many things to say when you have ADHD :P). May be a bit too much rambling, but I'll come back to it in the coming days and see if I can't cut down on some parts.

For as long as I can remember, I have been pretty much obsessed with computers and video games. I love technology. As a kid, I didn't want to be a firefighter or police officer - I wanted to be a hacker/programmer (you can see where this may lead to). Something about computers and technology seemed to capture my imagination.

Growing Up (Laying down the groundwork for addiction)

I grew up getting good grades, playing plenty of video games, but also spending a ton of time outside with my friends. I picked up programming at the end of 6th grade, which was awesome. I was totally hooked, and really impressed with what I could now accomplish using a computer. Back in those days, I was actually able to go between programming and playing video games in a manner that didn't really hurt me. This seemed to change around the time of highschool, when puberty hit.

High school (Transcending life, hooked on video games)

I became moody, spent a lot of time playing video games, and increasingly less time hanging out with friends. I absolutely hated my high school - the only good thing I got out of those four years was becoming best friends with my English teacher, someone I still keep in touch with today. I had mediocre grades, was asleep more than I was awake, and was pissed off at everyone/everything. Thanks to a good friend, I ended up going to see someone, and found out I had depression. This was something completely new to me, and I was completely unaware it existed. You would occasionally see that old couple on TV, with one or the other frowning, and some sad music in the background, and then a voice telling you about treating depression with SSRIs. Never really thought much of it at the time.

What better way to escape from depression than by playing video games for hours on end? I could conveniently hide my social anxiety, depression, and low energy levels behind a computer screen! Starcraft 2 became something akin to a meth addiction - I would mindlessly play games, over and over again. I got damn good, but only because of the ridiculous amount of repetitions I put into it. It was nothing more than my brain being hooked on an extremely rewarding stimulus, that didn't really require any real planning, or mental effort. I did play video games with friends - but it definitely was not the same as interacting with someone else one on one. Real life became boring in comparison. 

Started smoking pot my senior year of high school. This turned out to be an even better way of blanketing my depression! Gained ~30 pounds or so over the course of 6 months. Played video games high. Went to school high. Worked out high. Pretty much spent my entire year high, or thinking about when I was going to smoke again.

Nontheless, it was an interesting experience, because I was introduced to the notion of writing down thoughts, and actually sitting down to think about life. Luckily I was with some really, really smart people who encouraged me to write down thoughts and read different things. Definitely could have done a lot worse.

College(Really, REALLY rough start)

Freshman Year:

Things seemingly got better - fell in love with someone I cared about, got re-introduced to coding/programming, started working for a startup, found a great new group of friends, etc. Definitely miles ahead of where I began! But, I did not give the attention/respect my depression demanded, and ended up relapsing. I failed every class my first semester, save for one. Back to square one with depression - this time around, I ended up taking antidepressants for a few months. Also self-medicated with alcohol, marijuana, and occasionally took other substances (no meth though, don't worry). Ended up quitting smoking pot completely, as it began to put me into a horrible state of mind. I would consistently obsess over staying productive. Second semester was OK, as I only failed one class that time around.

Sophomore Year:

-Got wrecked grade-wise, again. C's, C-'s, D's. I ended up getting completely sucked into video games for a few weeks, which really hurt me academically. I was never really on top of my stuff to begin with at that point, to be fair. Was on the verge of being dropped from my college. Realized something was wrong, and that I should not be obsessing over anything my brain decides on (work, video-games, etc). Went and got neuro-psychologically tested, under the assumption that I had ADHD, not depression. Results came back, and I did have ADHD... but was also depressed, which was showing up even higher on the test than my ADHD. Luckily there was a miscalculation for one of my classes, so I dodged a bullet, barely making it over the required GPA.

-Got back on medication for depression, went to therapy, and academic coaching to get school under wraps. I use a planner, make to-do lists, and get things done (most of the time). A lot better than when I began, but still not quite there yet.

-Around a month ago, my two year relationship ended. It turns out this was yet another way for me to mask my misery, and was not a truly healthy relationship. Had been occasionally playing video games prior to that, but ended up going overboard once this happened, as I figured I needed to manage my emotions in a healthy way. One good thing I have managed to do since then though is lose ~12-13 lbs (through diet and exercise). It's amazing what a ketogenic diet (70% fat, 30% protein, no carbs) will do for you. 

That just about brings thing to the present - recently picked up GameQuitters again, picked up Respawn Elite, and am determined to channel my anger, frustration, and disappointment into something constructive.

 

 

 

 

 

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Welcome back!

Also, the web-app idea is something I'm very serious about moving forward with very soon. If you want to support with it, let me know.

Edited by Cam Adair
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You could participate at the surveys about the 90day-detox(http://gamequitters.com/detox-thank-you/). There are 4 surveys in the time you do you detox and you have to rate your subjective perception of your mood in different areas at a 1-10 scala :D.

Ah, good point! Bookmarking that one.

Welcome back!

Also, the web-app idea is something I'm very serious about moving forward with very soon. If you want to support with it, let me know.

Thanks! Messaged you about it :D

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GoldenGains, thanks for sharing your story. It must be difficult to manage ADHD and depression together, and it seems you never completely fell victim to the various drugs you tried. You got a relationship, took part in a startup, are a decent programmer and you still went to the gym (albeit high). Sounds like your best bet is developing a productive routine that includes taking care of your depression. "Anger" and "frustration" are high energy states, if you can channel them - as you will - into something productive, I am sure you are getting onto the right path.

You're definitely at the right place here!

And I would definitely be willing to try out any beta version of the software app, once you and Cam have it built.

I kind of marvel at the fact 0% carbs in your diet does not kill your good mood. Many people can't stay on a ketogenic diet because without carbs, their happiness goes down. How do you manage to avoid that?

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Writing this one the morning after Day 1, because I was absolutely exhausted after getting back from doing cardio. I managed to reset my sleep schedule, which is a plus though!

Day 1

This was a bit of an interesting day. I was away from my Gaming Desktop for the weekend, so I didn't have any real opportunities to play video games. Didn't really feel much of an urge to do so either, so that went well.

Caught up on a lot of work that I was behind on - I definitely need to maintain that for the next two weeks, leading up to my exams. I'm still behind, but I've come up with a very good schedule, which if I stick to, I will be a survivor!

Reading and talking to some people on the forums, I came to the realization that I'm one of those people who cannot play in moderation. The potential cost of relapse is just too high, and outweighs the potential benefits (entertainment, fulfillment, etc). I'm also missing out on so many other great things in life (that I don't yet appreciate) so my verdict: Stop Altogether. No 'responsible' gaming.

Some of my goals for the coming days/weeks are:

  • Continue exercising/dieting
  • Stick to schedule
  • Meditate daily, read

I don't want to put in any more than that, because I know I'm going to be swamped with work, so rather than create a bunch of new habits at once, I'll just things I know I can get done without too much stress.

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GoldenGains, thanks for sharing your story. It must be difficult to manage ADHD and depression together, and it seems you never completely fell victim to the various drugs you tried. You got a relationship, took part in a startup, are a decent programmer and you still went to the gym (albeit high). Sounds like your best bet is developing a productive routine that includes taking care of your depression. "Anger" and "frustration" are high energy states, if you can channel them - as you will - into something productive, I am sure you are getting onto the right path.

You're definitely at the right place here!

And I would definitely be willing to try out any beta version of the software app, once you and Cam have it built.

I kind of marvel at the fact 0% carbs in your diet does not kill your good mood. Many people can't stay on a ketogenic diet because without carbs, their happiness goes down. How do you manage to avoid that?

Thanks for the response! ADHD and depression do suck, though I think I'm handling it pretty well at this point. At certain times though, it was truly horrible. Yeah, the software idea is really cool, and I'm not sure if there's something else like it out there already, but I know it would be really useful for other people. I would definitely be using it by myself on the daily.

Ahh yes, the ~0% carbs... the first 3-4 days I did that were absolute hell. Carb cravings, low energy, lethargy, you name it. But once that subsided, and my body got used to the new way in which it produces energy (ketosis) I actually felt MUCH better than I did on a carb-heavy diet. More energy and focus, while being an a pretty large deficit (1500-1600 calories/day) whereas my maintenance is ~2180 calories/day. Count in cardio, and that's ~800 calorie deficit. It's definitely not for everyone, though - the way some people's bodies work just won't allow it, and it's not worth it for them. But I eat a lot less, feel fuller, and feel happier!

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No moderation for me either. TBH, over time you'll have so many other things to do you will be less interested in games than you could ever imagine right now.

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Day 2

This one is a day late, but I'll be posting another one for today's date as well. I've been suuuper busy with schoolwork, and have pretty much found that I turned into a productivity machine since I decided to stop gaming. I actually played for an hour or two last night, but then I realized it was no longer fun - I was just sort of sitting there, mashing buttons. Turned it off and went to bed. 

Been keeping up with my exercise routine, as well as diet - pretty big deficit, so I'm losing weight at a fairly noticeable rate, which is nice! Right now my priority is just hanging in there until finals are over, and maintaining diet and exercise. 

I have about 1.5 weeks of intense studying - after that, it's green pastures!

EDIT: Something I noticed and have been looking into is high/low energy states. As of late, I've definitely been in a consistent, high energy state. However, I know it will all come crashing down soon - I tend to go nuts on some days, and then turn really lazy on others.

http://www.drkreisberg.com/balancing-high-energy-and-low-energy-states/

This article has an interesting perspective on it - I think I need to pick up meditation again! If I could regular my energy states, I would be so much more consistent and productive.

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Happy to hear you've been spending more time studying. That's key.

Haha, yep. A 1000% increase (went from nothing to reading an entire novel in a day). Now to continue this streak of getting work done, and I should be good :-).

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Day 3

OK, this one is on time - hopefully I will be able to regularly post the same day, around the time that my daily routine is over.

Today was a really good day - got lots of work done, and still some more to go before I turn in for the day. Really happy with how I've been able to catch up, despite the effort it took to 'give in' to the sleepiness/laziness. Noticed that I haven't really thought about gaming today. I was much too busy thinking about what would happen if I didn't get my work done on time, and also thought about how nice it would feel if I did. 

Got my workout in (actually went to the gym twice - cardio, and then weights) and still maintaining my diet, which is key. Hung out with a friend, which was also nice. I think that once finals and other things settle down, I need to focus more on fulfilling my social needs with something other than gaming. At present, it is a little bit hard, because it just doesn't feel as rewarding as gaming does. I imagine that this will pass with time, so for now I'll just have to hang in there and force myself to get out there more.

After reading the article Cam linked (http://gamequitters.com/why-i-quit-professional-gaming/) about the professional gamer, and why he quit, I decided to start identifying a list of triggers.

These are the two that I think are most influential (in my case): 

Depression

Everything is difficult when depressed. Being physically incapable of staying awake, focus, and enjoy the basic things in life is begging for something to keep the mind occupied. Gaming can fill a lot of different needs, if you allow it to (which is bad). 

Low-energy states

After spending a lot of time studying or working, my brain feels exhausted. I'm talking about the 'I can't read another page of this book' mental tired. That's usually when I reach for the keyboard, and open up Steam. I need to find some alternative activities here. I'm guessing movies can be one, but I could easily see myself developing a Netflix/Movie binging habit, which isn't ideal either.

I'll be adding on to this list over time, as I think it's pretty valuable to consider. 

Post-it Note Tracking

Similar to those apps people use for tracking how many days you do something in a row, I decided I'm going to put up sticky notes on my wall (have three up right now) for days where I either play no games at all, or play responsibly (1-2 hours or less). I can change colors based on whether I played at all or not, which could be interesting to see visually, over time.

So far so good! I feel pretty confident about where things are going. Still have lots of things to figure out about myself, and where I want my life to go. But I'll save that until after exams - no need to have an existential crisis right now.

 

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Day 4

(Should have posted this one yesterday, but my nap turned into a full night of sleep).

This day was a little bit low-energy; not too sure why, but it may have been my quality of sleep. I had too much caffeine at the end of the day, and it kept me up for quite a bit. It was a bit of a bummer, because I felt like I could get nothing productive done. I did what I had to do in terms of assignments and going to class, but other than that, I let myself go a little bit.

I played some games for ~2 hours, and managed to snap myself out of it. Low energy states is something I need to learn to manage more, I think. When I'm in that particular mindset, it just feels like I can't do ANYTHING other than watch a movie or something of that nature, which really sucks. Today should be a much better day, though.

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Day 5 (Meditation Day 3)

Another rather low-energy day... still not too sure why, but I was a bit out of it all day today. I think this is because I knocked myself out of ketosis over the weekend by eating carbs (was stuck at the airport, flight delayed, needed to eat something otherwise I'd die...). Gotta hang in there for a few days and get back in the game.

Luckily today I still got a ton of stuff done, and didn't have the urge to play video games! Diet is on point, as is working out. Drinking tons of water, meeting my daily caloric intake, etc. Lost 16 lbs thus far!

I also decided I'm going to start counting the days I have meditated in a row. The regiment I'm using is the one outlined in this book: http://www.amazon.com/Full-Catastrophe-Living-Revised-Illness/dp/0345536932 

The one criticism I have with the routine is that they throw you in a 45 minute body scan-meditation session every day as a complete beginner. I've had exposure to this in the past, but for someone just getting into it, I think this is a bit extreme. You get pretty annoyed with the whole thing towards the end - but they mention in the book that it's to be expected. Just gotta stick through with it!

 

 

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The low energy can be for a variety of reasons and can be an affect you're having from gaming withdrawals, so don't sweat it too much. Keep exercising and focus on continuing to eat good food. 

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The low energy can be for a variety of reasons and can be an affect you're having from gaming withdrawals, so don't sweat it too much. Keep exercising and focus on continuing to eat good food. 

Yeah, I'm curious to see if it was the gaming. It's a little bit annoying to deal with, but I'm sure it will pass eventually.

 

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Day 6

Still feeling a bit low energy. Got my stuff out of the way today, kept eating well, and also went to the gym. I noticed I was having a bit of a craving during an especially low energy moment at around 11PM, and it was aggravating me. So I got up, put on my running shoes, and went to the gym to do cardio for half an hour. It was actually an amazing session - one of those where you could keep on going, and not feel a thing. All I could feel was the sweat on my skin - had some good music playing, and that entire time I just had an image in my head of how much I have already progressed, and how awesome it would be to get to where I want to be.

I definitely need to keep an eye out for these low energy periods, and see if I can't do something like that every time. That would definitely be an awesome habit to introduce to my life.

Books

I might make this a section in my journals from now on - not too sure, I'll see how it feels. 

Since I just finished reading a novel ("Siddartha") I decided to pick up something that could potentially help me on my quest to fulfilling the 90 day detox, as well as generally transforming my life. I ended up picking up "Gorilla Mindset" which should be arriving in a day or two. Heard tons about this book, and pretty sure I saw someone recommend it on here as well.

Will definitely post a review once I'm done with it!

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