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Alex

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Day 1: "And so it begins"

My name is Alex, and today begins what I hope will be remembered as the day I turned my life around.  Yesterday, as I lost another 6 hour block of time gaming when I needed to be working my dissertation, I had an epiphany. Two emotions arose from that gaming session. Firstly, the fact that I did not notice 6 hours pass was quite disconcerting, and secondly, when I should have been stressed after wasting so much time, I felt surprisingly happy. It then struck me that I was having a physical reaction to gaming. I felt like what I imagine a drug addict would who had just just taken a hit. 

After many past half-hearted attempts to try to understand my behavior, I finally felt compelled to do something about it. I came across Cam's TED talk and then gamequitters.com, and was blown away by how much his words and those of people on this forum resonated with me. I picked up a Respawn package, and haven't felt this confident in a long time.  I still can't believe what started as a hobby 20 years ago (!?) had evolved into something that almost cost me my PhD....

And so, today begins my 90-day detox. The first thing I did when I woke up this morning was collect my games and consoles and promptly trade them in at gamespot. I do not believe I have the willpower to avoid them if they are in arms reach. At first I was terrified at the thought, but I now at the end of the day I feel a strange sense of peace. Meditation via Headspace is also incredibly helpful.  

I know that I'll need courage and perseverance to get through this transition, but I finally feel like my life is moving forward again after too long a period of stagnation. 

Goals for tomorrow:

1) Wake up at 7am for Headspace meditation

2) Exercise for 30 minutes

3) Go to library to work- home is too distracting

 

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The first thing I did when I woke up this morning was collect my games and consoles and promptly trade them in at gamespot. I do not believe I have the willpower to avoid them if they are in arms reach.

 

Power move :D

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Hi Alex, welcome to the community!

Thanks for sharing your story, it seems like you're off to a flying start by making those major moves to reinvent your life.

I also find that going to study at a public library can be very helpful for productivity; I hope that goes well for you.

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Day 2: so far so good

I expected the gaming itch to kick in right away, considering it happened often when I WAS gaming (that might have been the most satisfying use of "was" ever...). Surprisingly, I didn't have an urge to game all day. Neat. I hit 2/3 of my goals today; didn't quite make it out of bed by 7am. Headspace is currently my favorite app. So let's wrap up with some things I'm grateful for and some goals for tomorrow. 

I'm grateful for:

1) guided meditation

2) new York style pizza: I missed this the most living briefly in the south

3) the newfound ability to look inward for answers

Goals for tomorrow:

1) wake up promptly at 6am, on the road by 9am at the latest for drive upstate. 

2) go out of my way to reconnect with former colleagues

3) go for a run in the evening

 

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♥♥♥ Your first two days make me so happy! Getting rid of the physical distraction, joining the forums, writing a journal, taking the time to plan your days and being present with yourself.  

The itch didn't appear for me right away either, it was a bit surreal at the beginning, as if it were an exciting temporary thing. Making it an always thing happens over time, which the 90 days is perfect for that. 

Reconnecting with people became much easier for me too. I'm much more in the moment now. Giving people my full attention, when before I'd be consumed with thoughts of games, or bored in the presence of people who used to entertain me.  Hope it goes well:)

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Day 3: Temptation avoided!

Fantastic day today. Woke up early for a beautiful drive through upstate new york, and had a blast reconnecting with no less than 5 people I hadn't seen in some time.  Getting out of the house and into an academic environment (college campus) felt GREAT.  I didn't even think about video games all day. My first trial did appear in the evening however.... A very good friend of mine wanted to talk about and then show me an update in an MMO that we played a lot in the past. I was able to hold out for a few minutes for fear of being rude, and then politely asked to change the subject. I was waiting for this moment to happen to see how much of a reaction it would get out of me. I did feel the urge to play, but by closing the game and moving our conversation to the kitchen it subsided pretty quickly. It went over very well, and we are doing non-gaming activities tonight. 

I also paired up with an accountability partner today: one MmmWatermelon who also recently started the 90-day detox. Our video chat left me feeling very positive and motivated to keep the momentum going.  We planned for weekly video chats as a way to support each other if a tough week should arise. 

Things I'm grateful for:

1) Long-time friends who never let the passage of time interrupt the conversation

2) Supportive advisers- I would not be where I am today without my adviser in graduate school

3) Paper novels over back-lit tablet screens- my eyes thank you

4) Chai

 

Goals for tomorrow:

1) Start working by 8:30am

2) Go to the gym!

3) Smile at anyone who makes eye contact

4) Maintain all friendships after a game of Risk-Opoly tomorrow night (sarcasm)

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Day 4 Morning "Well that's a new type of nightmare"

I woke up this morning to a dream I feel compelled to share here on the forum. In my dream, I was spending time with a friend who prompted me to start playing a video game with them. I have a strong memory, from in my dream, of feeling ASHAMED that I was gaming. This was a completely new experience for me. When I woke up and realized it was only a dream and I had not failed my 90-day detox, I was overjoyed! 

Dreams- the one place where I'm more happy to fail than any other. 

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Day 4 Evening: Finding a new groove

Solid day today. I started working at 9am today, with only a 20ish minute period of procrastination. That in itself is a welcome improvement. Put in a solid 9-5pm work day, which have been rare lately. I'm feeling motivated to keep up the momentum (also set new deadlines with my boss, and I think the structure will help).

Today I'm grateful for:

1) Family (related or not) dinners

2) Colleagues willing to be sounding boards

3) Junior members of my team thinking enough of me to come for advice

4) Coffee flavored yogurt (or anything coffee flavored, really)

 

Goals for tomorrow:

1) Start working with less than 15 minutes of procrastination

2) Go for an evening walk

3) Get to sleep by 10pm

4) Out of bed by 6:30am

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Day 6, Morning "Cravings coming on"

I missed posting on Day 5, and feel a little anxious about it. I don't want to start falling behind so early. I had an interesting realization this morning however, which may related to missed post. I had more stress about gaming yesterday than since the detox began (a friend was showing me his character on an MMO again yesterday) and I started to feel the craving to game. Historically,  I turn to activities I can binge on (games, netflix, anime, reading). Last night I was reading from 8:30pm till 1am. I wondering now if the added stress of the day from gaming exposure actually trigger the binge. If that happens to be my trigger-response behavior, I will have learned something very valuable.  Perhaps I'll test it by seeing if I can put down the book at a reasonable on days where I had little to no gaming exposure.  To be cont.

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Yes, triggers will lead to cravings and that's when you're most vulnerable to relapse. Being aware of what your triggers are and creating an environment where you can respond to them positively is important.

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Day 6, Evening "Well that was interesting...."

Not too much to update on today. A bit of game craving but nothing unmanageable. I did notice something good/strange today with my eyes. My pupils have always been pretty small, never really dilated too large even in low light. This afternoon (2pm-ish) I looked in the mirror, in a very well lit room, and my pupils appeared at least twice as large as they normally are. I wonder if the lack of back-lit screen time is actually allowing my eyes to return to a more normal state. If so, I've found another health benefit to stop gaming. 

Today I'm grateful for:

1) My sister who is a baker, and brings gourmet donuts when she visits

2) My father, who at 75 is healthier than most 60-year olds I've seen. Especially after a heart attack + cancer in 2004. 

3) 10-year high school reunions. 

4) Low humidity

 

Goals for tomorrow:

1) wake up at 7:30am

2) practice archery from 8-9am

3) Less than 20 minute of procrastination while working on computer

4) Exercise for 30 minutes 

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Day 7 "A whole week?!?!"

Its been 7 full days since I started the 90-day detox, and I feel great. I've noticed that I'm spending more time on important things; such as exercise, catching up with family, and thinking about short/long term goals. My anxiety is severely diminished compared to a week ago as well.  

Did pretty well with my goals today: woke up a bit later than I wanted, but got a full hour of archery in before the temperature became uncomfortable (bonus- being outside enjoying nature). Went to the local farmer's market and bought delicious and nutritious food for the week while simultaneously getting another 30 minutes of exercise. Internet procrastination was much better today. 

Today I'm grateful for:

1) The feeling of vitality imparted from eating fresh vegetables

2) Having the ability to support local businesses and shun Walmart and the like

3) The feeling of freedom from the realization that my future can be what I want it to be, and to hell with other's expectations

4) The support network provided by friends and family during times of stress and hardship. Can't be grateful enough for this. 

Goals for tomorrow:

1) Out of bed by 7am- must continue pushing toward my desired waking schedule

2) Weight training for 30 minutes

3) Start a conversation with a stranger for social development (thinking bookstore or cafe)

4) Zero internet procrastination before completing work objectives (maybe a little ambitious, but have to try)

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Day 8 "Where's my dopamine?!"

Today was a tough day. I was having feelings of boredom, depression, and particularly apathy. I was about to make a post in the general forum asking for advice when I remembered that Cam spent a lot of time and effort writing Respawn. 

Thank you Cam. Thank you for taking the effort to craft a document full of guidance and support. It had exactly the advice I needed.

I'm fairly confident that I'll continue to feel this way until my brain re-wires its dopamine sensitivity. But the fact that I know this is to be expected and an approximate timeline for it makes me feel so much better. The battles must be fought one day at a time. 

Today I'm grateful for:

1) Having the resources to steer my life in the right direction

2) Stoicism

3) Knowing that I can forgive myself

 

Goals for tomorrow:

1) Long walk before breakfast

2) No internet before 5pm

3) Increase meditation to 20 minutes

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Day 9 "Eternal sunshine for a spotless mind"

Great day today in contrast to yesterday. I had a 2 mile walk planned for the morning, but felt so good to be out (and perfect sunny weather) that I made it a 4 mile walk. I don't know if its related, but I also had one of the best writing days I've had in a long time. I hope they are related. Also did well ignoring the internet. That was likely also a factor. 

Today I'm grateful for:

1) My father has a modern laptop that still says "You've got mail" via AOL

2) Long sunny walks

3) Living walking distance from phenomenal walking and biking trails

4) The good days

 

Goals for tomorrow:

1) long bike ride in the morning

2) no internet again until 5pm

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Awesome to hear Respawn has been helping. And props to you for continuing to read and apply it as much as you can. That type of growth mindset is exactly what you need!

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Day 11 "Keep on swimming"

Unfortunately missed a day posting yesterday, but I did have a great conversation with my accountability partner. Its really nice being able to chat with someone at the same stage of the detox, particularly when our moods and concerns are fairly aligned. I haven't had as much exercise in the past few days, and I wonder if that's the reason I've been feeling sluggish. I was reminded today of a thought provoking phrase to meditate on during rough days:

"This too shall pass"

The meaning being that all things, both positive and negative, are temporary. 

Today I'm grateful for:

1) Technology- making life easier (but not necessarily simpler)

2) Quiet spaces for thought

3) A healthy body

 

Goals for tomorrow:

1) Long walk in the morning

2) Re-visit short term and long term goals

3) Focused guitar practice for 1 hr 

 

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