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Lestrange's strange journaling journey


B_Lestrange
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*rolling up pajama sleeves*

Technically today is the end of Day 2. Day 1 was relatively easy because I was busy all day helping with and then attending the annual neighborhood Fourth of July party. It was lots of fun, as always. There are a lot of elderly people here and I often marvel at how, the older I get, the younger they seem...and I mean that in a good way. I suppose it may have something to do with convergence.

Anyway, I woke up before the alarm as usual and because I'd deleted my games from my phone, I didn't play them...but I did spend a good 45 minutes on Facebook (FB). I'm at my mental best first thing in the morning, and being on FB at that time is almost as bad as, if not worse than, playing games. Now that I'm deliberately doing something about these habits I'm going to see if I can sidestep it without taking the next step and removing FB from my phone.

While at work I had a couple of slow periods where I felt the itch to play a game, but instead I pulled up one of the Udemy courses my company paid for and ran through a few quick lessons. We need more web development experience on our team but they don't want to hire an actual web developer so we're playing catch-as-catch-can.

At home I talked to my neighbor for a half-hour or so, then went inside...and while I was fixing dinner that's when I REALLY felt the pull to play a game. I remembered in one of his videos Cam said that it's the brain that wants to play video games, not you. I have been trying since Memorial Day or so to get back into a regular meditation routine, and so I found myself taking a page from that and observing with detachment, and then making a deliberate decision to do something else...in this case, tackle some mail and other paperwork that had been sitting on my end table for at least a month. I succeeded in handling each piece only once -- act on it, file it away, or throw it away -- rather than reshuffle and reorganize into a different-sized pile. It took about two hours, time that I know I would have normally spent playing games.

The next 48 hours should be interesting since I'm scheduled to have my first-ever colonoscopy on Friday morning. (TMI? Hey, I know we just met, but we're friends, right? ;) ) Before I found this site I'd kind of given myself permission to play games during this period because I knew I'd need something to alleviate my anxiety over the procedure. However, I'm going to see how I do without them.

Today I'm grateful for elderly people who've been through it all and come out the other side smiling with a drink in each hand.

Edited by B_Lestrange
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  • 2 weeks later...

The first thing I thought of when I entered this part of the forum and saw all the newer posts was, "Daily means DAILY." I get it...

So yeah, I fell off the wagon. I'm sure these sound familiar:

"I've had a long hard day and I need to unwind. Playing games for an hour won't hurt."
"I'll just set a timer and when it goes off, I'll get up and do something else."
"I can manage this! It doesn't have to be a big deal."

Etc., etc.

I don't think I'm ready for the actual 90-day detox yet. A couple of Cam's videos (which I haven't watched yet but plan to) speak to something that's been a particular thorn in my side: being a consumer instead of a producer. Lately it seems the only producing I've been doing is for my job, which to me is the very definition of "living to work," which is something I swore I was going to stop doing once I got this particular job. (Very long story short: I spent most of my career in one field, then went to graduate school, then worked in nonprofit, then went back to my original field when my money started to run low.)

Next week is going to be very stressful as we have a bunch of releases going out on the same day. Let's see if I can try a more reasonable approach to quitting gaming, simply by using this space for its intended purpose...to help me be mindful on a DAILY basis.

(BTW: My colon is fine.)

(ETA: I just watched Cam's video "What To Do If You Relapse And Start Gaming Again" and it's like...fuck, man, get out of my head. LOL. The idea of turning quitting into a game appealed to me instantly, though. Sometimes it feels like I'm hard-wired to compete...now if I could only rewire that competitiveness towards more productive endeavors...)

Edited by B_Lestrange
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Welcome back! We're here to help each other. I already had relapse and I can say it's not so bad if you can figure out how to deal with this more effectively. Try some new methods. There's a chance of failure if you try it in the same way, in my opinion. Upgrade your weapons, that'll explain the thing that I want to say.

I hope you have a good respawn!

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  • 1 year later...

So yeah, it's been a while...

I had all of last week (Thanksgiving week) off from work and I'm embarrassed to admit how much of that time I spent sitting on my ass playing games. For the first half of the week I was actually in a different COUNTRY and yet I still ended up spending a couple of hours on my phone each evening.

You know how sometimes you can hear or read something that is so true that it knocks you back a bit? Sometime in the last few days a thought occurred to me: Video games are my kryptonite. It doesn't get much more real than that...and what's really amazing is that (as I described in my intro to this forum) I've known this since undergrad. For well over half my life I have known how easy it is for me to fall down this rabbit hole...and yet I keep on falling down it.

This morning I deleted my games from my phone and laptop. I came back to this site when I started feeling the urge to play a game. So here I am again, starting back at zero, hoping I can stick it out for good this time.

Thanks in advance for the support.

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By getting straight up with the alarm and not lying in bed playing games, I got a great start on the day. I was able to get some of my normal (offline) journaling in before heading off to work.

It was my first day back after a week off. This message popped up on my screen about 30 minutes after I logged on:

2018-11-26_8-34-24.png.dc68748de21d0a8bc087c239e2b9809c.png

I had to laugh...Microsoft Solitaire Collection was one of the five apps on my Most Used list in the start menu. I almost always played during lunch and sometimes during videoconference meetings (don't tell anyone). Needless to say, I uninstalled it from my work laptop.

The rest of the day went pretty well. Vacations are good...I may have spent most of mine playing games but I was relaxed and calm, which is what vacations are for. Getting home though...there were a couple of moments when I felt the urge to play a game. However, I'd given myself a number of tasks to do this evening, with this (writing in this journal) being one of the last ones before bed. As I've described above, I'm trying to use the meditation technique of observing the feeling (urge to play a game) with detachment, and then mindfully making a different choice. This time around I'm contemplating what it means to have to be this mindful on a daily basis. On one of the podcasts Jason (I think it was him) mentioned creating a values list; I think I will do that tomorrow.

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Still having urges to play, particularly during downtime, but knowing I was going to write in here at night kept me on the wagon...

I'm kind of amazed at how much time playing games sucked up. Without games, I find myself with a lot of free time in the evenings. It's not like I don't have things to do with that time -- in fact I can come up with a long list of things I can do with that time -- but I struggle to focus and in the past that struggle has often led to me throwing my hands up and playing games.

I have seen mention of the Pomodoro Technique on this forum. I have used this on occasion but I'm thinking I need to start using it again if for no other reason than to bring focus, concentration, and especially purpose to these free hours I find myself with.

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Bunch of stuff today, lots of mixed emotions.

This morning I got to listen to some of my coworkers talk about their own Thanksgiving spent gaming. Some of them have family and friends who are older than me for whom gaming is an enjoyable way to spend time with people. I was angry at myself (You're making this a bigger deal than it is. There's nothing wrong with gaming. Everybody does it!), then ashamed (You weren't put on this earth to waste your valuable time playing games that you won't even remember a month from now), then sad (Am I going to have to be one of those people who avoids gaming like alcoholics avoid alcohol? Is it really that serious?).

Later that day there were two times -- once during a videoconference and once when I was just tired of staring at the screen trying to get some code to work -- when normally I would have started playing a game on my laptop or my phone. Again, I felt angry: Don't I deserve a break? If that break involves playing a game, is that a bad thing? It's only going to be for a few minutes. (I'm laughing now as I write this because I know good and well it's never for a few minutes.)

Wednesday evenings I rehearse with a musical group I belong to. I do enjoy music and performing for people. This is just one area I think I can move more strongly towards.

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You aren't alone in having those thoughts, in the past I've had them as well and I've succumbed to them many times which only delayed me. They lead to relapse. It's still early, too early to even think you are ready to do gaming in a healthy way. Maybe you can soothe yourself by telling yourself "I can't play yet." Maybe in two years or so, you might. But most of the people here, me included, yeah we're the same as alcoholics in this regard and that's okay. We're getting better. Keep up the good work - and when you experience these negative feelings, embrace them and try to see what message they're giving you. 

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5 hours ago, fawn_xoxo said:

You aren't alone in having those thoughts, in the past I've had them as well and I've succumbed to them many times which only delayed me. They lead to relapse. It's still early, too early to even think you are ready to do gaming in a healthy way. Maybe you can soothe yourself by telling yourself "I can't play yet." Maybe in two years or so, you might. But most of the people here, me included, yeah we're the same as alcoholics in this regard and that's okay. We're getting better. Keep up the good work - and when you experience these negative feelings, embrace them and try to see what message they're giving you. 

Thank you for the feedback. Much appreciated! This morning I was thinking about what I'm going to do over the Christmas holidays when my niece asks to play a game with me. We've played all kinds of games for years and it's one big way in which we bond. But I'll cross that bridge when I get to it...

---

Normally I would journal at the end of the day but I wanted to write this down in case I forgot:

For most of my life I've had a recurring, relatively infrequent nightmare in which I'm in a vehicle, usually a car, that goes over a cliff. Before I learned how to drive, I would be in the driver's seat with no clue how to stop or steer the car. After I learned how to drive, typically somebody else would be driving. As always, there were those moments of horror after the car sails over and down, and then I would either wake up on impact or just before.

Well...in last night's dream I was in a mini tour bus (driven by an elderly Bobbie Gentry; I'd fallen asleep listening to a podcast on the history of 20th-Century country music) but this time when it went over a cliff she said, "Don't worry, it's okay," and pushed some kind of button that deployed parachutes. We landed in a river, gently and upside down, and we just pushed out the windows with our feet and swam to safety. That's literally the first time that's ever happened in all the years I've been having this dream. And it didn't end there...Somehow I made it back to my Airbnb and while decompressing in the tub, Queen Elizabeth barged in on me wearing a hair bonnet and a bathrobe and asking how my day went. ?

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I have to work tomorrow so I took today off. Normally I would have spent a big chunk of it at home playing games. Instead, I ran a bunch of errands, practiced for a couple of holiday concerts that are coming up, talked with my neighbor, cooked a couple of meals, and prepared gifts for family and friends.

Gotta be honest, though: Right now I really, really want to play a game. It's what I'd normally do after a long day. Again I'm telling myself, what's the big deal? and again I'm hearing myself answer: the big deal is that there's more to life and you're missing it.

Is it okay if I play a puzzle game that's not a video game? I have a bunch of these I haven't looked at in a while.

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9 hours ago, B_Lestrange said:

Gotta be honest, though: Right now I really, really want to play a game.

I think what we tell ourselves is really important. Do you want to play a game? Is that your desire? Or is it an urge? Or is it a feeling? Or is it just a habit you have created for yourself via repetition? In the past I struggled a lot with having these feelings and most times I was torn: maybe I just love games, I told myself, and went back to them so many times. Maybe I have a passion for them and passions are okay right? And again I went back to them. But all those times I relapsed and delayed facing my reality what I didn't do is stop and be with those urges and feelings to understand them. What I didn't do is ask myself if it's right to let a feeling that comes now and leaves the next moment decide what I do in life. Because when we get these urges I think we should stop and ask ourselves, how do we want ourselves to be, look and behave? What are our life ideals, what are our values? And if I go ahead and do what I feel like doing, will I be closer to who I want to be or will I be farther from who I want to be? I think you ought to stop and ask yourself those questions too. I think maybe the worst habit technology is giving us is wanting everything to move fast and never stopping, to just be for a while. In this context, we all need to stop for a bit. Just stop, observe, consider.

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On 12/1/2018 at 3:32 AM, fawn_xoxo said:

I think what we tell ourselves is really important. Do you want to play a game? Is that your desire? Or is it an urge? Or is it a feeling? Or is it just a habit you have created for yourself via repetition?...when we get these urges I think we should stop and ask ourselves, how do we want ourselves to be, look and behave? What are our life ideals, what are our values? And if I go ahead and do what I feel like doing, will I be closer to who I want to be or will I be farther from who I want to be? I think you ought to stop and ask yourself those questions too. I think maybe the worst habit technology is giving us is wanting everything to move fast and never stopping, to just be for a while. In this context, we all need to stop for a bit. Just stop, observe, consider.

More great insight...thank you so much. I am regularly reminding myself of why I'm doing this and where I'm trying to go. I keep telling myself I need to take a morning or afternoon to really chart out my path, but I've been very busy these last few days with work and other commitments. On the bright side, I've been too busy to play games, lol. I should be able to take the time at the end of the week after our releases go out.

Last Sunday I dreamed that someone put a laptop in front of me with a game on it (don't remember which one; it had a lot of primary colors) and I started playing it. It felt so real that for a moment after I woke up I thought, oh well, that's that, I was only able to go a week. Today marks 10 days since I last played a game. Also today at work I listened (couldn't watch because I was at work) to the first half of Cam's Start Here video series on YouTube. I took notes and began making a separate list of productive and engaging ways to fill my time, and looked up helpful Web sites and books. It helped to be reminded that there are good and bad days on this journey and that it takes time to unlearn behaviors and reprogram oneself.

Edited by B_Lestrange
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  • 2 years later...


So yeah, it's been a while...but I wanted to share that today, I completed the 90 Day Detox🙂

What finally made me do it? Several things, but in general the realization that life is way too short, I'm not getting any younger, there are still a lot of things I want to do before I leave this plane of existence, and I don't have the luxury of beating myself up anymore.

I actually hadn't planned on doing 90 days. I woke up on February 1 feeling super sad about everything and in an attempt to take some kind of control I said: "Just for today, I'm not going to play any video games." I took all my games off my phone, work and personal laptops, and the refurbished iPad I'd specifically bought for gaming (along with other things, but mainly for gaming to be honest). Each day I made the conscious decision: "I'm not going to play any video games." It was really hard, but I kept it up.

On February 13 I went on YouTube intending to watch some of the GQ videos and found the HealthyGamerGG series of videos on video game addiction. I sat down, watched the entire series, and TOOK NOTES. Honestly if I hadn't already gone 13 days without playing, and if I weren't genuinely struggling not to play, I'm not sure that series would have sunk in as deeply as it did. And then when I realized that the following Wednesday was Ash Wednesday I said, well shit...let me see if I can keep this going through Easter. I'm not super religious but if I'm going to give up something for Lent, it might as well be video games. And then when I hit 60 days I went back to YouTube and GQ and that's when I remembered: oh yeah, Cam did say something about 90 days... 😆

In the HealthyGamerGG series, Dr. Alok talked about finding a "competing interest." I believe I've found a few of those, some old (art, writing, music, exercise) and some new (full-stack web development bootcamp).

Still, I've spent the week leading up to today wondering: what happens on day 91? Can I be a "healthy gamer" who's able to enjoy playing games without guilt while still working towards achieving my life's goals? Many times during these 90 days I've thought about gaming -- along with "What harm can playing one game do?" -- and I can easily imagine what that first, glorious hit of dopamine would feel like. If this isn't addiction, I don't know what is...Am I going to have to stay away from video games for the rest of my life? I keep reminding myself that this is something I have struggled with ever since my freshman year of undergrad. It's why I've never owned a true gaming console as an adult, and why I quit playing multiplayer games long before World of Warcraft and League of Legends came out.

The bottom line is that I don't want to lose any more huge chunks of time doing something that ultimately isn't improving my life in a real way. Maybe when I'm comfortably retired I'll see if I can compete in whatever senior citizen version of e-gaming exists. Until then...one day at a time, as they say.

If you've read this far, thanks for listening.

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Congratulations on the 90 days! What a huge accomplishment! I'm glad Cam and Dr. Alok helped you through your journey. I often find myself (at least Cam) watching his videos when I have urges, it kind of sets me back into that mindset "oh yeah, games aren't interesting anymore." 

6 hours ago, B_Lestrange said:

Still, I've spent the week leading up to today wondering: what happens on day 91? Can I be a "healthy gamer" who's able to enjoy playing games without guilt while still working towards achieving my life's goals? Many times during these 90 days I've thought about gaming -- along with "What harm can playing one game do?" -- and I can easily imagine what that first, glorious hit of dopamine would feel like.

Even though I am on day 75, 15 more days until 90, I have wondered this. Recently I have gotten really interested and craving a Mario game again and telling myself, well at day 91 I can play it. There's the chance though that it might lead into addiction again, so I am unsure. I haven't done much research but I think these ideas stem from the fact that games were such a big part of our childhood and now we have different hobbies and are making progress, we can play them healthily now right? I think though, there is no way to "Healthily game" after the detox. Unless you've been playing in moderation since the beginning after the detox I believe any exposure to games can throw you back into that addiction loop. Also I think just real life is way better. 

Once again Congratulations on your accomplishment!

Jason

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Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, B_Lestrange said:

The bottom line is that I don't want to lose any more huge chunks of time doing something that ultimately isn't improving my life in a real way.

Love that superhero quote. Also this bottom line is good. AA they say don't have any reservations like going back to the addiction once you're retired. I mean if you think about it. There are two lives for you at retirement. One where you don't do much other than game and all the things that you've worked for decades to build in your sobriety fall by the wayside. And one where you can keep going with the momentum you build up. One filled with loving connections with people you deeply care about. And passions that make you feel more fulfilled and positive about yourself than gaming ever did. The choice is yours. Good job staying off the games

Edited by TheNewMe2.0
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23 hours ago, Jason70 said:

Congratulations on the 90 days! What a huge accomplishment! I'm glad Cam and Dr. Alok helped you through your journey. I often find myself (at least Cam) watching his videos when I have urges, it kind of sets me back into that mindset "oh yeah, games aren't interesting anymore." 

Even though I am on day 75, 15 more days until 90, I have wondered this. Recently I have gotten really interested and craving a Mario game again and telling myself, well at day 91 I can play it. There's the chance though that it might lead into addiction again, so I am unsure. I haven't done much research but I think these ideas stem from the fact that games were such a big part of our childhood and now we have different hobbies and are making progress, we can play them healthily now right? I think though, there is no way to "Healthily game" after the detox. Unless you've been playing in moderation since the beginning after the detox I believe any exposure to games can throw you back into that addiction loop. Also I think just real life is way better. 

Once again Congratulations on your accomplishment!

Jason

Thank you. I'm inclined to agree with you about the dangers of re-exposure. That said, in about three weeks I'm going to visit my nieces for the first time since before the pandemic started. They have always known me as a gamer (among other things, of course). If they ask to play a video game with me I'll probably say yes. We'll see how I do.

Good luck with your 90 day detox! Hang in there.

 

10 hours ago, TheNewMe2.0 said:

Love that superhero quote. Also this bottom line is good. AA they say don't have any reservations like going back to the addiction once you're retired. I mean if you think about it. There are two lives for you at retirement. One where you don't do much other than game and all the things that you've worked for decades to build in your sobriety fall by the wayside. And one where you can keep going with the momentum you build up. One filled with loving connections with people you deeply care about. And passions that make you feel more fulfilled and positive about yourself than gaming ever did. The choice is yours. Good job staying off the games

Very good point. Thank you so much. Also, I used to meditate...that's something else I'd like to get back into.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I wanted to report two things today:

  1. I went through my journals going back to 2015. Between then and February of this year I think I mentioned gaming -- and how much I hated myself for doing it at the expense of having something resembling an actual life -- at least 50 times. 🙄
  2. My current web development class assignment is to create a simple blackjack game using Javascript. 😆 It's a different (and FAR more challenging) experience building a game than playing one. It's also -- dare I say it? -- kind of cool.
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