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Relapse after 666 days - Have the gates opened?

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Hey GQ forums,

Long term quitter here. I am glad to know that I have lasted this long and honestly had no idea this would happen. However due to a recent slip up, I now keep having obsessive thoughts about games and now i'm anxious of having a full blown relapse. Let me explain.

The direct action that caused breaking my year and 10 month record going cold turkey was broken recently because of a really bad 2 day hangover. Fortunately the actual gaming only lasted two days, but it was 2 full days straight. it literally felt like old habits again when I was depressed, wouldn't even shower/get dressed and would play 12+ hours a day. I would wonder to my self "I'm bored of this now" but then keep playing, "You should do something else now" but then keep playing anyway. It was so horrible not being in control. I even played a game for sure would rehook me just to see if I was missing out. Which I realize i'm not missing out, but now I've noticed my patterns of thinking trying to justify playing with thoughts like:

"Wow that seemed pretty harmless, and that was only 40 minutes. maybe you can just play this on the weekends"

"This was fun, you're already watching TV every night anyway now, how much different is playing a game for a few hours a night?"

"how about playing after you finish XYZ in your professional life" 

"how about only play when some of your friends play? its like a virtual board game". 

"I want to research more technology because its fun! You're building an empire!" 

Recently I felt that I haven't had many inspiring concepts or themes in my life that I enjoy other than Google Spreadsheets (they're amazing btw, especially fun if you color the backgrounds!... wow i'm old). Inspiration is also very important for creativity. 

My down time has been board-games, since play is good for inspiration too. Me and a few friends get together roughly once a month to play and I think they're great. They don't trigger video game cravings, they're social, you're hanging out with people face to face, and I found it was a great transition from playing video games with them. So recently a new board-game I've been obsessed about has really intrigued me to buy it. Its called Twilight Imperium and its a space empire game with politics, space battles, and economics. My interests are already seated with futuristic technology since I love robots, sci-fi and cyberpunk. I've wanted to buy it and play but the game is almost 200 freaken dollars for something I would play once. It doesn't feel like a wise choice.

So I figured, after so many days not playing a single video game, the other challenges happening, projects on hold, indulging in the holidays, the literal daily grind, and feelings of "Am I really missing out?"  I figured just for those two flippin' days while I drank water and recover I thought it would be okay to blob out into a video game fantasy similar to what the theme the board game presents, in hopes that it would just scratch that itch so I can move on. I didn't expect to have such intense withdrawal/addiction symptoms. I hope this is just a phase. But now I ask, Have the gates really opened? 

What have you experienced and have you gone through something similar? 

How did you deal with losing momentum and picking it back up? 

What other resources (other than here) did you do instead? 

I appreciate your time reading all that and look forward to hearing from you.



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Thanks for sharing brother. Negotiating with yourself to rationalize or justify your behavior is a common experience your ego mind will play to keep you comfortable and in a vicious cycle. Cultivating more mindfulness and identifying when this is going on is the antidote to it. When you slip up or relapse back into gaming it's very common to go through a binging cycle, but it's also helpful to notice what's going on and use that to make even more empowered choices about what you want for your life going forward. Learn from it and refocus on your growth.

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Hi Joba

Yes, this sort of thing has happened many times with me. Not yet with games, but with shows/other visual media.

All thoughts are fundamentally untrue, notice this. They need to be questioned constantly, and this is really difficult. What I'm trying to do at the moment is notice when a thought arises to tempt me back, and note it "no, this is a lie. This will not complete me, this will not fulfill me, this will not heal any suffering" I don't know how it will work out. Just what I'm implementing into my life at the moment.

Second thing is forgiveness. We're only human. That's a beautiful thing in itself, being a flawed, imperfect human. Embrace your humanness.

Now to the practicalities though. I don't know how it is with you, but when it has happened to me, I'm sorry to say but yes, the floodgates did open to an extent. Even when I was certain my little phase was over and I was back on track, the next day...well, I got seduced again. It's painful. You play games/watch shows because it "works". It gives you emotional highs, distracts from hardship and responsibilities, and is very fun and stimulating. Once my system was "reminded" of this, it was tricky to stop again.

The interesting thing is, every time it happened to me, the first day actually always ended on a high note. It was really fun, I enjoyed it, or that one particular movie DID give me some value, and I went to bed feeling refreshed and reenergized, with no regrets. "That was fine, that was fun. Ok, back to work tomorrow."

I didn't go back to work tomorrow. I theorize that, because no real consequences were felt, only the emotional high, the joy, the system thinks "well fuck it, why not again"?

And so it went on until there was really no more joy to be felt, only suffering and shame. Welp. Now, acceptance and forgiveness, embracing the rock bottom, and only then, after I had really experientially realised, again, the futility of it, the consequences, was I ready to move on again.

Still, it hurts. Now there was suffering I would have liked to distract from. Here the rubber hit the road. I saw it as "cutting off a diseased limb before it spreads". You gotta cut it off, but it's gonna hurt, and then you need to let the system bleed out. Cravings and thoughts arose and I needed to let them come and bleed out but no longer act on them, until a few days later where it subsided and all was back to normal.

Atleast that was my experience. Hope it's of value to you. 

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