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Gaming the System 005 - The Link Between Gaming and Depression

ElectroNugget

John's Daily Journal

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DAY 88:

Wow, can't believe I'm nearly there.

Today was a chilled day. More driving theory. Not sure I'll be able to finish the whole process before I move, but I've learned that I can carry my progress over to another school in Copenhagen, so my time wasn't wasted. In other words, things are coming together there. If I'm not too busy at uni I'll just find another driving school and get it finished later this year. After theory class, I spent the afternoon catching up on some sleep and packing for my trip to Holland next week. 

On Monday I'll be 90 days free, so crazy. I'm sure I'll have to write a nice reflective entry at that time. At this moment what I'm most looking forward to is hitting that milestone and figuring out what I want the next 90 days to be about. 

Tomorrow is a full day on First Aid for my driver's license and then I'm off with my parents in the evening to Holland for a big family reunion. I feel like I've been on my feet all week with little time to rest, but I guess that's a good thing. I've been very productive, and quite literally haven't had enough time to be sad or depressed. Come Monday, I'll have some time to relax, right when I hit the 90-day mark. 😄 Should be fun!

Edited by ElectroNugget
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DAY 89-90:

Well, I did it. 90 days.

Feels weird tbh, I know there wasn’t going to be any fireworks or anything, but it’s just another day y’know? 

I think at some point soon it would be good to sit down and reflect on what I’ve achieved in these past few months, so I can have a more positive perspective on it all, but today I’m feeling a bit down tbh. We spent many hours on the road today to get to Holland for a holiday with my extended family, and there was just a little too much time to think. 

I miss my ex, and I’m sad that she’s not here with us. I’m worried that despite my efforts to re-educate myself and get a better job, I will fail. I’m worried it’s too late for me.

Hopefully a few days with the family will help. I also really want to make a concentrated effort to get back into meditating every day now, starting today before bed. 

I think when I get back next week I’ll try to do an inventory on this experience, and where to go next. For now I’ll just try to enjoy my family and my holiday. 

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DAY 91-97:

Today I got back from my holiday in Holland with the extended family, and I thought it was about time I pick up this journal again. There's been a lot of time to think and reflect about what I want to get next out of life, and also to analyze some new problems that have become more clear now that the first 90 days are over... So this will probably be a wall of text, more for my sake than anyone else.

Overall it was a really good holiday! I have usually struggled a bit with family holidays in the past. My family is very much in the attitude of 'go out and do things every day' when we're on vacation, whereas I've always preferred to relax and have more downtime. I want to sleep in, read a book and play some board games, my family wants to spend 8hrs exploring the nearest city and seeing every possible tourist attraction. It doesn't help that I've always been an extreme night owl, and having to spend a lot of early mornings travelling, then sleeping in a strange bed, waking up early to screaming kids and then touring some strange new country on my feet every day... I usually get very grumpy and tired and end up feeling like I need my own break after a family vacation. 😄 

While all of the above is still the case, I think I handled it a lot better this time and actively tried to participate more in things that I otherwise wouldn't have. I also tried to keep my mood in check and not bother my family as much with it as I did in the past, and overall I think it was a success. I know that I shouldn't suppress my negative emotions, but I'm also aware that they come and go, and I don't need to ruin everyone's day just because I'm feeling a bit crummy. Overall, we went and saw a lot of interesting stuff in Holland, and I spent a lot of time talking to family members and seeing the sights rather than just sleeping in and playing something on my Switch (which is what I would have done if I hadn't quit). I even went cycling for 20km one day with my uncle! That would never have happened a year ago. 

When my uncle offered to go for a ride to get some groceries, I was ready with all the usual excuses... But I've decided now to at least try and do things that might seem uncomfortable at first, because hey, I'm only gonna live once, and everything's at least worth a try. That got me far enough to get on the bicycle, and afterwards, I had a really fantastic time biking around the farmland with my uncle for about 90 mins. I haven't ridden a bicycle in at least 10 years but after this experience, I'm thinking I might get one to commute in Copenhagen... So conquering that small moment of discomfort was definitely worth it.

There are still problems. I have a really unhealthy relationship with my iPad and phone. I'm still looking at porn every evening, especially when I feel bad. This was going well before my breakup, but resurged afterwards and I haven't been able to get it back under control. I also struggle to get to sleep at night without watching something on my iPad to fall asleep to. If I don't watch something, I think too much and get anxious. This is a real issue as it's affecting my sleep quality in a really bad way, and I'm sure it's making my night owl syndrome worse and impacting my mood and energy levels every day. On top of that, during the car drive home, I noticed that I spent the whole drive looking at Reddit and various other websites on my phone... Like 7hrs of just straight phone browsing, rather than perhaps reading a book or something. To be fair, long car drives can be really trying after a long holiday, but I still think it's a sign that overall the digital hygiene in my life still has a long way to go.

On another note, I spent a lot of time board gaming while I was there, and I have some mixed feelings about that. I absolutely love board games, and to be honest, they were a fantastic way to spend some time with various family members. I finally bonded with my sister's new (and apparently quite serious) boyfriend by playing Arkham Horror with him for a few evenings, and 7 Wonders was another family favourite that got my dad, aunts and uncles and even my mom around the table playing and laughing. It's a great way to bring people together and have fun while being social. I think this is a really good aspect of games that I want to keep in my life. That said, I found that I have the same tendency to obsess over boardgames as I did videogames. I spent a lot of time looking at deck builds and cards for Arkham Horror on my phone every evening, and on the car drive home. So, I need to find a way to balance the fun I'm having without spending a lot of my waking hours thinking about them... Cause I think that could be just as problematic in some areas as videogames are. Luckily, I can't sit and play board games until 4 AM by myself every night, and they have a real social element which is valuable. But I still need to be alert to the way they impinge on my other free time. Maybe I will have to take a break from all forms of gaming at some point... I'm not sure.

As a side note, during my holiday I closed the deal on an apartment in Copenhagen that I am really happy with. Funnily enough, it was one that I added to my list at the last minute before my trip to see all the apartments, where it ended up being my favourite. Secondly, yesterday I got a call to do some freelance illustration work for a company that I used to work for a few years ago. It's not my favourite thing in the world to do, but the pay is really good and the work is easy if somewhat boring. It sounds like I will get 1-2 weeks of full-time work for them now, which is great for me as it will bankroll my move to Copenhagen and fund some new furniture for my place and maybe even a laptop for my studies. So, I guess I have had a little luck recently. Nice to feel like the stars have aligned in my favour, if only for a moment. 

I'm still undecided about what major thing to tackle next. In the near future, I'd like to write up a list of longer-term goals for the next 2 years... Habits to break and new ones to build. I also need to make a list of things to do for the next month or so before I move to CPH... Maybe I'll post them here.

This ended kind of rambly, there's still a lot on my mind. More tomorrow I guess!

Edited by ElectroNugget
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DAY 98:

Today was the worst day I've had in quite a long time. I had a huge emotional slump today which feels like it came out of nowhere, which brought with it all the usual cognitive distortions, mental anguish and anxiety. 

Despite that, I got to work today and managed to perform the tasks I needed to for my freelance gig. I have another day's work tomorrow and that will help cover some of my expenses moving to Copenhagen (should pay for a nice new bed), so that's good. 

All that said, I'm in a lot of pain right now, and have felt like crying all day today. I'm really a bit overwhelmed with everything I have to do by the time I move to CPH, and I'm feeling lonely as usual. I am also concerned that ITU won't pan out, and 2 years from now I still won't have a clue what I'm supposed to do with my life. Quitting games was a huge first step towards change for me, but my whole life plan used to revolve around videogames: being an artist was, in large part, motivated by a desire to get into the games industry. Now I really don't want to be an artist professionally anymore or work in the games industry... I just feel lost. I have no clue if this next chapter is going to take me where I want to go. Do I really want to be learning programming and UX design? Nowadays, I look at a computer, or my iPad or my phone, once sources of joy, and see them as the enemy, things that rob me of time and sap my will to live. Nothing I once took comfort in has any value any more.

To add to that, today I saw a post on Instagram from my ex saying that she's feeling a lot better than usual lately, which makes me feel like perhaps in our relationship I was bringing her down. That really hurt me. I've missed her and wanted to talk to her a lot lately, but now I feel like if I reached out I would just be bringing her down again. Perhaps she's even relieved I am gone. Perhaps she hates me.

Have I sabotaged all my relationships with this darkness? I'm carrying around so much negative energy all the time and I don't know what to do with it. Any time that I do feel good seems to merely be an illusory respite from the swirling void beneath. Inevitably I am drawn back to it. 

Anyways, there's not much else to say. Today was really fucking shit. That's all.

Edited by ElectroNugget
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I understand a lot of this pain you are experiencing, even if my first months didn't include the extra grief from losing loved ones. I felt lost and I still feel lost in many ways, especially when it comes to what the heck I'll do with my life. I also consider lowering my computer usage to just work and some youtube to look at while I eat (so maybe 30 minutes per day versus hours I clock in these days).

You probably know this, as you mentioned cognitive distortions at the beginning, but you reading your worst case scenario in your ex's IG post is just that, your emotional side taking the reins and telling you things. In reality nobody knows why she is feeling better and whether you were really that bad towards her. I suggest accepting that you can not know the reasons and if you want to learn more it is the most logical thing to contact her. If you decide to do that, I think the adult thing to do would be to ask her at the start of a call, hey is it okay to chat or does this make you feel bad? This way she can choose for herself. You're not responsible for her actions, only for yours.

In my experience, the negative energy has to be processed. The thoughts you get, the doubts, the fears, don't let them unattended. Write them down, 'debunk' them, even if it doesn't make them go from 100 to 0 strength. Just do the work for yourself, because there is no other way to reprogram our brains to think logically, only this, I've found.

I hope this helps. The journey is ongoing for all of us, 90 days are just the beginning in my experience. But we get better, one step at a time, I feel. You should also know that your contribution to the forums is appreciated, and this side of you doesn't sabotage anyone, you bring hope and light and understanding to some of us. We can't always do right, but we do right too, as we sometimes do wrong. As long as we learn and strive to get better than yesterday, we are fulfilling our duty to ourselves I think.

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@NannerZ Hey man, appreciate you checking up on me. I ended up taking a break from GameQuitters, relapsing (both a good and bad experience), moving to a new city, starting at ITU and now I'm considering coming back to GameQuitters and doing a second detox. Not sure if I'll just continue here or do a fresh detox journal. We'll see. Maybe I'll post this evening. Just started a fresh detox on Sunday.

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Hey again everybody.

So I'm back and in desperate need of a second detox. It's late right now but the short story is: life has gotten a lot better lately, and gaming is threatening to interfere with my newfound success.

A few weeks ago I moved to Copenhagen and started at my new university, ITU, studying Software Design. In short, everything about it is great. My new place rocks. Copenhagen is awesome. ITU is really, really challenging but in a good way that keeps me busy, and there are loads of new people to meet. There's a potentially good future on the horizon again. 

So, last weekend after a very tiring week I saw that Steam had a free weekend, and decided to try something out... I ended up burning the whole weekend on a free account. And this weekend there was another one! Cue me burning this weekend too - when I really should be studying, going outside, exploring Copenhagen, or any number of other activities. It always starts the same: ''I'll just play for an hour'' - next thing it's Sunday night and I still haven't gotten anything done this weekend. I guess I have become complacent: I assume that because I went for 90 days without games, I've kicked the habit. But 90 days is nothing compared to 20+ years of routine! I have to admit it, there's no such thing as video gaming in moderation for me. 

Just before I sat down to write this I had a flash of anger. Yes, I love playing games, but this is ridiculous! Here I have a great new opportunity, and I'm doing my best to sabotage it by playing video games again! I wanted to put a hammer through my PC case. It's the last real gaming device I still have - I sold my Switch and PS4 a few weeks ago - I think it's time I permanently disposed of it as well.

So I want to start a detox again tomorrow, another 90 days. To do this I need to dismantle my PC and lock it in my downstairs basement in such a way that it would be a huge hassle to reassemble it for some 'casual' gaming. Then when my parents come visit in a few weeks they can take it away. I'm writing this down here because I really need to be held accountable for this. I've been playing with the idea for two weeks already. It's time I did it, or else I'm not going to get the most out of this new opportunity I've been so lucky to receive.

So, early to rise tomorrow morning, lock away my PC, and start a new detox. See you all tomorrow.

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I'm not too active on the forums anymore, but I still look forward to seeing how you're getting on.

I'm in the same boat - it's all or nothing in terms of gaming. I must have detoxed/relapsed 5-10 times before I eventually got over it completely. I'm not sure the journey is ever over!

Wishing you all the best man, and I hope you find your new life in Copenhagen. It's an incredible city, and I'm excited to see where you end up in a few years.

We're rooting for you.

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Hey @James Good, nice to hear from you! And thanks for the input. Nice to know it's a process some others have gone through.

Detox 02: Day 03:

My gaming PC was indeed safely locked downstairs on Monday, and I gave my power cable to a friend so there isn't an easy way to get it back online without at least asking him, or paying a ridiculous price for a new cable at the local electronics store. I'm hoping either option will prove painful enough to stop me if I get the urge again.  My iPad has also been locked downstairs, so all I have left is my university laptop which can't run anything worthwhile (I'd get rid of it too but I need it for coding!), and my phone. 

So I'm two days free and on my third now. Would like to start posting again daily, IT University is just keeping me crazy busy. I'll try to get back into the swing of it again soon.

Overall gaming was just a symptom though. I still have problems with my depressive thoughts, bad sleep habits and poor lifestyle. I still take my phone to bed and struggle with porn. In general, my relationship with electronics overall needs to evolve if I'm actually going to change into the person I want to be. We'll see if I can make that happen.

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6 hours ago, ElectroNugget said:

I still take my phone to bed and struggle with porn. In general, my relationship with electronics overall needs to evolve if I'm actually going to change into the person I want to be.

I also brought my phone to bed every night, and I often use it the first thing in the morning. This is definitely not the best idea for starting the day. To be honest, electronics can enhance your life, but they can also destroy yours if you use them in an unhealthy manner. Old habits die hard, but they do (and can) die with a proper plan and a sense of purpose.

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