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Moving Forward


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10/31/19

Hello,

Today is my second day without video games and it's as if I've returned to my actual life. Video games are such an escape for me that it feels like I'm living two lives; every time I decide to try and quit again, I am so taken aback by the stark contrast between how I am when video games are a part of my life and how I am when they're are not. It's seriously like getting half way through a movie, pausing it for however long (a week, month, etc.) to play games then resuming the movie as if no time has elapsed. I am right back into it, into my life and this time I want to stay for good. No more journeys into virtual life and pausing my reality. I want to dive further into the pursuits I have taken up in these last few years of my life. 

Unfortunately, this morning I skipped my history class to sleep in as I didn't get to bed until about 1. This habit of falling asleep late and waking up around 10 is directly linked to playing video games. To give some context, I hadn't really been playing video games consistently this summer. I did have my week long binges but nothing gripped me to play. It was more like struggling to find ways to spend my time. However, classic WoW released in late August and I had resolved to not play even though when I had heard the announcement a few months prior I was hyped about the release. I ended up playing for the first week in September and then quitting for about a week and a half. This is when the binge began...

From about September 15th until two days ago October 29th, I leveled a character to max level in classic WoW. There were points where I wanted to quit as I knew how much gaming was affecting all other aspects of my life. But for some reason I convinced myself that I should just let this wave ride instead of trying to restrain myself so much. That I should just enjoy my time playing a game I sort of had fun with until the inevitable point where I got tired of playing and decided to ban gaming again. Throughout this month and a half period I barely did my laundry or washed my dishes. I was constantly irritable towards my girlfriend and I wasted a stupid amount of money buying food instead of cooking. I also skipped an entire month of brazilian jiu-jitsu practices which I had started this summer and have found to be a soul-aligned habit (in an upcoming journal I will detail why this is so important as well as my journey with gaming throughout life). I skipped a bunch of my classes in my last year of undergraduate college and have let some of my grades slip. All of this is seriously directly linked to my inability to balance video games in my life and I need to just cut the cord and be done with them. I have had struggles before with getting past this addiction, but I am 100 percent committed this time and will not let myself slip again. I feel as though this journal will be a huge benefit to ensuring that I stay committed.

Anyways, today I am fasting for about 16-18 hours to give myself a reset. I will probably do a full 24 hour fast this weekend for the same purpose. Generally, this also gives me a clear head and allows me to reduce some stress. I started doing my schoolwork again, following through with my obligations in school, and I did my dishes and laundry. I also have been reading The Power of Habit, a book I started back before I was playing WoW this semester which has given me much more insight into how to make this transition out of gaming go more smoothly and overall just work. I feel like I have started to come back to myself these last few days and it is really refreshing.

I will continue to be posting my progress and probably will add some type of template to my journals consistent but I think this first week will be a lot of getting stuff out of my mind. For anyone who reads this thank you for inquiring, I appreciate any bit of help. I am really grateful to have found Game Quitters again and to have a community of support for this time in my life. 

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Welcome to the the forums and congratulations on your second day! If you are ever struggling then feel free to come here and post a question or look at previous forum posts :). In noticed you mentioned that you struggled when it came to figuring out what to do with your time. One thing that has worked for me is to write down things you like to do in a journal and look at it whenever you begin to feel lost, bored or are not sure what to do at that moment. A well known but very true quote is "Idle hands are The Devil's workshop." I'm sure you've heard it used or at least seen it before. It's basically saying that when we are bored or aren't doing anything is when we are most vulnerable to temptation.

I look forward to reading your progress and if you ever need to talk or have questions then feel free to message me :).

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11/2/2019

Day 4

Today is my fourth day without gaming and it's been a bit bumpy so far. Yesterday, I was a bit too preoccupied to sit down and journal although I really could and should have. As far as not gaming, I have been mildly tempted in my thoughts to revert back during moments of boredom/anticipation of free time. However, these thoughts and their allure is rather fleeting so I'm not very swayed by there presence. It feels like auto-pilot trying to kick in during slow times of the day. 

However, for the last few days I haven't felt great altogether. I've been falling asleep late at night and getting up late in the morning(around 10-10:30) which I definitely feel is bringing me down. Not just the fact that half the day is slept away but oversleeping kills my lower back and gives me a headache. I also feel a general fatigue throughout the day which gets very annoying. Unfortunately, my usual remedy is to workout and burn off my laziness/grogginess but I hurt my knee during a Jiu-Jitsu practice about two weeks ago now. It's difficult to keep my stress levels down when I can't workout...

On the upside, I feel like my general interest in everything is slowly returning. When I play games, the sense of progression and good feeling associated with finishing tasks in-game definitely offsets the joy I get from doing other things. Even simple tasks like reading a few chapters have slightly more electricity than they would if gaming was in my life. It's actually pretty crazy how much of a sapping effect gaming has in terms of its ability to make everything else seem dull. So it has been nice to see the color returning to everyday tasks as well as other interests and pursuits of mine. 

If there is one thing I'd like to start focusing on again I think it is returning to a healthy lifestyle. For awhile I had a good routine going for exercising, sleeping, and eating (along with a few other habits); it feels like I've been away from that focus for awhile and now it is very evident in my day to day feeling. So for this week I would like to get my sleep schedule back on track as well as to eat at consistent times. For right now I don't feel like what I'm eating is terribly unhealthy but the way I'm eating is definitely off and causing issues. This week will be a boost back to healthiness and keeping this journal going will be part of that task. 

Also, thanks EpicJoJo for posting I'm grateful you gave me a reply. I have heard that phrase btw and I agree with it wholeheartedly. It's easier said than done especially when I'm not without normal obligations (college) but I definitely need to fill that void that gaming has left in my days. That time is very polarizing for me and I would like to be able to have some good go-to's in case I get tempted to turn around. I will try to use that technique and hopefully it goes well for me. 

Tomorrow, I would like to get my homework done as well as plan out what I need to get done for this next week. I would also like to finish cleaning my space to get to bed early as well as wake up around 7. Looking forward to continuing this journey!

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11/3/2019

Day 5

It feels much more like Fall today with the cold weather and accompanying this change is the preemptive thought of what I'm going to do inside with all my free time now. I just finished module two last night and I've deleted my steam, blizzard, and league accounts as well as moving my Switch to my girlfriend's house. I've taken measures like this before (I've had like 6 league accounts...) but I always end up reinstalling and making a new account. I think the key to abstaining this time will be to really take control of my life in as many aspects as possible. For this journal, I'd like to write out, for both myself and others, the ways in which I feel gaming have filled certain needs and instilled certain faulty mindsets that have kept me in this cycle for so long. My hope is that I can gain some clarity by typing all this out as well as any feedback the community has to offer or if anyone can empathize with my perspective. I'd also like to give some background into my life and how I started gaming and how it became an addiction.

Warning: This post is going to be a novel, scattered, unfocused, and probably will come across like a rant...

Let's start at the beginning. I believe my first video games were those leapfrog junior education CDs that were filled with games to help you learn pre-kindergarten basics. To be honest, I wouldn't even count them... But I'd say my first immersive, gripping, and consuming experiences with gaming came when my parents bought my siblings and me a PlayStation. We had Namco variety games, Crash Team Racing, Rayman, Spyro... the list goes on. Anyways these games as well as a few PC games like Roller Coaster Tycoon and GameBoy games like Pokemon were where I really started to love gaming. It was honest at that time though, games were very different and I was almost always playing with my brother and sister. We all share these memories and experiences and honestly I'm glad they happened, it was a lot of fun. Once gaming started evolving and the PS2 came out, as well Gamecube and then X-Box (and the 360), there was definitely a shift. I still think I was young enough to actually get a lot out of the games and they offered a level of exploration that I really gravitated towards. I was still playing games with my siblings and friends but my life was full of structure in the form of school, sports, and any other family activities that were just a part of being in elementary school. However, a darkness was building in my life and it was something that as a kid I was not equipped to deal with.

During these times as a kid, from about 4 until 13-14, you are at the whim of your parents for most of your time during a day. They make you go to school, they care for your diet and well-being, and they sign you up for shit that you might not even really like... and my dad is a control freak to put it lightly. He is a civil engineer with a specialty in forensic analysis for infrastructure failures. In other words, he designs buildings, bridges, etc. but is also your go-to guy to figure out WHAT WENT WRONG when a building collapses or a pipeline bursts. His work life is centered around designs that need to be flawless as well as meticulous detail-hunting to find out mistakes/mishaps that are present in systems that fail. I was not made aware of what he actually did until I was about 19 years old. But as you might as well guess his mindset for his career bled straight through into his parenting...

At 4 years old, I was taken to a dojo to learn youth Aikido but was swiftly transitioned into wrestling by age 5. Did I ask to go to practice with my dad and brother? No, my dad said "you're coming with Chris and me tonight, bring his old shoes in case they want you to wrestle." I was a very shy, quiet, and obedient kid. To the point where I cringe at how I used to be compared to how I am now. Anyways, we get to practice at one of the high schools in the area and there are two rooms full of kids wrestling. The rooms are tiny and separated by two flights of stairs. One had actual wrestling mats and was red with all the high schools wrestling achievements on the walls and the other looked like a gymnastics closet... with blue fold-able crash pads as mats. I was told to put on my shoes and find a partner. Again, I was shy and nervous all the time so I kinda stood there. Well I got paired with one of the varsity kids and apparently I held my own exceedingly well for never having wrestled before. According to my "non-biased" dad, one of the coaches (who was my coach in grade school and then again in high school for three years) said "you have to keep bringing him back, he's a natural." And that's when it all began...

(Btw, my dad became a coach shortly after my brother and I started wrestling, he also coached one of the local high school wrestling teams)

You might be asking why does this pertain to any part of my gaming struggles. Well, it will become clear how these two are intertwined as the story unfolds a little more.

From that point on, I don't even remember how or why or if it was even a discussion but my brother and I were pretty much wrestling 5 days a week at this youth program. I started as inter-mural, which was before things got intense. We were the kids who came to some of the matches and tournaments just to wrestle in a practice-like setting before JV and Varsity teams would come out and wrestle each other. No bouts, no scores were kept, just kinda rolling around because nobody knew what they were doing. I did that for a year and my daily partner, Jake, would always get the better of me in practices because he was on JV and had been wrestling for a year longer than me. One year from my start, I ended up pinning Jake in a wrestle-off for JV the next year. I also, apparently, went undefeated my first 50 matches until I went up both a weight class and an age group. So my first loss was at the hands of a kid 4 years older and 10+ lbs heavier than me. I don't remember this... I only remember a few matches from my earliest years in wrestling but I seriously can't connect my head to these memories. But my dad would keep track of everything. He had all the brackets, scores of our matches, and trophies/medals that my brother and I won so that's what I'm going off of for those first few years. 

Anyways, as my brother and I got better my dad started taking us to his high school practices where we would practice with each other and do some of the high school drills. Honestly, I hated wrestling from the very start. I always said it and I always pleaded to my mom to let me stop or at least have a break. Unfortunately, my dad was not a very good partner and never really listened to anyone but himself. My mom was scared of him and so were my siblings and I. So we didn't really have a choice in the matter, it was mandatory. I always had wrestling practices and always had tournaments. My brother and I would have to sit there during Thanksgiving as my extended family ate a feast because we had weigh-ins the next morning for a tournament and couldn't dare miss weight (I was in the 52 lbs weight class...). Most of my birthdays were aligned with the end of the year tournaments for the youth teams so I would spend my birthdays wrestling all day. I hated it, I despised tournaments, and I closed myself off from everyone (except my mom). 

Now, you see I was a natural and I wish I could say this without coming off as a boastful asshole. I never cared about the laurels of winning, or being the best because its supposed to make you feel good. No, what I cared about was appeasement. If I won, my dad wouldn't scream at me. If I won, I could be left alone and could finally eat all those disgusting meals that were available at snack stands. If I won, I could wander off or sit in the stands and guess what... I could play some video games! But there was a cost for this, a large cost and I am still learning to balance the scales to this day. 

So, lets dial it back because as I'm writing this I am realizing I don't think I will be able to cover this story well enough in one post. In fact, there is no way I can, it's simply too much. For this post, I think it's best I'll just talk about my life before 7th and 8th grade because that was definitely a turning point for me. 

Okay, so my dad and coaches see that I'm doing really well at wrestling. I also was in the "gifted students program" PEN which somehow determined my I.Q. was above a threshold when I was in first grade... That's a story for another day. But I also played mid-field in soccer and led my team in goals every year I played. I had all Advanced (the elementary school version of A's) in school as well as perfects for Math in our state's standardized testing. I honestly don't even know why these things were important but I kept hearing from my parents, friend's parents, coaches, teachers, etc. that I was so "gifted." I didn't get it...I was simply just doing what I was told. My dad will always bring up the past and he likes to tell me of the time where I was at an inter-mural soccer game and he told me to dribble around the three people in front of me in a certain way and put the ball in the net. I apparently did EXACTLY what he said and scored like it was clock-work. There's a home-video of me at the beach where my Uncle gets my attention, I look up squinting, and he says "go jump a wave" and I literally got up, ran into the ocean, jumped a wave, and came back to what I was doing like nothing happened, no smile or child-like behavior... My wrestling coaches gave me a nickname: Robo. I was so obedient and streamlined that everything I did came off like I was a robot. 

At wrestling, I continued to improve to where I was winning local, state, and national tournaments. Sometimes I would be put in two age groups or weight classes and would win both tournaments (I wouldn't even get a break between matches sometimes which was absolutely ridiculous). From 4th grade until 6th grade I won my end of the year tournaments. I also won the junior state tournament the first year I was allowed to compete and dominated the finals match even though I was a year younger than everyone. I won it the next year as well, pinning the kid in the finals. Wrestling had now become a 6 day a week schedule for practices with tournament weekends being the exception. My dad took my brother and me all around the Northeastern US, from PA (where I live) to Michigan, Jersey, Delaware, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Virginia, NC, etc. We would go to high school practices at 3:00-5:30 then either go to our youth program at 6:00 or travel to New Jersey (or some other hour-away spot) to practice from 7:00-9:00. All this time, my dad would scream at us on the way home, if the practice didn't "go well" or for some "mistakes" we made that he just couldn't tolerate. I fucking hated him and I would always sit directly behind his seat to avoid his gaze...my brother wasn't so lucky, he was in the passenger seat.

As far as I can actually remember, I would like to say 2nd grade, I was determined to not get yelled at. I was determined to appease my dad the only way I knew I could. I would do what I was told and be as perfect as possible. Now, growing up I was a perfectionist and was described as having a black and white personality as well as being "robotic." But this was developed by nature as much as nurture. I didn't feel like I was allowed to have fun, I couldn't just let loose and be care-free. I had to numb that side so my focus was all on wrestling and doing well in school. I would be visualizing, and mentally preparing for a weekend tournament, from the moment I knew I was going (generally Monday that week) until the moment before my last match. I was laser-focused on not losing...it wasn't even winning...I seriously was so scared of my dad that I would repeat in my head, "just don't lose, just don't lose..." I had a routine before every match: 15 jumping jacks, 15 pushups, 15 situps, and 15 mountain climbers, every single match, it didn't matter if the kid I was wrestling never won a match before. I was always extremely anxious and nervous before every single match. Relief would only come after a match was over and I won/did well (this was brief because I knew I still had more matches) and I'd only be able to truly relax at the end of a tournament (one in which I had done well enough to appease my dad). 

Honestly, I could keep going and keep describing different memories but I think it's time to reel myself back in again. The rest can be for a shrink I am now considering going to...

What this type of lifestyle created for me, was one very different from my brother and sister. I isolated myself both mentally, emotionally, and physically in order to create this "machine Robo" to serve the purpose of keeping me safe from my dad in as many instances as possible. There were times where I really wanted to be goofy with my brother and dad, but I had to catch myself to preserve this focus. Whenever I did let loose, I under-performed... and would get yelled at. (Tbh, there were probably times where I did let loose and still was fine...but I don't remember them). I feel like had to be the terminator or I would face the wrath of my dad and I was so scared of him I couldn't let that happen. While him and my brother would be off socializing and talking with all the friends, coaches, and wrestling partners we had met and trained with over the years, I would be either calling my mom, playing a video game, or sleeping in the bleachers. I hated all of it and just wanted to get home. 

So what did video games do for me? They provided an escape during a time of stress. They were a way out of my situation, both to kill time and to keep me preoccupied so I didn't have to worry about my upcoming bouts for however brief a time. Video games also helped with the longass car-rides where I couldn't eat as I was cutting weight. They helped with the daily drive to practice (although i would sleep most the time). I loved games and the different content they offered. I loved the progression, oh yes...the sense of progression! I loved the strategy and the un-pressured competitive nature of them. I could spend days playing and I always wanted to play more because I always wanted an  escape from my situation. I hated wrestling but I loved gaming. 

From about age 3 until 7th grade, I gave my all in everything I did. I felt like I had so much pressure on me all the time to be this perfect kid that I would always try to be the best but it was all to just appease my dad. I was lucky enough to be born with certain pre-dispositions but they were only realized due to the situation I was in. I never felt like I could truly take a break. It was only when I was gaming that I felt like I was somewhere else and the pressure was temporarily lifted. I used my friends to game and use their systems. We would play together, of course, but I always tried to steer the situation towards playing more games. They were my drugs...

Unfortunately, everything began to break down when my parents got divorced and I started having to live at two different houses. This was also during the transition from elementary school to middle school and the very beginnings of puberty. It was chaos unleashed. I was approaching the plummet after climbing to the peak. The divorce and all its accompanying crap is where my life fell downwards. What did i carry with me through these dark times? You guessed it...gaming. 

As my family life deteriorated, new games came onto my radar and my best friend had introduced me to WoW. This is where video games began to take hold of me and where I found I would always go whenever I had free time. For today, I think I'll wrap up this chapter with a little reflection but for anyone who reads this, I am giving you a tiny glimpse into my life. I hope you realize this is only a grain of sand...and my recollection is incomplete. What I hope to get across is that the magnitude of our issues seen through our own lens is always larger than anyone else can realize, it feels this way by design. I don't expect anyone to fully understand but I hope that you know even just reading this means the world to me right now. I appreciate any thoughts you'd like to share and I don't mind if this doesn't get fully read. Just writing this out is therapy for me, and it's awesome to have support in this community for dealing with struggles. I am interested in the different ways gaming has affected people who struggle with letting it go, just like me and why it became an issue for you as well. Hopefully, I can get my full story out soon, honestly I feel like just continuing but I am at least going to take a break. 

For now, this post has covered my story with gaming from about preschool (age 3-4) through seventh grade (age 12-13). There is more to come and I honestly might write this out for myself in a word doc. to add in more details but it seems to get my perspective across at this time. 

Also, I am going to attach a few pics of my trophies to try and demonstrate the magnitude of how much we wrestled (not to show off). This fact is important for my early years but honestly more-so for what happens later. They're both my brother's and mine but honestly we threw a good amount out and some got lost in translation from the divorce and moving a few times. To be clear, the boxes are stuffed with medals and this is not a full accounting. The trophies only really show a fraction of the tourneys as most places give out medals and we don't have all of them anymore. There were also jackets, sweatshirts, and other awards that are lost.

Finally, I'd like to state that I grew up knowing others in similar situations as my own, however most of these people did not isolate and play video games. In fact, most were very social and would always be hanging out with other wrestlers or talking with the coaches and parents. I was "a man of few words" but I was also described as one of the most dominant wrestlers many of them had ever seen. I picked it up quicker than most but hated it. Everyone else seemed to enjoy it and most wrestled straight through college for D1 programs. They were always baffled when I said I was going to be done as soon as I could which was after high school. I did end up stopping after high school, in fact I never even finished my junior and senior seasons. In the next post I make, either later today or tomorrow I hope to unveil why.

 

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11/5/2019

Day 7

It seems like I can only get around to this every other day as of right now. However, I haven't really had any urges to play video games, I've just been kinda stressed out and slightly depressed. These feel like they're more likely due to the fact that I haven't been able to exercise recently from an injury to my knee. Not much I really feel like saying here today but the journey continues and I am still very proud and happy I have chosen to move forward from video games. 

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On 11/3/2019 at 1:34 PM, BryanJaz said:

Honestly, I could keep going and keep describing different memories but I think it's time to reel myself back in again. The rest can be for a shrink I am now considering going to...

Hey I really appreciate what you're saying here. I have similar childhood experiences with my dad and developed my own defense mechanisms which included becoming more silent and always listening intently. People often mistake my calm demeanor as cold stoicism when really I'm terrified inside.

Definitely consider therapy. The things we developed back then saved us and maybe even kept us sane but now we take them with us into our relationships where they're a lot less useful. It's time to work that shit out. 

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Thank you for replying! I really enjoy talking this stuff out with people in similar situations. Moving on to your suggestion, I feel like it is time for me to follow through with counseling. I had made appointments before (a few years ago) but ended up bailing on it because it's pretty expensive and I was paranoid about this situation. I also am very selective with who I consider opening up to. 

At this point, though, I think it's necessary to help shed some of that crap off and leave it behind me. Even just writing that post was making me angry and upset, simply from thinking through it in my head. I agree with how you describe the defense mechanisms as keeping us grounded and getting us through tough times, I'm honestly just nervous to accept the vulnerability of letting someone pick my brain. 

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11/6/2019

Day 8

I've been continuing my read of The Power of Habit and the information about keystone habits feels very useful to me. Intuitively, I feel like writing would be a perfect fit for a keystone habit for myself. I am very much a thought-based creature but I tend to just toil around with them in my head. I feel as though writing, whether for purpose or simply to just jot down some notes, could be a great way to "exhale" my thoughts from my mind and keep my head clear. 

Also,  hopefully I will be contacting a therapist soon to see if I can try out a session. I think this might be the best way to overcome some of the more difficult things that have kept me playing video games all these years. 

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11/7/2019

Day 9

Today I feel like crap because after consuming too much dairy my bowels are liquid... It's honestly crazy this stuff is like poison to me at certain dosage. I was never this intolerant to dairy growing up but I definitely have gotten worse. This makes me want to return to a very healthy diet that I had cultivated for a little while about a year ago. Without games my brain is slowly returning to an equilibrium in a chemical sense and now I find I am more hungry for better foods. I feel like if I could nail down a healthy diet this winter I will be setup for success in my last semester of college. Maybe this lactose intolerance wake-up call can push me in a better direction...Either way I am just trying to finish this day out strong with my research at school. It is quite slow and monotonous but I had a good amount of time to finish some homework so I'm glad that got finished. 

I felt a slight pull towards gaming today because it offers such an escape from my issues and there is a new pokemon game coming out for switch that I wanted to try but I will stay strong and commit to this. I feel like I could talk about how after the 90 days it might be okay to try it out, but I am not even letting myself entertain that thought process...

 

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11/10/2019

Day 12

As my second week of no-gaming rounds out I am beginning to feel better each day. I have been going to bed/getting up earlier. I have been eating better and planning out my meals to eat more consistently. I have had caffeine only once this week which was today while I was working outside in the yard. I have gotten caught up on all of my homework and have felt much more in sync with my classes and school responsibilities. I have also started stretching daily and occasionally meditating for half an hour to relax, calm my mind, and reduce stress. Overall, it's like a weight is slowly being lifted off of me. My only issue I really have seen this week is that I still watch videos of League of Legends and World of Warcraft from YouTubers that I have always watched. I feel like this is really bad and it definitely tempts me back into playing games if only for a moment. I think I need to outlaw this because it feels like I'm cheating but only in the sense that I am still occupying my mind with these games. I don't watch for more than 10 minutes and I skip around on the video but the familiarity and little buzz from watching the things that feel good in-game (killing a minion, or casting spells) are definitely pushing me towards restricting YouTube. It's not a terrible thing and I haven't done it everyday but I think it is time to create a new email/YouTube account and to fill it with non-gaming subscriptions. This will also limit my time watching videos which I feel can be a great waste of time but is something I tend to do while I eat/when I need a small break. Again, I don't feel like it is terribly hindering me, but it is nonetheless still hindering as a habit so it needs to go. This next week I am going to try to get a shit ton of my school work done as well as keep my diet steady and healthy. Everyday feels so much better and I feel closer to myself each moment I am without video games. This is 100 percent the right move and I will stay committed. 

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Yeah having a clean youtube account might be a great idea!

try: 

  • kurzgesagt
  • Journey to the microcosmos
  • Any of the sci-shows
  • The Armchair Historian

It's pretty easy to fall down the youtube rabbit hole regardless but I agree I feel like watching video game related stuff reinforces this thing that's a major part of my life that I'm trying to turn into a minor part.

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  • 1 month later...

12/22/2019

I hit that two week mark and fell right off again. I stopped doing these daily journals and thought that I could handle it on my own...again. It started by playing League again, I noticed an email from riot games for one of my accounts that I thought was deleted so I installed and away I went. I've played consistently for about the last month and this time I could really tell it was stress related. I was nearing the end of my semester and as usual it was a time of great uncertainty and procrastination. The funny thing is I always end up doing fine and this time it's like video games and filling my time with them was way more stressful than the actual school work. I worried so much and ended up with a 3.95 as a senior chemistry major... I want this to be over, the flip-flop between my better life and the my life with video games. I sold my nintendo switch and my DS broke...the only real game I have to kick now is League. But it keeps pulling me back for some reason; I don't even enjoy it 99% of the time. I just uninstalled again and I really just want to move on as I know that I will not want to play any games once I have a job out of college. 

My plan is to do a complete screen detox this winter break. The only time I will use my laptop is to finish transferring credits and to apply for graduation. I will not watch any shows and will try my absolute best to not watch movies even with family. I will have my phone on me to Doordash but I have never had a problem with controlling my "phone time" anyways given that I don't have any social media. I will use this winter break to make some money, hang out with family, do some exploration of myself and get ready for my last semester as an undergrad. I also want to use this time to get my diet and exercise back in gear. Along with gaming, I am in the worst shape of my life and have so many injuries I need to address I can't just put them off with League anymore. 

So this is it, starting tomorrow I will be taking a 30 day break from screens in general and will continue video game free for the rest of my life. I know it will be extremely difficult, this addiction goes pretty damn deep and I know that I will have a lot of agitation and fear creep to the surface but I know I am strong enough to push through and I will not hesitate to ask family/friends for help when I need it. For this to really work, I need a plan as well as to make sure I commit wholeheartedly. Since I played League a good bit today, I know that tomorrow morning I will want to just jump back on and forget this. Instead I will make the long drive to my girlfriends and pick her up to hang out for the day and introduce her to my sister's family. Even though it's a lot of driving I know I would rather just get out of the house than to allow myself to go back to gaming. I will also put away my laptop tonight and will keep my desk free of a computer. 

In regards to this journal, I am going to do a daily handwritten journal for these first 30 days to make sure that I don't go to my computer early in the morning or at night. I might choose a few worthy journals to upload here once I am done with the detox but I think it is best to not let myself get into a routine where I go to sit at my computer. 

It's been awhile since I really committed strongly to a better life for myself and I know that I can do it, it's just time to stop putting it off. I think one of the biggest issues with why I keep coming back is that I really need to allocate time to be alone as I enjoy it and it allows me to recharge but for so long I have just been using alone time to play video games and it now has hindered my ability to be alone at all. To combat this magnetism to be alone and just game out, I feel like I need some communities to connect with. Just having support outside of the house and places where I feel like I am welcome and wanted and thought of would do wonders to keeping me away from gaming. I think a good martial arts gym/dojo would be the best place to start. I don't think that I can allow myself to just end a day at 4:30 or so and head back home after classes or whatever. I think that I will have to make sure my day goes right through to the late evenings in order to prevent a bad decision. 

It feels like a lot but I know I have a lot to give I just need new vessels to dump my energy into. I have so many interests but overcoming that inertia to start a new hobby/activity is really hard for me as I am a thinker through and through. But if I can just push harder I think I will get to where I want to be. 

Tomorrow it begins, and this time I am not giving up on myself. Time to really move forward with my life, free from video games. 

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  • 1 month later...

I failed again, and now I will try again. I've picked up some more information about what keeps pulling me back when I take breaks. The compound, dopamine, gets thrown around a lot these days but it seems like it is well known now that dopamine is the chemical that is released when obtaining a reward (of whatever type) and more importantly when anticipating a reward. The second half really hits home for me as when I stop playing games I get to about two weeks and then I get a free day or free chunk of time and instantly I start seeking out pleasurable activities and stimulants in the form of video games, caffeine, pre-made food, and sex/masturbation. I can see it in my mind...the moments when dopamine, feels "activated" and then i swoop back into a lifestyle I absolutely loathe and end up wasting a day and feeling like shit the next. 

I know that willpower is not the best "thing" to invoke for an addict but it feels like if I can give it one last push with all my effort, I can be free of this addiction...in the sense that when the feeling to play arises I will be able to let it pass and move forward with my life. I have found a direction that I love in chemistry and will be looking for a job after graduation this May and honestly it feels like if I can muster the will to change my habits now I will be setup for a high level of success and enjoyment in my life in the near future. I am gonna go back through the modules and take them seriously as well to keep this journal a daily habit. I will also look for information and help from "TheHealthyGamer's" YouTube channel and keep some more resources flowing. I think picking up a book on addiction will do me better than a book on habits as I am definitely addicted to video games and need a stronger set of information to work with as well as a new perspective. Tonight and tomorrow I will plan and this weekend will be a true test because these open days are when I really struggle with not installing LoL and playing again. Cheers to moving forward. 

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Hi Bryan, good too see you got back on your journey of no gaming. Don't be too hard on yourself.  Approach this whole thing with a calm mind, and make the decision. Really commit to the decision, and do so on a friendly way 🙂

Good luck. You can do this. 

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Day 2

Thanks, I really need advice like that...it helps center my intent in a wholesome way rather than a frantic "need to quit" mindset. Today I have no classes which is the easiest way for me to just fall back into video games and end up losing the weekend. Instead I shall approach each day with an attitude grounded in that day and that day only. I think when I see large gaps of time without hard obligations (work, school, family stuff, etc.) I get this perspective that it's enough time to just throw away and do nothing for awhile because at the same time it's not enough time to start and finish a project or something of relatively large magnitude...which is why gaming was always the first place I went to. That sense of progression that is always chewable but never gets you full and there is always more. So instead this weekend I will just try to focus on each day itself and see what I can accomplish in the day and repeat for the next day. It doesn't sound significant but I feel like it will have a strong impact on these first few weeks of not gaming. 

For today, I am gonna go shower and get lunch with my girlfriend and then I will work on some homework for differential equations and possibly physical chemistry. I will also buy a book from Cam's list to start reading at night. To finish the night off I want to do some of the Respawn modules and Doordash for a little money. 

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Day 5

Haven't really had a strong urge to game in the last few days, however I have put off all of my work and skipped another class which is  really not good. Last year I got into a really good rhythm with school work but last semester I really wasn't in it and it has affected my first 2 weeks of this semester. A trigger to game for me is stress and it's like deadlines for school allow me to pile up pressure and stress to the point where I just need to escape. In the past, gaming provided the release for so long that its almost like I paradoxically crave the stress to create enough potential for me to justify gaming to release stress. It's a weird loop... 

Yet, today I got back into doing some work and it felt really good. It was a release in itself and I didn't see the "stress" in doing the work as much as I saw an opportunity to grow and learn. I like what I'm learning as some is review (that I need) but most is challenging and new, diving deeper into things that spark my curiosity. Even though it is quite simple to defy the autopilot mindset to go and game, I find it is really the most challenging part of this whole transition. For years I have struggled and will continue to struggle (hopefully less and less) to do what I actually enjoy doing...(chemistry/science) for something that fills these short-term needs (gaming) even though I don't even enjoy my time with it. It really is perplexing to talking oneself out of what one wants to do, to play a video game one longer likes... I guess that's why it is considered an addiction, and admitting that I have one has truly been a daily task. 

Identity, I think that is a driving factor for myself personally. I never considered myself a gamer and never liked for anyone else to be consider me as one. My dad made my gaming habit out to be "the worst thing in the world," as if I had traded wrestling to play games...I wonder what it would have been like if he actually encouraged gaming. Would it ever have gotten so out of balance? Anyways, I feel like identity has been a struggle for me for awhile, not in the sense of what I present to the world, I only superficially care about that; rather the way I view myself relative to my past, how I feel in the moment with others around, and where my current path leads me on...I care about that type of identity. What carries through and is it someone I want to be/can be. Is it someone who feels grounded and whole...because past transgressions and the subsequent habits I created (gaming) have always been a game in themselves. One of filling an emptying hole, that I feel like is painfully visible when another person peers into my eyes. A tug of war between desperate attempts to ascend my current version and a lonely, depraved shadow that doesn't know anything about itself but just craves shit... I feel like a lack of a grounded and wholesome identity has kept me in the cycle. I guess it really is powerful and stabilizing to know thyself. 

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  • 7 months later...

Day 1

Well it certainly has been awhile since I have been on this website but alas I am back. 2020 has been a hell of a year so far and for me I felt I was making good strides toward finding a balance with video games. My gaming addiction has always felt to be more in the realm of computer games. I hadn't had a console for about 7 years before getting a switch last year. I had the switch for about a year before I sold it as I was again tired of playing games (especially super smash). I no longer wanted to be sucked in to the endless chasm of super smash games where 5-6 hours go by and it feels like you've only been playing for 10 or so matches... Anyways, after selling my switch for some reason I came back to my worst gaming addiction enemy, League of Legends. I was starting my last semester of undergrad, and I had 20 credits which included many tough classes as I majored in chemistry. I also had a research project that I had chosen to do for fun. I played for a few weeks, got extremely frustrated with myself and decided that to vanquish this LoL demon once and for all I needed to take unique steps that actually included playing games...different games. I decided that I wanted a ps4 and I ended up getting one for my birthday. It was actually amazing for awhile...I had a lot of fun playing games that I had always wanted to (like Spiderman and God of War) and I had no craving for LoL. It lasted 5 months...

I graduated in May, and with covid everything was just a mess. I was extremely stressed out and my gf had been living with me for that entire semester throughout quarantine as well. Unfortunately, it definitely took a toll on us and recently I have been feeling less and less attracted to her. I don't even totally know why... In lieu, of these feelings I decided to play LoL again and this time I was back to playing 6-7 hours from late night into early morning (9pm-3am). I got a job for 3 days and nearly had a panic attack which is not something I have ever dealt with before. I feel like I completely fell back to how I was before, where my gaming addiction was the only thing in my life. I felt dominated by impulses and its hilarious because I absolutely hate LoL now and I don't play with anyone. I play alone, no friends and I ignore people who add me. I reached a breaking point where I was fighting with my gf as she didn't want me to play and I was literally saying "just one game" like holy shit...if that's not tell-tale addiction I don't know what is. 

I have now come full circle and will be starting a 90-day no gaming of any sort detox and will be committing totally to it. Right now, my plan is to trade-in this laptop for a chromebook or something with weak processing power that can't run any type of games. My ps4 is currently not at my house and I use it for movies which actually works out. It is not hooked up to the internet and I truly don't have any urges when it comes to that. I feel like I have gotten my ps4 gaming streak out of my system and will be able to do this 90 day detox without returning it. Perhaps afterwards I will but for right now I am okay with it being where it is. 

My real goal with this is to finally squelch out LoL from my mind and my life. I have no interest in playing the game and I just want its terribly ultra-addictive toxic pull on me to release. I feel like without LoL in my life I can start to pursue all of the wonderful activities I really do enjoy like martial arts, chemistry (and any science really), reading fantasy novels like the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson (which I highly recommend btw), yoga/meditation, and to go hiking/camping around the U.S. I have made great strides with my gaming addiction in the last 5 years of my life but I feel like now is the moment that I can finally break the addiction and choose to lead a better life for myself. I have laid a much stronger foundation for myself and I believe in myself whole-heartedly this time. I think my key to success will be managing cravings and staying out of my room for as long as possible in a day. 

To Moving Forward...

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I think you need a new strategy. Use your wrestling mentality for the quitting mentality. Make league of legends your enemy. Make the toxic community your enemy. Make the time wasted your enemy. Develop strategies and fight. Keep working on this. Keep writing your feelings down.

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Day 2

Thank you all for the posts, and yea I had a nice talk with her and I tried to describe how and why I have been feeling the way I have. I think it honestly comes down to stress and not having any outlets right now. I feel worn out and tired yet I haven't worked out in a long time. I told her I feel like I'm at maximum capacity and I'm about to overload because I keep getting pulled in all these different directions by the people in my life and I would like to just step away for a little while. Initially, she never reacts well to me saying I need some space and time to think about things in my life but eventually we break ground and she understands. It's almost that I've been mistreating myself for awhile and not attending to my needs (exercise, meditation, diet, exploration, and expression) that I have begun to take advantage of our relationship which I care very deeply for. It stinks to admit it, but I find that I know I am really independent and not only enjoy but need time for myself and that doesn't always sit well with a significant other. 

I agree with the new strategy as well, I always feel like I lean on league as that ol' trusty fix that will be there whenever I want it to but I absolutely hate that game now and my habit of getting stuck in its world. I feel like staying out of the house is my best physical action to not game but mentally I need to strengthen my approach. It's always two weeks after not playing that the dopamine kicks in to push me back to play. I start to fantasize about waking up, consuming a ton of caffeine (I don't drink coffee normally, or take caffeine of any sort), watching twitch streamers and just gaming all day. By the end of those days I'm starving, I ache all over my body from sitting with poor posture, and I end up uninstalling league...only to reinstall the next day. And I realize now that the anticipation is what really keeps me stuck. It just stinks because without games I feel like I have nothing to look forward to for myself. I always do what others want and make time to help my family and friends and kind of just jump on their plans. My gf and I do a lot of fun stuff on the weekends as well. But I feel like I have nothing reserved for myself that really excites me. Nothing like gaming has at least. I give a lot of my energy to others around me and it feels like when I need to keep some for myself I don't know what to do besides game because it's so enticing and readily available. I don't even enjoy it for very long though which is the craziest part. Like it builds so much anticipation and lust then I play for an hour and that feeling is gone and I'm just mildly entertained. It is very frustrating. Especially now because I game alone, I don't have any friends that play games as a group anymore. It's my reserved alone time and it just ends up being self-destructive and buries me down in a depression rather than revitalizing me. That's why I know I need to quit, the journey just unnerves me since there will inevitably be days with intense cravings and seemingly endless boredom. But I'm firmly fixated on succeeding this time. I just have to conquer the mental obstacles and plan out how to rid myself of any technology that will draw me back to the game. 

On another note, today I feel like I slept too long and my body aches from old injuries and poor sleeping posture. My head and under my eyes feel like there is extra weight in them. After I write this I will be trying to finish a project I took up to help my dad. Unfortunately, his instructions did not play out as intended. I am trying to strip multiple coats of paint off an old metal railing and it's about as frustrating as you can imagine. I've never done this before and I am not getting any help from anyone except my stepdad who is giving me some different tools to try. I tried multiple coats of the (highly toxic) chemical stripper and it helped a little but yesterday I just decided to use a window scraper to chip off the paint. It worked somewhat well but took forever and I wasn't able to get in the small grooves so the railing just looks like crap now and still can't be repainted. This job feels like a metaphor for my struggles and I don't want to quit until I get it done right.

I feel like it ties in to my gaming addiction and how that feels directly related to my dad. I feel like I try to do things to help him because if I don't then nobody will. I know what it's like to need help and not get any. But as my family and my gf confirm, my dad doesn't really ask, he just expects. It sucks because my brother always ends up leaving me with the task of helping while he's off doing his thing (his excuse is valid this time, but the timing is just too coincidental and I don't believe in coincidences). I'm the youngest and it feels like I constantly get put in situations that my siblings find a way to avoid and they all deal with my dad. This railing and the help I am giving at my grandparent's place is just another circumstance that reinforces what I just said...and it sucks. My gf says that it always happens to me because I'm dependable and reliable so my dad will keep taking advantage knowing that I will be there, whereas my brother and sister aren't. And it's crazy because my dad loves my brother and lets him off on everything but rags on me for getting a 3.9 instead of 4.0 in my senior year of undergrad chemistry. My brother left halfway through a semester without telling anyone and got a 0.0 gpa and he just gets left off the hook. And for some fucking reason I feel determined to make this railing perfect...for a person who doesn't appreciate it. It makes me want to just get up and go. 

Even just writing it out reaffirms that I use gaming to escape. But I know I need the escape because this type of crap always makes me...well feel like crap. And I end up investing so much time and effort into it...again for no real reason. What can I do about this stuff? It's more deeply rooted than just enjoying gaming and being addicted to the game. Gaming "checks so many different boxes" that I feel like I'm fighting as one person against an army of past actions. 

 

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Sounds tough. Well, saying NO and THAT's ENOUGH are skills and like all skills can be learned or mastered. You've just got to practice saying no to the little things, and it'll be hard at first, but you'll learn and one day you'll look your father in the eye say no and walk right pass him like he wasn't even there and you'll feel good.

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Day 3

Yea so I had an encounter where I put my foot down and spoke my mind to my dad. However, what came after was something I feel like I never want to experience or engage with again. It ended up being my dad and me just shouting at each other about stuff that happened in the past for a few hours and me learning that he lives in complete denial. I felt sick after and decided that it is better to take the high road and be helpful when necessary to avoid utter calamity. You are correct, though, I have trouble discerning when to lend a hand and when to say no and that leads to many situations like the one I am currently in. It really is a skill and I feel like I've never considered it like that. 

For today, I am continuing this damn railing quest and hopefully I will be able to finish a good portion of it. My dad finally gave me the go ahead to use a high powered drill and just grind away the paint with a metal wheel. I will honestly be super satisfied when this is all over just in finishing the task. 

As for gaming, I get little bursts of alluring thoughts where I envision some rpg game and making a cool character and just getting cool gear, ya know the typical fantasy driven dorky stuff. But, I have been trying to capture the feeling that comes with the thought and yesterday I definitely noticed that I get like a fluttery cool sensation that starts in my lower abdomen and climbs to my chest. It's extremely brief but it's definitely associated with excitement. I'm not too hung up on trying to figure out what these sensations mean, more so I care about simply being aware of them happening. It is really fascinating how these thoughts translate into feelings and I think it is helpful for me personally to keep track of them.

It's only day 3 but this detox feels very different from the others I have attempted and I believe that is because I am not in school. No deadlines just trying to make some money when I can. My built-up stress is now something I can put a lot more focus into helping and in that I feel like I can dedicate truly to this detox. 

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Good on you for standing up for yourself. What I meant was say 'no' and then don't engage further, just walk away or leave the room or make up some excuse even if it's just "I'm tired because of the weather or something." Whether to choose to engage in conflict or walk away after the 'no' depends on what is at stake or if you calculate it to be worth it. I am happy you've taken the first step for this.

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