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Erik2.0

My Story by Erik

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Hello,

I'm hoping to write a lot and continue to edit this document, so it's probably longer than most of the other stories on here. All the names are changed for confidentiality purposes.

My name is Erik and I was addicted to gaming on and off for most of my life. Now I’m 31 and I have done a lot to take my life back from addiction. I did the ninety day detox and felt a lot better. But, let’s rewind to where it all started.

One day when I was very young, maybe five years old. My mom dropped me off at our 'cousins' house to be babysat. For a decade I believed they were my real cousins, until I learned that Chinese people just call any family friends cousins and relatives for some reason. That definitely made dating family friends confusing. When I went into the living room where my 'cousins' Kevin and fat fat. Yes, they named my cousin fat fat because he was a chubby baby. He later changed his name to Anthony. They were playing the original Nintendo. I watched as they played a motocross game, jumping over wide gaps and flying high in the air. I wanted to try so badly, I thought I could do better than them with some practice, but they didn't let me play. The two of them hogged it the whole time. Not exactly love at first sight, but it was my first experience with gaming. 

Some short time later my parents bought me an SNES. Initially I just sat staring at the thing for weeks. For some reason I was scared to death to try using it. I like to think that my spirit knew deep down that this thing was going to be the death of me. My parents unwittingly bought it for me thinking it was a harmless toy for their beloved child. My Dad would smile and play Super Mario. Encouraging and inviting me to play. In hindsight I always had a big ego thinking I was better than everyone at everything. I was like that with soccer and gaming was no different. I knew I was better than my dad at Super Mario. I guess I just always had an itch to be the best. But, thanks to getting depressed easily I never pursued anything much at all. It was kind of my dad to usher me into gaming and he didn't know any better. Eventually I did play. I beat Super Mario SNES. It was a long and enduring game with lots and lots of trying. I remember stockpiling lives to go play the same level over and again finally beating it then doing it all again! I found my favorite kind of game: Beat Em' Ups or Dungeon Crawlers. I would play through ninja turtles with my dad over and over. Something was so wonderful about having someone tag along for the ride while we hacked through endless mobs of enemies. I liked how easy it was and how you could just zone out in an enjoyable fashion for hours on end. It reminded me of my old fantasy novels I would read. A merry band of heroes meandering through the wilderness hacking down challenge after challenge. Saving beautiful princesses and thwarting dark nemeses. In the real world I started to have a quest to find partner(s) to quest through my games with. 

The quest for beat em' up buddies got put on hold when Pokemon came out and my parents bought me a gameboy. They really cared about me a lot and showed it by buying me just about anything I asked for. For better or worse, I was a pretty spoiled kid. I had an army of ninja turtles figurines and was amassing a lot of video games too. I couldn't keep them in good condition for some reason. I remember walking around putting blackberries in my Krang toy's stomach to 'store them for later'. The result was just a berry stained toy. Similarly my game cartridges often didn't work well due to rough inserting and some even had soda stains on them somehow. I remember my first days playing Pokemon. I chose a Charmander for my first Pokemon and learned quickly that I needed a guide to get through the game.

It was so nice sitting around the house not doing much, just plodding along in the Pokémon universe. I felt so at peace...at least for the time being. My mind became so deeply entrenched in the world that I thought it was real. I really thought for a while that I could go somewhere and become a Pokemaster like people go and become a lion tamer. My goal in life was to be a Pokemaster. 

I snapped out of the delusion pretty quickly, but this was my first memorable indication that I had schizophrenia. It was a belief in a delusion that wasn't grounded in reality. They got crazier later. I don't know how it happened, but somehow that game got me hooked! I remember getting my Charizard up to a high level and beating the elite four. I thought it was so cool that I had this team of tough Pokemon. That no one inside that little game cartridge could mess with me! I felt powerful, safe and in control. A stark contrast to my real life. 

My parents loved and cared about me, this much I know is true to this day. But, they didn't know what the heck was going on with me on the inside. I could see they were stressed. They were under a lot of pressure to work full time, raise my sister and I and to keep up appearances even though their marriage was on the way out. I remember they would have long talks in their room and wouldn't open the door to let me come see them.

The worse things got in our family life and the more I needed someone to talk to. The less available everyone seemed to be. My dad would be watching tv and eating potato chips. My mom would be locked away in her room playing freecell on the computer. A gaming addiction that she would engage in for hours on end. Sometimes when she was really upset she would spend days playing freecell on easy mode. Just clicking the cards away, zoning out, escaping her troubles. I saw the way she played and I wanted to zone out too. To escape the discomfort of life. I still loved my parents flawed as we all were. My dad would teach me sports and coached my soccer team. My mom often told me kind things to make me feel better about myself. 

I was a bit of a misguided youth. My father was a self proclaimed atheist despite going to catholic school. And my mother, while catholic, never made it a point to educate me on her religion. As was such, I didn't have a strong set of rules on what was right and wrong. I just lived to have fun and not get in trouble if I could help it. I wanted to be an atheist like my Dad. 

Despite not having a strong spiritual background something went right because I was always a good child. My teachers were usually praising me as “a good kid”. While this was nice for me. It was much to the chagrin of my younger sister. After I would graduate a teachers class they would meet my sister a year or so later only to find that she was kind of on the rough side by comparison. Comments like, "I don't understand why you're like this, your brother was so good." And, "Kat is not a good child like Erik." Were common from teachers. As I just got by in school, my sister got multiple suspensions for verbal and physical fights with other students. I wasn't perfect, but by comparison I looked like an angel. 

 

 From there the systems and computer gaming just kept on rolling. I played and played. I was always an active kid. I played soccer for about ten years from age six to sixteen. I never thought I had a problem with gaming because I was passing my classes and I played sports almost every day. I was even the number one shot-put, discuss and mile runner in my middle school when I was on the track team. I ran a 5:25 mile at age thirteen. 
 

At age sixteen I was a heavy drinker and a drinking friend introduced me to pot. We smoked out of a tinfoil and plastic water bottle. It was probably brain damage central. Within a month I was addicted and smoking everyday. I started dealing it to smoke more and met a friend named Bert. Bert lured me into his lair. A room in his parents house with its own bathroom. Quiet and private enough to stay up late and smoke pot outside when his folks were asleep. I spent many nights getting drunk and high with Bert sleeping in his guest room. He was nice to me. He shared his substances with me and showed me all his interesting games and movies. He was a history buff which was wasted on me because I always glossed over in history class. I remember being impressed that he would update articles on Wikipedia for historical accuracy. 

Sadly I got sucked in deeper into the rabbits hole of substances and gaming. I would spend all my time drunk and high. Playing games often. My old friends tried to bring me back into our old groups ways of drinking and partying. But I had become a substance abusing recluse. I lost my girlfriend at the time because she said I became absent once I started smoking. She said our relationship was influential and later developed a heroine oxy and meth habit . It was scary for me to see but strangely enough she still had her life together better than I did. I always apologized to her for not being a better boyfriend but she forgave me. She called me a bad name here or there that cut me deep and I forgive her too. 

For the next eleven years. From sixteen to twenty seven my main objective was to smoke pot and play video games. By the grace of God I managed to get my bachelors in psychology with a 3.0 thanks to some brief periods of sobriety and effort. I learned how to lift weights from a housemate. I also learned yoga from studio practice. Other than that I pretty much lagged behind socially and in my career because I was always hiding in a room high with my games. 

 

I would smoke maybe ten times a day and play Warcraft three games for hours. I didn’t get competitive I just liked to zone out : I played anything that could resemble games where you didn’t need too much effort to play along. It was mind numbing. Sometimes I felt like I was just waiting to die throughout my twenties. The supposed prime of your life. 
 

I also remember feeling like I wasn’t sound mentally and wanted to be sedated or lobotomized. Obviously the latter would’ve been a bad call. My schizophrenia developed more in grad school as I continued using marijuana and alcohol. Also I was in a weird environment where everyone was kind of cult like about the school. 
 

I briefly tried to be a chiropractor for a quarter then dropped out. With huge resentments towards my family I refused to go home. I was looking at a website for homeless shelters and packing my things. Wondering what I would do next. A friend called me and had me over for dinner. One of my old friends from grad school invited me to stay at his place. 
 

I thought things were going to turn around there. I was going to yoga, applying for jobs, re enrolling in grad school and staying sober. But staying with him wasn’t in the cards for me. Perhaps a mistake, but seeing how things worked out maybe it was meant to be. Walking in the park I stumbled into what would be my odd way out. I called a rehab center asking for help with addiction. They were a shady business that proceeded to dupe me into going to rehab. I flew from California to Florida rehab thinking I was “going on vacation.” Once I got there they took my keys, phone and wallet. Then left me in a little apartment with people withdrawing from heroine and meth. It was messed up and people were acting crazy. It reminded me of high school summer camp except everyone was a bit older. I was a little older than most there. And I wasn’t coming off hard drugs. So it was hard to connect with people there. I mostly stayed in, got diagnosed with schizophrenia and deported to a rehab for crazier people.
 

It was a more messed up place in many ways. Although the clients weren’t all relapsing and having sex with each other like at the old one. The old place even had a client dealing heroine out of the rehab to other rehab members. 
 

The new place did their best to confine us to the rehab center so they could milk our insurance companies for money. I got diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and was heavily medicated. I’m still on risperdal and might want to get on some other meds too once my insurance comes back online. I didn’t socialize at the rehab much, I went from chess to playing games on my phone all the time. I was so doped up on meds I didn’t really need socializing to keep my mind working well enough . It was kind of a double edge. I didn’t need people to stay sane as much and I used that to recluse and game once again. I had crushes on two girls at the center but neither one really looked my way. One girl flirted with me but I didn’t know how to respond and didn’t end up talking to her. I didn’t want to break the rules of the rehab and get kicked out. You couldn’t date within the place. One guy even got sent to jail for making out with a seventeen year old. 

I moved out of the rehab and stayed in an apartment for a year . I went to church for the first time in my life. I was a pretty solid member for a year. I remember feeling the Holy Spirit in me like a warm white light. I felt myself filled with love for everyone and did what I could to help others seek the love of God. But it was short lived. After going to church all the time I realized I wasn’t doing anything for my career in the past year and I had a bad back from driving to church events all the time and not exercising. I stopped going, but didn’t really get it together otherwise.

I started playing league of legends and worked full time as a data entry clerk. I told my coworkers I was a “gamer”. Soon I felt disgusted with my lifestyle. I had fallen out of the rich church life I was a part of and gamed all day and night. I wanted a change. Just as I was decided to start turning my life back around in Florida a big storm was going to hit. I got scared and decided to move back to Virginia with my mom. It was sad to leave all my church friends from FL. My one desire as I left was to have loved them more. To put all the pettiness of life behind me and be there with those people. 
 

At my moms I was depressed and suicidal. Gaming was on and off then. I went back to California to finish my MA in psychology. After two and a half years of sobriety I moved in next door to an “old friend”. A marijuana dealer, partier and hard drug user. I relapsed within a month. For the next year or so I barely scraped by in school and work while being high on marijuana. I smoked and played LoL again. I thought I was okay at times, but eventually I realized that the drug use was exacerbating my schizophrenia. So on sept 2 2019 I stopped using substances and moved back to my moms to get away from the drug use. I’ve been clean since then. 

 

Now at my moms this past year and three months I’ve slowly been getting it together. I got a job as a counselor and have been grinding up hours bit by bit. I thought it would be so great to play games with my clients and watch anime. The more I played and watched though. The worse my mental health became.

 

One day I went to my therapy group and a member, for the fourth week in a row, was saying, “I play Everquest eight hours at a time. I don’t want to stop even though maybe it’s a problem.” Etc. I just thought, I don’t ever want to be like that, maybe I have a problem. 
 

So I went home and found the gamequitters test. I answered yes to all the questions which pinned me as a gaming addict. I tried to quit and felt good for a week or so. Then I relapsed playing dragons crown with my client. It felt nice for a moment to be this big knight with a shield protecting my client and bashing the baddies again. But when I went to pray I knelt there. Mind reeling with thoughts of gaming and I knew then I couldn’t control thinking about gaming. Even just thirty minutes had me completely obsessed again. I felt I had no dignity or self respect when I played. I felt less than human. I prayed to God for help and knelt there feeling completely helpless. I felt that I had absolutely no hope of overcoming gaming addiction and that I would be miserably addicted to playing video games for the rest of my life. 

Then I reached for my phone. I remembered the game quitters test I took weeks ago and went to their website. On the site I just read Cams short story on the homepage. Kneeling there reading the gamequitters site I was flooded with a feeling I never had before. It was a confidence that I could quit gaming. I never liked forums or websites and tried to spend all my time reading books instead. But seeing as this was the first time in my life that I felt I could quit gaming I decided to give the site a try. 
 

I read an article on doing a ninety day detox to reset my brain to how it was before gaming. After ninety days where I would watch gamequitters videos and read articles to stay motivated I felt so much better. I was more clear headed and felt embodied in the present moment. I was being called on in therapy group to encourage our gaming member to stop gaming like I had. I felt committed to quit gaming for life.

But then I thought about the article. How it said, you can give moderation a try after ninety days. So I tried it. And I felt awful. I could feel the symptoms of my mental disorders coming on. Paranoia and fear that others were against me. Depression, anxiety and restless sleep. After gaming under an hour a day for a few days I was done. I made a gamequitters account and started posting to the forums. Now I’m at thirty something days and am continuing to stay off games. Follow me on my thread here for daily posts. Stay strong and game quit on.

God bless ❤️
Erik

 

Edited by Erik2.0
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@seriousjayThanks Jay! Keep up the good work. We're happy to have you in our community here ? I'd like to hear more about your experiences with living a fulfilling life being single and what your current perspective is on dating. 

Edited by Erik2.0

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22 hours ago, Erik2.0 said:

@seriousjayThanks Jay! Keep up the good work. We're happy to have you in our community here ? I'd like to hear more about your experiences with living a fulfilling life being single and what your current perspective is on dating. 

Hmm, what can I say. I don't actively date and I'm not too sure if I ever will again. At this point I'm much more focused on improving my life and I believe the right people will come along as a result of that, including my future life partner. I'm really not too worried about it either way.

As for my experiences? I'm not really sure I have anything worth mentioning. Only that I think it's so important that each person does what makes them happy and follows their passions. Your mind intuitively knows what you want, and it's then up to your conscious self to follow through on that. Ultimately each person is responsible for themselves and shouldn't look to someone else to fulfill them.

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3 hours ago, Erik2.0 said:

@seriousjay sage advice. I see the community here seems to be pro working on yourself and less seeking fulfillment from partners. It seems healthier.

Well some people say it's impossible to truly love another if you don't love yourself first. I believe that.

I really think if you're happy with who you are and what you're doing in life, there is very little anyone else can do to disrupt that.

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