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Talby's Journal


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Day 7

It's been a week since I last gamed but not since I made the decision to quit.  There's a been a lot of ups and downs since I came clean and talked it over with close friends and loved ones, but people are starting to understand my behaviour over the last 10 years or so and supporting my decision.  More important than anything else, people are understanding why it's a problem and how it develops.  Thank god the WHO is taking this seriously now, maybe we can put the pressure on the industry to start funding research and support for addiction.  

I'm starting to feel the light again, that association with all the things I loved doing when I went to university is breaking through now that I've made the decision to leave it all behind and push through with more positive choices.

Gratitude journal

Today I'm grateful for having a good friend who came out for a hike with me and chatted about everything I'm going through (he had a similar experience with addiction that I helped him through).  I'm also really grateful to my beautiful fiancee who is supporting me and works hard so that we can live in a nice home.

I managed to get in a decent hike and then fit in a good Yoga session, which I don't normally manage to achieve on a weekend.

Going to keep it short but this week I want to continue this momentum forward.  I want to keep running, doing yoga, having a positive attitude towards those I love and adore, and have hope that I can change the circumstances I don't like given the time and opportunities.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Day 31

Wow.  Where does the time go.  I can't believe it's been about a month since I quit.  There's been times when I've been tempted to go back, even little blips where I've nearly replaced it with something equally as addictive...however I've always managed to haul myself back from the brink.  I also decided a couple of weeks in to give a few other things up that went hand in hand with gaming, things I feel more inclined to use and obsess about if I game.  That's actually been harder than the gaming, as I've been tempted to fill the void with those activities.  All in all though it's gone as well as I could have expected.  I'm starting to rediscover my mojo for life, am much easier to be around and am pouring a lot of my time and effort into exercise, relationships and work.

Don't get me wrong, there's been ups and downs.  Certainly the first couple of weeks were rough, and there's been times when I really haven't been myself due to the cravings and mood swings.  Plus I know that my intake of sugar, fat and alcohol is certainly more than average when I maybe gamed.  At the moment I'm managing to keep those things to moderate levels that don't waste time or even add value to my life because they're part of social situations.  As a runner, my health and diet are important to me...however the best advice I've read is to try not to cut out too many things at once, and I'd rather focus on getting my training mojo back consistently before I look at making marginal gains through improvements to diet.

All in all going pretty well.  I have a job interview next week at an organisation whose values appear to align to my own, and who would be a lot closer to home with a higher salary and more career development.  Fingers crossed for that. 

I've also started listening to some mental health podcasts, such as The Naked Professors (Seriously, check it out.).  One of the most useful things that they reinforced was that the mind is designed to protect you from harm and keep you safe, called negative bias.  That's why when you have time to think, it's mostly negative or scary.  But it's not an inherently negative thing.  It's actually good for you as a healthy human to have this.  What's important is your relationship with your mind and general identity.  Imagine if somebody else spoke to you in the way you think and speak to yourself sometimes, you'd walk away or lose it with them...probably decide never to see them again.  Well we all need to be kinder to ourselves.  I've tried meditating on and off, it does seem to help in small doses, but this feels different.  Every time I get lost in thoughts now and I realise it, rather than stressing and worrying about whatever is going on, I just tell my mind that I'm grateful that it's trying to look after me and that I'm happy it's aware of danger, but that in this moment, I'm safe.  Unless obviously I'm really not safe!  BUt most of the time it's just whirring away when I'm travelling or trying to do mundane stuff like chores.  Then I just gently tell it that everything is fine, that I'm safe but that I'm not cross with it for thinking that way.

So be kinder to yourselves, accept your mind for what it is and be thankful that it's trying to protect you, but understand that a lot of the things that go on up there don't reflect reality.

Gratitude journal

Today I'm grateful to everybody on this forum trying to support one another, and particularly for being able to meet so many people who are willing to share their stories and open their hearts.  I know it all sounds cheesy and tacky, but I mean it 100%.  I spent a bit more time on here the last few days, responding and reading comments.  It's helped me to feel like I'm not alone and that I'm not pathetic for having these issues.

I'm still eternally grateful to my finacee and friends for accepting all this, accepting me for who I am.  It makes such a huge difference.  I'm also grateful to be part of a running community again, it means a lot.

Take care all.  Remember, your mind is trying to help 🙂  

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Day 34

This one is about being honest around some of the more negative stuff going on. I haven't really spoken much about the here and now of stuff, I'm struggling with, more the stuff I know lurks in my past that I don't want to go back to. But of course it doesn't work like that.


Crashed and burned a little this week. As I've mentioned I've plowed a lot of the time I'd spend gaming into being out running or at the gym. I have spent more time with other people as a result of quitting, but I still need the endorphins and adrenaline rush gaming used to give otherwise I'll sink into a depressed state. Been there, done it all before. But I have to admit I've probably sunk a little too much time into it and not focused as much as I wanted to on the mental side of things. It's a tough balance because the physical side is important for my self esteem. I don't need to look ripped and impress the ladies, but I'm a skinny guy and running just burns away the muscle and fat so I've been trying to maintain a body shape I'm comfortable with whilst I train harder.

Turns out when you ignore your mind and just keep pushing it deeper onto something when you know it needs attention, it snaps back at you eventually. This week I've been a ball of unpredictable, excitable and angry energy which culminated in me nearly losing my shit with a client and some colleagues at work. I didn't, but I could feel something was wrong deep down. Truth is I've been expecting a lot of myself after admitting the addiction. This time is different, this time I'll feel better... Etc etc. But truth hurts, and I know I'm suffering in exactly the same way I have all the other times I've quit but eventually given in. This time I know what I'm fighting against and have brought other people on board so there's no out. I've been honest with my mind and not approached it as a gaming ban cause I read somewhere that the best way to overcome a desire for something is to allow yourself the option, but be very clear about what the consequences are of making that choice. That way whatever you're trying to give up has less of a temptation around it. Less of a forbidden fruit vibe. Anyway, yes it hurts again. Yes the need for instant gratification is there, yes I've tried to replace it with other stuff so I know I'm on the right track... But I've also been a bit of a self righteous arsehole about the whole thing, projecting my high expectations of my recovery and change onto others.

It's my first really big negative point of the whole process so I'm not too down about it. Guess there's a beauty in accepting it's a bumpy road, that you might take a few steps back in order to move forward. I think what this has made me realise is that the detox period isn't just about giving up the gaming. It's about facing up to all stuff that made you retreat into game worlds with such intensity. Trying to find a balance between putting your time and energy back into the activities you used to love that you know will give long term satisfaction and actually stepping back from constantly doing things and taking the time to work on how your mind is doing.


Anyway, I'm going to leave it there. Had a lot on my mind and had to get it down. It's nice to just get the bad shit out sometimes.

I'm doing well. This is progress 😁


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  • 2 weeks later...

Day 44

So I've not been writing much, which is because I'm busy.  And I've been writing more in my private journal, which really is just long rambling swathes, stream of consciousness stuff.  A bit like my last couple of entries which feel like they belong more in private than out in the world.

But I've also been busy, super busy.  The first 30 days or so I ploughed all my time and energy into fitness, work and job hunting.  The last couple of weeks I've had a bit of a crash, some bumps and am currently waiting to hear back from a job interview I feel really confident about.

To cut a long story short, I crashed and burned a little bit after having a few explosions in anger and poor judgement.  Safe to say I worked through it with the people involved, no harm done.  But now I'm into a phase where I'm reflecting a lot on all the shit I've been running away from.  It's hard, but pretty good.

I also realised I was increasingly watching more TV and spending more time online whilst not gaming, so I'm now working to keep that down.  Christmas was also pretty unhealthy in terms of alcohol and sugar so I'm making small tweaks to my diet, nothing major...just enough so that I'm not using eating as a coping mechanism for poor mental health.

I know that it's individual to everyone, but does anyone have any advice as to what to expect from this point on?  I'm still keeping up all my health goals and feel like I'm making the right choices when it comes to responding to mistakes, however I'd like to know whether you start to notice a marked change in mood once you get to around halfway.  Does it really take the full 90 days to really 'feel' differently, or is it mostly about how you interpret the changes you're making?

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  • 1 month later...

Day 76

World turned upside down by all this Coronavirus stuff, but I'm using it to smash through to the 90 days.  Still haven't touched a game, although I think about it a lot.  If I can't have all this free time (although I am still working from home full-time) and replace gaming with more meaningful pursuits, I figure I'll never do it.  Although I can't go out much, I am exercising as much as is reasonable.  I've been working a lot on my mental health, including going the The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters again and taking it seriously this time (carrying it on for more than a few weeks and sticking with it).  I still need to organise counselling but am uncertain of how it'll work under the current circumstances.  I'd ideally wanted face to face, but if I can get some online help then I'll happily do it.


Not much else to say really,  getting closer to the goal.  I'm finding more and more little things to change that are linked to my addictive behaviour and gaming, like spending ages flicking between shopping websites, twitter feeds and other pointless rubbish.  Starting to work on removing those habits as I get closer to the detox goal.


Hope everyone is ok with the strange goings on.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Day 89!

One day to go folks!  Game free for 89 days 😉

In all honesty I still have a long way to go after tomorrow, such as processing how I've been struggling with my physical health since quitting, some other dependencies creeping in.  But I'm taking all this as a step forward, towards being able to reduce everything down to a manageable level.  Had some really honest conversations about my mental health with friends and family, started being more open about how I feel and why I might be feeling like that.

Starting to get into a decent habit of running, walking and strengthening around the madness of Coronavirus.  Hope everybody is staying safe out there!

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  • 1 year later...

Wow.  How out of control things got after August.  I managed to stay pretty focused until the stress of managing a lot of different things and spinning lots of plates got to me and I cracked.  I remember being sat at home after helping one of my mates to navigate on some fells for a race we were both doing.  He was doing the 30 mile distance, I the 12.  The routes overlapped so it was a good opportunity for us to get the lay of the land, have a good day out and then eat some well deserved food.

Unfortunately we got a tad lost and rather than covering 15 miles, we ended up going 19.  It might not seem like much but it was hot and the terrain is tough going.  the extra 4 miles equated to an extra hour of running/fast hiking which at the time just floored me.  I remember getting home and being a mixture of elated that I'd managed to push myself but also feeling dog rough.  That's when I cracked.  I remember having a conversation with my mate about addictions and relapses.  He had a problem with alcohol and drugs, we spoke at length about moderation and allowing ourselves something as a reward, particularly during the times of COVID.  I think that sparked something in my brain.  I finally had the permission and excuse I'd been angling for to start gaming again, but with the promise that I was going to control it.  Even my wife, who had agreed to be my voice of reason wasn't bothered about me doing it, as long as it didn't take time away from us (which was one of the huge reasons why I stopped). 

Anyway it got out of control.  I reconnected with a friend who is a big gamer and we started essentially competing with each other to play and finish certain games.  It got a bit out of hand, eventually the 'allowed' time crept more and more into everyday life until I was gaming again during the day when I was supposed to be working.

I'll stop there because it's just more of the same really.  It hasn't stopped me from achieving things in the last year.  I've done very well on an internship I started in October 2020.  That's finishing soon and I've secured employment on a really competitive graduate scheme.  My wife is pregnant with our first child and we celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary.

But I can't shake the feeling that it's all come at a great cost because I was always fighting with myself over what I should be doing in my spare time.  It's a difficult one because with lockdowns, there was so many activities that I'd started to put the feelers out to at the start of 2020 that just got shuttered.  After the panic and chaos of the last year, going back to look at those isn't a simple choice as it was before.  With the pregnancy, we're both scared of putting the baby at unnecessary risk.  I don't know how I feel about joining indoor clubs or spending time in crowded places if I really don't have to.  Not easy choices.  I also am running a marathon in 3 weeks, my first in years.  I've trained well, but running and gaming have this strange relationship where one enables the other but only in a certain direction.  I tend to reward myself for running and achieving with gaming sessions because although I get a lot out of running, it's hard work.  So my brain often comes up with the idea that because I've smashed a 50 mile week, I deserve to sit and do nothing but play video games all day/week.

Well.  That's me as is now.  It was hard writing all that.  I'm sure that as I move forward I'll focus less on what I haven't done or haven't got and start to think about what I want and the things I'm doing to try and achieve that.  I will give myself time.  I will break things down into management chunks of time and plan my days out a little better again.  I will plan for weather, I will plan for seasons, I will plan for what I do when I finish something or achieve something and want to reward myself.  Ultimately, I will try to be on my own side going forward rather than being big brother, always focusing on everything I'm not doing and berating myself for not making things happen the way I feel like they should have in my mind.

Thank you to anybody who read this and stay strong y'all.

Edited by Talby
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Had a couple of really tough days.  Although I promised myself this wasn't going to be a problem anymore it clearly is.  The amount of times I've clicked on an installer package only to remember the commitments I've made to at least try to replace gaming with other things again and cancel the process is mad.

Life is weird at the moment.  I have lots of positive things to write home about.  New job.  Baby on the way.  Loving wife.  16 weeks of marathon training behind me.  But at the same time I still have this urge to just click self destruct and blow it all to hell.  Almost like I don't feel like I deserve to be here, in this position.  Although I've got a really strong relationship, we've had some horrible arguments over the last few days about some long standing wider family related issues that I've forgiven and started to move on from and she hasn't.  It's not her fault, she feels more hurt and much more impacted by it than me, but I've been 'lucky' enough to have spent lots of time at home thinking about the person I want to be and deciding that forgiveness, compassion and letting go of my unrealistic expectations of other people is the only way that I can get myself out of the rut I worked myself into to end up feeling like I need games, internet and TV to fill the void for.  I want to be a good father, good husband, good friend, good colleague and generally just try to leave the world a better place when I'm gone, no matter how small that impact might have been.  But those things are very abstract and I'm aware that I need more concrete plans with more realistic targets rather than just holding up an example of 'good' and then berating myself when I don't meet it because the goalposts have moved again.

Then again, goalposts move and that's just part of life.

My motivation to do any work for the last few weeks of my current contracted role is incredibly low.  I'm getting through it but it's getting harder and harder not to get distracted.  Procrastinating has just become a default setting and I don't feel like I have a routine anymore.  I know that's my own problem, I can blame the pandemic all I want.  But it's feeling more and more like a challenge to fix it.

But I can start by getting off here and getting back to what I want to be doing, which is getting through my work list.

There we go.

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  • 6 months later...

I'm back here again after a major life event. 

My daughter, Kate, was born on 8th March. It was a difficult birth, emergency c section. Very stressful. 

She's just over one month old and I'd wanted to kick gaming before she arrived. Gave it a go a few times but never really got past 2 weeks. Found it tough as the more pregnant my wife got, the harder it was to go anywhere or do anything. We ended up self isolating to protect her health so I ended up slipping back into the same routines. 

I managed to build back into a really stable running routine starting in November and was up to running 6 days a week again by the time of the birth, but obviously all that fell off a cliff once she arrived. 

None of that matters now. What's concerned me is that for the first few weeks I took opportunities to let my wife nap whilst my daughter slept on me. To stay awake and enjoy the time, I turned back to gaming. Which was lovely for a while, but then I started trying to find time to game again. Then the arguing and snapping at my wife whenever I was asked to do things for her started. Then she mentioned how much I was doing it and that was the last straw. After a few days fighting with my thoughts I put the controller down again 4 days ago and haven't picked it up except to watch some anime and some films. 

I kind of knew this day would come when I kept trying to quit years before. I wanted to be more prepared to deal with the onslaught of having children without having to fight with this part of me (certainly not the compulsive reliance on it for getting any joy from life).

The problem I have is that I stop, pick up better habits, get confident and then convince myself I can let it back in again. Abstaining feels like just as much effort than moderation, but I know I can moderate things in life because I do it all the time. This might just be my one vice that I really can't moderate. Which is sad. 


So I'm back to try again. With all the failures and emotions it might dredge up. Soon it will be summer and I'll have to entertain not just myself but a 3 month old. I don't want to be so craving playing video games that everything I need to do for her just becomes an interference. The last thing I want to do is resent her for taking up my time. 

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Congratulations! So glad that you were able to get past the birth difficulties, but feel sorry that your wife and you had to go through that experience. Children are amazing, hope you'll have the time to enjoy them while they're cute and fun and  easy to deal with... 

On 4/10/2022 at 10:38 AM, Talby said:

I stop, pick up better habits, get confident and then convince myself I can let it back in again

I used to have the exact same loop. But, I absolutely do not remember how I got out of it... Part of it was simply repeating, every single day, that no matter how much "better" I get, it is never a reason to get back into destructive habits. Additionally, I would often reflect on all of the past experiences that have led me to these destructive habits; that helped me gain a deeper understanding of how the issues formulated, and why I have so much trouble going away from them. With more patience and acceptance of myself, I was able to alleviate some of the anxiety quitting gaming caused to me, and move forward.

You can dig through others' journals to see how they managed to get out of this loop as well..? I don't know who else has a similar situation, but I very much doubt it's just you and me. 

I don't think I've stopped convincing myself of repeating this loop, really. But it is no longer convincing enough. 

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2 hours ago, Pochatok said:

 I don't know who else has a similar situation, but I very much doubt it's just you and me.

Made it through this loop a few times by myself. This is also exactly the reason why I think moderation doesnt work for some people. Cam talks about moderation vs abstinence in a video on his channel and brings up the example of having chocolate in your house and eating only a piece of chocolate vs eating all of it at once. I know that I couldnt eat only one piece, so my strategy is to do not have chocolate in my house if I do not eat much sugar.

With gaming its the same for me. I know I would fall back into the same loop again if my games were still on my computer or somehow in range. So I try to modulate my environment in a way that going back to gaming is as difficult as possible. Once you reach your good habits again and start to get confident I know that it is tempting to get into games again. The brain knows exactly how to 'convince' you with made-up arguments and bring you back to your comfort zone. Havent found a good strategy or answer to that issue yet 😕 But this time for me it feels different. I dont think this loop has to be repeated forever. Every time I went through it I got more ashamed because of my bad habits, but on the same hand also more determined that this cant be the way I want to live my life anymore.

@Talby Having enough resources and barriers between you and your games plus having an emergency-plan when cravings appear helps a lot in my opinion. Playing in moderation might work for some people but I can highly recommend to follow the path of abstinence. The craving gets less and less the longer you dont game.

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Thanks for the comments 🙂 I've felt like coming back so many times but I managed to manipulate myself into a position where I'd just kick the can down the road again. 

I'm already a week or so down and I'm already starting to feel like I have a little more patience and capacity to handle the stress of being a working parent. My daughter is fantastic, she's just started smiling and responding to funny faces and songs. My wife is growing in confidence after a rough few weeks and our family and friends all love her. I feel very blessed. 

In all honesty, I'm just spending a bit more time on YouTube or watching TV in the spare time that I can't go anywhere or do anything, sometimes getting distracted at work. But I'm aware that's not the ideal solution to this and I'm the type of person who feels more able to cut back on those habits than gaming, where there's inherent rewards and tangible progress. I'm proud of my intention and am just taking it day by day, not fixating on how many days I've not gamed for, but trying to enjoy every moment I get to spend with loved ones and make the most of the time I have to myself. 

The change from previous attempts seems to be that I have more hope because there's no lockdowns and that I'm recognising the emotional space I'm in when I think about how I spend my time. Whilst gaming I really tried to learn how to draw and write short stories, but gaming just took over cause it was easier. There's some expectation about picking those up again now but I recognise that I'm not quite in the right place to suddenly learn new skills whilst I'm supervising a small infant. 

Feels like there's a healthy dose of compassion and self respect there that was missing before. Alongside acceptance that I'll be grieving the loss of certain things for a while and that it's OK to feel upset and empty for a while until things rebalance. 

Hope is a great feeling. 

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Last week I wrote an interesting private journal entry on how I self sabotaged my journaling last year by convincing myself that it was hurting me by opening up the stream of consciousness Pandoras box.

Truth be told I don't know whether that's right or not but I certainly feel like I'm starting to make better decisions now that I've started doing it again and doing it honestly. Now that I'm not bullahitting myself about how much gaming I'm doing or how I can control it or how I deserve to have a little bit. Neither am I lording it over other people that I've quit or having arguments with myself about enormous life events or philosophical debates.

Really I just want to process all the raging and screaming and ranting about the world's problems I've overstimulated myself with online. I want to see it for what it is and pull back from from being addicted to the drama because I don't think it's good for me. Who I am now regrets all the time wasted on these things in the past. Who I will be in 6 months time wants to look back and be truthful with himself about whether he actually did anything about it or not. The me in 6 months wants to be able to go for a long run, crack open a beer, eat an indulgent dinner and play with his daughter, love his wife and laugh with his friends without feeling ashamed. Without feeling like gaming is the reality and that all these other activities are just a distraction away from what I really need to do.

Nothing is ever really finished with mental health, but I'm already consistently getting up in the morning and taking more care of myself than I was before. That trend is starting to reverse and I want t keep it that way. When I get up I'm either going to run or do some other type of exercise after checking on my wife and daughter, even if that's just yoga. After that I'm going to shower so that I feel clean and refreshed and ready for the day.

When I've changed into proper clothes I'll assess whether I want breakfast or whether Sarah needs any help with anything before I either start work or we go do whatever it is we've got planned.

I haven't got evenings planned too much yet because I think the mornings are so important and really want to get those cracked first. After better habits are set in then I can look at later in the day.

Ooh on the morning front if I can spend even 5 minutes meditating just after I get up then I'll be really grateful. 5 minutes is nothing and will help build the habit.

Throughout all this habit stacking, asking my wife if she needs anything and communicating with her is really important because she's not psychic and doesn't know what I've got planned. She might be expecting me to take our daughter for 2 hours whilst she goes and sleeps. Some adaptation or negotiations will be needed there.

Right. Life 2.0 sorted. Time to relax in front of a good film after day full of life and love with friends and family. 

Edited by Talby
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