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Band_to_the_Bone's Journal


Band_to_the_Bone
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Hello,

I am new to game quitters and this is my first time going through the respawn modules. Throughout high school and college I could get away with doing my school work and playing games in all of the free time that I had when I was done. I saw friends during classes or when they called me to hang out and I played games after homework was done. The problem with that is I was only gaming in my available free time and I never reached out to my friends. After college I found myself playing games for hours at a time after work since I had no homework and was not making any new friends.

I moved back home with my parents and got some therapy, but never got to the point where I understood what my therapist meant by "down time". I thought down time was video games, but she meant taking time to sharpen the saw and let the brain be creative. Fast forward 5 years and I'm married to the love of my life and we've moved to a new city. Due to Covid, I am unemployed and instead of job searching I'm playing Overwatch. My wife came in and calmly talked me through why it was that I wasn't taking this time to look for work. It's to better myself, our union, and a future family that  I am beginning the respawn process.

My goal is to change the meaning of "free time". Just because I do not have a deadline that is coming up does not meant that I should jump straight onto a video game. In the words of my wife, "You've told me you wanted to do yoga, meditate, work out, play music, and read more. You did none of those things today, and those are things that you love". As module one spoke to, games fulfill human needs. I would like to rework my own thinking so that I choose activities that will lead to me being a better person.

 

Day 1 - After a pretty okay day with my wife, she asked if she could have some time to herself for 30 minutes. In the past, that would be a prime time for me to boot up a game of Overwatch. Instead I am taking the time now to plan out a nice date for us tomorrow. It feels a bit weird clicking on the "About to Relapse" link on day 1, but I guess anything is fair game. As I stated in my introduction, this is about reshaping free time. This 30 minutes that I have now is not time to throw away, but time to invest in myself and my relationship. I look forward to scheduling time tomorrow to work on some of my hobbies and finding work again.

Edited by Band_to_the_Bone
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Day 2 - Afternoon. 

It's been helpful to read other folks' posts here. No one else in my family has had a problem in the same way I do with balancing video games in a healthy manner. My parents would periodically come speak with me when I was living at home, but it always felt like a lecture even though I'm sure they didn't intend on it coming across in that manner. 

While there could be many reasons for this, I feel agitated today. My wife noticed it while we were cleaning the house today. While I don't blame quitting gaming for this, it does seem like  my mindset is one of intensity rather than peace. Intensity has a place, and I appreciate that my body is experiencing emotion without escape. That being said, I feel like for this to become a lifestyle change I need to approach this more as a marathon than a sprint.

That being said, I've been doing a better job at working towards new skills. I picked up my guitar and worked on some covers. One of my favorite things to do is learn the chord progressions of a song by ear. So I'd play one of my wife's favorite songs, learn the chords, then we'd sing it together. Last night I planned a trip to Syracuse, as well as a live-streamed date. Both turned out pretty well this morning.

I have some more free time now, so I came to this forum to focus my thoughts and keep a positive mindset. I'd like to sketch out activities that satisfy my "human needs" that gaming took the place of. (Escape, Connection, Growth, Challenge). I'll keep this post up on my computer and came back for inspiration.

  • I have reading for my graduate studies that I would love to get ahead on. (Challenge + Growth)
  • Calling my family just for the heck of it (Connection)
  • Planning ahead activities and meals for my wife (Connection, Challenge) [Planning ahead is tough for me]
  • Listening to music (Escape) [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJNi7aRwUzU]
  • Practicing trombone (Escape, Growth, Challenge) 
    • I am a trained trombonist, but have lacked the motivation to practice recently
    • Among those reasons is that I am in a house where I can't make much noise. I have a practice mute, but it sounds much different than I should.
    • Maybe I'll get an electric mute where I can plug in headphones and hear my true sound while muting the volume
  • Watching a TV show with my wife (Escape, Connection)
  • Planning ahead tasks that I would like to get done for the week (Growth, Challenge)

It's interesting, just taking time to journal my thoughts has made me feel less agitated. As I was writing this sentence, I realized taking the time to go through with this process hits on many of the needs that gaming satisfies. The connection with others, the personal growth, and the was in which we challenge ourselves to be better. I've unsuccessfully tried to keep a journal in the past multiple times, but I'm feeling optimistic about this.

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2 hours ago, Band_to_the_Bone said:

Day 2 - Afternoon. 

It's been helpful to read other folks' posts here. No one else in my family has had a problem in the same way I do with balancing video games in a healthy manner. My parents would periodically come speak with me when I was living at home, but it always felt like a lecture even though I'm sure they didn't intend on it coming across in that manner. 

While there could be many reasons for this, I feel agitated today. My wife noticed it while we were cleaning the house today. While I don't blame quitting gaming for this, it does seem like  my mindset is one of intensity rather than peace. Intensity has a place, and I appreciate that my body is experiencing emotion without escape. That being said, I feel like for this to become a lifestyle change I need to approach this more as a marathon than a sprint.

That being said, I've been doing a better job at working towards new skills. I picked up my guitar and worked on some covers. One of my favorite things to do is learn the chord progressions of a song by ear. So I'd play one of my wife's favorite songs, learn the chords, then we'd sing it together. Last night I planned a trip to Syracuse, as well as a live-streamed date. Both turned out pretty well this morning.

I have some more free time now, so I came to this forum to focus my thoughts and keep a positive mindset. I'd like to sketch out activities that satisfy my "human needs" that gaming took the place of. (Escape, Connection, Growth, Challenge). I'll keep this post up on my computer and came back for inspiration.

  • I have reading for my graduate studies that I would love to get ahead on. (Challenge + Growth)
  • Calling my family just for the heck of it (Connection)
  • Planning ahead activities and meals for my wife (Connection, Challenge) [Planning ahead is tough for me]
  • Listening to music (Escape) [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJNi7aRwUzU]
  • Practicing trombone (Escape, Growth, Challenge) 
    • I am a trained trombonist, but have lacked the motivation to practice recently
    • Among those reasons is that I am in a house where I can't make much noise. I have a practice mute, but it sounds much different than I should.
    • Maybe I'll get an electric mute where I can plug in headphones and hear my true sound while muting the volume
  • Watching a TV show with my wife (Escape, Connection)
  • Planning ahead tasks that I would like to get done for the week (Growth, Challenge)

It's interesting, just taking time to journal my thoughts has made me feel less agitated. As I was writing this sentence, I realized taking the time to go through with this process hits on many of the needs that gaming satisfies. The connection with others, the personal growth, and the was in which we challenge ourselves to be better. I've unsuccessfully tried to keep a journal in the past multiple times, but I'm feeling optimistic about this.

I think you're in the right spot and nobody is going to understand what you're going through until they can somehow relate to it. We're like any other person who feeds off of an addiction. Gamblers, alcoholics, drug addicts, sex addicts, porn addicts, etc. We all can be so consumed in these activities that time flashes by and we can't control it. The tough part about that statement is that when we don't play video games time feels like it's passing by at a snail's pace and we become anxious and frustrated. As part of the fight or flight response we begin to crave video games or other stimulants because our brain craves dopamine and a solution to our anxiety. It's going to take some time to be comfortable with boredom, but it's also going to take time to become comfortable in applying ourselves in other activities that aren't as time consuming or fun. 

It's a struggle. But it's worth it.

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Day 1 - Morning (Not sure how to notate if you break a streak(

So I downloaded a game on my phone last night and played from 11:30 pm until 1:30 am. I was doing a great job during the day, following through on the activities that I had planned out above. I've had an old tenancy to view time after my wife fell asleep as "free time" where I could play games and it wouldn't disturb her / she wouldn't notice. I need to remember that while it may not be held accountable right away, I'm losing sleep which will catch up to me. On top of that, I'm taking this time to explore my relationship with gaming. I need to be able to hold myself accountable have have the self discipline to say no. Furthermore, there is no need for me to play a game at all. I got along quite fine before I was playing games, there is no irreversible psychological pathway that means I can't stop playing. I think it's going to come down to sustained grit.

That being said, I'm trying to acknowledge the mistake but not dwell on it. Similar to meditation, let it pass and continue on a journey to peace. We'll keep going today

Afternoon

I'm going to keep a running list of the little things I did today:

So far so good

Edited by Band_to_the_Bone
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Thanks WhoCares, I'm glad to be here! It's really nice to have someone else who understands where I'm coming from.

Day 2 - morning

I woke up and had a shitty morning today. All in all, I felt accomplished with yesterday. No gaming, and I did all of the things I listed in my last post. I also got to bed by 10 and woke up at 7 which is quite early for me and more sleep than I usually get; the lack of electronic stimulation helped me feel tired earlier. Outside of my relationship with gaming, I've been having issues with organization. I'm going to be making a to-do list and scheduling out activities for today. I believe that this will help with my gaming as well, as I'm most susceptible to gaming for hours when I perceive that I have nothing to do. Reminding myself of what I need to do and what I want to do should help me make good decisions. Like last time this happened, in taking the time to journal, I feel a lot better.

Evening

I'm hoping that touching base in the night time will help stave off late-night gaming. While my day had some good points, a particularly bad fight had put me in a bit of a tailspin. Games would have a numbing effect and help me feel better faster, but avoid the problem and the issue at hand. While this is painful, I should be glad that I'm feeling emotions and trust that they will help me get back on the right track. I'm working on organization as well as my issues with gaming, and my online research led me to Adult ADHD. While I would have to seek a medical professional to determine my internal chemistry, I intend on using many Cognitive Behavioral Therapy strategies to help with the issues I'm having. Looking forward to putting a "3" in the day column tomorrow!

Edited by Band_to_the_Bone
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Day 3 - morning

After relapsing on Day 2 last time, I'm genuinely excited to be on Day 3. Yesterday, I reached out to speak with a friend about my organizational issues. She is a type-A planner and was a great listener and someone to bounce ideas off of. I'm currently employing the following strategies:

  • Pomodoro Timer
  • Daily check list prioritized
  • Gratitude (My friend brought this one up, I've heard about it but never tried before)
  • Meditation (Specifically neuroplasticity)

My wife brought up taking a day trip to a own 30 mins away, so i went ahead and gathered information on a handful of activities in the area. I'm working on thinking of ideas without her bringing them up. I also am avoiding "hyperfocus" and I kept the activity of research to two pomodoro cycles, no more. It does feel like life is moving a bit slower, but living in this feeling might be part of the way to rework my own expectations for what a day should feel like. I've been "editing" my post over the course of the day to include the afternoon / evening.

One last point of interest on Hyperfocus, some researchers believe it may be linked to a lack of sensitivity to dopamine. I do have a tendency to eat sugar in excess, drive fast, and listen to music loudly. While I'm not saying I want to deprive myself of fun, but I think different issues that have come up in my life are related; one could very easy make the connection from abnormally low levels of dopamine and excess video game usage.

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Hi Band to the Bone, I am horrified that you are using 4 strategies at the same time. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to implement even one of those strategies and make them a habit - and you have gathered a harem of strategies.

It hurts us to hear that you relapsed a few days ago and the pressure of those 4 strategies might hurt even more. Not only is 4 the number of death, but it is also a complete revolution and that bodes omens of relapse.

Since Pomodoro is at the top of your list, I think you should build a Pomodoro foundation and then, as you get comfortable with Pomodoro, integrate the other strategies, one at a time. If you find out you hate Pomodoro, you can ditch it and try a different strategy.

The priority is that we abstain from video-games and the greatest reserves of our strength must be dedicated to remaining sober. Perhaps you can quit games and use 2 strategies (Pomodoro and checklist). That totals 3 new life changes. It would be harder than 1 or 2 changes but it will still be much easier than 4 or 5.

Edited by Bird By Bird
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That is a really good point, thank you. While it seems helpful to push ever lever, I can see it getting overwhelming. In the past, I have burnt out after an excess of energy spent. Not-so-oddly enough, my day has shaped out where those (pomodoro and checklist) are the two bread and butter tools that I have been using more than anything else. I'll work on building those foundational habits slowly.

Edited by Band_to_the_Bone
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Day 4 - morning

Short post this morning. Another particularly rough night yesterday, but I don't think that was due to anything related to this forum. I practiced trombone also, which was a big win for me. I made a list last night, prioritized the most important things, and woke up this morning ready to go. I'm trying to balance the line between giving something the attention it deserves and burning out.

Pomodoro worked quite well. It helps that the breaks are so short, there isn't enough time to do a new activity and get distracted. Also the breaks prevent me from entering a state of hyperfocus. We'll repeat it again today.. 

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Day 5 - Evening

I got hired to substitute teach a few days, glad to be back to work. I've been communicating with my wife and family about some of the struggles I've had and what I've learned about the process. They've been supportive. It's kind of late, I just logged on because I wanted to check in. Still doing Pomodoro and writing lists, it's really helping.

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Day 6 - Afternoon

After spending time planning out a bunch of activities, my wife and I leisurely picked 4 activities to do today in a nearby town. I think in the 4-year history of our relationship, this is one of the first times I planned a day trip without her asking me to do so. When I'm not constantly diving into distraction during my free time, I find it interesting observing what I choose to do instead. My wife got a haircut this morning, and my first thought was, "Oh great, house to myself. Time to game!". I noticed the thought and actually chuckled at how innate it was. Instead, I practiced trombone, took a shower, and got ready for the day.

Yesterday, I was in a group meeting for a grad school class project. Earlier in the week, I took time to make a detailed checklist of our activities needed for the class and worked on it using a Pomodoro timer. As the group was working, it quickly became evident that I'd spent time working hard and understood the assignment. I assumed a leadership role and helped the group finish the assignment in a little over an hour. The next day, the teacher said she was postponing the assignment because other groups were having so much trouble with it. Now, because of the hard work we did yesterday, we have no homework for this week (More time to get ahead on readings).

I spoke to my dad about the "3-weeks becoming a habit" thing, and it got me thinking. I feel like this is more of a lifestyle change for me than a detox. That being said, I think it would be nice to reward milestones as I get my "Day count" higher. One of my Pomodoro/checklist tasks led me to getting a $25 amazon gift card, so I invested it back into my work and got my first planner since high school (I may still use my notebook, it's been really fun). Maybe when I hit 90 days I'll pay for my trombone to get a professional cleaning, I haven't done that in too long.

Every other time I've tried quitting, I've felt an enormous weight to find a new hobby right away and dive into it. For me right now, just being a functioning adult, bettering myself, and enjoying time with my wife is satisfying a lot of my "human needs" that gaming does. I want to keep pushing ahead in Cam's modules. I've spent so much time on Grad school, I haven't gotten as far as I would like; I guess I'll put that on my list 🙂

Edited by Band_to_the_Bone
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I substitute taught Kindergarten classes in a rural school district. There were 4 and 6 kids respectively on Monday and Tuesday. Every kid wore masks when moving / standing up. They could take them off when sitting at desks that were more than 10 feet apart. Kids were respectful in terms of the mask rule, regular behaviors for that age were unaffected.

Day 9 and 10

It's been hard to find time to journal when I'm not at home all day. I did feel exhausted from substitute teaching Kindergarten, and there was a tendency to think of gaming as a way to kick back and unwind. Instead I hung out with my wife, cooked, and called family. Not much to report, trying to keep on checklists and about to do some pomodoro sessions. I'm grateful for having a teaching certification, it's helped me get okay paying sub jobs. There's a lot I need to take care of, so I'm going to get right to prioritizing my list and hitting my first pomodoro session.

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Day 11 Afternoon

Had a really nice class today. Coming home, I realized that I have more energy because I spent less of myself controlling 'exciting' behaviors. My wife is feeling down, so I'm going to invest some of my excess into her so she can have a good day. I still have had a lot of urges to play, and it was nearly impossible to stay focused yesterday. I'm going to update over the next few hours how I do.

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Day 12-14

A good weekend with ups and downs. I'm still working hard to stay focused and be comfortable without technology. Last week as a whole, was really difficult. I went from being at home full time, to working full time. While a lot of things stayed intact, my mental composure was shaken and I missed some school assignments. I have since rectified the issues, but I need to work on myself to the point where I can maintain the gains that I have made even when I don't have copious amounts of free time.

Edited by Band_to_the_Bone
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Day 12-14 seems like many big changes have happened.

I hope your professors know that you have suddenly been called to work full time. It is important to milk as much compassion from them as you can because then they know how your new hard job is affecting you. I hope they don't have the impression that you suddenly turned into a lazy student. Unlike the others, you have a good excuse.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Day 1

Took a big step back after my last post on 9/28. I got overwhelmed by keeping up with life's responsibilities and returning to working 5 days a week. While I'm glad to have employment again, I'm taking my (now less) time at home and gaming instead of building myself up or connecting with my wife. First my daily journaling went, then I went off the rails. I'm going to stay active on this community as a guide rail to keep me on track. 

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