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Lampshade Journal


Lampshade
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Day 62

Today is going to be a challenging day.

My goal for myself right now is to try to get to a more relaxed state of mind. As someone who is easily bored, this is harder than it should be. I try to force myself to do easy things but those easy things don't hold my attention and I start overthinking. The thought is that it's just going to take time to get more used to a slower pace with less pressure.

Logically, I know it's okay for me to cut back on my productivity. I do not have a bunch of deadlines looming right now. There are meetings and proposals in late Jan. that I want to be as prepared as possible for because they will basically decide what I work on for the next 4 years. Now that I write that, though, I would much rather enter those meetings in good state than a stressed state. The goal is quiet confidence, contentment, and consistent effort. I know that there will be times in the future where I will need to hustle. I also know that I can do it and have a system that will help me.

Despite knowing all those things I still struggle with stillness. I know I'm good at working hard, but I don't know how to not work hard. That's so strange to write, I feel like it doesn't make sense. Reality is though, on my days off I literally don't know how to structure my day. Even that is odd to write since my favorite days are those without structure. This definitely makes no sense lol. What I'm trying to say is that I picture myself on relax days just sitting on the couch and trying really hard to relax but not knowing how to do that. Other than that I don't know what activities fit within it. If it were warmer than -20C outside I could just explore. Inside I'm like 'well, I can read for an hour, workout for an hour.' after that the activities trend more towards either work (there's a project I could be working on that interests me) or things I consider vices (smoke weed, games, porn).

It would be nice to get through a day at home sober without planning out each hour and still finding a relaxed sense of enjoyment.

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Feel. This.

I moved from my bed to the couch this morning and was like, "YouTube time!" but caught myself and just sat there until I was ready to go into the kitchen and make breakfast. It took a monumental effort to not do anything but sit there until I was motivated enough to go make breakfast.

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Man I don't know about you but I feel ridiculous for hard much I struggle to do nothing. Decided to start the psychiatry process to check out ADD/ADHD stuff. I don't like anxiety and depression meds but maybe aderall will be different

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My experience with Adderall is that I feel sort of like a cognitive superhero. I can take all the anxiety and depression and organize it in to nice drawers and tackle in an orderly fashion. It's like... can't stop won't stop. Maybe you'll have a different experience.

There are a whole bunch of meds for ADHD. The vast majority focus on motivation by making us motivated to do things we wouldn't otherwise want to do. I guess it could motivate you to do nothing, but... intuitively that seems incorrect? I don't know, I'm not a psychiatrist.

My intuition is that mindfulness/meditation is more strongly indicated for the goal of "do nothing" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oF0qaDDMQI).  But we're all in this together... keep us posted on your experiences! For science!

 

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For sure. I've been meditating for a couple of years now 10-20 mins per day and it does help, but more like it helps in little spurts rather than a consistent experience. Like there were times where I've been able to catch myself heading down the wrong path mentally and it's saved parts of the day. It's great on the days where I'm like a 5 or higher in terms of my mental health but I haven't found meditation to be particularly helpful on the days where I'm a 3. I can still recognize the feelings as they come, and let them go, but the underlying state is not comfortable like I feel it should be, which causes me to seek out distractions that hold my attention away from that.

Honestly though I'm excited to feel like a cognitive superhero, even if it is only for a bit lol. My problem with all the anxiety and depression meds I tried was that the length of time they took to kick in seemed to be just right about the right length of time to experience withdrawls if you tried to quit.

It's possible that the 10-20 mins. of meditation/day over two years is just not a long enough timeframe but man, seems like it should be. I know @BryanJaz is at like an hour a day. Bryan, did you find a huge difference once you moved up to that length of time?

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So I started out at hour intervals because my introduction to meditation was a 10 day vipassana silent meditation retreat. I was recommended by my aunt to give it a try because she heard I was struggling. So I signed up about 9 months in advance and I was really apprehensive about spending that much time in a place 5 hours from my home during a dark period of my life but I committed to it. I meditated about a handful of times beforehand just to try and understand what I was getting into but the longest I got was about 50 minutes and then I would fall asleep (I was laying down, not sitting). I  decided to jump in headfirst with the retreat and it turned out to be a very intense but overall beneficial experience. I mean I spent over 100 hours meditating in 10 days...it was like living on some remote island far removed from the world (almost like Pandaria from WoW lol). Afterwards, I found myself immune to so much and I just wanted to maintain the peacefulness I felt. I legitimately found it easier to smile...all the time. Idk I wasn't a total miser before but it felt so natural to just smile which was amazing for me, especially at that time in my life. The aftereffects (the benefits/immune feeling) lasted about a month then I stopped meditating at all and had taken a job landscaping because I had dropped out of college earlier that year. In a strange way though it propelled me forward with my life and I ended up going back to school, changing my major (again) a year in and finishing my degree as a chemist with an environmental science minor. 

I meditated here and there since then (still hour intervals) but only recently have I been doing 1-2 hours daily. The change in myself is extremely noticeable when I am consistent with it. When I don't meditate for a few days (which is rare now) I will become much more irritable and just overall scattered/frustrated. When I consistently give myself time to meditate for an hour, twice a day, everything just feels like it falls into place with much less effort. As if my thinking (and overthinking) are the true crutches to my well-being rather than being my tools to succeed. 

Also, if I'm being honest I can't really get into the meditation until like 30 minutes has passed. That definitely has to do with me and my mind but I feel like I don't slow down enough until I hit a certain threshold and then I can get into it. Even then, my mind is still running so fast that it's hard to get any gaps or moments of silence where my thoughts aren't still going. It sucks because I know meditation is a keystone habit for me...after the retreat I knew I had found "the missing link" in my life but it is a serious commitment and it is not something I am always looking forward to doing. In fact, it feels like a chore a lot of the time but I just try to tell myself that it is what I need to do and that once I'm in it I will immediately realize why it's so beneficial for me to do...which is always a thought that hits me like 10-20 minutes into a session. 

I don't think I would be doing hour meditations had I not done the retreat so I would recommend trying one if you're up for it (after COVID is over at least). For vipassana, I know there are 1-day, 3-day, 10-day, and longer retreats (for the old members) if that would be of interest to you. I haven't really explored beyond vipassana but I do want to, I just know it was extremely helpful to break in meditation as a habit for me. Sorry for the ramble haha

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Day 63

Had a good therapy session this morning. I'm still uncomfortable in them, especially afterwards when I remember all the things I just said, but I think I'm getting over it. My plan is to just keep going and assume that everything is okay. It's hard to not feel like I'm overburdening someone though. Especially since they get a week or two worth of negative thoughts dumped on them all at once. That's gotta be a difficult job.

Other than that, today I'm trying to just be present and work through my emotions. Still not sure if that's the way to describe what I'm trying to do. Basically I feel like there's a bunch of pent up anxiety and stress that just needs to flow through me, and that when I distract myself from those feelings they just continue to build up. I think I need to let them get out. Maybe a little bit of distraction is actually okay, but the right kind. I'm thinking more like a puzzle or a long walk as opposed to a gaming. Something that lets the feelings flow but also provides me with something to focus on so that I don't get bored/distracted when the feelings aren't flowing. Like a more active meditation. This is where winter is hard. I have a bunch of ways to achieve that state outside, but not when it's -20.

I'm still struggling with not having goals for the day. It's like I need some kind of evidence that I got through my day well. I wish I had a relax switch.

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55 minutes ago, Lampshade said:

Day 63

Had a good therapy session this morning. I'm still uncomfortable in them, especially afterwards when I remember all the things I just said, but I think I'm getting over it. My plan is to just keep going and assume that everything is okay. It's hard to not feel like I'm overburdening someone though. Especially since they get a week or two worth of negative thoughts dumped on them all at once. That's gotta be a difficult job.

Other than that, today I'm trying to just be present and work through my emotions. Still not sure if that's the way to describe what I'm trying to do. Basically I feel like there's a bunch of pent up anxiety and stress that just needs to flow through me, and that when I distract myself from those feelings they just continue to build up. I think I need to let them get out. Maybe a little bit of distraction is actually okay, but the right kind. I'm thinking more like a puzzle or a long walk as opposed to a gaming. Something that lets the feelings flow but also provides me with something to focus on so that I don't get bored/distracted when the feelings aren't flowing. Like a more active meditation. This is where winter is hard. I have a bunch of ways to achieve that state outside, but not when it's -20.

I'm still struggling with not having goals for the day. It's like I need some kind of evidence that I got through my day well. I wish I had a relax switch.

I totally get what you mean with feeling uncomfortable remembering things said in therapy, I remember feeling that way too last time I had therapy, but it's so important to feel able to fully open up to get the most benefit, so I'm glad you're getting over that. I can also relate to worrying about overburdening someone, but don't forget they chose that career and I'm sure it's because they had a desire to help, plus they will have received training in safeguarding their own welfare whilst helping others, and I know there are special therapists out there who see other therapists if they are struggling, so try not to worry too much 🙂 

With regards to needing a relax switch, have you looked into applied relaxation? I've been using a mental health app called Thrive which introduced me to the technique, and after you've completed the sessions you are supposed to develop a better ability to be able to relax more quickly, especially in stressful situations. I'm only half way through the course and I am finding it really useful and interesting. The app itself requires a code to set up an account, I got mine from my previous employer but maybe your therapist can get you one if it's available outside of the UK, the app is really good and has a CBT series too amongst other things. Failing that I am sure you'd be able to find info about applied relaxation elsewhere, it's definitely worth a little look. It is similar to meditation, which I also enjoy when I can force myself to sit, but more focused on relaxing the body to relax the mind.

Also, could you set yourself small goals for the day? Little things like; eat a healthy meal, have a meaningful conversation, etc. Sorry if you have other reasons for not setting goals, I've not read through your whole journal. 

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On 12/16/2020 at 4:05 PM, Lampshade said:

Man I don't know about you but I feel ridiculous for hard much I struggle to do nothing. Decided to start the psychiatry process to check out ADD/ADHD stuff. I don't like anxiety and depression meds but maybe aderall will be different

I also have ADHD and don't get along with anxiety and depression meds, I took aderall when I was a child (Ritalin here in the UK) and it really helped me, but I was offered it again recently and I turned it down, I'm scared it might cause psychosis as we have a history of that in our family 😞 
I totally understand the feelings of struggling over perceived nothingness, I find just normal life so exhausting! I watch a YouTube channel called How To ADHD which is really cool, if you're still watching YouTube at all. 

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On 12/16/2020 at 4:59 PM, Lampshade said:

It's possible that the 10-20 mins. of meditation/day over two years is just not a long enough timeframe but man, seems like it should be. I know @BryanJaz is at like an hour a day. Bryan, did you find a huge difference once you moved up to that length of time?

 Last Quote I promise, your journal is very relatable. 

I try and meditate daily, although most days I don't and then I just feel really guilty, but in any case I used to meditate regularly for 20 mins per day, currently I can only manage around 15 mins. I've tried to sit for longer but I dunno, I just can't, I get so fidgety and restless. I'm just wondering if you get the same, I'm not sure if it's an ADHD thing? I'd love to be able to sit an hour a day. I also get really bad pins and needles in my feet after around 10 minutes too, and then I get really worried about it and that's super distracting. 

I also find it incredibly difficult to sit on poor mental health days, it takes incredible strength to be able to fully face those feelings in the moment. Even if you don't feel like you get much out of it at those times, it's still a massive achievement!
 

 

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Bugg's provided a lot more deep thoughts than I can contribute; but, yes. Very relatable journal entry. It does feel a little weird swinging by a therapist the first couple of times. It was for me the first time I popped in to see a counsellor. Ultimately, though, they're there to help and just being willing to be helped and try things out is nice, I think. I'm a little similar in mindset - I'd really struggle to deal with it as a job, and have the utmost respect for folks who can do it.

Hard relate on the anxiety side of things. That was - Uh, pretty much gaming for me. It didn't deal with any of it, but let me ignore it for long enough to be exhausted enough that I slept anyway. I feel like half the struggle (for a lot of people really, not just us game addicts) is finding a healthy way of managing all of that. I've seen otherwise brilliant people burn out because they didn't find an outlet that worked for them.

But it's a process, y'know? And it's only a couple of months in, after all. Still poking around and experimenting myself. Have to expect there will be a lot of false starts before we find whatever it is that works. A thousand ways not to make a lightbulb and all that.

Hope the cold's treating you alright. I've been doing my best lobster impersonation with all the heat around here, so I'm very envious.

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18 hours ago, Commissar said:

I've been doing my best lobster impersonation with all the heat around here, so I'm very envious.

Haha, I wear lobster gloves on my bike ride to work, so we are both lobstering on different ends of the thermometer.

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Day 68

Been a bit but I've been easing up on myself about doing things that I feel like I have to do, and journaling was one of those things. Mostly I've just been trying to relax and I'd say I'm about 50/50 with how I'm doing. There are some days that are fantastic, those are the days where I do what I feel like and just kind of move from one thing to the other naturally throughout the day. The other days I play more Magic Online than I want to. I'm definitely feeling the old addiction urges and signs: It's the default 'I'm bored' thing, on my mind when I'm away from it, raises my anxiety levels, etc. I'm still trying to quit but I'm not putting as much pressure on myself to stop as I was on Day 1. I think that what's best for my mental health is to use these couple weeks that I have off to focus on destressing before I go back to work in Jan. Yes, not having any games in my life would help with that but the first little bit of cold turkey is rough and I'm not ready for it yet. On top of that, my daily usage is like 2-3 hours during a time when I don't have much else going on, so not awful. Still more than I'd like.

On a more positive note I've been spending more time just trying to figure myself out. One of the main problems I was having when I had gaming out was that I was afraid of just being present with myself. The realization that I kept coming back to was that under the things I do to keep myself busy and distracted there's just an uncomfortable feeling of sadness. I'm trying to work on that. I'm doing more meditating, got behavioural therapy workbook, and I'm trying to write down the things that make me feel good in a day. Last couple of days I went outside. Went for a hike and played some basketball outside in the wet. Those things were fun.

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Life is struggle. I think it's good you're seeing a therapist. Never feel bad for unloading on them. They're trained to handle these situations and you shouldn't feel shame about it. Shame is one of the biggest negative emotions humans endure. Be proud of yourself for having the courage to speak to a therapist. Be determined to solve your problems and find a new path for mental clarity. You got this.

I think everyone quitting addictions has issues being present and "bored". When people say "be comfortable being bored" I get frustrated because it's giving others the impression that you can just sit there and do nothing and should accept it. 

Nobody likes being bored. We're humans. We're highly developed. I think we have energy and want to use it in the right ways and feel good about it. I would just start doing a new hobby or two. It's very frustrating starting hobbies since you're going to suck. But try to think of a goal you might have. Is there a song you would love to play on an instrument? I started watching drum solo videos for some reason and then realized I wanted to play the drums. I also loved the freedom of rock climbing and did that. I love the creativity of art, but couldn't find a medium because i suck at drawing and don't do well with painting. 3D art I am very good at though, so I stuck with that and enjoy it.

Don't beat yourself up about boredom or your emotions. Maybe you can draw your magic cards? Maybe you can write your own magic lore? Maybe you can read the magic books? I read the Moons of Mirrodin with Glissa and really enjoyed that as a kid.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Day 1

Alright, I'm back.

I really didn't want to do this but getting back to more responsibilities with work has shown that I have to. I started off alright, but the trend over the past week or so has not been good. Magic: The Gathering Online has been the problem. My success with quitting other games was largely due to each one taking a full day or so to reinstall thanks to my poo-poo internet. MTGO is like 300mb. So I'm experiencing the uninstall-re-install cycle that I've read other people struggle with.

It's an enjoyable game and a damn shame to quit if I'm being honest. Unfortunately, the last two days I've played way more Magic than I have worked and that's just not acceptable. Getting back the old feelings of dishonesty, having trouble focusing, etc. I tried moderating it but I don't like how locked into it I get when I play in the evenings when my wife is around. So my nice little addict brain moved the habit to the daytime, and here we are. Obvious answer is that if I don't want to play in the day, and I don't want to play in the night, then I don't want to play. So logging 3-6 hours/day is not what I want. So I probably shouldn't do that.

Hoping I caught myself in time to avoid too bad of a detox. Wish me luck friends.

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Day 2

Still committed. Pissed off about it, but still committed.

This latest round isn't even really about the game. I don't know how naturally addictive MTGO actually is. Definitely less so relative to other games that I've struggled. There are no daylies to do or anything like that. It's just an easy form of entertainment that holds my attention  away from the other things that I am easily distracted from.

Maybe I'm at the point where my problems are less external than they used to be, and this isn't really the place to go through them. Regardless, I'm going to try to keep this updated for a 90 day process. At one point gaming was the cause, now it's more the symptom. But we all know about the negative feedback loop that can come from using gaming to get through uncomfortable emotional states so I'm going to use this journal and 90 day detox as a way to prevent myself from getting worse. As long as I don't go back to what I was at when I first started this journal, then I have progressed.

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Hey Lampshade, I hope you keep posting here! Stay committed, shit happens all the time, especially when you live in a pandemic.

2 hours ago, Lampshade said:

Maybe I'm at the point where my problems are less external than they used to be, and this isn't really the place to go through them.

If you feel comfortable sharing the issues, please do! Some people could offer valuable feedback at any moment, you know 🙂 

2 hours ago, Lampshade said:

At one point gaming was the cause, now it's more the symptom.

Hm, that's interesting! For me, gaming has almost always been the symptom. Like, I do not think I would be addicted to games in the first place if not for some underlying tendencies of my character. I hope that gaming becoming a symptom will help you deal with addiction more easily though!

Keep it up cuz I'm still reading this  >:)

Po

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