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Hey pdallair!

It's okay that you have chosen not to post everyday, others in this community don't post everyday. Additionally this is your journal, you do what you want, it's your journey. None of us are here to dictate what you decide to do. However, we are here to support and help you with any conflicts you have!



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Day 5 - Meh

God damn, the cravings are strong right about now.  I haven't been taking good care of myself today and now I feel like shit.  I feel drowsy and gloomy.  I don't wana feel drowsy and gloomy.  I wana feel good, REAL GOOD.  Give me that stimulation baby! Yeaaaaeeeuuuuh! ... *sigh* Are things always going to feel this benign?  No.  Probably not.  There will be moments like this, when my desires/expectation far exceed what I can handle.  However, they too shall pass.  Seriously.  It's hard to believe but for all I know, I might feel great tomorrow.  I didn't sleep well last night.  I didn't eat well throughout the day.  I didn't fulfill all my daily goals/tasks but I did do some.  I don't need video-games.  They are not part of who I am.  I will learn to enjoy other things if I keep trying; I just need to persevere — i.e. give myself more time.  I resorted to games to find a delusional sense of comfort (safety and pleasure) for years, it will take time to find and nurture an authentic version of this sensation elsewhere.

I can do this.  I don't have to.  I choose to.  May I feel safe, happy and healthy.

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Day 6 - Distress Tolerance and Tibetan Buddhism

The module that I am going through with my Dialectical Behavior Therapy group, recently, is centered around Distress Tolerance Skills.  During our last session we went over the Radical Acceptance skill and that's when I realized that I hadn't fully accepted my addiction to video-games.  Sure, I admitted I was addicted and tried to moderate my usage.  Regardless of the countless failed attempts however, I had been neglecting for a lto to take that final step and resort to abstinence.  It's a painful realization because so much of my memories and current identity feel rooted in gamer culture.  Anw... that night I decided to quit and the next morning I did the "purge" (uninstalled all my PC games).

I have been reading on and off about Buddhism.  If I consider myself religious someday it will be around this one.  The non-theistic approach to spiritual philosophy is quite interesting to me and many if the core practices (meditation) are recognized as beneficial in the fields of neuroscience and psychology.  Anw, last night I was furthering my reading of Beyond Religion by the Dalai Lama and what I encountered was very in tune with what has been discussed throughout the current module.  I was going to take notes anyways and I decided to do it here.

There is a word/expression in the Tibetan language that reminds me of Distress Tolerance: soe pa. This expression is often translated as patience, however, as with many foreign expressions, it entails more than this.    According to his holiness (the Dalai Lama), a more accurate translation into English would be forbearance because "It entails not giving in to our instinctive urge to respond negatively to our difficulties"; there is a sense of forgiveness and harmony to it.  The entire concept relies on 3 aspects to consider:

  1. Forbearance towards the perpetrators of harm.
  2. The acceptance of suffering.
  3. The acceptance of reality.

The second one is what I learned from the most.  One of my main uses of video-games was to avoid short-term pain/discomfort.  One of the main reasons, I think, is because I did not learn to see the benefits to suffering but rather, that I should avoid it as much as possible.  Anw, the benefits of suffering where not listed neatly but here's what I get from the text:

  • Suffering allows us, with empathy and compassion, to recognize kinship and bond with one another.
  • Suffering can be a catalyst/motivation towards positive change/growth.

Just to be clear, accepting is not the same as submitting.  I'm not saying suffering consistently benefits us more than it does harm.  However, keeping this little tidbit of wisdom in mind does make short-term and/or inevitable suffering more tolerable, improving my chances to avoid "giving in to our instinctive urge to respond negatively".

If anyone else reads this, thank you.  May you feel safe, happy and healthy.  Take care.

Edited by pdallair91
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  • 2 weeks later...

Day 16 - *Nod*

My assumption that I would find it easier in time feels although it is slowly coming true.  I still haven't managed to stick to a schedule but at least I get somethings done.  The bordom, distress, and frustration I feel (which lead to cravings) are getting more manageable, or maybe I'm just getting better at managing them; probably both.

I feel I'm slowly converting my pessimistic self-fulfilling beliefs into more into more optimistic ones.  As I hand out more compassion and kindness towards myself and others, some of these assumptions end up being or becoming true; reinforcing the cognition and behavior in the process.  If you're going to experience confirmation bias, you might as well use it for good! AMIRIGHT FOLKS!?

To whoever reads this: may you feel safe, happy and healthy.

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  • 1 month later...

Day 48 - Pandemic, Health Issues, & Social Media Addiction

I'm happy to say I've managed to maintain my version of video-game sobriety since Feb 16th. 😊 I am grateful towards myself for the mindfulness and wisdom that I've cultivated over the past couple of years.  I'm grateful to my friends, family, experts, and peers — in this community and many others —  for all the emotional support. 😌

That said, I'm not really satisfied with how I'm using all this free time.  For those that don't know me and my situation, I'm on Long-Term Disability because of mental health issues.  So, I have a whole lot of free time.  I've always had somewhat of an "addictive personality".  I think a more accurate and fair term would be "executive dysfunction" (something my therapist brings up every now and then).  Unsurprisingly, I find myself spending an excessive amount of time & energy talking (often arguing) with anonymous strangers online, watching videos, and studying topics around my hobbies.  Don't get me wrong, these things aren't inherently bad, it's the excess in the amount of time & energy spent doing these things that is.  I fear that if I don't look inward, try to understand my cravings and improve my "executive function", I'll find myself constantly replacing one addiction with another.

Here are a few pre-existing factors to consider:


I feel so freaking lonely.  I live alone and I'm pretty extroverted.  Human attention and physical touch mean a lot to me.  My social needs surely aren't being met this pandemic, which probably explains why I crave for attention on social media so much.

The other day, while I was out for a walk, I saw 2 couples randomly crossing each other's path and joyfully stopping to talk to each other.  I cried shortly after I walked by.  I was so sad that I had to return home, to be alone, again, for the upcoming 4 week state/province wide "lockdown" we had just entered.  I feel like crying now just talking about it. 

I think the best I can do for now is to take a self-compassion break whenever I feel the need to.  This is a situation I have little to no control over, where distress tolerance skills (self-soothing/calming distractions) and radical acceptance are key.

Sleep Apnea

Since the beginning of this journey, I have been diagnosed with mild sleep apnea.  If I understand correctly, under normal circumstances, I do not get the appropriate amount of R.E.M. ("deep") sleep.  No doubt that not getting the appropriate amount of sleep impairs my cognitive abilities. 

When I received this diagnosis, I neglected to try the recommended solution: a C.P.A.P. machine.  The traumatic medical experiences I've been through did not leave me keen on "hooking myself up" before going to bed.  However, I have tried several alternative solutions and they just haven't been working out for me.  On top of that, I have heard many personal accounts of the benefits and ease of use of this solution.  So, obviously, the most effective way forward is to at least try it.

Luckily, I have already taken a step forward in this direction and I will be talking to the respirologist over the phone later this week.


It's been noted several times throughout my life, even as a child, that I have dry eyes, mouth, and skin.  I also suspect that I may have a dry nasal cavities.  I've been using artificial tears, and saliva stimulating dental hygiene products (Biotène brand) for years now.  However, this hasn't really fixed my problems; overall I'm still very susceptible to eye infections and tooth cavities.

My dentist has recently recommended that I discuss Sjögren's syndrome with my G.P.  It is not unlikely, given my medical history, that I have developed some auto-immune disease(s) that have so far not been addressed (at least, according to this scientific article).  If I suffer from this disease, which leads to fatigue (as discussed above), it is likely that my cognitive abilities are impaired to some degree by this as well.

I really ought to set an appointment with my G.P. and insist that I get tested for multiple auto-immune diseases.


Diabetes -> dehydration & fatigue.  I've been occasionally testing my blood sugar and it always comes close to the recommended threshold despite all the dietary changes I'm making.  I feel as though the medication I'm taking is not optimal for me, we have already increased the dose and it feels like I'm still slowly but gradually getting worst.  In the past 3 years alone, I've went from fine to per-diabetic, to diabetic.  Considering what I said about auto-immune diseases above, I feel it's important to note that some forms of diabetes are auto-immune diseases.  I fear that I may have been misdiagnosed with the type that isn't treated as such.

Luckily I have an appointment with endocrinologist, over the phone, this week and I will discuss this further with him.


It's no secret that "executive dysfunction" is a core symptom of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  My psychologist has brought this up a few times.  When the physiological factors above are investigated and dealt with, if my executive dysfunction persists at the same rate, I ought to consider going for an ADHD test.


With all that said, maybe I shouldn't expect to be able to use most of my time effectively.  That's not to say I should stop resisting my cravings but just maybe be a little more forgiving for when I fail.  After all, as Sharon Salzberg (A popular Loving-Kindness Meditation teacher in the west) says: "Healing is in the return, [by] learning to begin again."

If you read through all of this, wow! Thank you so so much for your attention. 🙂  May you feel as safe, happy, and healthy as can be.💗

Edited by pdallair91
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  • 4 weeks later...

Day 70 - To Learn to Succeed, You Must First Learn to Fail.

The latter portion of this post's header is a quote by Michael Jordan (allegedly, couldn't find the source).  Jordan is well known, not only for his success but for mastery over the fear of failure.  Many commercials, articles, and books were released with him encouraging people (especially the young) to accept ones imperfection, never give up, and learn from our mistakes.  His humble origins, even to me — someone that has never been part of a sports team — are impressive to say the least.


“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” -Micheal Jordan

That said, the same mentality can be found in various fields.  It's no secret that the people who are the most successful at life, whether they are privileged or not, have little to no fear of failure.  IMO, the "ideal" person would even go so far as embracing failure.  That's not to say they actively seek failure but rather, that they accept the experience when it occurs, expected or not, without judgement, as a part of their journey.  If that doesn't lead to pure courage then I don't know what does.

Anyways, this easier said than done.  In fact, it took me 15 minutes to craft a sentence to describe it.  Perhaps focusing on where I could improve in relation, see what I can learn, will make things easier in the long run.

There's no doubt that, as I've mentioned before, I procrastinate a lot.  Fear of failure is probably one of the reasons why I neglect to set goals, or make and follow plans towards said goal(s).  I often see goals and plans as opportunities to fail, especially when there's a time limit/deadline.  One of the things that I dislike being asked the most is "how long do you think this will take?".   Even before I quit games, I didn't try to get better at games, in fact, most of my games where single player with save states or checkpoints.  I'll get all the achievements in Souls-like games at some point, at my own passe.  That said, maybe what I personally need to do for now is, prepare for failure.  That is, learn how to react in case things don't go according to plan.

A lot of people tell me to lower my expectations. Lowering expectations is not bad advice.  After all, sometimes I do have unreasonably high expectations that we are bound not to meet and thus fail.  So, sure, it has proven to be helpful at times.  For e.g., it's ok if takes me a bit longer than I expected to finish something.  However, this can easily turn into downwards spiral for me.  By either lowering my expectations too much or too often, I end up having no expectations and thus no plans or goals, which justifies the avoidance that motivates addictive behavior.  In these cases, in hindsight, I believe what is lacking might be a counter balance of what I'm really afraid of: accountability.

There's no doubt in my mind that I was excessively held accountable by my peers and parents throughout my childhood.  I don't have vivid memories but I feel it's right to assume I was often shamed even when I was trying my best.  However, when I did succeed at something — video games, chess, grades, improv comedy —  boy I got praised for those.  So unsurprisingly, an all or nothing mindset ensued.  Nowadays however, these people are gone, and most of the damage is self-inflicted.  My parents see some of the damage they have done and my new peers are grown, more mature, and understanding; so am I to a reasonable extent.

Anw... I've been thinking and typing here for ~2 hours now.  I haven't really reached a conclusion as to what I should do but it does give me something to talk about with my therapist.

If you read through all of this, I'm so grateful 🥰.   I hope you manage to feel as safe, happy, and healthy as you reasonably can.💗  Take care folks. 😊

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I think you have the right idea about learning to handle failure, but it goes one step further: one of the very best ways to learn is to fail, early and often, but in a setting in which failure is somehow safe.

One of the worst things about educational institutions these days is that every single thing - every assignment, every test, every breath or stray movement - is observed and assessed on a rubric, with no margin for error. Everything is for high stakes. Every failure is a potential catastrophe.

Is it any wonder millennials and gen-z-ers are racked with anxiety and depression?

What students need - what everyone needs - is a chance to fall flat on their faces and then pick themselves up again; they need to work through frustration and doubt because those are unavoidable when you are trying to understand things you have never understood before.

What applies in formal education also applies in life more generally.

People who tell you to lower your expectations are way off the mark. Don't go giving yourself trophies just for showing up. The thing is to keep your own standards high, maybe even ratchet them up as you go, but to become more resilient in the face of failure, on the understanding that falling flat is part of the process of eventually living up to your own standards for yourself. I posted something related to this in my own journal, if it's of interest.

Edited by Zeno
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  • 4 weeks later...

Thank you @Zeno, this reply and the post you linked to sound brilliant to me.  I'm certainly inspired to ponder.

I'm not much of a reader but I did add Thinking in Systems, by Donella Meadows, to my wish-list.

I believe I am currently experiencing the downwards drift described some of the quoted passages.  for the past couple of weeks, I have been experiencing an unexpected amount of failure in the face a new challenge and succumbing to my negative bias, unnecessarily (or excessively) lowering my expectations and enabling "my system" (i.e., "my life") to deteriorate.  I'm here today because I've relapsed; I wasn't following the 90 day program but I've ironically relapsed on the 91st.  I've been binging for 3 days now, playing 12+ hours/day, alone and in secret, only stopping to eat, sleep, and respond to messages and appointments. I was too ashamed to admit it, until now.  In hindsight, 3 days isn't so bad. Some of my binging sprees have lasted for weeks, if not months in the past. I suppose it's time to start ratcheting up again, I just hope I end up doing this at a realistic passe.

I don't know if Meadows's book addresses this but it is difficult to evaluate what is or isn't realistic or effective when making changes to a system.  Or heck, just modeling a system from scratch!  Because the reality is I don't have an accurate model of "my system", the actual state of which is largely immeasurable, and constantly changing. ...sigh... Look at me, wishing I had all the answers and that I could somehow never fall short of my personal goals; look at me being afraid of failure.  Such a torrent of emotions in my mind right now... I didn't get to write it all down but my cognition showed signs of anger (blaming others and not making any changes at all), depression (crying and ratcheting down too low), and anxiety (panicking and ratcheting up too high)... I have poor mental health (suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder and PTSD) if that wasn't clear.

At least I didn't give in to any of these intense emotions, I'm still here, trying to be calm and non-judgemental, trying to learn.  I guess my next ratchet back up, my next step in recovering from my recent fall, is going to be just this: mindfulness.  Whether it's meditation, or journaling like this, I can probably benefit from observing and describing how I feel, what I'm thinking, non-judgmentally; at least, that's what I learned in my dialectical behavior therapy.

I got this.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Day 1 (The Sequel) — Ending "Lapse"

According to my SMART Recovery Program handbook, there are 5 Stages of Change:

  1. Pre-Contemplation
    1. "Games are not addictive!"
    2. When we resist change by not taking responsibility for our addictive behavior; either passively, by not being aware of, or actively, by rejecting the problematic nature of our behavior.
  2. Contemplation
    • "... my life is a mess...  Games take up so much time... I should play less but everything else feels so difficult..."
    • When we admit we have a problem but have "mixed feelings" about change.  We are weighing the costs and benefits of changing or not and have yet to decide between the two.
  3. Preparation
    • "Apparently I'm not the only one who feels this way.  Other people have managed to quit and make a better life for themselves.  I wonder how did they did it?  Maybe I can learn from them."
    • When we have accepted and chosen change.  We are gathering information, resources, and/or planning.
  4. Action
    • "Time to uninstall all these PC games and sell these consoles.  Then I'll have plenty of time to pickup my old guitar and go out for a walk in the park.  It's gonna be hard but I got this."
    • When we take on the first steps of the challenge of changing, executing our plans gathered from the previous stage. 
  5. Maintenance
    • "... I'm so tired... and bored... and lonely... I could play just one night... No!!!  I know how slippery of slope that is for me.  Look at everything I've accomplished since I quit.  I'm going through a tough time now but succumbing to these cravings will likely only make things worst.  I'm going through a tough time.  This dissatisfaction, it's normal and it won't last forever.  I'm strong.  I'll be alright."
    • We continue to resist cravings, building confidence and self-control.
  6. Exit
    • "Oh yeah, we did used to play that game together.  Nah, I don't miss it.  I have no regrets.  My life is so much better now.  Hey!  You should come over and bring your guitar!"
    • Our new behavior(s) have become habitual, cravings are practically non-existent.

Note that in reality the process isn't as linear as this, there can be overlap or "bouncing" between stages.  We can also experience what we call a lapse — slipping back into a previous stage for a short period of time (days, weeks) — or a complete relapse — regressing all the way back to pre-contemplation for a long period of time (months, years).

I believe what I experienced was a lapse, not just because it lasted less than 2 weeks, but rather because I never became ignored or rejected the problematic nature of my behavior.  I knew what I was doing was harmful, so much that I didn't want my peers to know before I quit again.  I knew I was indulging in a behavior that wasn't in line with my values and goals.

This month has not been the best for me, I was expecting the new medical treatment I was scheduled to start undertaking this month, in accordance with my values and goals to be easy, but it was not and still isn't.  I feel so tired and frustrated, as if I had done nothing but lose on daily basis.  I wanted a way out, something that game me that sense of achievement/success, something that felt not too hard and not too easy to me.  And that's what many video games are designed to do.  You work towards a goal with little to no punishment for failure and tonnes of bells and whistles at various milestones along the way.

Anyways... I don't know where I'm going with this.  I got interrupted for a couple of hours and well... anyways... at least I didn't game today.  It's a good start.  Peace out folks.

P.S. For those that are wondering SMART Recovery is a non-profit, science-based program to help people deal with addiction.  A great alternative if you feel turned off by the theistic nature of 12 step programs.  A lot of what I learned in this program lines up with what I'm also learning through individual therapy.

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On 5/28/2021 at 7:01 PM, pdallair91 said:

5 Stages of Change

Thank you for sharing this, because it is really well defined and helpful to me in recognizing my own patterns. I think I was in the maintenance phase when I prematurely decided gaming was okay again. Now, I need to work to reach that phase again, and then towards the EXIT sign!

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  • 5 weeks later...

Day 10 — The Actual Sequel

Alright so the attempt to quit that got me to make my last post didn't last more than 4 days.  However, I have managed to get back up and try again.  Here I am, 10 days in and feeling alright.

As I've described on the post I made in this thread on April 27th, I had been burdening myself with a lot of self-inflicted shame.  This stems from the "all or nothing/now or never" bias I've developed as a child and reinforced throughout my life.  This is a very common and pervasive cognitive pattern/schema amongst people suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder, like myself.  Experts in the field of psychology call this phenomena "splitting".  Anyone familiar with logical fallacies would probably see this as a strong tendency to invoke false dichotomies (i.e. "black and white" fallacy).  As much as this bias has motivated me to deliver great results at times (perfectionism, "completionism"), it has also often motivated to give up and avoid challenges I could've benefited from persisting through.

In regards to what I just described, I believe I experienced what I think is an important psychological breakthrough ~2 weeks ago.  Turns out I reap more benefits from focusing on and being grateful to the process rather than the result; i.e., I benefit more from congratulating myself for trying my best rather than pushing myself to complete something to near perfection.  I already knew this in theory and had experienced it at other times in my life but I guess it hadn't stuck — perhaps because I was often relying on others to provide it.  A lot of times we claim to acknowledge something as true and yet never really apply or do anything about it (politicians are really prone to this.  Sometimes it seems like they even do it on purpose! [sarcasm]).  My therapist encouraged me to take the time to comfort my "inner child", to "parent myself" as I should've been.  So, my homework was as simple as, at least a few times that week, take the time to put a hand on my heart (typical of self-compassion exercises) and something along the lines of "I'm proud of you kido", or "it's ok kido.  I'm here for you."  I had already done self-compassion exercises but not really referring to my "inner child".  I resisted it at first because (and I still have mild discomfort) because, being a man, I don't want to equate myself with a "weaker" version of me.  However, I wouldn't say we have no influence but we also don't really get to pick choose who we are entirely either.  There's no denying that the result of my childhood trauma is a part of who I am and I would probably benefit from caring for it the way it should've been at the time of its inception.

Anw, here I am.  I've gotten over the bigger urges we get at the during the first week of "sobriety".  It's not the first time I try to quit gaming so I had alternative "toys" at arms reach to keep myself busy and the mindfulness to make use of them.  I actually bought a lot more toys. 😄 I got a new electric guitar, a bunch of new pedals and a new amp! 🤘 I believe it's a good challenge to take on, to put this new "I'm glad I tried" mentality into practice.

P.S. here's a picture of my new guitar.  It's an Epiphone Les Paul Standard. ❤️


Edited by pdallair91
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Hey Patrick - your posts manage to put down in words what so many of us fail to articulate, you're obviously a deep thinker and clearly have so much to bring to any conversation. I too am starting a fresh run after a relapse, and found your previous post on the SMART Recovery Program to be really insightful. Best of luck to you man and enjoy the new guitar!

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Thank you @liam.  It always feels good when someone validates our thoughts and efforts as you did. 

After reading your June 25th post, I'm impressed you even have the time to to read other people's posts.  The current circumstances of my life — being single, having no dependents, and having been on long-term disability for over a year now — gives me a lot more time to think and articulate those thoughts.  There's a noticeable amount of self-awareness and self-compassion in your post.  I'm left under the impression that you know your family is more valuable to you than your addiction.  You continue trying and improving that ability to find and maintain a balanced life.

That said, you did mention feeling "somewhat ashamed" to be back here.  In my opinion, there is no shame to be had in returning here.  As I've also included at the end of my April 5th post, Sharon Salzberg (A popular Loving-Kindness Meditation teacher in the west) said: "Healing is in the return, [by] learning to begin again." In other words, we improve the most when we get back up, like you have.  I'm sure many people would agree that what you did is a milestone that deserves gratitude and pride.  You could've sunken deeper but you turned it around.  (If I say turn one more time my head might turn into a turnip 😄)

I hope this post validates your thoughts and efforts as much yours did for me.  Either way, take care of the ones you love, including yourself.

P.S. If you're interested in SMART Recovery you can probably join in on some of these remote meetings.  These meetings in particular are hosted by the Mental Health and Addiction Services of Ottawa (Ontario, Canada) but we have people from other cities, provinces, and even the US joining in from time to time and they are completely free.  For more options you can checkout the official SMART Recovery website.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Day 26 — Walking, Meditating, and Frogs

I often struggle to get started in the morning.  I find myself, getting up to take my morning pills and going back to bed (I can't eat or drink for 45 to 60 minutes).  As if it wasn't obvious enough, a lot of medical experts are saying it's probably better for me if I use that time to do something else (say, take a shower).  Although I agree with this advice on a theoretical level, just acknowledging the facts hasn't implicitly triggered a more practical change.  The reason, I believe is that I hadn't "fully" or "deeply" accepted the advice; I hadn't let it displace my often subconscious belief.  That is, the belief that I should "enjoy" and "desire" doing the things that I do.  The roots of this mindset is complex, with roots in my personal trauma and some parts of "centrist, white, middle-class" culture I grew up in.   That said, it would take forever to write down my hypotheses in that regard.  Anyways, recently, I've reviewed a few things from my dialectal behavior therapy handouts that was quite helpful.  The gist of it was: Don't be willful, be willing; i.e. don't wait until you want to do something, do it because you can and it works.  Of course that's easier said than done, whether actually have the ability to do something may remain to be seen, but we can at least try.

All of that said, I managed to push myself to not go back to bed this morning.  And while I did procrastinate a bit in front of my computer, I did manage to push myself to go out for a walk (one little step at a time) in the nearby park and trails along the Ottawa River.  I was committed to meditating this morning as well and when I saw people doing yoga in the park, I said to myself "Hey, why not meditate outside for once."  So, I did.  Although I was distracted by bugs landing on me and my strands of hair tickling my forehead because of the wind, it was a pleasant experience overall.  But it was really, when it was over and I opened my eyes that my positive sensations peeked.  Seeing, the grass, trees, shrubs, moths, birds, the river and I felt a deeper sense of wonder rising within me.  I looked around and I imagined how many critters there where that I couldn't even hear or see and then all the different types of cells and molecules involved in this so complex system in a yet so small portion of the earth.  I brought my awareness to the texture of the grass, and trees, the feel of the cool wind, and the warm sun, the sounds of wildlife, and people at the park.  All that for while before moving on to finish my walk.

On the path, I stopped at a small bridge over the creek just a few hundred meters away from where I meditated.  I was observing the clear static water until I saw a well camouflaged bullfrog (I believe, see picture).  The frog wasn't making any noise, it wasn't moving at all.  I sat next to the creek to observe the frog longer; was it waiting for moth nearby to come into it's range?  Was it cooling off in the water?  Was it laying eggs or taking a big poop!? 😄  And older woman (maybe in her 70s) walked by, said "hello" and I told her about the frog and she stopped to appreciate the sight as well.  We talked about meditation, mindfulness, spirituality and gratitude for a bit; there was a human connection, a sense of feeling heard, seen and valued (as Brené Brown would describe it) and it felt pretty good.  One thing she said that I think will stick is (paraphrasing of course) "Normally you wouldn't notice any red Volkswagens, but now that I've mentioned it there's a high chance that you might.  Maybe you noticed this frog through it's camouflage because you're attention is set on observing nature right now."  And I realized the same can be said about positive things in our life.  Taking the time to find positive thoughts and feelings in the present moment, makes it easier to see more throughout the day.  While I may not have the ability to prevent feelings from arising, I do have the ability to make some arise.

Anyways, I've been typing for an hour now and I'm running out of time. 😄  There's a lot to be learned here and I think this will serve as a motivation to continue going out for walks and meditating.  I hope you manage to enjoy part of your day as well.  Take care folks.


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Day ??? — Self-Worth

During my last therapy session I think my therapist helped me identify a common harmful pattern in my thoughts: a lack of self-worth.  Some people prefer using terms self-esteem or self-confidence but I think self-worth resonates with me more because I tend to have thoughts along the lines of "I'm not worth..." and "I don't deserve...".  I experienced quite a bit of alienation growing up and well... when your peers often treat you like a duck, especially at that age, you start thinking that maybe you are a duck.  Anyways, I'm at a point now where I have more opportunities to flourish but these self-deprecating thoughts muddle my wisdom to take these opportunities.

Anyways... I did some googling around the topic of self-worth and it was pretty astounding in the following way: Ideally, we should confidently (and to a reasonable degree, I suppose) assume we have some inherent worth regardless of our "performance", and what other people do or say; i.e. unconditional self-acceptance.  This may be easier for people that conveniently have a solid foundation or external validation to fall back on (like religious faith, or a reliable social support network).  I believe the rest of us however, have more mental/philosophical gymnastics to do.  To me, everything is conditional; everything depends on something else all the way back to the big bang (at least).  I think maybe my problem is that the reasons I use to justify my feelings towards something (including myself) are too narrow-minded, volatile, and outside of my control.  I think this comes back to Buddhism's 4 Noble Truths: Life is full of suffering, the cause of which is often (if not always) unsatisfied desires, shedding said desires is the way to free oneself from suffering.  When I notice I'm jumping to conclusions about my self-worth, I ought to try shifting my attention from the things that aren't in my control (like other people's behaviors) towards things that are (like my own thoughts and behavior). 

Yesterday was a shitty day.  My "friend" didn't show up to our plans and didn't answer any of my messages asking him if he was coming over (this isn't the first time either).  I don't know what prevented him from letting me know but even if I did, it's still outside of my control whether he chooses to do so or not.  As difficult as it was, in hindsight, I believe I would've benefited from shifting my attention away this incidence and onto something more productive.  Here's a quote in the same line of thought, that I could've used (dug up from some notes I have). I think that I think I'll print out now.

"The mind does not find peace, nor does it enjoy pleasure and joy, nor does it find sleep or fortitude when the thorn of hatred dwells in the heart.
If there is a remedy, then what is the use of frustration?
If there is no remedy, then what is the use of frustration?
All offenses and vices of various kinds arise under the influence of conditions, and they do not arise independently.
Therefore, upon seeing a friend or an enemy committing a wrong deed, one should reflect, "Such are his conditions," and be at ease.
If inflicting harm on others is the nature of the foolish, then my anger toward them is as inappropriate as it would be toward fire, which has the nature of burning."
-Shantideva. A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life [1997 Translation — Original ~700 A.D.]

Anyways, if anyone has any ideas, literature, or videos to recommend on the topic, don't hesitate to share.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Day 0 (Perhaps) — Shit Colored Glasses (a.k.a. Depression)

Greetings comrades! Greetings future self!

I relapsed again this weekend... Terraria and Gloomhaven this time... well, to be honest, I've been "cheating" for while.  I never really uninstalled Steam.  The reason is that I've been clinging to Tabletop Simulator to stay in contact with friends in my hometown or even local ones throughout this pandemic.  Unfortunately, this game's multiplayer features are tied to Steam and I don't think I can launch it without opening steam.  Knowing this, I've taken many extra steps to avoid some temptation (as they say: out of sight, out of mind).  When I launch steam it immediately goes to my library and doesn't show me any advertisement.  I have uninstalled all my games except for Tabletop Simulator and Rocksmith 2014 Edition (my friend uses this software as his amp when he comes to jam) and I only display the ones I have installed.  The one thing I can't conveniently disable however is the "What's new" adverts portion of my library; ultimately I seem to have to disable adverts one game at a time whenever they show up.  So, when I saw the adverts for the Halloween season update for Terraria and Gloomhaven finally leaving early access... well, you get the picture I'm sure, I felt and eventually gave into cravings.  To be honest, the worst culprit is probably this mobile idle game I haven't mentioned, where I'm spending so much time and money one could say I'm riding it like an Olympic level tobogganist down the slippery slope towards full relapse.

Luckily, after a few days of "binge gaming", which implies neglecting responsibilities, values, and goals, I start feeling cravings to "get my shit together" and I'll probably end up giving into those as well.  As my therapist likes to remind me: "You've never given up Patrick.  You always wanted to improve and in many ways you have."  As much as it's a reassuring and compassionate statement I'd rather just as confidently accept something like "You have been through countless hardships without relapsing".  This cycle of giving into addiction, coming out of it and repeat... 😔... Cosplaying Sisyphus for Halloween would be... poetic?  Anyways, this cycle, I believe can be explained as a bouncing from one immediately dissatisfying situation, to a more immediately satisfying one, until hedonic adaptation (aka the hedonic treadmill) reverses the perceived immediate satisfaction, tempting me to switch back to the first.  I'd like to get this cycle in particular to finally come to an end on the "right" side, if possible.  While, yeah, fully abstaining from video games (deleting my accounts and only playing board games in person) may seem like a practical way forward, I have a feeling like doing this now might tend to push me towards another addiction (like drugs, porn/sex, tv/film, etc.).  It seems wiser, for now, to tackle the toxic or lacking cognitive and emotional components that drive me towards addictive behavior.

Judging from tidbits of Buddhist and Absurdist wisdom, off the top of my head, I think the most effective thing I can do — in the long run at least — is to control/change the way I see my life, and not every aspect of that life.  That is, cultivate my own sense of self and relation to more fulfilling values and goals.  This is much easier said than done... After talking with my individual therapist and addiction support group, I was reminded of the fact that one of the many mental health issues that influences my ability to do this — and consequentially making important decision — is depression.  I've been taking anti-depressants every day for such a long time that I had forgotten what I was taking.  I mean, I take several different medications on a schedule to a point where I sometimes do it on auto-pilot without realizing it; sometimes I just have to trust that I took them because I can't even recall whether I did or not 😅.  Anyways, although they have gotten me out of major depression symptoms (like suicidal thoughts), there are still dips in my mood that leaves me feeling all around dissatisfied with whatever I'm experiencing in the present moment.  I tend to feel pessimistic about myself, the world, and my environment — past, present, or future.  This experience is what my therapist and I like to call my "shit-colored glasses", a pair that — like the medication I'm taking to make em a little less opaque — I often don't realize I'm using.

I think I can narrow down the cognitive portion (the "reasoning", the "thoughts") that supports or triggers gloomy emotions to 2 different "voices" or "personas":

  1. The Harsh Critic
    • That voice that likes to shame me for not living up to a vague standard.  e.g. "You're so lazy.  Such a piece of shit.  Disgusting.  Worthless."
    • Regret and shame over my behavior not matching that of an ideal self.
  2. The Hedonistic Procrastinator
    • That voice that likes to avoid any sort of boredom, or challenge. e.g. "Ugh this is so boring, you should be feeling good now.  You shouldn't be working, you should be having fun."
    • Sadness, anger, and disgust over my environment not matching that of the ideal world.

Both of these voices are similar in the fact that they both judge things by comparing things to an ideal; a desirable outcome that quite often doesn't take the burdens of physical reality into account. 

I've been aware of the first voice for a longtime and spent some time working challenging some of it's claims.  Honestly, it's as simple as dealing with a frustrated and lonely child sometimes and this makes sense given my backstory.  I was bullied and ostracized by my peers growing up and this voice is what developed to make sense of what was happening to me at the time.  Unsurprisingly these thoughts are often triggered in anticipation or hindsight of rejection; the fear of abandonment that is part of my Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis.  So, ultimately, replacing this voice with a more compassionate, kind, and reassuring would probably help a lot.  Sometimes I succeed at this, easily putting the criticism on the side, but that's far from always the case.  Sometimes the voice gets really loud/invasive.  My therapist is now encouraging me to stand up to it, to face it with something like "Yes, I haven't attained this goal or standard but these harsh comments aren't making attainment any easier.  So, why don't you actually help me for a change if attaining these goals or standards are that important to you."

As for the second voice, well, I haven't spend as much time reflecting on it.  Maybe it's been a rarer occurrence these days or maybe I just haven't been as mindful of it.  I believe it comes from having parents never really succeeded in helping me enjoy things outside of my comfort zone.  I suffered from cancer when I was very young, and so I was behind when it comes to sports and popular hobbies like sports and schoolyard games.  The only things I felt good at where video games and board games, fueled by peer pressure, I became pretty obsessed with those and avoidant of anything else.  I don't remember if my parents ever tried to make me see things to appreciate in other hobbies.  What I do remember is being coerced to try something and then being criticized for not enjoying it right away.  At some point they mostly stopped and let me game almost as much as I wanted — having a Cable TV, consoles and my own PC in my bedroom and everything.  They didn't stop me from trying other things but I often had to find them through others and if I ever wanted to quit they didn't question me.  I think this is where the "things are supposed to be fun" mentality comes from; if I didn't feel like I had an "innate" talent or desire for it, I didn't make much of an effort.

One of my peers in my addiction support group told me about a "pleasure wells" analogy.  The activities in our lives can be divided up into a vast array of wells from which we can retrieve pleasure.  Deliberate or not, overtime, some wells are better tended to, made bigger, more accessible, easier to use, and fuller than others.  The problem many addicts have is that a small group of wells have been tended to far more than others to a point of overuse, while the rest have remained far more difficult to access and extract from.  So, whenever we crave pleasure, even if we deliberately choose some of the smaller wells, the experience is far less satisfying than what the usual had been at some point.  We end up finding ourselves, all the while thirsty, having to take the time and effort tending to and upgrading these neglected wells.  It's an interesting analogy but I'd like to go one step further and say that, in reality, well quality isn't that different from one another; that is, yes, the content quantity, texture, sent, and flavor might be different but none of these characteristics are inherently good or bad.  A large portion of this difference in quality lies in our perception. So, what I need to call into question isn't just which wells that I go to and tend to, but also how I judge the contents I extract from them.  What I need to do isn't simply finding ways to make boring things fun, but also learning to enjoy these things as they are.  Maybe I can stand up to this voice with something like "Yes, this is outside of my usual comfort zone but your negative portrayal of doesn't make this more enjoyable.  So, why don't you focus on the things you can appreciate about this if enjoying things is that important to you."

Anyways, I've been spending all afternoon writing this.  I could get more specific about my values and goals, how these voices step in and what I could do but I think I've spent enough time here for today.  I don't expect anyone to read this wall of text but if you do, thank you very much and I hope you found it worth your time.  Either way, take care comrade.

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Day 3 — Proceeding from Here

As alluded to in my previous post, one of the reasons why I do tend to relapse in my addictions is because of my ongoing mild or moderate depression symptoms.  I tend to perceive things in a negative light (pessimism — like wearing a pair of shit-colored glasses), resorting to instant gratification binges to escape, although temporary, this overall dissatisfaction and hopelessness.  Still, I've accepted (in theory at least) and rarely renounce the fact that these means to find some relief are ineffective.  In the long, problems rarely get solved as new ones arrive; shit piles up man.  A more effective long-term solution regarding this overall dissatisfaction and hopelessness would be to challenge my pessimistic perception, i.e., look beyond the shit-colored glasses.  Whether I manage to take them off completely isn't an entirely conscious decision, after all, I didn't choose to have them on in the first place.

I'm not an expert and I haven't done much research, but I think there are 2 essential things I need to work on to achieve long-term cognitive-behavioral change:

  1. Believing that I can change — i.e., confidence — more often directly chipped at by voice #1 (as described in the previous post)
  2. Wanting to change — i.e., motivation — more often directly chipped at by voice #2 (as described in the previous post)

Of course, these 2 things aren't completely separate, when one goes up or down it tends to drag the other one with it.  Regardless, I assume that when these 2 things are high enough, relevant behavior is likely, if not bound, to follow.

I'm tempted to start by addressing essential thing #2 first.  My most recent relapse happened when I was in a relatively kind towards myself at least, what I was trying craving to escape was boredom, like I couldn't find any reason to do anything but game; I was unmotivated to visit any other "pleasure well" (the analogy described in my previous post).  Essential thing #1 isn't unrelated either, one could say that I was over-confident.  Still, it has been a recurring topic for me throughout therapy that I would probably benefit from working on my identity, my sense of "self".  If I understand correctly this is done by finding and nurturing my "true" values and goals, or as some like to call it: Finding a sense of purpose (i.e., meaning[1]) for my life.  The problem I think I have now in regards to this is that I tend to rely on external sources to dictate my values and goals.  Suffering from BPD and PTSD probably doesn't help... no sense in ruminating on that right now.

Anyways! I have some ideas as to how I can proceed in this direction but I'm running out of time for today.  Again, I don't expect anyone to read this but I appreciate it if you do.  Take care comrades.

[1] I might benefit from reading something like Man's Search for Meaning (by Viktor E. Frankl) or Becoming Myself (by Irvin D. Yalom).

Edited by pdallair91
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Day 6 — Values

One thing that annoys me about listing values is that very few sources have a clear definition, rules, or steps to help us define our values;  A lot of sources just show us a long list of words and tell us to "trust our gut".  I don't know about you but following my gut hasn't always lead me to the "right" answers in life; one thing it has often lead me to was excess.  What thing many sources do seem to agree on is that establishing an array or hierarchy of values is meant to solidify our perception of "good" or "bad" when it comes to making decisions — i.e., a "moral compass".  Another thing to keep in mind as well is that these might change overtime; we may simply realize that one of our choices isn't that "valuable" to us now (or maybe it never was in the first place).

Anyways, I liked the set of rules defined in one of the ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) "blog" posts I found and I ended up making my own guidelines (keep in mind that I'm not an expert; this isn't professional advice):

What is a value?

Values are used to help oneself orient their own behavior towards more satisfying outcomes.  In other words, values are used to help oneself discern “right” from “wrong” in our own behavior.

ACT Values are:

  1. Personal; Freely handpicked by the individual; feels important but not always pleasant to them.
  2. Self-sufficient; Focused on our own behavior, regardless of other people’s.
  3. Abstract; intangible (not an object) and unfinishable (not a goal).
  4. Flexible; adaptable to various contexts and invokable at will.

Example of a “not-so-ACT” value:

  • I value love/support that my family provides. (Not self-sufficient in the way it is described here [the value is an aspect of someone else's behavior])
  • I value hard work; I show this by taking on many minor responsibilities. (Not personal [the behavior being focused on is felt as less important])
  • I value financial success; I show this by diligently working and saving until I retire. (Not abstract enough [the behavior focused on is "finishable" — this is more of a goal than a value])
  • I value satisfaction; I show this by making other people happy. (Not flexible [How other people feel is out of our control and can't be invoked at will.  Let's remain open to the possibility of failure to achieve what we want all the time.])

My Values (For now at least):

  • I value compassion; I show this by trying to cultivate and use my ability to understand how people feel.
    • Personal; this feels important to me.  Meditation, therapy, and reading non-fiction has convinced me that compassion is the basis of all positive "inner" qualities (kindness, generosity, gratitude, etc.).  I undoubtedly have an innate, subconscious desire to make other people, at least the ones closest to me, and myself happy.  How effective I am at this depends on my compassion — my ability to accurately identify when and how people (including ourselves) are suffering.  It just makes sense to cultivate this ability.
    • Self-sufficient; Although I have yet to determine more specifically which behavior(s) the "ability to understand how people feel" encompasses, this behavior is my own.
    • Abstract; Compassion is in fact an intangible concept (not an object) and there will always be room for further understanding.
    • Flexible; Compassion is largely applicable to any context, as long as I am conscious and mentally able.  I am aware and I accept that sometimes I won't succeed.  What matters the most is that I continue trying to improve.

Anyways, I've been writing for over an hour now.  This motivates me to apply this value throughout the day.  In fact, I could say that I am practicing it now by ending this post here; I listened to my body and mind and I felt a bit tension, a strong desire to make this unrealistically perfect, rising within me.  So, I'm going to take the time go out for a short walk and meditate on this to relax.  Who knows, maybe I will find opportunities to be compassionate along the way. 😊

May you feel safe, happy, and live with ease comrades.  Take care. 💗

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  • 2 weeks later...

Day @*#&(@*&$^&*@$@ — Mental Health, Work (Job), and Insurance Companies

I feel pretty distressed right now.  For those that aren't aware, I suffer from multiple mental health issues including Borderline Personality Disorder, PTSD, and Depression.  These stem from very early childhood and I will probably always suffer from them to varying degrees.  So, yeah, I tend to have intense emotional reactions.  So when I say distressed, I mean afraid, angry, and ashamed all at the same time.  I feel pain in my chest, a bit shaky, and like part of me wants to cry but the tears won't flow...

Anw... I've been on disability from work (job) since ~Feb 2020; I was on Short-Term Disability until June and then not so smoothly transferred to Long-Term Disability.  This all started after I took steps to commit suicide and thankfully didn't go through with it.  Everyone I know — my family doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, be it friends, family, and (ex-)coworkers — with a bit of hesitancy, in the end, supported my claim that I just wasn't fit to work for a living.  My Short-Term Disability income was provided by my place of employment, that was very quick to approve my claim.  As for the Long-Term Disability, that income fell on being provided by an insurance company (Sunlife [or should I say SUCKLIFE! <cuse they drain the fucking life out of me everything I have to interact with them>]), that was resistant — by way of incompetence or perhaps deliberate non-communication (masters of plausible deniability) — at validating my claim for 6 whole months (I didn't get any income for 6 whole months).

Well, I received an unexpected (but unsurprising) call from them this morning.  Turns out that 5 months ago they "updated" my "medical record" by contacting some (not all) the experts that are helping me and having a "third party" expert evaluate that according to this "medical record", I should be able to go back to work ASAP.  So, I have 1 week to contest this claim by reaching out to the one person they haven't contacted, the one person that has followed me by far the most closely throughout these mental health challenges: My PSYCHOLOGIST.  They concluded, without a word from my PSYCHOLOGIST (the GOD DAMN MENTAL HEALTH EXPERT that's treating me), that my MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS didn't prevent me from working anymore.  I have 1 week to get him to write to them another letter that previously took him a whole month to write!

The reality is that I don't feel ready to go back to work, at least not for the long-run, and that's what psychological issues are, it's when our own thoughts and feelings prevent us from behaving adequately.  To be fair, there has been some improvements in my condition.  Mainly, I don't generally contemplate dying anymore.  However, I still tend to resort to destructive behaviors to find some sense of competence and self-worth.  And like I may find those things in healthy behaviors for a bit, but I tend to constantly relapse and that's what I'm pretty sure will happen if I go back to work; it would only be a matter of time.  The truth is that SuckLife (yeah, I'm sticking with this bad pun, get used to it) doesn't care about my mental health, they're only "supporting" me as long as they must (legally).  Like every company, they will always put profit margins above everything else and in this case, it's my actual mental well-being that is threatened to be thrown under the steam roller of capitalism.  I'm confident that, if it was legal and profitable, insurance companies would approve 0 claims.  Yet, we live under the rule of the elite that strongly believes there's no harm to this at all, that this is the "free-market" is the best thing we will ever have blah blah blah.  If only I had a Death Note... *cough*...

Sick jokes aside, I am pretty distressed.  I am afraid I am going to be pushed beyond my ability; I am angry that this is being done for the sake of corporate financial gains, and; I am ashamed that, even after all the therapy I've been through, I still feel worthless.  SO NOT POGGERS AMIRIGHT CHAMPS!?

Patrick "never have I participated in no nut November and I certainly won't now" Dallaire

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Hey Patrick!

I'm sorry that you're going through so much difficulties right now! I know the frustration and uncertainty that comes from being on the "wrong" end of the system; I hope that you will be able to find a way out eventually. Please keep us updated; not sure how I can help but you never know who are the people reading your journal are 😉 



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  • 2 weeks later...

Day 3 — Cost/Benefit Analysis

Playing Video Games

  • Benefits
    • Stimulating/rewarding [ST]
    • Distraction/soothing/comfort [ST]
    • Fun gamer community & sub-culture [LT]
  • Costs
    • Time consuming and energy draining [ST]
    • "Wasted" a lot of time and money.  Problems accumulate. [LT]
    • Kind of bad for my health [LT]
    • Not satisfying.  Shame. [LT]

NOT Playing Video Games (aka Quitting)

  • Benefits
    • More time, energy, to do tasks and other activities [ST]
    • More potential for "well invested" time and money [LT]
    • More self-actualization --> more satisfaction (maybe?) [LT]
  • Costs
    • Boredom, loneliness, and apathy [ST]
    • Frustration, shame, and anxiety facing problems I've been avoiding and new challenges [ST]
    • "Missing out" on the community & culture [LT]

ST = Short-Term
LT = Long-Term

I think the lesson for me here is that the long-term costs of continuing to play games outweigh the benefits which are mostly fleeting.  What makes quitting so hard, in the short-term at least, is that I haven't been able to find a similar amount of stimulation and comfort elsewhere yet, especially during this pandemic.  ... Anyways, I have to remind myself that, larger benefits will arrive in the long-term; I just need to be patient, keep trying, and appreciate the little things along the way.

Peace out.

P.S. Regarding Sucklife (insurance company), I seem to have managed to make them back off.  Who knows for how long but at least they haven't tried to "bully" me this week.

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2 hours ago, pdallair91 said:

I haven't been able to find a similar amount of stimulation and comfort elsewhere yet


It definitely took me a long time to figure out, and partially it was simply due to the fact that my brain was so used to games. Nothing felt as fullfilling or interesting for prolonged periods of time for a while. Even now, sometimes I have trouble getting into things I'm usually passionate about, like music, art, or movement. 

What helped was to simply challenge myself to stick with an activity that was interesting at least to some extent for 2-3 weeks to see if it would get more rewarding over a longer period of time. Quite a few of them did.

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