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Alex

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  1. Alex added a post in a topic Daily Journal   

    90 days complete.
    Cross-post from the Main Room.
    The past 90 days have been an eye-opening experience for me. Before the detox, I would regularly lose 4+ hours of time gaming and not realize it, to the detriment of my career and social life. After the detox, it feels like my life is finally moving forward again and I can interact with the world around me. I'd like to take this opportunity to share my story and thoughts about the detox program.  
    I've learned more about myself in the past 3 months than I have in the past several years. I had always believed that if I put my mind to something, I could accomplish it no matter what. This fallacy finally became apparent when I had gone 6 months barely working on my dissertation while logging in somewhere between 700-1000 hours of game time (around 40 hours per week). That number is both staggering and sobering to me, as at a writing pace of 1 page per hour, I could have finished my dissertation about 8 times over. But instead, I was just gaming.
    At the end of that period of time, the stress that had been accumulating from my ignoring my dissertation finally started to manifest as physical symptoms. My night vision was gone due to my pupils not dilating properly, I had constant anxiety which I never had previously, and I started having what I can only describe as panic attacks when I would lay down to sleep at night. This problem got so bad that at one point that I had to wake up my housemate at 2am because I thought I was having a stroke. 
    In July of this year I had a revelation about my situation. One day while planning to work on my dissertation I instead started gaming, as was habit at this point. The first time I looked up from that particular game session about 4-5 hours had passed. What was different about this event was that I noticed something. I had started the day feeling pretty depressed and overall sluggish, and after that particular binge I was feeling amazing. It felt like I had finally accomplished everything I ever wanted in life. In that moment, I took a step back and asked what had changed? Why did I start the day feeling terrible and now feel like a champion when the only thing I had done was play a game that wasn't even a favorite of mine.
    Suddenly, like a whirlwind, it all fell into place. In that moment of elation and confusion, I was able to recall an article I read about videogames and dopamine (here's one such example: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-compass-pleasure/201110/video-games-can-activate-the-brains-pleasure-circuits-0 ) The physical symptoms I was experiencing felt EXACTLY like what is described in that article. It all made sense. As a scientist, my role is to research and find the facts. So I started researching. What I found was a wealth of information about, and people that were experiencing, the same phenomenon with gaming. I was not unique, not an isolated case. Now that I knew what the problem was I could start to address it directly.
    My internet research eventually led me to Cam Adair and gamequitters. After watching Cam's TED talk, I knew I was on the right track. I proceeded to the gamequitters forum, and began to read people's stories. It was a rare moment in my life where I felt I resonated with their stories and Cam's. I felt a connection that was both surprising and uplifting. A change had to be made, and I signed up for the Respawn program. H-o-l-y-s-h-i-t did that document describe everything I was going through to the letter, and provide sound advice for moving forward. Realizing that I was no longer in control of my habits, I did the only logical thing. The next day, on July 31st, 2016, I sold/uninstalled every videogame I owned. The driving force for this was multifaceted: I was upset at myself that I had let the problem progress this far, I was emotional about feeling a unprecedented connection with strangers, and I was ecstatic about finally finding a way, after what felt like an eternity, to move forward. 
    The 90-day detox went smoother than I had expected. Still cruising off the high of finding a solution, I didn't really feel the craving to game during the first 2 weeks. Following the advice I found here, I filled my time with other enjoyable activities; such as going to the gym, playing guitar, watching anime (though I later realized this was a gaming substitute for binging and eliminated it as well), and going to sleep earlier than I had in years. Daily meditation via the Headspace app (amazing) also proved incredibly helpful in managing the anxiety, which disappeared completely over the course of 2-3 weeks. I did start feeling the urge to game toward the end of the detox, but this again proved to be a valuable learning experience. Now that I was aware of the problem, I was could recognized when I was triggered and determine the cause. My trigger turned out to be nothing more than medium/high levels of stress related to work deadlines. I could predict those to an extent, and now know how to manage the stress better. The 90 days I went without games is the longest period of time I've gone since I started gaming at age 4. Thats 25 years straight of gaming weekly, if not daily. This fact still blows my mind. 
    So here I am, 91 days later, and my life is finally moving forward again. I'm in better shape than I have been in 8+ years, my social skills are improving, I'm defending my Ph.D in less than 2 weeks, and already have my first job out of school. I feel alive again after a 1.5 year period of feeling hollowed out, depressed, unmotivated, and not knowing how to move forward. I have to give a shout-out to Cam here, as without his words and efforts to build this community, I may not have found the answer in time. Thank you, and everyone on gamequitters who shared their stories and gave advice. I owe you all a debt of gratitude. 
    Cheers,
    -Alex
    • 3
  2. Alex added a topic in Celebrate   

    90-day detox complete. Here's my story.
    The past 90 days have been an eye-opening experience for me. Before the detox, I would regularly lose 4+ hours of time gaming and not realize it, to the detriment of my career and social life. After the detox, it feels like my life is finally moving forward again and I can interact with the world around me. I'd like to take this opportunity to share my story and thoughts about the detox program.  
    I've learned more about myself in the past 3 months than I have in the past several years. I had always believed that if I put my mind to something, I could accomplish it no matter what. This fallacy finally became apparent when I had gone 6 months barely working on my dissertation while logging in somewhere between 700-1000 hours of game time (around 40 hours per week). That number is both staggering and sobering to me, as at a writing pace of 1 page per hour, I could have finished my dissertation about 8 times over. But instead, I was just gaming.
    At the end of that period of time, the stress that had been accumulating from my ignoring my dissertation finally started to manifest as physical symptoms. My night vision was gone due to my pupils not dilating properly, I had constant anxiety which I never had previously, and I started having what I can only describe as panic attacks when I would lay down to sleep at night. This problem got so bad that at one point that I had to wake up my housemate at 2am because I thought I was having a stroke. 
    In July of this year I had a revelation about my situation. One day while planning to work on my dissertation I instead started gaming, as was habit at this point. The first time I looked up from that particular game session about 4-5 hours had passed. What was different about this event was that I noticed something. I had started the day feeling pretty depressed and overall sluggish, and after that particular binge I was feeling amazing. It felt like I had finally accomplished everything I ever wanted in life. In that moment, I took a step back and asked what had changed? Why did I start the day feeling terrible and now feel like a champion when the only thing I had done was play a game that wasn't even a favorite of mine.
    Suddenly, like a whirlwind, it all fell into place. In that moment of elation and confusion, I was able to recall an article I read about videogames and dopamine (here's one such example: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-compass-pleasure/201110/video-games-can-activate-the-brains-pleasure-circuits-0 ) The physical symptoms I was experiencing felt EXACTLY like what is described in that article. It all made sense. As a scientist, my role is to research and find the facts. So I started researching. What I found was a wealth of information about, and people that were experiencing, the same phenomenon with gaming. I was not unique, not an isolated case. Now that I knew what the problem was I could start to address it directly.
    My internet research eventually led me to Cam Adair and gamequitters. After watching Cam's TED talk, I knew I was on the right track. I proceeded to the gamequitters forum, and began to read people's stories. It was a rare moment in my life where I felt I resonated with their stories and Cam's. I felt a connection that was both surprising and uplifting. A change had to be made, and I signed up for the Respawn program. H-o-l-y-s-h-i-t did that document describe everything I was going through to the letter, and provide sound advice for moving forward. Realizing that I was no longer in control of my habits, I did the only logical thing. The next day, on July 31st, 2016, I sold/uninstalled every videogame I owned. The driving force for this was multifaceted: I was upset at myself that I had let the problem progress this far, I was emotional about feeling a unprecedented connection with strangers, and I was ecstatic about finally finding a way, after what felt like an eternity, to move forward. 
    The 90-day detox went smoother than I had expected. Still cruising off the high of finding a solution, I didn't really feel the craving to game during the first 2 weeks. Following the advice I found here, I filled my time with other enjoyable activities; such as going to the gym, playing guitar, watching anime (though I later realized this was a gaming substitute for binging and eliminated it as well), and going to sleep earlier than I had in years. Daily meditation via the Headspace app (amazing) also proved incredibly helpful in managing the anxiety, which disappeared completely over the course of 2-3 weeks. I did start feeling the urge to game toward the end of the detox, but this again proved to be a valuable learning experience. Now that I was aware of the problem, I was could recognized when I was triggered and determine the cause. My trigger turned out to be nothing more than medium/high levels of stress related to work deadlines. I could predict those to an extent, and now know how to manage the stress better. The 90 days I went without games is the longest period of time I've gone since I started gaming at age 4. Thats 25 years straight of gaming weekly, if not daily. This fact still blows my mind. 
    So here I am, 91 days later, and my life is finally moving forward again. I'm in better shape than I have been in 8+ years, my social skills are improving, I'm defending my Ph.D in less than 2 weeks, and already have my first job out of school. I feel alive again after a 1.5 year period of feeling hollowed out, depressed, unmotivated, and not knowing how to move forward. I have to give a shout-out to Cam here, as without his words and efforts to build this community, I may not have found the answer in time. Thank you, and everyone on gamequitters who shared their stories and gave advice. I owe you all a debt of gratitude. 
    Cheers,
    -Alex
    • 2 replies
    • 274 views
  3. Alex added a post in a topic Daily Journal   

    Here are the links to my recent publications
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0141813015301422    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2015.11.048
    http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acsbiomaterials.5b00052    DOI: 10.1021/acsbiomaterials.5b00052
    Happy to answer any questions.
     
     
     

    • 1
  4. Alex added a post in a topic Daily Journal   

    My Ph.D is very multidisciplinary. Generally, its in the realm of chemistry and biochemistry. More specifically, in organic synthesis, tissue engineering, and more recently in my new job with plant tissue culture and genetics. 
    • 0
  5. Alex added a post in a topic Daily Journal   

    Day 88 "Feeling great"
    The stress is real right now, and I'm feeling the urge to game more now than since before I started the detox. I was able to submit my dissertation for review yesterday, which was a huge milestone. Writing has always been the most arduous task for me, so to have that part of the process behind me is a real game changer. That being said, the oral defense of my degree is still  to come, on Nov. 9th. While I'm less worried about the outcome if the exam, it is still makes for a very stressful time in my life. I've decided to take this as a learning experience, realizing that my greatest trigger for binge gaming is not boredom, but stress. Pros and cons to this, but being able to objectively look at the problem is a huge step forward, especially compared to 6 months ago when I didn't know why I was gaming so much. Live and learn right? Based on my count, I'll have completed the 90-day detox this Saturday. I can't believe how fast time went once I devoted myself to work and other activities. The next few weeks are really going to be exciting: This weekend I get to celebrate my 90-days game-free with zero relapses (still amazed at this myself), two weeks from now I'll be celebrating both defending my Ph.D and my birthday on the 12th, and two weeks after that will be a nice Thanksgiving dinner. Definitely great things to look forward to in the next short while!
     
    Today I'm grateful for:
    1) Finally moving forward, and finishing up school forever
    2) Being finished writing my dissertation
    3) Again, not having to write my dissertation anymore
    4) The feeling of calm after a particularly stressful period of time
    5) Refreshingly cold temperatures (super important when you like in upstate NY)
    6) Sleep. Oh how I've missed thee.
     
    Goals for the present:
    1) Successfully complete the 90-day detox!
    2) Execute new exercise routine now that stress/time is more manageable
    3) Take unstructured evenings time and get back in guitar training
    4) Ignore all the gaming hype that is plaguing the internet and my office conversations..... hah!
    • 0
  6. Alex added a post in a topic Daily Journal   

    Day 81 "Event Horizon"
    81 days and going strong. Was definitely triggered a bit with the news of the new nintendo console coming out soon, which a good friend of mine wanted to chat about. Life has been a whirlwind recently. Finishing up grad school while working full time doesn't leave time for much recreation, for better or worse. Tentative date for my Ph.D defense is Nov. 9th, where if I pass, I'll officially be Dr. Alex. Its still weird to think about.  Only 9 days left in my detox, which at the moment, feels just as important a milestone as finishing school forever. I'm starting to brainstorm ideas for the next step after my 90-days. Do I start another 90? Should I stop counting? Maybe moving onto another time-based goal, like 90 days of meditation, or a 90-day body building experiment. Once I find the time, I would really like working out to become less of a necessity and more of a hobby. One of my bigger life goals is to be in noticeably (but not ridiculously) better shape than the average person around me. Not too late to start at almost 29 years old is it? That's probably it for now. I hope to check back in a couple times before the big day, but we'll see what work allows for. 
    Today I'm grateful for:
    1) Lifetime friends that are a simple phone call away, and we never miss a beat despite the passage of time.
    2) Having the resources to live frugally, and becoming debt free after school
    3) Opportunities to grow professionally. After 10 years of post-secondary education, having a real job is a breath of fresh air
    4) Mulled apple cider
     
    Goals for the present:
    1) Focus on being mindful
    2) Don't sweat the small stuff
    3) Don't be too serious
    4) Find more opportunities to laugh
    5) When free time returns, start reading novels again
    • 0
  7. Alex added a post in a topic Watermelon's Second Attempt at the 90 Day Detox   

    I hear you brother. When life gets tough, we all seek ways to escape. After a rough day at work, I start having thoughts like, "what's the big deal with playing my favorite mmo for an hour?". Its such a slippery slope. Despite all the knowledge we have, making rational decides rarely comes easy in times of stress. But fear not! This is why you maintain relationships with family and friends. We are your support network, and you should not be afraid of relying on us! Remember that you have people in your life that would be happy to give you some of their time, and often enough, just having a sounding board for your own thoughts can get you moving in the right direction. You are not alone. Allow yourself to seek help when you need it. You deserve it. 
    Sending positive vibes your way. ~~~~~~~~~~
    • 2
  8. Alex added a post in a topic Daily Journal   

    Day 69
    Overall a nice Saturday today. Slept in till 9am or so, then tutored organic chemistry for two hours at Syracuse library. It was pretty fun getting to the library at 9:55am, when they open at 10am. Waiting for the library to open made me feel like I was tackling the day head on, trying to get the most out of it.  After that I gave a tour to ~60 people of the tree orchards containing the genetically modified trees we're working on restoring (American Chestnut). At any other time in my life the thought of being responsible for talking to and guiding so many people would have been daunting, but today I found it a very positive social experience. I was able to stay totally calm and collected  throughout. 
    Today I'm grateful for:
    1) Having an interesting career that provides opportunities to meet all sorts of people
    2) Fall season in New York
    3) Exercise and the following mood boost
    4) Dark chocolate pumpkin cookies :)-
    Goals for the present:
    1) Maintain workout routine
    2) Eat more vegetables from farmers market 
    3) Think about ways to meet women other than online dating
    • 1
  9. Alex added a post in a topic Daily Journal   

    Day 64
    I sat down and thought about what my life was like a year ago. October last year I was engrossed in an MMO, typically plating for 6-10 hours per day. I was sedentary, living with my parents, and couldn't build up the motivation to work on my thesis for graduate school. Compared to today; I play zero games and watch nearly zero television, I have a great housing situation with supportive friends, I can see progress from going to the gym, and I'm working my first full-time job out of school (until recently I've never been out of school). The difference is incredible. I'm so busy now that I forget to update my daily journal! The timing for my transition away from games was timely, in that it started in the summer months. I always get seasonally gloomy/depressed in the winter months, and am worried how the next few months will pan out.  I think having the 90 day detox completed by the end of October (Halloween!!!) should help. We'll have to wait and see.
    Today I'm grateful for:
    Too many things to list
    Goals for the next week:
    Exercise at least twice at gym, once at home
    Find strategy to regain focus in evening without use of caffeine
     
    • 1
  10. Alex added a post in a topic Daily Journal   

    Day 56
    Busy is the name of the game recently. As it turns out, being second choice for a job CAN actually get you the position. The first choice for the job I applied for had to back out at the last minute. Therefore, I am now the new lab manager! Wooooooo!!!!! First official job using my degree!!!!!!! The next month or so is going  to be insane, as I'll be working full time at the new job plus trying to defend my PhD in October. If I can hold out till thanksgiving, I'll officially be through the toughest part of my life thus far. As such, my posts here will likely be sporadic. Wish me luck! See you on the other side!
    Today I'm thankful for:
    Feeling like my career is finally getting off the ground. 
    Goals for tomorrow:
    Finish a week's worth of writing in a day..... or write until I pass out, whichever comes first.
    • 3
  11. Alex added a topic in Celebrate   

    Half way there!
    While I'm only 47 days into my detox, it feels like I've taken my world back. I'm going out and doing things that I would have shrugged off previously. I'm finally finishing my degree. I'm noticing progress from exercising. I feel less distracted and more mindful. But I can't stop now! I can't wait to see what progress I've made by the 90-day mark. Thank you to everyone who's provided guidance and words of support.
    Cheers
    • 1 reply
    • 137 views
  12. Alex added a post in a topic Daily Journal   

    Day 47 "Progress?!"
    I did not intend to go 10 days without updating my journal. I guess I've just been that busy living life. I'm over halfway through the challenge now at 47 days, and boy does time fly.  I found myself thinking a lot about my favorite games over the past few days, as I visited the house I grew up in. While it is fun to think about them, I actually don't feel any cravings to go back to it. What I'm more excited about it a current job opportunity! I got an email about the position I applied for, and it looks like things might work out. I haven't had any work other than publishing papers and writing my thesis for the past year or so, and its getting old. Finger's crossed on the new job!
    Today I'm grateful for:
    1) Cuddly cats (not the jerk cats)
    2) Good, new york style pizza
    3) The peace and quiet of rural areas
    4) Networking
    Goals for tomorrow:
    1) Ace the meeting with potential new boss
    2) finish up last section of thesis
    3) gym gym gym
    4) order parts to fix guitar
    5) Stay confident
    • 2
  13. Alex added a post in a topic Random Facts   

    I'm a classically trained musician pursuing a Ph.D. in chemistry.
    I enjoy building computers. 
    Ping pong and archery are my favorite sports.
    I can't eat mayonnaise. I will literally choose insects over mayonnaise. 
    • 3
  14. Alex added a post in a topic My life is vanishing.   

    Recognizing that you want to make a change in your life is the first step. I found the Respawn program (and associated e-book) incredible helpful in putting words to what I was feelings, and providing direction as to the changes I needed to make.  The process of moving toward a better life can be done one small step at a time.  Start with making small easily obtainable goals for yourself (no soda for 1 day, trade 30 minutes of gaming for 30 minutes of walking outside, ect). You'll find that that small accomplishments make the larger ones seem more obtainable.  It doesn't matter how fast you go, only that you're going in the right direction, and right this moment is the best place to start. Best of luck!
    Cheers
    • 2
  15. Alex added a post in a topic Daily Journal   

    Day 37 "Getting better all the time"
    Solid day today. Was social with some friends during the day, hit a good writing milestone in the evening, practiced some drawing, and even went to the park to play ultimate frisbee with strangers (also students).  It was also great to hear that Cam met his fundraising goal for Tanzania. It was a nice feeling to see the community come together and show support. Maybe one day I'll be as badass as Cam and try to make a difference in the world ; )
    Today I'm grateful for:
    1) Feelings of community, both online and offline
    2) Taking care of my mind and body. I feel radically better than only a month ago by subtracting videogames and adding meditation and exercise. My depression is nearly gone!
    3) Peace of mind. How did I even function before meditation?
    Goals for tomorrow:
    1) Don't sweat the small stuff! Thanks for the video Cam https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RDbLXK12W8
    2) Get started on first work session with zero procrastination
    • 2