A Better Tomorrow

Discussion in 'Ages 30-39' started by NewStart19, Aug 12, 2019.

  1. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    @Doper

    I hear you about making the bed. While the solidification of my habit of making the bed preceded laundering my bedding (I wonder if that was the "wrong" order to tackle this haha), if I am a bit spacey in the morning and pass on doing it immediately after waking up, later on, when I walk into the room and see everything scattered about as if by a mini-tornado, I feel, "that's not right" and proceed to put things in order. It's one of those great habits to start with because it really is a such a simple and quick task to complete. But it doesn't feel that way initially.

    As an aside, I just noticed one of your quotes that reference the author. Looking forward to reading the book sometime in the future.

    Take care
     
    Doper and Pete McVries like this.
  2. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Hey NewStart, I have also had some problems with drinking so I really enjoyed reading your insights and your journey regarding being alcohol free. Thanks for that. I often had problems controlling my drinking and I think it was getting worst as I was getting older. In other words, I could see a negative progression in the way I was relying on alcohol for whatever reasons. Trying to become a healthier person, I could see how alcohol would have to be greatly reduced or even completely eliminated (if the first option was not possible). Many times I told myself I'll reduce it, control it, but I still drank more then I wanted too. The experiences were also less fun, and I felt increasingly bad afterwards. After a particularly negative consequence once, I vowed to stop and I indeed did not drink one drop of alcohol for about 6 months. That time I did not even have non alcoholic beers. I then went back to drinking. Fast forward a year and a bit and I could see how drinking was still a big problem and how I would clearly benefit from eliminating it. So I got motivated to experiment with not drinking at all again. I ended up not drinking for a full year, however that time I did allow myself to have non alcoholic beers. This helped a lot in still going out at times. For whatever reason I felt more comfortable drinking a non alcoholic beer if all the people I was with were having an alcoholic drink then if I was having say a coke or a sprite. I guess the problem is also that my friendships had often relied upon the drinking element. Anyways, during last summer things became really bad for me and I increasingly started thinking that I should allow myself to have that good old fun of having a drink when I go out. It started calling back to me, the fun of being drunk. Of course, it was simply an escape from the problems I was facing. And so I allowed myself to drink one time, justifying that I had completed my full year being alcohol free. Looking back, now, I think it's safe to say it was a bad decision. Things were problematic already before doing that, but they got more so. On the day I allowed myself to drink again, a part of me knew clearly it was a mistake. A part of me was afraid of what I was choosing to do at that moment. Of course, that made the experience less pleasant. So as the guilty feeling of doing something wrong was accompanying me, I fell further down into wrong choices. I also decided to start smoking weed again. That exact night actually. And I had been clean of weed (or any substances - save for caffeine) for about 13 months. Not to mention I had a really bad relapse on the PMO front that precise evening. From that point it was easy for my brain to justify to myself that I should keep buying weed. So I ended up really escaping from my life for a time. Weed had been a much bigger problem I think then alcohol, in the way I created a habit for getting stoned and escaping my life - and I was very quickly sucked into a pattern, once again, of smoking constantly (which is what I do if I have that in my house). It was all a big mistake. I knew it. I got out of it more or less since then. Weed I managed to not smoke any since October I think. And I should do my absolute best to never return there again. And alcohol, well I have not totally cut it out (thought I'm considering it again) - but I have not had any problems with it, I suppose Covid is helping here. Weed, Alcohol, PMO, these are three things that I am allowing to destroy my life. If I want to stand a chance to be a healthy person, to fortify my redeeming qualities rather then my weaknesses, then I have to make the choice to cut them out of my life. Maybe, just maybe, alcohol could have a place since (honestly) I feel that one I could control, given sufficient distance from the other ones (and sufficient mental health and capacity to handle life). But weed and PMO then need to be thrown away. I think weed has to be the first one to be thrown away forever.

    In all honesty, I think it wasn't too cool for your wedding friend to pressure you to have that one drink. But I'm happy to read it ended up not becoming a big problem in your journey.

    Rest assured, you have not created some kind of strong confusion when you talked about OCD and compulsions on my journal. What happened is I noted the book down and I may check it out at some point. As I was mentioning, I often wondered if OCD is a big issue with me. I do admit I can't exactly see what the nuance is between compulsion in addiction and compulsion in OCD. I remember I have read how some experts consider addiction to be OCD - for instance alcoholism being an obsession with drinking.

    I do try to battel OCD to a certain extent. Sometimes when I'm super sober and clean from all addictions (though this does not last long so far) I sometimes get utter tense and become super OCD in my mindset. It's quite uncomfortable and tiresome.

    Speaking of OCD tendencies, I do have a way of noting my PMO habits quite in a detailed manner using an excel sheet. This does reinforce the OCD habit, but on the other hand it helps with seeing the progression and giving me a larger perspective then only the streak monitoring.

    In fact I think I am naturally OCD. I still have paper logs of my PMO/MO habits when I was a teenager (!). Long before I knew what PMO addiction is.
     
    NewStart19, Bilbo Baggins and Doper like this.
  3. Doper

    Doper Well-Known Member

    Booze is my number 1 enemy. Porn has nothing on the liquor. The latter I want nothing to do with. But I still see the former as possibly my best friend, and I can't see life without it (...at least long term). I'm an abused housewife cowering in the kitchen corner as my husband Johnny Walker heaves dinner plates at me. But I still love him. Porn is just his friend that enters the house through the back door and rifles through the couch cushions to find some change. That prick is an afterthought.
    I have every argument conceivable why the liquor is shit: You get fat, poor, hungover, nutrient deficient, unable to communicate effectively, lazy, anxious, depressed...on and on. And those are just the aftereffects.
    I think booze is the mediocre human personified. No really successful people drink a lot of booze, or even like it for that matter, no matter what some old movie will have you believe. For them it's a prop.
    Even just 1 drink will wreck your sleep. So everything else aside, you can't be a top performer even if you drink just 1 drink a couple hours before sleep.

    The thing is though, if I go for a bit without drinking, and I drink that first drink, it doesn't feel all that great. Kinda like I just drank some poison (...which I did). You know how people say the first drink is the best with that little bit of euphoria, then that goes away and everything else is just chaser. A lot of times I find I don't even enjoy it till I'm about 4 in, but then if I were to stop, I would immediately stop enjoying myself. And I just feel like crap. If I am not actively drinking more, I am no longer having fun. So it's really just an illusion. I wish I were one of those people that didn't like the taste. I LOVE the taste. The more fire the better.
    I'm glad you guys were able to get a handle on it cuz I've been actively trying for about 3 years now. DO NOT GO BACK.
     
  4. Bilbo Baggins

    Bilbo Baggins Well-Known Member

    This discussion is very interesting, and I can relate to some of the points you both mentioned. I am also a kind of guy who easily gets addicted. Sometimes, it’s just for a short period of time, so it’s not exactly addiction, it’s just a frenzy around a certain activity. I had those frenzies with gambling and with amphetamine, they lasted a few weeks, but it would happen everyday during those weeks. Alcohol, cigarettes, and now... fucking sleeping pills... And of course, porn. Those are long term addictions, bad habits I have been carrying for years.

    I’m lucky enough to dislike more being hangover than to stop drinking after 4 or 5 drinks. I really hate feeling wasted. I’m more the kind of guy who drinks everyday, but only 2-3 drinks. You could call me a moderate addict. My consumption patterns seem a little different than yours. Nonetheless, I’d still like to point out that it seems to me you both set the bar very high in terms of abstinence. While I also believe that the ideal man would never, or almost never be excessive in his consumption of drugs and alcohol, I think it’s pretty unreasonable to try to achieve that. I mean, look at us... We’ve spent decades trying to find in substances some relief, and we have developed many addictions. We’ve also had many periods of abstinence followed by comebacks to our drugs of choice, and usually, we pick things up exactly where we left them. I might be wrong, but I think we’ll always have problems with addiction, and it might be a better path for us to have reasonable expectations in terms of sobriety. By that, I mean that we should only stay permanently away from the drugs that literally destroy us. You both wrote about that. For you, @Thelongwayhome27 it seems to be weed, like you said, and for @Doper it seems to be alcohol. For me, it’s definitely porn. With other substances, that are only ‘bad’ for us, I think it’s best if we don’t become too hard on ourselves. Because if we do, we’re more likely to see ourselves as wrecks, and to withdraw ourselves from life ‘until we get sober’. As I said, it’s not an ideal scenario, but I believe that by lowering our expectations a little bit, we’re more likely to remain somewhat healthy, which is way better than the feelings of hopelessness we get when we analyze ourselves too harshly and set ourselves unattainable goals. Our biggest challenge is not to become models in terms of abstinence, or to stop ‘poisoning’ ourselves with drugs: it’s to stop withdrawing ourselves from life because we don’t behave according to our ideals. That’s how it is for me, anyway.

    Just my two cents, of course. I’m sure there’s nothing new for you guys in what I wrote, but I still wanted to share it with you, because as I said, from my perspective, you both seem to set the bar pretty high.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
  5. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Wow, after a short period of absence, I come back to see more posts than I was expecting!

    First things first, I am still going strong on the no-PMO front. I haven't been journaling as a) I've been pretty busy (and you know what they say about idle hands...so it's good to remain preoccupied) and b) the more time I spend away from IADs during acute recovery the better (and I've been steadfast in upholding my IAD cutoff time, which further limits my time in front of the computer).

    I will try to respond as best I can to all three of these posts. Let me start with...

    @Thelongwayhome27

    I am glad to hear that my post proved to be valuable to you to any degree. It was nice for me to write about that journey, as I had never done so before. As for the friend I mentioned, it was nice just putting it out there, as I never really felt like bringing it up again with him or complaining about it to our mutual friends, but, to this day, remembering it still ruffles my feathers. I don't dwell on it, but that was definitely an instance of him being a poor friend.

    Allow me to thank you for sharing your experiences with alcohol. From what you wrote, it seems like you found a healthy way to keep it in your life, much like I was ultimately able to do with marijuana (but not without my fair share of struggle). While from an individual standpoint, you could think of me as a teetotaler, I am not of the opinion that everyone should abide by this lifestyle, and I personally have seen plenty examples of people who are able to have alcohol in their lives without any problems. I do relate to how socializing can create a considerable obstacle to healthy usage/sobriety. For me, I had to redefine some of my relationships and unfortunately discard some others, which was necessary due to how intertwined my alcohol use and socializing were (I was never much of a solitary drinker). Insofar as your friends/acquaintances aren't pressuring you or expecting you to drink, I think you are in safe waters on that front. I'm glad that you recognized that marijuana doesn't work for you and the life you want to live. As I've mentioned elsewhere, I still smoke sativa from time to time, but if it was a net negative in my life, I'd want it gone too. I hope that you continue to keep up your sobriety efforts.

    Lastly, reading what you wrote about OCD/compulsions, I am further convinced that you are thinking about it more so in the vernacular sense. While there is nothing wrong with that per se, it doesn't quite map on to what is actually referred to by the disorder (based on how it was explained in Dr. Grayson's book), so I'd like to take this opportunity to dispel what I perceive to be a misunderstanding you have about the disorder. If I were to attempt to explain it, I would say the following (please just take this as a launching point; if you are interested in learning more, definitely check out the book):

    The core of OCD is about trying to get rid of uncertainty in our lives in an attempt to be 100% certain. While it is normal for people to experience rituals (i.e. compulsions), irrational thoughts, or discomfort when exposed to uncertainty at certain points in their lives, what differentiates an OCD sufferer from a non-sufferer is a matter of degree. We all live with risk, at times taking precautions that are unnecessary or don't make sense, but the difference between this being problematic or not is a matter of degree and how much it interferes with your life.

    Let me use an example to illustrate this. Assume you are a parent. It is natural for a parent to be concerned about the safety and well-being of their child, but a parent suffering from OCD might be so concerned about the safety of their child that they would have difficulties functioning in their day-to-day life. Even worse, their debilitating concern about the safety of their child and the potential dangers that exist in the world could get so extreme that their relationship with their child or spouse--or other family members--could become overstrained. An example given in the book (keep in mind I don't have it in front of me right now, so I may not be recalling it with complete accuracy) is of a mother who experienced just that. Things became so bad that her husband decided to get a divorce and she continues to have a difficult relationship with her daughter.

    The problem is, absolute certainty in our individual lives is an illusion. How can you know that your friend, spouse, child, dog, etc., who isn't right next to you at this exact moment is truly safe and sound? How can you know that you will truly stay away from a certain addictive substance or behavior for the rest of your life? How can you be sure that you will live to be 60? Etc. etc. Can you honestly look at any of these questions and answer them with absolute (i.e. 100%) certainty? While it is unlikely, your hypothetical wife--whom you just said goodbye to this morning as she left for work--may have had an unexpected heart attack, or gotten in a fatal car accident, or was murdered by someone on her way to work. How about true, complete sobriety? The only way to really know the answer to that question is to live your life until your last breath.

    Suffering from OCD doesn't mean that you will be constantly grappling with uncertainty in every domain of your life. It'll be limited to a few domains, be it about germs and the possibility of death/infection, worrying about whether or not you hit someone or something with your car, is your door actually locked or not, whether or not you are feeling the "right" feeling for a certain situation, etc. But the root of most OCD symptoms is the intellectual and emotional uncertainty of "what if". Here, intellectual refers to our ability to question any aspect of our lives, and emotional refers to our feelings about unpredictable events. Now normally, people take their feeling of certainty as such, but what most people don’t realize is that what they experience as a certainty is not a fact, but a feeling. We come to believe that this feeling of certainty is a fact. But this feeling of certainty does not represent factual reality. It represents a probability and not necessarily a high one. The same applies to uncertainty. We experience it as an emotion (and the accompanying physiological sensations). Yes, we can talk about certainty in mathematical terms, and that is extremely important and valuable for making decisions (both at the level of the individual, but also at the level of say a corporation or society), but from the standpoint of first-person, subjective experience, certainty (or uncertainty) does not always (usually doesn't) equal more objective probabilities obtained through say a mathematical analysis of a large data set.

    Sufferers get stuck in a rut because they try to alleviate this uncertainty by using things like logic, but as the above paragraph hopefully demonstrates, the problem here is not logic or knowledge, it's emotion. A parallel can be made with addictions. How many times have you seen someone clearly and honestly recognize that an addictive substance or behavior is hurting the quality of their lives and thus commit to recovery, only to relapse and binge at some indeterminate point in the future? It's because the areas of the brain that deal with these different aspects of experience aren't on the same wavelength. One can feel severely anxious about boarding a plane but feel completely calm about riding in a car, even though the chances of dying in the latter as opposed the former are considerably higher. If you showed them data from this website (odds of dying from select causes in the US in 2018), they might realign emotionally to reflect these probabilities. Then again, they may not. And someone who suffers from OCD in this domain would be little affected by just being shown this data.

    The reason why we use logic to change feelings is that we are used to believing what our feelings tell us (i.e. we think that our emotions map on to objective reality). You experience feelings of certainty for the non-OCD parts of your life. Because of this, when confronted by OCD fears, you seek to feel the comforting illusion of certainty that you already experience in those unaffected parts of your life. You desperately try to use what you logically know to change these feelings. But pursuing the feeling of certainty sends you running endlessly in circles, a vicious spiral of frustration and anxiety. As you discover, in these circles, for every logical answer there is a what-if (you can literally go down this rabbit hole for as long as you wish, and sufferers do just that). This logic doesn’t change your feelings. It provides you with reasons to listen or not to listen to your feelings.

    Like addictions, recovery is possible, but a complete cure, at least with our currently available medical techniques, is not. I won't elaborate much on this point, but the disorder is broken up into two main components: the learned component and the biological component. The latter is what can't be changed, but the former can change with treatment. The main treatment that is recommended is a technique called exposure and response prevention, which essentially entails that you a) habituate (i.e. get used to) whatever stimulus/stimuli cause(s) you to feel a pronounced feeling of uncertainty (anxiety, fear, shame, etc.), and b) carry out a behavior different than your currently-existing compulsive response to that uncertainty.

    One more little paragraph for clarification's sake. OCD stands for obsessive-compulsive disorder. In this case, disorder, using Merriam-Webster's (perhaps overly) short and simple definition, is an abnormal mental condition, but more specifically with OCD it is an abnormal mental condition that revolves around feelings of uncertainty. What about an obsession? There are two facets to obsessions: what you are afraid of (the obsession itself) and what you fear will happen if you don't ritualize (i.e. the feared consequence). The verb ritualize here refers to the C in OCD, i.e. compulsions. Compulsions are what we engage in in an attempt to neutralize the discomfort caused by a stimulus that elicits the feeling of uncertainty within us. Sufferers carry out compulsions (also referred to as neutralizing rituals, or simply rituals) because they may have provided occasional relief in the past, but successfully neutralizing the obsession becomes harder and harder as time goes on, and this inability to achieve certainty eventually leads to the development of more rituals and the frustrating, endless repetition of these rituals. What's a common OCD behavior you often see referenced? Maybe an excessive washing of the hands? From a third-person perspective, you might think, "How many times does this person have to wash their hands? This is excessive." But for the sufferer, internally they are feeling pronounced discomfort that they hope to alleviate by repeating this behavior over and over again until it leads to the desired effect. Unfortunately, it usually doesn't. One OCD behavior I used to have (it may sound silly or irrational, so please feel free to laugh) was repeatedly checking the faucet to assure that it was truly off. From the third-person viewpoint of my at-the-time girlfriend, this was a completely irrational behavior and she used to get frustrated with me about it. But that's the thing. It wasn't about logic or reason, it was about a feeling. Thankfully, that is one problem I don't have anymore, although I will once in a blue moon exhibit that behavior, but even then I can catch myself after only one repetition of the action. The biological component is still there, but I successfully treated the learned component.

    I'll try to avoid going down the rabbit hole of semantics, but I think when discussing a given topic (outside of a casual or merely conversational context), it is important to have a relatively clear definition for what a word is. Compulsion in the English vernacular (i.e. common, everyday use) doesn't have a more rigid, strict definition, and it shouldn't. But when talking about say the difference between addictions and a compulsion within the context of OCD, I think it is very important to clearly make a distinction between the two. The latter has to do with a dysfunctional response to the feeling of uncertainty (usually in the form of fear or anxiety, but it can manifest in other ways as well, such as shame), whereas the former has to do with structural change in your reward center that impairs its ability to function (i.e. it disrupts your ability to healthily deal with and manage motivation, reward and desire). Experientially, it may be difficult to parse at times, but conceptually the difference is quite clear. And there can be an overlap between the two. You might engage in an addictive substance or behavior in an attempt to relieve the discomfort caused by uncertainty, and over time create enough structural change in your reward circuit to become addicted as well. Or, you might develop an addiction (which has four fundamental brain changes: sensitization, desensitization, hypofrontality, and a malfunctioning stress system), which in turn creates withdrawal symptoms that could manifest as OCD-like symptoms (or other symptoms for that matter). I have read accounts of people who thought they had OCD or ADHD as primary symptoms (i.e. a symptom of their underlying, default neurophysiology, and not as a result of some other primary symptom), only to realize that they faded away over time as they recovered from their addictive substance/behavior. In other words, these perceived disorders were actually secondary symptoms of their addiction.

    Finally, I do think it is also important to try and distinguish between being compulsive and being meticulous. In the English language (or at the very least American English; I don't want to incriminate the British, Australians, New Zealanders, etc., haha), there is a tendency to refer to fastidious behaviors in the pejorative, using words like OCD (incorrectly might I add) or anal-retentive. The example you mentioned about keeping track of your PMO habits could be an example of one or the other, or both. Perhaps this too is difficult to parse, but one approach would be to reflect on whether or not you are carrying out a behavior in an attempt to quell discomfort caused by a relentless feeling of uncertainty or because you have a goal in mind that you want to fulfill and that requires paying attention to the details and expending consistent energy to fulfill it. I mean, if you want to get a degree/certification, if you want to reduce your weight or gain muscle mass, if you want to accrue wealth, etc., paying attention to the details and repeatedly trying hard is important. Some may say that's too much, but isn't that for you to decide? If I want to get a PhD in astrophysics, unless I'm exceptionally gifted (and even then..?) it's going to require considerable effort over the long term. If I want to gain muscle mass but have an exceptionally fast metabolism, or if I want to shed excess fat but have an exceptionally slow metabolism, I'm going to have put in the time, attention, and effort to do so. For most of my struggle with this addiction, I didn't keep any logs, and basically stayed frozen in place, treading water and ultimately going nowhere. Having developed a habit of keeping track of the details and changing my approach accordingly has led to changes that just weren't coming to fruition in the past, in spite of all the time, energy, and focus I invested in the project. It's up to you to be the judge of your own behavior.

    As an aside, please forgive my excessive use of i.e. haha! It's just so useful.

    I hope this has all proved as useful food for thought, but I also hope that if you do decide to look further into OCD, you do so when you have the adequate time and energy for it. I know you are working on The Porn Myth (I purchased it recently myself, but have yet to dive in) at the moment, and balancing too much on your plate may detract from that. And to be honest, you may in fact not have OCD, and your time and energy could be better directed elsewhere. The only reason why I brought it up in your topic was because I noticed you kept seesawing between whether or not MO without porn was actually detrimental for you, whereas to me, based off what you wrote, it seemed like it was clearly a net negative for you, i.e. it kept bringing you back to porn. But it could very well be that you still haven't compiled enough data (experience) to reasonably inform you about its place in your life. Regardless, keep up your recovery efforts! 20 days + hard mode...fantastic! Anyway, maybe now you know why I was avoiding jumping into the topic of OCD for so long. This is the type of response I wanted to give, but I needed to find the time to do so. Glad I finally did!

    Take care

    @Doper

    I believe other members have mentioned this elsewhere in one form or another, but you really do have quite the knack for creatively analogizing your experiences. Makes me wonder if you ever dabbled with writing as a hobby or passion.

    But yea, that divide between logic/reason and emotion/desire is maddening. One moment you have it all spelled out: the data, the reasons, and the argument for why you should change your behavior, and then, like a thrall, you carry out the detrimental behavior in spite of it all.

    As for alcohol, I think I was pretty similar. A few drinks just never really did it for me. But of course this doesn't apply to everyone, as @Bilbo Baggins demonstrates. One difference between us though is the taste: for me, the like for it was acquired; I didn't like it when I started, came to like it when I was a heavy drinker--even though I would just guzzle the liquid and not truly appreciate its nuances--and then came to dislike it again after quitting.

    I definitely have no intention of returning to the substance. But if this is your number 1 issue, I wish you godspeed with developing a paradigm that leads you to sobriety and the life that you want to live.

    Hang in there

    @Bilbo Baggins

    Thanks for stopping by. Like you, I have had (and continue to have with porn) long-term struggles with addictions, but there were also other substances that I indulged in but never to the point of becoming addicted (cocaine etc.). As for your porn use, maybe I'm a bit too optimistic, but wouldn't you say you are, or at least close to being, a recovered porn addict? My impression is that you have been completely abstinent for quite some time.

    As for your second paragraph, I would have to disagree. We are not all built the same for sure, so there are those for whom such ostensibly extreme measures come across as just that: extreme. But if I never set the bar high for abstinence with alcohol (which I never had to do with say cocaine), I would've doomed myself to an unchanging and surely dysfunctional existence. There's no one-size-fits-all approach. If you can handle alcohol use, that's great. As I mentioned in my reply to @Thelongwayhome27, I know plenty of people who can deal with it just fine. More power to them. I couldn't, and there are plenty of others who can't either. It's up to each of us to determine what is necessary and what isn't.

    To put this into the right context, let's use the DSM-5's substance addiction diagnostic tool. It consists of 11 criteria that are used to determine the severity of a substance addiction. While it is a rough tool, each criteria has a value of one. If one applies to you, you add it to a tally; otherwise, you keep the tally as is. According to the APA, mild substance use disorder would have a score of 2-3, moderate 4-5, and 6 or more is severe. I forget the exact score I gave myself, but it was either 10 or 11. But I really didn't need the diagnostic tool to realize how it was ruining my life physically, psychologically, interpersonally, professionally, or financially. It's not a matter of pursuing an ideal. It's about being honest with yourself about the severity of your problem and working on building a life that can accommodate that. And sometimes that means you need training wheels for an indeterminate amount of time.

    Again, I know people who can keep alcohol in their lives with no problems whatsoever. There's no need for them to deal with a problem that doesn't exist. Jeanne Calment, the person with the longest documented lifespan, lived her incredibly long life and smoked a cigarette a day. Putting the required luck to not develop lung cancer aside, she was able to smoke one a day and keep it at that. Good for her. But myself and other heavy smokers can't do that. Let's look at things outside the sphere of addiction. I can enjoy eating peanuts whenever I want, whereas someone who has an anaphylactic response after eating them has to be exceptionally careful about what and where they eat. How about meditation, something I champion as extremely useful for increasing well-being and mental health? Well, there are those for whom it can induce feelings of dissociation and are better off avoiding it (check out Willoughby Britton's work if you're interested). How about another personal example? I have a slew of GI problems and had to eliminate various foods from my diet as well as other behaviors/activities in order to live a life not overwhelmed by physical discomfort. But for most people this just isn't an issue (and good for them; I'm happy they don't have to live with these problems).

    I agree that there are people who can create mental prisons that are the psychological equivalent of whipping yourself repeatedly with a cat o' nine tails, wounding themselves with feelings of inferiority, of shame, or hamstringing themselves with comparisons to others (or ideals) who are not them and never will be. The result is not an improvement in their well-being but instead an increase in (or sustaining of) their suffering. There are also those that create a different kind of mental prison. One where they repeat the same mistakes over and over again, justifying the status quo to themselves because their current internal landscape is how they think things are or should be. Immutable, so why bother? There's a narrative of their lives that's been on loop for who knows how long, and nothing's going to change that, so why try? I can't speak for you, but I've experienced the ills of both.

    I think what is important is to avoid pathological mindsets like those mentioned above, but also be honest with ourselves about our lifestyle, decisions, behaviors, and the overall impact they are having on our lived experience. If I were to narrowly focus on the topic of substance use, I could say that (as I mentioned here and elsewhere) alcohol was a problem for me whose only real solution was elimination, whereas marijuana was something where my use was dysfunctional but not unequivocally linked to living a worse life: I was able to change my relationship with the substance and switch it from a net negative to a net positive. @Thelongwayhome27 seems to be the opposite. Weed has no place in his life, but maybe alcohol does. That's something that he has (ostensibly; I'm not him after all so I can only use his posts as reference) come to understand. If I were to make a blanket statement and suggest to him that he is just being too hard on himself and comparing himself to an impossible ideal, and that he should just be like me and work it into his life by doing X, Y, Z, I think I'd be doing him a great disservice. I could push the point further: Who knows?, with sufficient time and experimentation, he might someday get his marijuana use under control...but does it really matter? Is getting high that important of an experience? If I couldn't use it a healthy way, I would want it out of my life as well. I like the experience and access to it, but if my use was dooming me to dysfunction (or the risk of balancing it was just too high), I'd work on eliminating it as well, in spite of the fact that I would no longer have access to that experience. In his words, he was using weed to create, "a habit for getting stoned and escaping [his] life."

    Which brings me to the point you made about withdrawing from life. Wouldn't you put using a substance to escape life under the umbrella of withdrawing from life? But let me not speak for him, I'll try to tackle that point from the standpoint of my own lived experience. While there was an extended period of recovery where I had to be more on guard with certain aspects of my life with respect to drinking (as the reward center of my brain--which is just as much a part of me and my experience as the other parts of my brain--had been physically restructured through prolonged use of the substance), the end result was that I was able to loosen up those restrictions as my brain was given the time necessary for it to heal. The only restriction I have now is a simple one: don't drink. I can be in a bar, I can have alcohol in the house, I can buy it for others, etc. (as a quick aside, if anyone reading this has been dry for a long time but still has these safeguards in place and that is what works for you, I understand; do what you think is necessary). Which is fine with me. There are plenty of other healthy habits, hobbies, experiences, etc., that I can insert in its place. I mean, life is finite, and every choice we make is an opportunity cost. If you are spending time learning about math, that's less time you have to learn about physics, or history, or economics. If I am practicing how to play piano, that's less time I have to practice freestyling, dancing, or painting. If I am getting better and better at running, that's less time for swimming, lifting weights, or meditating. And so on and so on. This may not have been what you were getting at however, so please feel free to clarify if that's the case.

    What's more, even though I needed to completely remove alcohol to function as an adult, it wasn't a matter of simply eliminating it and that was that. It was a process of many years--with plenty of ups and down--that ultimately led to me being clean for well over two years and into the present. Definitely not an unattainable goal. Difficult no doubt, but not what I'd call unattainable (although if I were to have a time machine and go back and meet versions of my past self, they definitely would have tried to argue otherwise). I think there is also another point to be made about the journey vs. the destination here. Even if you don't ever reach complete sobriety, there are examples of people who considerably reduce their use and recognize that their life is better because of it (I know someone on this forum who has made that specific claim with respect to porn, and I too have noticed the positive effects of reduction). I could use another personal example: my GI pain and discomfort. There were various foods I had to say farewell to. Moreover, I have to open up a pocket of time after eating and before lying down horizontally to go to bed or else risk suffering esophageal spasms in the middle of the night (and when they are bad, they are truly terrible; incredible pain and discomfort, no exaggeration there). I can't ride roller coasters anymore. If I wanted to go skydiving again, too bad. And so on. These are all things I had to work on being more consistent with over the course of about a decade. And there is still room for improvement. While I have finally been successful at removing coffee from my life, I still oscillate between caffeine consumption and abstention. It's still a work in progress, and that's ok. Things are better than they used to be, and there's still room for change.

    But I hope you don't interpret the above as me trying to negate your experience or disqualify your perspective. If the goal of complete abstention truly is debilitating, unhealthy or limiting for you in the overall, then that's how it is right?

    Wishing you the best of luck with living a more fulfilling life both now and in the future, whatever that entails. It's great reading that your dark days are in the past, you are experiencing improved sexual function, and that you are feeling more emotionally stable. Whatever it is you're doing, keep it up.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2021
  6. Bilbo Baggins

    Bilbo Baggins Well-Known Member

    Good post. I guess we have to figure out for ourselves what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes, I have the feeling that my worries about my consumption are actually worst than the actual effects of my consumption, at least with certain substances. Of course, abstinence is the best scenario, at least for addicts. Moderation is also a good thing when it’s possible to achieve it. And abuse is obviously bad for us. Gotta stay away from it as much as possible.

    Congratulations to you for all the substances you’ve managed to stop using, it really is an accomplishment.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2021
  7. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Hey thanks for your remarks about my issues with weed and alcohol. Yeah, weed is probably the most dangerous and problematic for me. But alcohol as well I need to monitor very closely. Right now I'm allowing myself a casual drink, say if I visit my parents (and I'll share a beer with my dad for example). Or if I'll toast to something. Right now, because of Covid, there are no occasions to really test my resolve in terms of ''social drinking''. That's where things could get problematic for me, once again. I could implement a rule such as one beer then non alcoholic beer(s). And if I don't respect that then I should perhaps go back to what I did for a full year (complete sobriety from alcohol except for non alcoholic beers). But weed indeed, after the way I relapsed in the habit in August-September 2020, and how incredibly unhealthy my relationship to it is - I should to my best not touch it anymore. To simply and totally let it go (love this expression). Good luck, to you as well, with your ongoing efforts to stay off alcohol. I think you are doing yourself a great service.

    Thanks as well for the stuff on OCD (very well written and with a lot of info). Quite the lecture ;). I think you are correct when you say that I probably talk of OCD (and compulsions) in a more vernacular way and that I also used the OCD example of me taking logs of my PMO in a ''day to day'' kind of way of saying it (toned down) - as opposed to the clinical version of it.

    I think I do have a tendency for OCD. It would probably be more the pure-o (mental obsession) type. As I was saying, when I read books, I have a strong tendency to go over and over some passages (as if I'll better understand that phrase).

    This part does seem slightly similar, in a way, to addiction. As long as we see addiction as a way to manage some internal states.

    But you do make a good/interesting way of differentiating the two (OCD compulsion and addiction) here below :
    I think this whole paragraph brings some interesting points in thinking about OCD and addiction and a possible overlapping of both.

    Perhaps addiction can happen also when the compulsion of choice, in order to alleviate the Obsession, happens to be an action that produces a lot of dopamine (eating for some, sexual activity for others including PMO).

    In any case - I think that the anxiety when it comes to life's uncertainty can happen in addiction as well - as many addicts are people who are to a certain degree neurotic, stressed out (have trouble relaxing) and often have underlying issues that have a link to anxiety. So addicts will manage that anxiety with a substance or a behavior. But when it comes to a behavior ... then you come even closer to OCD I find ...

    Another element can be that when once wants to quit, he may develop an OCD tendency around his quitting attempts - the counting, the stats, the colors, the tables, the graphs - while surely helpful - can also have a certain effect of trying to alleviate the big uncertainty when it comes to trying to stop an addiction. We all know the BIG psychological suffering this process can bring - with relapses - and then all the counting and stuff, the tables - though helpful - will for some help alleviate that anxiety. Hence it can cause OCD to increase in some or start developing (as anxiety was already a predisposition). This may be why many report things getting more messed up once they try to quit. Sometimes the addiction gains power through these mental challenges, that at least resemble OCD.

    I've noted down the book recommendation for OCD and that's definitely the first one I'll go to when/if I want to truly explore what OCD is.
     
    NewStart19 likes this.
  8. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Overall, things have been both tough and good. The tough part primarily consists of the incredible urges and withdrawals experienced treading the path of acute recovery. The good part is that I have been maintaining and then some (read expanding) with my daily life and its activities.

    I logged in today to remain accountable. I relapsed yesterday, relatively within my new normal for session duration, and no porn was involved. I definitely felt worse today and got off to a late start because of what happened, but I kicked in to gear and have been working through the day pretty steadily, which is great. Not too worried about what happened, but I also reflected on the cause and feel like I am even more prepared to continue with recovery.

    While I am still reading my way through The Four Agreements, I purchased a replacement copy of Wack: Addicted to Internet Porn and started reading through it again (read about 1/6). It's great to touch base again with some of the essentials, especially because of how it coincides with what I am going through. Once that quick (re)read is over, I'll jump into Matt Fradd's The Porn Myth, and then either dive into Atomic Habits or The Brain That Changes Itself. I haven't decided the order quite yet. My current events reading hobby is a work in progress, but I have almost made my way through two issues, i.e. I am about a half week behind the current issue. There's plenty more to say, but I'll leave it at that for now.

    @Bilbo Baggins

    Thanks for the congratulations, I appreciate it.

    Yea, a big part of this journey is learning more about yourself and what works and what doesn't. I've changed various aspects of my life for the better in my quest to overcome this addiction. I am not there yet, and that's fine. Little by little these improvements/changes are helping me change the tide. I'm getting better at being patient. I'm grateful.

    @Thelongwayhome27

    Social drinking was a particularly difficult point to deal with for me, since a big part of my socializing was drinking. That being said, the first year I quit, I was pretty isolated socially, so one upside of that was that I didn't have to think about it as much (that being said, if the situation was different, I still would've declined any invitations to drink; I knew what recovery for me was with respect to alcohol). Now I'm fine with it, but since I don't drink it's not all that interesting. If you've been the only sober person around a bunch of drunk people, in my experience it isn't much fun (although I had had this experience before quitting).

    Haha, it did take a lot of time and energy out of my day to make that post, but I had wanted to share that information with you for a month or two, and I am glad I was finally able to do so. Check that off the list so to speak.

    Compulsions (within the context of OCD) are interesting. A lot of people picture behavioral compulsions (e.g. excessive washing of the hands, checking the door over and over again to see if it is locked etc.) when they call to mind OCD compulsions, but they can be completely mental as well. Even if one were not to have the disorder, I recommend the book (assuming you have the time) as it really gives you a better understanding of the human mind with respect to certainty/uncertainty and how they feel. Like I mentioned, what distinguishes a sufferer from a non-sufferer is degree and interference, but non-sufferers will experience obsessions and compulsions around uncertainty at various points in their lives, so having a grasp on how to manage it all can be useful for them too.

    Yea, I tried touching upon it to some degree in my post, but there can be an overlap between the two. But that in some ways is a trite statement, as we can find examples of overlap between many different aspects of experience. What matters most is getting better at discerning how these various factors affect us individually and acquiring and refining the tools required to become healthier, more resilient, more competent, etc.

    Take care
     
  9. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Sorry to hear of the recent relapse but props for coming here to be accountable about it. Although I sometimes ask myself what's the point of that, I think that more often then not, coming to touch base on here and admitting a relapse occurs is congruent with the path of ongoing recovery (this being said, sometimes it can really be a solution to take some time off).

    The fact that you did not slip to P and that perhaps it was not a huge timeframe binge is encouraging as well.

    That's quite a reading list you've got for yourself ! I actually read The Four Agreements last summer.

    Yeah you've definitely given me some deeper insights about OCD so thanks again. As you say, I'm sure that learning about it can be of use to even non-clinical OCD sufferers. More so to people who have OCD tendencies. So most probably can be of some use to many addicts lol !

    Keep strong !
     
    NewStart19 and Gil79 like this.
  10. Gil79

    Gil79 Seize the day

    Too bad about the relapse, but you seem to have a good base to continue to move upwards!
     
    NewStart19 likes this.
  11. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Still in the saddle. I did make some poor, but understandable, decisions over the last week or two that have affected my sleep schedule. Thankfully, it's proving relatively resistant due to my consistent and concerted effort of working on my unhealthy relationship to sleep (for over 1 year might I add). But it isn't invulnerable, it isn't even strong per se. It's kind of strong, and I need to respect that.

    What's more, relapses don't help, and both today and yesterday morning saw me waking up with heavy lethargy and depression (no mental component; that's just the state I am in upon awakening; it'd be incredible/fascinating if I wasn't the one experiencing it all). It felt like I was living on a planet with different gravity with how hard it feels getting out of bed! And yet my better sleep schedule is still a part of me. I need to keep feeding it and not that which leads me back to life-ruining habits.

    The only reading I got done yesterday was the heavily ingrained History of the World Map by Map. It was about the Revolutions of 1848. But I did finish another project I have been working on and off with for many months. It's done!

    @Thelongwayhome27

    The forums have their upsides and downsides, something I--and various other members--have or had struggled with. I think I have more or less hit my stride with using them though. One healthy way of using them for me is, when I feel I have the time, remaining accountable. I think many who post on the forums are those who can't or feel like they can't open up with others in their actual lives about their addiction. Addiction a lot of times is a disease that festers in isolation. So when I am honest about what happened with someone, anyone, it feels like what happened is more outside of my head, almost like an objective fact, so it's more difficult to rationalize, deceive, pretend that it didn't happen etc. We'll see how I respond, learn or improve, but remaining accountable helps safeguard me from a lot of the internal bullshit I feed myself that doesn't help me grow more competent at dealing with this problem. Talk about coprophagous haha! I'm done with that though.

    Yea, I still am steadfast: I know that ultimately recovery for me means no porn AND no masturbation, and there will be a time where the last time is the last time. But one pillar of recovery that has been really helpful for me is focusing more on where I am improving, and consistently reducing as much as possible. It just makes all of it more conquerable in the long run.

    I mentioned this earlier, but I try to stay out of others topics (one reason I mentioned is that I am not far enough along on the path of recovery to feel okay giving others advice; another is that sometimes people's threads are a very personal thing, I don't really want to step in and muck them up), but I did glance at yours. How are you doing now? I've often felt that you're the type of person who really beats yourself up after relapsing on a streak (and it's not that I can't relate). Have things stabilized for you? Have you been meditating? That's another important pillar that is essential to my recovery (and to be honest my life overall). It helps me keep a kitchen fire as a kitchen fire (when it does happen), instead of letting it rage into a conflagration.

    I think I also mentioned this previously, but I am hoping that at least one of those agreements feels helpful and that I can successfully integrate it into my mindset. That would make the purchase and the read more than worth it. He started a bit heavy with the mystical jargon, and I worry that some may be put off by that, but later on he articulates his ideas, some of which hold water (and I think overlap with aspects of the meditative experience). If there was any agreement you found useful, let me know if you have the time or energy. Otherwise no pressure.

    @Gil79

    Oh damn! Long time no see (or perhaps long time no read). It's great to hear from you! Part of the inspiration comes from you. I keep in mind what you said once (this is my own wording of course ; )): while you still are grappling with this addiction, things are unequivocally better than they were compared to the you of many years ago. It reminds me that if the last time is the last time, that's great, but there is plenty of progress to be made elsewhere!

    Anyway, seeing you post may have just made my day!

    Take care
     
  12. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Quick post to say that I’ve continued to stay on the path since my last relapse. Yesterday evening came hard with the urges. My entire evening was punctuated with them, but I didn’t engage and of course upholding my IAD cutoff time was a big help.

    Still felt a bit of the previously mentioned lethargy after waking up, but it wasn’t as bad as the previous two days. Plus, I didn’t wake up in a miasma of depressed feeling like the last two mornings.

    I read a bit more of The Economist (January 23-29 issue), so I’m still lagging behind, but at least I’m keeping up with it. Read one more chapter in The Four Agreements as well (didn’t have enough sustained focus to read more Wack: Addicted to Internet Porn). And of course, I got my daily reading from History of the World Map by Map done (it covered the colonization of the antipodes).

    Lastly, I try to avoid watching much tv and shows, but if it’s an ongoing series that I started in the past, I like to follow through with it. It was probably because of the pandemic, but I didn’t realize they released the most recent (4th) season of Fargo last year. I finished episode two yesterday, nine more to go, but sometimes it can be hard to fit them in the day (when an episode is +/- an hour). Based on the last three seasons, I shouldn’t be surprised by any sex/nudity (I think the third season had a goofy scene, but the characters weren’t nude, it was short, and the two characters weren’t actually having sex; sorry for the spoilers ; ) ). It’s nice to have a bit of story infused into my life though. Don’t get me wrong, the knowledge and skills one can acquire to develop themselves from reading non-fiction is incredible, and I am glad I am tackling making this a habit. I think my time is well spent in this arena. But a bit of fiction here and there is definitely refreshing. This led me to look into when the next SOIAF book is coming out, but it looks as if the author still isn’t releasing it any time soon. That’s fine. His books can be quite long and I probably didn’t have the time to squeeze it in anyway.

    Aside from that, not much else happened (aside from the usual work and tasks). I finally started using my rice cooker to try out things other than rice. Brown rice has been my main grain staple for dinner, which is healthy, but I want to diversify my nutrients more. So I started with some barley (pearled barley, meaning some of its exterior has been removed) and it came out fine. I have some freekeh (roasted green wheat), quinoa and lentils, so I’ll try them in the rice cooker next. Hope they come out alright. I think oatmeal is doable as well, so I could add that as an option for breakfast.

    What other mundane update can I provide? I bought a usb cd-rom/dvd drive for my computer as it didn’t have one and I didn’t need one up until now. I also decided to use this as an excuse to get a few books on rhythm and rhyming just for fun (Amazon has it all) as I’ve been interested in that for a while. I may never read them, but they were cheap and I don’t mind having them around.

    I’ve also been considering adding a weekly hobby of hiking/walking in new areas I’ve never been to before. I’ve been pretty good at upholding what has been asked of citizens during the pandemic, but the cabin fever can get pretty bad at times, and I want to have a consistent activity that gets me outside more. I’ll still mask up and practice social distancing etc., but I think this’ll be a good habit to add to my life: more time outside and increased physical activity. I have a decent camera, but it’s a little old. Hopefully, I’ll remember to bring it with me tomorrow when I go to my first destination. If it works ok, I’ll try and share some pictures, but no promises haha.

    I also should go to the dentist. It’s been too long and my teeth are starting to ache a bit, and it’s recurring to a moderate degree. Again, this is something I’ve been avoiding because of the pandemic, but it’s up to me to look into the options and figure something out. Hope I don’t have any cavities, but I definitely have some plaque that needs to be removed.

    It’s great to have hobbies, things to do, improvements to make, skills to build, and other things to explore during recovery. The idle-hands difficulty can be a big snagging point for me, and the increased isolation and time inside caused by the pandemic amplifies this. I will meet a friend for the first time in a while around two weeks from now, so I’m looking forward to that. Hope to hear about the changes in his life and the experiences he’s had since I last saw him (something around 6-8 months ago). I definitely want to expand my social network or become more involved in some communities face-to-face, but the pandemic’s continuance means I’ll have to leave that on the back burner.

    Take care
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2021
  13. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Yeah the isolation that comes with all the measures of the pandemic is an additional challenge. I think it's true that the opposite of addiction is connection. Beyond abstinence one essential element for many addicts is learning how to have healthy relationships with others. All this is now more challenging, though still possible for the willing and creative person I'm sure :).

    I was also at times skeptical of the rather metaphysical/spiritual tone of The Four Agreements. Though I can get into those things, and I'm quite the Eckhart Tolle reader. But I also realize such advice is hard to put in practice at times. I mean, I don't know. On the other hand, it touches upon something much deeper in our way of life, and maybe it's results are more subtle and take longer to come up. Being very vague it can also be applied in many situations and come in handy. All in all, I did like the book when I read it and it gave me quite a change of perspective for a few weeks. Sadly, some of that went away after some time. All four agreements were interesting to me but the one I thought was the hardest to really respect was the first one. I asked myself a lot of questions about grey zone situations where it would be crazy to tell the absolute truth. Agreements 2, 3 and 4 all seem very wise to me. I surely have a lot of problems in my life resulting from not being able to follow agreements 2 and 3. Making assumptions all the time and taking things personally. Anyways, I liked his writing style, he had a good clear prose and he hit upon many things pretty well. Especially the childhood criticism that can hinder us later on. I certainly don't regret having fell upon the book. And I agree with you that it ties in well with the practice and spirit of meditation.

    Thanks for asking about how I'm doing. I've updated my journal but to say it briefly I've been staying sober since my relapse Wednesday. I think I'm doing a bit better since then. I also meditate yes, daily. Usually twice a day.

    Glad to hear you have been staying on track as well. Keep going !
     
  14. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    @Thelongwayhome27

    Thanks for replying. I want to turn off my computer soon, so this will be a short post (insofar as that adjective can apply to something I write ; ) ).

    I appreciate you taking some time to give me your take on the book. So far, I think I mostly resonate with what you wrote.

    I read the first agreement yesterday, and there are definitely some key points--dare I say wisdom--that I encountered. Simple but important. Our spoken word (he analogizes it to a spell (or curse, depending on what you're saying)) can be like a "seed" that, regardless of our intent, can find its way into the mind of another and take root (he makes another analogy here between our minds and "soil"). We can be careless with this "magic" (our words) and unintentionally harm others, or we can intentionally do so. So what to do? Well, be mindful about when and how you voice your opinion (something I embarrassingly must admit I am still at a kindergarten level with), avoid contracting and spreading the "virus" (using his words) of gossip (and don't let others who carry out the toxic habit trick you into thinking it's right for you).

    But there are some inconsistencies that I think I found in this chapter as well. You probably remember he refers to the first agreement as being "impeccable with your word", throwing some etymology in there (impeccable = not capable or without sin) to explain what he means. He then goes on though to say that here, he doesn't mean sin in the way it is used in Abrahamic religions, but instead defines sin as self-rejection, and he connects this to being true with your word. Here's my problem: if we are supposed to be true with our spoken word (and he emphasizes the paramount importance of truth here), wouldn't that mean you would say your opinion every time (albeit in a "soft" way to take others feelings into account)? I feel the two are contradictory...but either I missed something or he didn't explain what he meant by truth with a satisfying (congruent?) clarity. But hey, at the very least it helped sow some important "seeds"--as he called them--in my mind; even if I don't take steps to work on them right now, I have no doubt that I can get better at filtering/withholding/softening my opinion when in discourse with others, and gossip, well I have heard some arguments here and there about the potential "benefits" of doing so, but all in all I agree with him that's it's pretty viral (and not in a "yea, my content is getting a spike of recognition" kind of way), and I want to work on ultimately doing and contributing to it less and less. There was also an important point of how we often snipe at others, through voicing our "opinion" or gossiping, because we aren't content with who we are (including the less than desirable parts). Self-rejection perhaps? Is that the connection to truth? We deny who we are (good and bad), and intentionally/unintentionally spread misinformation that hurts others because of it? Hmm...I'm merely musing at this point...but I just remembered that he didn't use "word" solely to refer to its spoken variant; he also used it to refer to the internal variant (i.e. thoughts). Not sure. Anyway, I also really like his dream/fog (i.e. "mitote", remember that word?) phraseology (the smokey mirror and all that). It really obfuscates the clarity of true lived experience, i.e. just being. There are plenty of useful, interesting etc. thoughts to get from the "external dream", but (as things like meditation can demonstrate) you always have access to the clear, pristine mirror of consciousness...it's just that that damn "mitote" can distort your vision and make it more difficult to see.

    Other nice points: language is our main vehicle of transmitting (communicating) our internal state to others. It's of paramount importance and significance, but we develop as children in its presence (like people of our and later generations did with the internet) and often lose sight of this fact. Probably because of this, we don't spend adequate time and effort refining how we use language to effectively express our conscious experience to others, nor do we use it in a way to at least avoid lowering the quality of others' lives and at best enhancing it. What else? He uses analogies to better or worse internal states with the terms "heaven on earth" and "hell". This agreement, in his view, can be so transformative that our internal state (i.e lived experience) can bring us to the former, even if those in our surroundings are living in the latter.

    Anyway, interesting read, but he definitely didn't clarify as much as he should, and he also could've provided a lot more techniques or examples (in my opinion of course...whoops, I expressed it again ; ) ). I hope to read the second agreement today. I'll post about it tomorrow if I do.

    Now to transition: Great, you're keeping up with the practice. My life is clearly different with and without it, and the former basically makes everything better (to varying degrees) whereas the latter makes me more prone to fragility, poor decision making, less self-control...the list goes on and on.

    Way easier said then done, but stay sober, and if you don't, mindfully recenter yourself and remember that a relapse doesn't define you, you can always start again from now, and one relapse (or multiple) does not mean you are what you were (and you have plenty of carefully detailed logs to show you that objectively, even if your (addicted) mind tries to convince you otherwise).

    Hang in there. I strongly wanted to bust a nut earlier in the day, but I relocated, meditated for 10 minutes, and thankfully that was enough to regain enough control of my senses and move on with the day.

    Take care
     
  15. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Quick post: Something I was working on in the evening triggered some additional strong urges within me. Lasted 30m-1h. Made it through, but they also triggered some powerful withdrawals. Still made it through.

    Take care
     
  16. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Still going strong. Some urges here and there during the day, but not as bad as yesterday. Had some flare-ups with anger, but I was able to let them fizzle out (relatively) quickly. Today wasn't nearly as productive as I wanted it to be, but I did manage to take the first step with my intended new hobby of weekly outdoor "expeditions". Not the most interesting visually, but I snapped a picture of an anchor and a US Coast Guard facility (couldn't enter it though).

    IMG-2769.jpg
    IMG-2770-2.jpg
    That's it for today.

    Take care
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2021
  17. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Just posting quickly to remain accountable. I relapsed last night, nothing terrible, but porn was involved. Definitely not happy about what happened, but I am glad that I was able to snap back to reality and keep it relatively short. The culprit? I'm going to sound like a broken record, but it was violating my IAD time. But it's important for me to recognize that I am getting more and more consistent with upholding it, and that bodes well for the future.

    I will also add that I've been going through some significant transitions on multiple fronts, which is a good thing, but they have been disrupting my structure in place, and this in turn has been disrupting the quality of my recovery efforts. Currently working on integrating the changes into an updated and structured lifestyle so that I can experience less interference and continue working more and more on sobriety.

    Take care
     
    Thelongwayhome27 likes this.
  18. Pete McVries

    Pete McVries Well-Known Member

    You live in a flat share, right? Can You leave your IADs outside your bedroom when you go to bed?
     
    NewStart19 likes this.
  19. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Decided to share the notes I have written so far from my (re)read of Wack: Addicted to Internet Porn. Note that in the original word document, I color-coded various sections of the notes but they didn't transfer over to the forum via copy-paste. Because of this, there may be some bits that seem strange or confusing.

    Introduction (pg. 7)
    - Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for immediate craving, desire, and motivation to pursue something evolutionarily advantageous to our survival (pg. 7)
    - PMO stands for Porn, Masturbation, Orgasm (pg. 8)
    - Fap is a slang word for masturbation (pg. 8)
    - The journey of recovery is not about hopelessness. It’s about improvement: “I do not share these facts to show that the porn addict’s situation is hopeless—quite the opposite. I share these facts to demonstrate just how much we can improve our lives by leaving addiction behind.” (pg. 8)
    - The author defines pornography (or porn) as any material—written, pictorial, cinematic, digital, phone/chat sex, etc.—that is produced for the purpose of eliciting sexual excitement

    Part One: The Problem (pg. 11)

    Wired to be an addict (neuropathology of porn addiction) (pg. 13)
    - Neuroplasticity is the fact that our brains can grow and change throughout our lives
    - Neuroplasticity implies what we do (or don’t) changes the structure of the brain: “So the brain seems to be much more like a muscle…Both organs react and grow to accommodate the activities we pursue, and if we stop those activities then our muscles/brains atrophy in order not to waste energy maintaining physical or mental potential that we are not going to use.” (pg. 13)
    - Addictions are similar in that they cause changes in the brain (mostly the limbic system); both substances and certain behaviors can be addictive: “All addictions, whether to substances or behaviors, cause similar changes in the brain. Perhaps the most notable changes occur in the limbic system…Habit-forming drugs…are addictive because they interact with our brains’ natural reward systems…Super-stimulating activities…can hijack these systems in similar ways because they cause unusually powerful changes in our brain’s endogenous…neurochemicals.” (pg. 14)
    - Transcription factors are proteins that activate genes and sculpt the long-term functionality of the brain and nervous system (pgs. 14-15)
    - CREB is a transcription factor responsible for building tolerance to a drug or stimulus (pg. 15)
    - Delta-FosB is a transcription factor that sensitizes addiction pathways in the brain’s reward system, causing the individual to have a heightened desire for his vice (pg. 15)
    - CREB wears off relatively quickly, but Delta-FosB takes longer to deplete and has long-term effects (pg. 15)
    - Hypofrontality is the atrophy (weakening and shrinkage) in the frontal lobe of the brain (pg. 15)
    - The frontal lobe contains the prefrontal cortex and is responsible for (among other things) reasoned planning, decision making, and self-restraint—in other words, willpower (pg. 15)
    - Transcription factors exist for evolutionary reasons, but become problematic when responding to supernormal stimuli: “…transcription factors like CREB and Delta-FosB help to make us adaptive to our environment…Problems only arise when our brains’ natural tools are responding to unnaturally powerful stimuli, such as mind-altering drugs, heavily processed foods, or hyper-stimulating Internet porn” (pg. 16)
    - The reasons why there is a lack of peer-reviewed info on long-term masturbation to internet porn: “…there is not yet a wealth of peer-reviewed information specifically on the effects of consistent masturbation to high-speed Internet porn…because Internet porn addiction is a relatively new phenomenon…the negative effects of porn addition are gradual and often not noticed…the effects of porn addiction are by nature embarrassing, and most men do not freely discuss it…researchers…are often stymied by the inability to form a control group” (pg. 16)
    - A behavioral addiction is any activity that releases the right neurochemicals in our brains such that one becomes addicted, including: gambling, shopping, working, unhealthy codependence, and other behaviors that are most naturally rewarding, such as (over) eating and (compulsive) sexual activity (pgs. 16-17)
    - We can use our frontal lobes to deal with a dysfunctional limbic system: “…we are wired to overindulge…We do not have to be slaves to this wiring. We do share the same basic limbic system with other animals, but we also boast a frontal lobe that is far more developed than in most creatures, allowing us greater control over our impulses” (pg. 17)
    - The Coolidge Effect is the phenomenon where a creature, when exposed to several, willing, attractive mates, finds a new thrill in the variety that cannot be found by having sex with the same mate repeatedly, due to it being wired to copulate with all of them (pg. 17)
    - The Coolidge Effect and its (purported) origin are as follows: “The story goes that the President and Mrs. Coolidge were touring an experimental government farm. Mrs. Coolidge noticed that the rooster in the chicken yard was mating very frequently, so she asked how often the rooster mated and was told, “Dozens of times each day.” The first lady nodded wryly and said, “Tell that to the President when he comes by.” When the message was relayed, President Coolidge asked, “Same hen every time? The attendant replied, “Oh no, Mr. President, a different hen every time. To which the President said, “Tell that to Mrs. Coolidge.” (pg. 17)
    - The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuity…characterized by an inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission (pg. 18)
    - The book includes an adaptation of the APA’s substance addiction diagnostic tool (found in the DSM-5), with a total of 11 criteria. It is as follows:
    1) You use more extreme pornographic material than you planned, use porn more frequently than you planned, or have used porn over a greater time span than you planned
    2) You have several times expressed that you would like to quit or reduce use and/or have unsuccessfully tried to reduce or stop use
    3) You spend an inordinate or inconvenient amount of time acquiring, using, and/or recovering from the effects of porn
    4) You experience strong cravings for porn
    5) You have compromised major obligations at home, at work, or at school due to porn use
    6) You continue using porn despite knowing that it is consistently causing or worsening social or interpersonal problems
    7) You have skipped or given up significant social or occupational activities in order to use porn
    8) You use porn in ways or locations that are physically hazardous
    9) You continue using porn despite knowing that it is consistently causing or worsening physical or psychological problems
    10) You have acquired a tolerance and need more lengthy, varied, or extreme porn to feel the same or similar pleasure as when you first started using
    11) You experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when you abstain and may use porn to alleviate these symptoms
    (pg. 19)
    - (Referring to the above) Mild substance use disorder is suggested by the presence of two or three symptoms, moderate by four to five, and severe by six or more (pg. 19)

    Wired to be an addict (neuropathology of porn addiction) (pg. 20)
    - The most common symptoms of compulsive PMO are: PIED, PIDE, PIPE, reduced libido and sensitivity, tolerance, SOOCD, emotional numbness, strong negative emotions (depression, anxiety, apathy), brain fog, impaired sleep, reduced athletic performance, poor skin quality (pg. 20)
    - If you are a healthy male with reduced libido or some ED and you PMO, porn is a likely culprit (ED can be experienced in any situation or just with an actual partner): “If you are a porn-watching man (especially a young man) in generally good health who has lost interest in real sex or has difficulty ‘getting it up’ or keeping it up with a partner, porn use is probably the cause…PIED may manifest in copulatory impotence, in which the user can still perform just fine for the computer screen but wilts when the real deal comes along. Other heavy users may find it difficult to get hard even to porn and need to take a break in order to allow their tolerance to subside” (pg. 20)
    - When the number of novel ‘mates’ (as perceived by the limbic system) is high and consistent (i.e. supranormal stimulation), dopamine receptors drop, and escalation (more quantity or quality, i.e. dopamine) is required for the same kick: “During a session of Internet PMO, we likely encounter more willing, attractive mates (as interpreted by our limbic systems) in an hour than we would in a year without porn or other suggestive media…This results in something called ‘supranormal’ stimulation. In short, this means that we are experiencing far more dopamine release than natural events would normally trigger, and we are experiencing it consistently…The dopamine-sensitive neurons in the brain…protect themselves from overuse…reduce the number of dopamine receptors available to receive dopamine…In order to reach a similar high, we need to find a way to release even more dopamine and fill every one of those reduced receptors than we can, so we escalate, finding more variety in the quantity and quality of the porn that we watch” (pg. 21)
    - Neurochemical desensitization can lead to reduced penile sensitivity and an increase in the time it takes to orgasm naturally: “Men with PIDE complain of taking too long to orgasm with a partner or of the inability to orgasm without using their own hands. Aside from being desensitized neurochemically, these men are often desensitized to physical touch due to frequent masturbation and increasingly rough masturbation, i.e. ‘death grip’” (pg. 22)
    - People become sensitized to a stimulus (i.e. they feel increased desire/urges) due to transcription factors. This sensitization can persist for a long time after quitting: “[Addicts might be] sensitized to porn…this is in part due to the transcription factors that hardwire heavily used reward pathways into the brain, increasing desire for porn even as the sensations of masturbating become less pleasurable. This reward sensitization is likely to persist long after the physical symptoms have been relieved, which is why former addicts are more susceptible to retuning to compulsive use after re-exposure than is someone who has never been addicted” (pg. 22)
    - Porn-induced premature ejaculation (PIPE) is when porn use actually increases penile sensitivity and causes them to orgasm very quickly with a partner (pg. 23)
    - Tolerance is a medical term that describes the decrease over time in the body’s response to a stimulus, necessitating a greater quality or quantity to achieve the same result (pg. 24)
    - Escalation is an increase in the quantity or quality (i.e. variety or newness of types) that an addict uses to achieve the same high, so he/she increases the intensity of the stimuli consumed (pg. 24)
    - Higher dopamine release can occur by pairing lust with emotions like anger, fear, shock, disgust or shame (affecting how use escalates): “…this can become a problem when men are getting off to subjects that actually disgust them and make them doubt their own sexuality…it is easier in a desensitized brain to reach the heights of sexual excitement when lust is paired with another primal emotion in the right conditions, such as anger, fear, shock, disgust, or shame” (pg. 25)
    - Sexual orientation obsessive compulsive disorder (SOOCD) is a condition characterized by a fear of actually being homosexual or heterosexual when the opposite feels natural and right, and this can develop through escalation (pg. 25)
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2021
    -Luke- likes this.
  20. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    @Pete McVries

    A while back, I (successfully) made it a habit to not allow any IADs in my room. They're actually in the basement (or more accurately, the same floor as the basement; there are two rooms below ground: a mudroom leading to the basement, and the basement itself).

    I think the main two problems are: a) many of the tasks, activities etc. that I engage in involve a computer to some degree, and b) I'm (unfortunately in my opinion...whoops I did it again ; ) ) a rule-breaker by nature. If my sleep is out of whack, that can also contribute to the problem, as waking up later in the day means I have less time available before the cutoff to work, do projects, engage in hobbies, etc.

    It is slowly getting better though. I do notice that I gravitate nowadays more toward upholding it than violating it (automaticity and all that). But 100% observance means I am just that much less at risk of relapsing. So, like all the other beneficial changes I have successfully implemented in my life, I will keep working toward the goal while consistently making change where I can.

    As an aside, is that picture from Watership Down? It's hard for me to tell, as I haven't seen the film since I was in single-digits, but I feel like it's familiar. If so, did you see the other animated film made by that director Plague Dogs? Just curious.

    Take care
     
    Pete McVries likes this.

Share This Page