Deshi basara: my journey out of the pit

Discussion in 'Ages 30-39' started by deshi_basara, Jan 26, 2021.

  1. deshi_basara

    deshi_basara Active Member

    I stole this post's title (and my username) from The Dark Knight Rises; it comes from a scene that I think is a good metaphor for this addiction (warning: spoilers in the next 2 paragraphs).

    Bane has crippled Bruce Wayne and thrown him into a deep pit/prison. The only way to escape is to scale the walls, but this is believed to be virtually impossible (only 1 person had ever succeeded). Wayne begins training and rehabbing, rebuilding his strength. After several months, he decides to try the climb. He ties a rope around himself, as the prisoners gather at the base of the pit to watch. They begin chanting: deshi deshi basara basara, deshi deshi basara basara! In the movie's fictitious language, deshi basara translates to "rise up" (those of you with PIED might appreciate the double entendre here). Wayne begins to climb, the chanting growing louder. He makes it about halfway up the wall, but loses his grip; as he plunges downward, he slams into a wall and is knocked out cold. In his ensuing dream, he hears his dad whisper: "Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up." (Technically, we only hear the first sentence in this scene, but the full quote appears repeatedly throughout the trilogy.)

    In the aftermath, a prisoner tells Wayne that the only way he will succeed in escaping is to try the climb without the rope; only without that safety net will he be driven by the most powerful motivator - the fear of death. Wayne decides to take his advice, and again prepares for the climb. Once again, the prisoners begin their chant. As he climbs higher, the chanting grows louder, until it grows into a near frenzy. Very near the top, he must attempt a flying leap from one ledge to another. The prisoners watch with bated breath; he coils up, then springs from the platform. As he grabs the ledge and pulls himself up, the silence erupts into cheers. He climbs the rest of the way out of the pit, and then throws a rope down so the rest of the prisoners may escape.

    The parallels to addiction are probably self-evident, but I would like to state some of them explicitly. Before I do, though, I'd like to tell you a little about me.

    I'm in my early 30s, and come from a small town in Arkansas. I was first introduced to porn by one of my brothers around the age of 10, years before I would have discovered it on my own, and I was instantly hooked. I first experienced PIED at the age of 18, when my girlfriend and I tried and failed repeatedly to have sex. This was of course devastating for an insecure teenager, but this was merely the start of my problems.

    My addiction took a turn for the worse in college, with the typical day consisting of 2-3 sessions at a minimum, though often several more. My PIED worsened; in high school it only occurred during traditional sex, but now it was affecting me during oral as well. This led me to spiral further as I retreated from romantic relationships. At parties and bars, I began to self-sabotage if girls flirted with me - usually getting blackout drunk and making an ass of myself. I began to suffer through a cyclical depression, which could sometimes last for weeks at a time and lead to suicidal thoughts.

    After college, I began a PhD program in neuroscience. It was rough-going at first, though there were a couple bright spots. Firstly, I started dating again. The downside here is that I learned to lean on my addiction in order to have sex. I would muster intense focus on visualizing pornographic scenes just to stay hard and finish. Of course, this prevented me from staying present with my partner, handicapping my ability to connect with her physically, while also deepening my dependence on porn.

    The other bright spot during these early years of grad school was that I discovered the nofap community on Reddit, sometime around 8-10 years ago. I cannot overstate the relief that I felt - finally, I had an explanation for my PIED! I had an explanation for my increasingly...unusual tastes in genre. So many other unexplained pieces of my life started to make sense within this new context. Unfortunately, knowing and admitting the problem is the easy part. I was single at the time, so for the next 1-2 years, I would struggle through hard-mode, going through a never-ending cycle of commitment and relapse, rarely stringing together more than a month or two PMO-free.

    As the years wore on, I grew to hate grad school more and more. I did not get along well with my advisor, and I felt as if I did not belong. My depression, drinking, and porn addiction worsened, as I gave up on recovery. Around this time I discovered 2 new things: 1) a new genre that had a powerful effect on me, and 2) that I could prolong sessions considerably through edging.

    At this point, pornography completely took over my life; the DSM checklist for addiction read like a biography to me. Going item-by-item through the list is a post for another day, but here's one example: there were days where I didn't go on campus at all, telling my lab-mates I was "working from home" and spending the entire day PMO'ing. Sometimes I only intended to have a quick session in the morning, but suddenly it was mid-afternoon - no point going in now! Might as well PMO for the rest of the day. This behavior alone hits multiple criteria on the list: using for longer than intended, and dramatic effects on my work.

    This downward spiral plunged me into the darkest period of my life. I began thinking about suicide constantly. I started researching the best ways, and on a few occasions found myself with a belt around my neck, or a butcher's knife at my wrists. In those moments, I knew I couldn't follow through, mostly because of how badly it would hurt my family, but I desperately wished that I had the guts to just do it.

    This was my rock bottom; I decided I had to see a therapist. In my mind, the most pressing issue was the depression, so I opted for the first available appointment rather than requesting a male therapist. As a result, I never opened up to my female therapist about my porn addiction. We (mostly) got the depression under control, and I soldiered on, but my addiction was still firmly in the driver's seat.

    And then, a new hope. I met my wife several years ago, and we instantly clicked. This was about as close as one can get to love at first sight. Shortly after we started dating, I told her about my addiction and recommitted to getting clean. She was tremendously understanding, and with her emotional support, I started to turn things around. I completed my thesis and found a job in a new city. After we moved, I found a new therapist that specializes in addiction. My wife and I got married a couple years ago, and I've been pretty happy in my current job.

    However, it has not been all sunshine and roses. In spite of my renewed commitment to defeating this addiction, I'm still stuck in the recovery-relapse cycle. In fact, I just relapsed yesterday, so I'm back to day 1. Over the past several years, I've put together a few streaks of more than 3 months (6 months is my record), but most of my streaks are on the order of 1-2 months. While my therapist has helped me develop a variety of tools to combat this thing, it's still a work in progress.

    That's why I'm typing this. This is the newest tool I'm adding to my arsenal - a place to journal, an online support group, a place to trade knowledge and tips. I intend to post at least once per weekday (I promise they will usually be MUCH shorter than this), and am aiming for at least 500 words per week. If I sense that a day will be particularly difficult, I'll write about ways that this addiction has harmed me and my loved ones - maybe ripping open those wounds will be a sufficiently painful reminder and will give me the strength to power through.

    I'll close by returning to The Dark Knight Rises. We all start this journey in the depths of this pit, but we're not alone down here. Sometimes it might seem impossible to climb out. It certainly won't be easy - it will require training, resolve, and perseverance through periods of intense mental anguish. Most of us will fall, probably more than once. But why do we fall, Master Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up. And one of these times, the circumstances will all align - we'll have the confidence, the tools, and the support network to climb out, and maybe toss down a rope to everyone else (by staying active on here).

    So here I am, picking myself up and dusting myself off. My climb begins today.
  2. badger

    badger Well-Known Member

    welcome my brother,
    I too hold a doctorate. knowledge alone does not help me in my struggle with PMO. I to have been climbing out of this smut morass for years. you are not alone. hang in there
  3. deshi_basara

    deshi_basara Active Member

    Thanks for the encouraging words, badger. I totally agree, understanding this disease is not sufficient for defeating it. I will say that it certainly helps, though. There have been multiple points throughout this struggle where I felt buoyed, with a newfound steely resolve, after learning some new information. The effect always fades, but I'll take what I can get to fight this thing one day at a time.

    The biggest boost I ever felt (beyond first discovering I was addicted to porn) was when I stumbled on emerging scientific evidence that this truly is an addiction. Before that point, I hadn't fully appreciated the biological components of this condition - it felt more like a moral failing than a true disease with neurophysiological underpinnings. I'm short on time today, but I'll try to expand more on that in tomorrow's post.

    For now, I'll just say that my first full day clean was a success. I had plenty going on yesterday (including writing that long intro post), so I didn't have space in my brain for cravings, and I'm feeling pretty good about today as well. I know I'll be hit soon with cravings (that always happens during my first 1-2 weeks), so I'm making sure to stay prepared for that. But for now, I'll enjoy and appreciate the smooth ride for as long as it lasts.
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  4. badger

    badger Well-Known Member

    good for you deshi. I did not mean that knowledge was a negative. of course it is always imperative to know the problem before we can address it. what I mean is when I used to drink I was very well educated in that disease process, symptoms, progression, prognosis and the so called treatment for it. all that knowledge did not stop me from drinking. you are correct this PMO is a neurophysiological rearrangement of our brain. for me, the crux is what to do about it. my choice. simple but not easy. a book I came across years ago helped me tremendously. it is simple, straightforward and I could implement it immediately. in my case I need to keep things simple. don't intellectualize, utilize is a term I heard in AA. the book-RATIONAL RECOVERY by Jack Trimpey. if you're cerebral like me, I think you will get a lot out of this book. again very simple book for someone like me. hang in there. pulling for you.
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  5. deshi_basara

    deshi_basara Active Member

    Thanks man, I'll definitely check out that book. I'm always looking for new resources. Also, I didn't mean to imply that you said knowledge was a negative, so I apologize if it came across that way. In fact, I've had similar experiences with this addiction, where understanding the disease has often been insufficient to push through the toughest moments. I was merely using your post as a jumping-off point to talk about the biology of this disease and how that knowledge impacted me. Then I realized I didn't have the time to type it up and decided to save that post for another day.

    Anyway, I appreciate your support and suggestions. It makes such a huge difference to know that I'm not going through this alone. Feel free to pass along any other resources!
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  6. badger

    badger Well-Known Member

    no need for apology. not a problem maybe I sounded off wrong. my apology. we are all in this together. daily I rise up to fight this smut and filth monster. has ruined my life. take care my brother.
  7. deshi_basara

    deshi_basara Active Member

    It's ruined my life too, man. The PIED alone has had devastating effects, not just on my ability to have healthy romantic relationships, but also just generally on my mental health. It may seem trivial, but it was a major breakthrough when my current therapist helped me understand the link between my addiction and depression. Up until that point, I had kept them in separate boxes, since the depression was often triggered by feelings of worthlessness and personal failure. Of course, those feelings are largely driven by the addiction (including PIED and accompanying feelings that I wasn't "masculine" enough), but that realization alluded me for much of my life.

    Anyway, another day down; still pretty smooth sailing so far.
  8. deshi_basara

    deshi_basara Active Member

    I started writing yesterday's post in the morning but got sidetracked with work, and as a result didn't get it posted until last night. As a result, it's not particularly notable that my streak is still alive - I've been asleep for a majority of the hours since my last post. At any rate, I'm still clean and going strong.

    For several days, I've been meaning to post about some scientific facts that helped me immensely when I discovered them. I figured that by reviewing them, I can remind myself of the devastating biological effects this disease has possibly had on me.

    In Gary Wilson's book Your Brain On Porn, he outlines 4 brain changes that often occur in addicts. I'm talking literal changes in your biology that can be physically observed - seen under a microscope or measured in brain scans. At the core of my identity, I've always first and foremost considered myself an academic. So to learn that this addiction was physically changing my brain, rendering it less effective, was an earth-shattering discovery. I think I'll post about 1 brain change per day due to my own personal time constraints.

    The first change is known as sensitization: an unconscious super-memory of pleasure which, when activated, triggers powerful cravings. Recovery is difficult in part because, during periods of abstinence, these brain pathways are strengthened. Specifically, neurons in the addiction pathway increase the number of dendritic spines, which are the parts of the neuron that receive input from other neurons. In other words, they become much more receptive to input, and the addiction pathway activates more easily. It's like turning the volume up on a hearing aid. The same triggers that didn't used to "hurt your ears" (like a lingerie ad) are now bursting your eardrums (generating intense cravings). Long after giving up porn, these triggers can activate this pathway and generate a powerful compulsion to relapse.

    I personally experience this through rapid heartbeat, lightheadedness, and powerful cravings. Triggers include Facebook photos or ads (some as innocuous as women in tight clothing). I can even be triggered by being home alone - the mere act of my wife shutting the front door can cause an intense rush. I read another post that has always stuck with me, where the author commented on the absurdity of being "turned on" by the sound of a deadbolt lock clicking. I use quotation marks because I think there's an important distinction between addictive cravings and libido, but the fact remains, it's an outrageous thought.

    Anyway, that's all for now. I probably won't post on most weekends, so until next Monday, so long and good luck!
  9. deshi_basara

    deshi_basara Active Member

    I'm getting a late start today, so this will be a short post. Suffice it to say I survived the weekend and am closing in on a week clean.

    I'm thrilled to report that it has been a relatively smooth ride so far. I've definitely experienced that familiar jolt whenever my wife leaves the room while I'm on my computer, but it's been easy enough to prevent that from growing into cravings. I'm finding a lot of value in journaling on this forum, where my entries can be seen by others. So thanks to those of you that have replied and/or liked my posts - those small acts have been more helpful than you know.
  10. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the well made vulgarization here. This is pretty good stuff to remember !

    It's good to remember that it's normal for the pathways to be starving for some time in recovery, especially early recovery (until things improve later on).

    Well done on one week !
  11. deshi_basara

    deshi_basara Active Member

    Thanks, man. It amazes me how our brains undergo these physical changes; once upon a time, I found it immensely helpful to understand them, so that when my addiction acted up, I could ascribe it to a physical cause. Of course, that wasn't always enough by itself to ward off cravings, but it definitely helped. That's why I wanted to take the time to write about these brain changes - to refresh them in my memory in the hopes that I'll find them helpful again.

    The second brain change that Gary Wilson describes is desensitization, or a numbed response to pleasure. Together with sensitization, these two changes act in concert and are key to addiction. Physically, desensitization is caused by a reduction in dopamine receptors, so that normal everyday (non-addiction) pleasures simply don't provide the dopamine hit that they used to, and we find ourselves craving those addictive behaviors that we know can fill that void. This is also key to the process of tolerance in addiction, where we must seek out larger quantities or more intense stimuli to receive the same hit.

    To make matters worse, our very willpower can be dramatically reduced by these physical changes. The D2 dopamine receptor acts as a brake on seeking behavior: when a signal comes along in the reward circuitry telling us to "go get it," D2 receptors grab the released dopamine and block transmission of this signal. In a normal non-addicted reward circuit, this keeps things in balance and prevents over-consumption. In the addicted reward circuit, these receptors are reduced, so "go get it" signals zip right through, making cravings harder to resist. Those of us in recovery must exert a greater conscious effort to suppress those cravings, because our reward circuitry certainly won't keep them in check.

    All of these changes (including the two I haven't discussed yet) are temporary. Over time, as we starve the addiction out, our brains return to normal. But they all help explain why recovery is so difficult, and why we must engage other parts of our brain (like the frontal cortex to exert executive control, which is basically the act of consciously thinking about and controlling behavior) to succeed. Tomorrow, I'll talk about a brain change that makes that process difficult...

    As I sign off, I just wanted to mention that my streak continues - officially 1 week! Stay strong, folks.
  12. deshi_basara

    deshi_basara Active Member

    Another day clean, still going strong.

    Today I want to write about the third brain change that Gary Wilson describes: hypofrontality. Physically, this corresponds to decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), the area of the brain that is the center of higher level cognition. We're talking processes like long-term planning, risk/benefit analysis, social behavior, personality. Wikipedia sums it up nicely: the prefrontal cortex "orchestrates thoughts and actions in accordance with internal goals."

    Portions of the PFC are part of the reward circuit, and are involved in the actual decision-making when we feel driven to seek something out. Other parts of the reward circuit tell us we really need that thing; the PFC is where we consciously weigh the costs/benefits and ultimately make the decision to either abstain or to "go get it."

    This addiction literally impairs the PFC in multiple ways. Its volume shrinks, its activity decreases, and its connections to the rest of the reward system are weakened. This shifts the balance in our reward system, where "go get it" signals are strengthened and "pause/think about it" signals are weakened. When our reward system is telling us to look at porn, we literally have a reduced ability to consciously resist those signals.

    Of course, none of this is meant to excuse a relapse. But I find this information helpful for two reasons:
    1. It means we have to try that much harder to push through recovery. It's like a scrawny guy being asked to bench press a large weight - sure, this task is easier for stronger people, but we fight this battle with the tools we have. So this scrawny guy has to exert that much more energy to lift the weight, and he may even fail multiple times until he builds the strength to succeed.
    2. I can't stress this enough: fuck this addiction. Seriously, as an academic, it has literally altered my brain in multiple ways and reduced my mental capacity. I find hypofrontality particularly devastating, since the PFC is so central to conscious, higher-order thought. The sooner I can climb out of this pit, the sooner my brain will return to normal. It is just so frustrating that this addiction has kept me shackled for so long. We are all like the characters in the Vonnegut short "Harrison Bergeron," physically handicapped from realizing our full potentials.
    Anyway, thanks for reading. I hope you all find these posts as useful as I do.
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  13. deshi_basara

    deshi_basara Active Member

    My streak continues, with virtually no rough patches. (I did get sucked down a social media hole, looking through photos, for 20-ish minutes a few days ago, but it hasn't grown into anything more. I'll talk more about those types of behaviors that can set me on the path to relapse in future posts.)

    The final brain change that Gary Wilson describes is a malfunctioning stress system: essentially, this system goes into overdrive during abstinence. Physically, this corresponds to increased dopamine and cortisol. Pragmatically, this has three major effects.

    1) The dopamine release activates the reward system. This has an evolutionary advantage, because when faced with an acute danger, we want to feel the impulse to engage in the correct rewarding behavior, like running away or fighting a predator. However, our addicted reward systems have an enhanced pathway for the addiction, which can be inadvertently activated by this dopamine. This is why we sometimes feel the urge to relapse when we feel stressed, even in the absence of any explicit porn-related cues.

    2) An activated stress system inhibits the prefrontal cortex, leading to a decrease in impulse control. Again, this is normally advantageous: when faced with danger, we don't want to be paralyzed by indecision. However, in the context of recovery, a decrease in PFC activity means a diminished ability to fully evaluate long-term consequences of our actions. Since we already have a decreased PFC even in the absence of stress (hypofrontality), this is a compounding problem.

    I can personally attest to this: I've worked extensively with my therapist on thinking through consequences - he refers to it as "playing the tape all the way through." Even with all that work, I still struggle to use that tool when cravings get really bad. In the hours leading up to a relapse, the thought of playing the tape through often doesn't even occur to me. My wife has a difficult time understanding why that is - how can I relapse when I know all the devastating long-term effects? It's one of those things that is hard to explain to someone that's never gone through it.

    3) Stress makes us feel shitty. It can keep us awake at night and make us irritable. It also takes a lot of energy to feel chronically stressed, leading to muscle aches and general exhaustion even without insomnia. It can impact our mood, triggering anxiety, depression, and mood swings. In other words, stress is the reason we feel many of the common withdrawal symptoms. All the while, the addiction is whispering in our ears, "I've got the fix. I know what will end this withdrawal and make you feel better."

    These four brain changes (sensitization, desensitization, hypofrontality, and a malfunctioning stress system) all work in concert to sabotage us. They are the gravity and slick/crumbling footholds that conspire to plunge us back into the pit when we try to climb out. And while knowing about them isn't sufficient for success in this climb, I find that it certainly helps. When the addiction starts acting up in one way or another, it's useful to be able to recognize what is happening and to ascribe it to biological causes. Because then I get angry at it for changing my brain in these harmful ways, and motivated to do something about it.
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  14. badger

    badger Well-Known Member

    as for me, I relapse way before I wind up with my pecker in my hand doing the nasty. it starts "innocently", viewing youtube. magazine ads with women in them, an attractive provocatively dressed woman at Walmart, etc. this is the trigger that starts it all. it may be days or hours before the actual relapse. from these innocuous activities I start looking for harder stuff. this is when I remember to play the tape through. it is intoxicating pleasure for about 5 seconds, then the rest of the tape-misery, regret, guilt, frustration, remorse. feeling smutty and dirty/vulgar. so when I notice these beginning activities, I say STOP. a big STOP SIGN I imagine. it is simple but not easy. hang in there.
  15. deshi_basara

    deshi_basara Active Member

    You're so right, badger, and I really like that framing. I've spent a lot of time reflecting on this very issue, identifying those early behaviors and then recognizing them as they happen. Unfortunately, that has often not been enough; even as I see the train barreling toward me, I haven't figured out how to untie myself from the tracks. I've never really thought of those moments in such stark terms though - the relapse begins long before I'm looking at porn. Maybe that perspective can help.

    My therapist refers to this as normalizing undesired behaviors. I recently came up with another way to describe it: my addiction is testing the fences, a reference to Jurassic Park when the velociraptors "were testing the fences for weaknesses, systematically." It's like the addiction is out there lurking in the darkness, searching for a way to get a foot in the door.

    I've struggled a lot in finding the right balance between lenience and harshness for those insidious behaviors. Historically, as soon as I classify something as a relapse, I proceed to open the floodgates. My addiction rationalizes it by saying, well if I'm going to go through all the misery that follows a relapse, I might as well get my money's worth. The crux of the issue is that it's not binary; these behaviors fall on a spectrum, from scrolling past an ad of an attractive woman and then doubling back for a few seconds (I'm not going to restart my recovery counter for that), to a really stupid one that I'm kind of embarrassed to admit. I'll go on Google Images and search for an innocent term (sometimes it's a little less innocent, like a double entendre). I then find the most provocative image in the results, click on "see more like this," and repeat. This is obviously a seeking behavior, where the end goal is to "stumble" on some porn, but I rationalize it in my mind ("it was an accident, and I only looked for a few seconds before closing the browser"). Like I said, stupid. But this addiction makes us do stupid things. And I should probably reclassify that behavior as a relapse, rather than just an undesired behavior, because the reality is that I intentionally looked at porn. The trouble there is once again the floodgates; how do you guys prevent a small relapse from spiraling?

    It's helpful to report those behaviors to my therapist for accountability, but we only meet once a week. I'm hoping that by posting daily on here, and being totally honest about what insidious behaviors I've engaged in, it will be easier to hold myself accountable every day. I would love suggestions though. Badger, I know you mentioned your stop sign technique; do you (or anyone else) have other techniques to shut it down when you recognize those behaviors starting to creep in? How do you stop the slide down that slippery slope before you hit the point of no return? (Side note: I've realized that the "point of no return" is itself an insidious trick that the addiction uses; after all, I have agency and can always turn back.)

    Anyway, I would love any suggestions you all have, both in stopping that slide and in keeping a small relapse small. By the way, my streak continues.
  16. Swimming in Circles

    Swimming in Circles New Member

    This is a key part of the relapse chain that is often overlooked. Addicts of all types experience an unconscious draw to their vice, and when the relapse chain begins (the relapse process actually starts long before you indulge in your addictive substance) you begin making these seemingly innocent 'minidecisions' that alone might be ok, but once they build up they will slowly and surely draw you back into use. This might seem bad, but it is actually very helpful in identifying if you're going down the wrong path and allow you to intervene before it's too late. I struggled with this for a long time too, it was always 'oh i'll just unblock youtube/reddit/twitter because i'll be bored without them' and next thing I knew I'd relapsed. There's a really good section on this in the book 'Willpower's not enough' by Arnold Washton. It's an excellent book on addictions in general, and really opened my eyes to a lot of my negative behaviours, and how I can deal with them. Would highly recommend.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2021
  17. deshi_basara

    deshi_basara Active Member

    This is just going to be a quick check-in today. My streak continues. I really need to thank you guys - each time I've felt an urge to make one of those "innocuous" mini-decisions, I've heard a little voice in my head saying "relapse begins long before you look at porn." It's been a really helpful mantra over the past several days, so many thanks!
  18. deshi_basara

    deshi_basara Active Member

    I've officially made it to 2 weeks! For most of my streaks, this period is tumultuous, but not this time. I credit that in large part to the time I've spent on this forum and the suggestions/encouragement you all have provided. Of course this streak is still in its infancy, but I've certainly got a solid foundation to build on.

    Today I want to ask for your suggestions in tackling one of my biggest struggles. Over the past couple of years, the most consistent thing to derail me is my imagination. Sooner or later, I get the urge to fantasize. I'm talking full-blown porn-style fantasy, along the lines of some of the most hardcore extreme smut that I've escalated to. Sometimes I successfully shut it down, but more often than not, it keeps coming back until I break. Most commonly, this happens at night as I'm trying to fall asleep, when it's difficult to distract myself with other things. Even if I successfully deflect these urges that night, it keeps me awake (sometimes for hours) and leads to restless sleep. Then the next day my exhaustion weakens my defenses, setting up a very long day where I often cave. These fantasies can be really intense - on more than one occasion (at this point I've lost count), they've led to a hands-free O. It's worth clarifying that there is a clear watershed moment in this process: at some point I go from being an innocent bystander of uncontrollable urges (or are they controllable?) to being an active participant, where I give in and consciously engage in the fantasy.

    This has been one of the toughest things about recovery for me. At least with substance addiction, you can't conjure that substance into your bloodstream; you can't get drunk or high merely with an intensely focused imagination. Recovery from this addiction is difficult enough due to those devices in our pockets that provide instant access on a whim. Add in the big screen in my mind's eye, where I can activate those addiction reward pathways just by thought, and recovery can sometimes feel like an impossible task.

    This issue has cause me a lot of distress, so in addition to your suggestions, it would be really helpful if anyone could share similar struggles.

    Before I sign off, I'm just going to spitball a few suggestions that occurred to me as I was typing this. (Another benefit to writing this stuff down on a forum - it forces me to think deeply about these issues, and it's easier to brainstorm solutions and create a written record for later reference.) Long-term, I should restart the practice of meditation, so that I have greater control over those thought processes. Short-term: specifically at night, I've hesitated to get up and watch TV or something because I didn't want to disturb my wife's sleep. One solution would be to use a sleep aid, then pick up my backlit e-reader and read a book in bed. Another option would be to discuss this with my wife; she has been such an ally in this, that I know she would prefer being woken up temporarily by me getting out of bed to the alternative, which so often ends in relapse. In fact, I'm pretty sure we've had this exact conversation a long time ago and she was fully supportive of that solution. This addiction has a way of making me forget things like that, or of convincing me to minimize the danger I'm in at any given moment. "This is just a minor struggle; I don't need to pull the fire alarm," it whispers to me. It's a clever, cunning bastard.

    Anyway, I welcome any other suggestions!
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  19. Deleted User

    Deleted User Guest

    One word about sleeping pills... I’ve been using them for a while now, on difficult nights, and let me tell you, they work. They’re not good for you, though, they have an impact on your brain, on your energy on the next day, and they can also somewhat affect your ability to sleep naturally if you take them too often. That being said, if rebooting is your top priority at the moment, and if those fantasy at night are something you really need to get rid of, well, give it a thought. Just be aware that sleeping pills are not good for you, and that they should only be used occasionally, or during difficult periods.
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  20. dark red drifter vessel

    dark red drifter vessel Well-Known Member

    No real solution to your brain being the grand old illusionist. I have same issue, sometimes, though.

    So this is "I have no solution but marvel at the problem" department.

    I'd say just get up, get out of bed and go out for a walk. I wouldn't really try to read or watch tv, no need plastering more illusions on.

    Same reason I would refrain from using sleeping pills, but I have radicalized myself more and more into the general direction of straight edge. So I might be a bit close minded.

    But thrn again, using stuff to self numb is what got at least moi into all o this, so yeah, naw, maybe don't?

    Do you get triggered into using as in "world ouchy, me go wank"? If so, find what pains you, look at it, and don't bother thinking about it, just get pen and paper and write.

    Different process than what passses fir thinking in ourselves. For me, it was a lifesaver, like once or twice I mean fivehundred times.

    And if you have to pee, go pee. Sometimes we get caught up in high concept meta bullshit when its just pressure from yer bladder. :3

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