I first heard about NoFap towards the end of 2012. At this stage I was 18. I had just left school, and I was working my first job. I enjoyed having money to spend and the freedom to spend it. I would spend most of my time off work playing World of Warcraft, getting high, getting drunk, taking harder drugs such as ecstasy and of course, watching porn. I loved watching porn. Since the age of about 16 or 17, I had the habit of staying up late on certain evenings, smoking weed, drinking coffee, and edging to porn. The level of stimulation I could achieve in this way was phenomenal. Noticing that the ‘high’ I got from porn was much more powerful when I had gone a few days without, I began to abstain from it intermittently so as to make these late-night binges even more intense. I didn’t realize it at this time, but these were probably some of the most harmful and irresponsible nights of my whole life, and go a long way towards explaining my situation today. I had known for a long time that my porn habits were unhealthy, and would occasionally be overcome with a feeling of horrified shame at the kinds of things I had gotten off to. Although I did not associate it with porn, a permanent sense of shame lingered in the background of my everyday life. For several years at this stage, I had suffered from severe, worsening social anxiety. While on some level, I had suspected, even when I was still in school, that there was some relationship between the crippling anxiety I suffered in certain social situations and the extreme heights of porn-induced euphoria I would reach during my edging sessions, this awareness was dim, and didn’t lead to any attempts to quit or even moderate my use of porn. When I first heard about NoFap, I thought porn was too good to give up, but when I stumbled upon YourBrainOnPorn about 4 or 5 months later, I decided to give it a go. During this period, I was working a new job in a deli, where I was in direct contact with the public on a daily basis. I would occasionally have full-blown panic attacks, and I felt like all of my co-workers knew there was something wrong with me. There is a certain ‘falseness’ that porn engenders. It was as if I was not living life, but pretending to. My words, gestures, and jokes, did not emerge organically and spontaneously, in line the way I felt inside- I put them on as a show to others. My behaviour was forced- ‘off’ in some way that is hard to describe. It was as if I was desperately trying to approximate what normal, healthy people acted like, in an attempt to fool those around me into thinking I was normal and healthy. But deep down inside, I felt like a rat. Needless to say, most people are quite intuitive and in general, my pretence did not work as intended. I noticed that many of my co-workers- and increasingly my friends- perceived this rat-like quality in me, and showed signs of contempt towards me. This made me feel miserable about myself. So, I decided to give NoFap a try. It was very hard at first, and I relapsed over and over again, but occasionally I managed to reach new records- 7 days, 10 days, 2 weeks... I was pleased when I felt like I was getting benefits from it. For example, I remember one day, when working in the deli, it felt it a noteworthy sign of progress that I didn’t feel any anxiety upon serving a beautiful woman her sandwich. Around the same time, I remember joking, and laughing with my colleagues, feeling light-hearted and happy; free from the dark sense of shame which usually constrained my social interactions. That summer I managed to make it 30 days, and then 28 days as I began my first bout of university in the autumn. After a relapse in the first or second week, my willpower faltered and I began to relapse more and more regularly. As the winter set in that year and I began to stay inside more and more, this got worse and worse to the point where I was relapsing every week. I was smoking a lot of weed at the time, which undermined my willpower and caused cravings, and also contributed to my anxiety. The same sense of being a no-good, insincere rat began to permeate my thought patterns again, undermining my plans to socially integrate myself into university life. While people were nice to me, I was so awkward that I made every situation awkward. I felt I was off-putting to my classmates, and their contempt of me was too much to bear. My attendance grew poor, and I grew miserable. I eventually stopped going in altogether. The next year, I went to a different college to study something else. Again, my first several months were characterized by an intention to abstain from porn (and I added weed to this too), and make a new life for myself. I still had anxiety, and particularly feared talking to him. But I tried to make more of an effort to go to classes and talk with people. I also took up boxing, which I got very into. My performance in school was good during the first semester and I passed all of my exams. I was smoking weed only rarely, and I was in the best shape of my life, doing HIIT sessions twice a week and going to the gym 2-3 times a week as well. But during the college break, I left a seasonal job I had been working in the run-up to the Christmas season, and began to drink, as one does over Christmas. Needless to say, this led me to hang out with friends, which led me to smoke weed, which led me to watch porn. I had been relapsing to porn every now and again over the prior semester, but never too often and not to anything too devious. Now I developed a taste for weed, and started to smoke a lot more of it, as well as sliding back into more devious porn. When I went back to college the following semester, everything went downhill. I started selling weed and eventually started smoking it every day, then smoking it all day every day. With this lifestyle, I was unable to resist the cravings for porn. I stopped boxing, stopped going to the gym, and while I passed most of my exams, I failed to sit one, and wasn’t allowed back into college for the second year. That summer, I had an unbelievably strange experience, which was diagnosed as a psychotic episode (the weed was probably a large factor in this.) I won’t go into too much detail here, as this experience was only tangentially related to my porn issue, would take too long to explain, and would only serve to derail this introduction. In any case, many of my deep-rooted psychological problems came to the fore during these visionary experiences. I was forced to recognize some painful truths about myself and reconsider some traumatic experiences I had when I was younger and the effects that these experiences had on me. I had been very badly bullied when I was younger and I realized that my social anxiety was probably related to this, as much as it was to porn. I told my parents about my issues with pornography during this time. I felt like this was a kind of spiritual quest of sorts. Everything- even very small things- seemed loaded with a sense of intangible meaning. My thought patterns were very erratic and I became very excited about it all- it felt like some huge mystery was unfolding before me. Obviously, raving about all of this stuff concerned people- especially my parents. I didn’t want to go on psychiatric medication, but my parents took me to several ‘experts’ who prescribed me a drug called quetiapine. In the end, I was pressured by my parents into taking it. This drug gave me strange dreams, killed the mystical experiences I had been having and also numbed my sex drive. After this, I had a streak of 60 or so days, during which I worked in a new job I had gotten. (Ironically, this job was in a restaurant that was called PornDog- another small, seemingly inconsequential detail which seemed particularly meaningful for me during this period. After two months or so in that job, I was fired and relapsed the same night- edging for several hours. Soon after, I got a new job, and while I tried to re-establish a streak I found myself PMO’ing more and more frequently (although I wasn’t smoking weed at all during this time.) This period in my life was miserable- probably one of the most miserable of my entire life. But, the following summer I quit the job and went to do the Camino de Santiago in Spain- a pilgrammage of around 800km. It was scary for me at first, meeting dozens of different people each day. At the start, my interactions with people were strained by the same sense of self-consciousness and pretence. I found it difficult to just relax and be myself. But, because of the nature of the Camino (each day, you are walking for several hours in the sun, along a dirt road that passes through forests, lakes and vineyards), I soon began to feel relaxed and began to enjoy the company of others. Everyone I met was friendly, and I came to enjoy their company. I found that, in a natural setting where I was physically exerting myself, there was no sense of being judged, I experienced little anxiety and next to no cravings for porn. By the end of the 4 weeks, I felt like my interactions were finally the kind of ‘normal’ I had aspired to so many years before. Not forced, but flowing freely from the way I felt inside. The next autumn (2016), I went back to college for the third and final time. I was 4 years older than most of my classmates and did not generally feel anxious around them. I was not smoking weed, but I was relapsing occasionally. I passed the year, and then during the year 2017-2018, I was relapsing maybe once a fortnight or so on average. This year, I am doing an exchange in a French university, and went the first two and a half months or thereabouts with no relapse. But then, awaking one night possessed by an uncontrollable horniness, I began to fantasize, and started edging. After that I began to edge to fantasy every so often. (not that often- the vast majority of my sexual life happened through wet dreams and dreams about porn.) I wanted this year to be the year when I finally conquered my PMO addiction and started a sex life with a real woman. For this reason, I decided not to bring a smartphone or laptop, or any devices for that matter. I was only edging maybe once a month on average up until recently. But I visited home over Easter and watched porn when I was there, and since then, I have had some really bad edging sessions. (I’m talking 6 hours+) I don’t want to be like this, and I know edging is probably the worst thing you can do in terms of the dopamine pathways etc. but it’s like once I get into that mindset, some dark part of me takes control and does not want to relinquish it. I have a ‘go-to’ fantasy which is quite dark, and causes me intense shame. It is tied into psychological issues I have from being bullied, reinforced by years of edging. Inevitably, when I start to masturbate regularly, my willpower is weakened and I end up going back to this. This may not be the healthiest attitude towards a fetish- but I hate this part of me. It is like a cancer which I wish I could just cut out of my soul for once and for all.. If I had not trained myself to edge over so many years, I feel that I would be in a better position to manage this. If I masturbate without porn or fantasy I feel fine- even fantasizing about something normal, like kissing a girl and feeling her breasts up against me- doesn’t seem to do me any major harm. I always tell myself that if I am going to masturbate, to use just sensation. But I would say that in reality, most of the times I end up masturbating it is me giving into dopamine urges and edging. My fantasy does it more for me nowadays than any porn I watch, although I tend to use them both. I am certainly more productive when I am on a decent NoFap streak, and I can channel the abundant psychic energy into my work, and I can channel the excess physical energy into exercise etc. I like the energized feeling you get from having no sexual outlet. While I am on a good streak, It doesn’t seem worth it to just ‘rub one out’ in order to dissipate urges which threaten to overwhelm my willpower and cause me to binge. But this energized state is precisely the most dangerous time for relapsing to porn or fantasy- I am much more impulsive in this state, and the allure of porn/ fantasy is intoxicating. I had such high hopes at the start of this year in France, and sustained them throughout most of it. I had made definite progress, which has sadly been undermined by my recent actions. Now I am due to return to my home country in 2 weeks, and fear that the neural pathways which I had deliberately starved have been forged anew. If I cannot resist here, what hope will I have to resist at home, where I have easy internet access? I am 25 years old, yet I don’t feel like a man. I have no sexual experience to speak of. The male vigour and self-assured spontaneity of wit I have noticed, and associated with NoFap progress, is gone. I do not even have a desire for real women. I feel like I have been digitally castrated.