Hi Guys, I figured I should start my recovery journal on here now that I've finally stopped lurking and made an account. I think I need to have my story with this addiction written down somewhere, it's been bottled up for too long and letting it out to others is always the best option - as I've learned. I expect my background is similar to everyone on here. I was just a regular nerdy kid without a care in the world, I wanted to play online games with my friends so I hassled my parents into getting me a desktop pc of my own. At about 12 - 13 I got one, and not soon after I was exposed to P on the internet, and like all of us was instantly fascinated, and began regularly consuming it. Over the next 5 years as I developed through my teens both the frequency of my use and the content, I was consuming escalated, with stranger and more extreme content needed to sate my appetite. Naturally the whole time I was completely unaware of the damage I was doing to my brain, mind, emotional state, and self-esteem. And of course, I was unaware, I had never been taught the dangers of its use, even in sex education at school where they said it has no downsides. I had a few girlfriends over the course of this time, but never had the courage to initiate any kind of sexual contact with them. Not only did I have performance anxiety - which is completely normal at this point - I also had a blunted sex drive, after years of overstimulation of my brain. Even though I had never even had it, real sex slowly became less and less interesting or appealing to me, even though the whole time I was still consuming P regularly. I finally realised this was a problem when I was 18. My girlfriend at the time - who I found incredibly attractive - came back from a holiday about 3 months into our relationship. She had been away for a while and wanted to make the night of us reuniting special by having sex for the first time, but obviously when it came to the time, I couldn't get excited. Completely dead downstairs and the only emotion I felt was dread and anxiety. Needless to say, we were both distraught, her thinking she wasn't enough for me, and me thinking the I was worthless as a man. This continued for another 2 months but it eventually killed the relationship, leaving me seriously depressed and in need of answers. This is when I found all the information on the internet by Gabe Deem, Gary Wilson and a host of others. It finally opened my eyes to the damage that had been done to me, and gave me a sense of hope for the future. Gabe's example - that quitting artificial stimulation could cure me - was a ray of light for me, but it was far from the end. At this point I went to university, and what followed for the next 3 years was a long journey of attempted recovery - using every method imaginable to stop watching this stuff - and the almost inevitable relapses from trying to recover the wrong way for so long. I bottled my problems and emotions up, and tried to deal with this horrific mental disease myself. Using web blockers and depriving myself of computer access to try and kill the compulsions I had built into myself. At university I was alone - isolated from my usual (incomplete) support network, and this allowed my mental health problems to flourish. I would shut myself in my room for days, occasionally coming out to socialise with my flatmates, but I never felt like I truly connected with any of them. I felt I couldn't be myself and let my guard down to be genuine around them, after all, how could I? I had this deep sense of shame and guilt in me, and it stopped me from being emotionally intimate with anyone. All the while continually relapsing. No matter how good the barriers and blockers you put up around you are, you can always find a way around them if you put them up yourself. I managed to have sex for the first time during my first term - an empty drunken hook-up - which whilst admittedly alleviated some of the anxieties I had around sex at the time, just left me feeling like it could've meant so much more. It also didn't make the cravings for P go away. Fast forward to me at 21. Year 3 of Uni, I had a few friends thankfully, but as I could only be an awkward shell of myself around them, they weren't close, and whenever I was invited out, I was always an afterthought, which just made me feel worse. At this point I felt so bed inside - so alone and depressed after nearly 4 years of trying to quit - that I couldn't take it anymore, and opened up to my parents about the issue. They had been able to tell that something was wrong for a while, I was irritable, miserable, and quiet most of the time. They had asked what was wrong but in the past the shame was too great for me to say what was killing me. I can safely say that opening up was the best decision I ever made. They were so understanding, kind, and supportive - they said they would help me in any way they could. I told them everything and finally let all the hurt that had been building up in me for years out, I don't think I have ever cried so much in my life, but it felt fantastic. I could feel the weight lifting from me in real time as I talked. I had them help me set up boundaries with my computer, phone and all internet access, so they could see what I’m up to and block sites for me. Suddenly the cravings I got every time I opened a web browser just went, because I knew they'd see. My addiction couldn't hide anymore. I even got some of my close friends involved too - I told them and they just understood em without any judgement. I was an astounding feeling. So here I am today at 22. I'm 45 days clean - the most I’ve had in a long time. I have a girlfriend again - one that I’d dated in the past during the depths of my addiction, and somehow, she still likes me . I'm working up the courage to tell her the full extent of what's going on with me, but she knows that I don't really have a sex drive at the moment and she's ok with it. But it's all ok, I finally feel genuine hope and excitement about the future now - I’m optimistic that I can actually change my life for the better - in all areas. I'm on track for a decent grade in my degree, hoping for an offer from a good grad scheme. I feel closer to my friends and family, and I’m playing piano again - a hobby that I’ve done on and off for most of my life but never committed to. So, I say again to whoever is reading this - if you feel like you're deep in the hole - TELL YOUR LOVED ONES. They will understand. They care about you and want the best for you. Sharing the load halves, it, and the more people helping you the weaker the hold this addiction has on you. Frodo couldn't have got the ring to Mordor without Sam.