Neurons that fire together wire together

Discussion in 'Ages 40+' started by Wabi-sabi, Jan 1, 2014.

  1. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    I'm becoming more aware of my addict nature as I go along, and how it shapes my life.

    Although I want to get clean and be happy, there is still part of me that wants to mess up. It's too easy to say there is an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, but I have an inner voice that wants to pull everything apart and revel in chaos. I am becoming more mindful of this, although that doesn't mean I can control it.

    Yesterday evening, tired and in need of a little pick-up, I hit the chocolate. Not the end of the world, but I'd started something I couldn't stop until I felt too sick to go on. It began with the cream egg my wife offered me, and then I took a Hershey's bar from the cupboard - one of those disgusting cookies 'n' creme sugar bomb bars. It was hers and I stole it. Again, no major issue, but the process of me dealing with the temptation was the same as ever: shaking, pacing, telling myself it was better than a whole list of other things I could be doing, then giving in with the attitude that the whole thing was pre-ordained. And the process of being unable to stop until I physically couldn't go on was a road I'd been down before.

    Thing is, I don't really like chocolate - too cloying. Given a choice, I'll take candy. And I always try to avoid chocolate in the evening because the caffeine interrupts my sleep, which isn't the greatest at this point of my re-boot. And it gives me breakouts, too.

    It took me an age to get to sleep, and then I woke at 3am following a dream about online porn. Not a wet dream so much as my inner struggle: I was reading about a woman who wanted to be a human Barbie doll who was photographed without her clothes, and - in the dream - I clicked on the pic so I could see it big just to confirm this fact. Even in the dream I was conflicted about this, but was telling myself it was OK because it was a news item. I lay awake thinking about this for quite a while.

    Thing is, alcohol has been calling me back now my re-boot is under way. It just happens that I had a long chat with an old friend in a bar last week about his return to drinking after more than a decade sober - he'd found a sudden interest in wine connoisseurs, and figured that he was OK if he just drank wine, but admitted he drank for the buzz, and possibly too much. I was sipping soda while he had two big glasses of wine.

    In the scheme of things, alcohol was killing me - poisoning me. Porn is more subtle, it taints your soul. It was making me very negative, with a particularly dark view of women.

    I'm not saying chocolate is as evil as alcohol or porn, just that my addict brain is flaring up and looking for an out.

    On the plus side, I'm getting to watch how the process works. Personally, I'd rather watch the temptation battle over something as trivial as a chocolate bar.
  2. 40New30

    40New30 Keep going

    Living as healthy and clean a life as possible does help us steer clear of porn or other addictions, anything that is good for the brain helps and anything which is questionable can throw us for a loop.

    I think it's the reward center that's crying out for a bump, you can always give it a healthy treat with exercise or meditation. Always seems to calm the waters down.
  3. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    Despite saying I was never, ever going to, I've just installed a counter. There is possibly an element of narcissism - now I'm over 30 days I feel good about being a number - but, at the same time, I think it has two advantages: honesty and accountability.

    Telling people how many days I've been clean is open. I cannot hide behind big words and hint that I've been clean for years. I also don't want to have to re-set the counter and 'fess up that I relapsed. I get a feeling of community from it.

    I've just finished reading Bill Clegg's 90 Days. OK, another book about drugs - I'm interested in reading about the process of addiction, and most of the writing is about drugs. I'm also intrigued that, as someone who has been addicted to varying things for the past 30 years, drugs never got their hooks into me - none of them ever spoke to me. I could write a list of substances I tried six or seven times and then became bored with.

    Ninety Days is Clegg's sequel to Portrait of the Addict as a Young Man, and the better book. Portrait is the account of his spiral into a crack cocaine binge, whereas 90 is his struggle to get clean, with relapses and all the dramatic tension that goes with that. Clegg has the spare, direct writing style of Raymond Chandler, which prevents it becoming self-pitying.

    He makes it clear that the only way to get clean is through honesty and being part of a community. They started their meetings with a count of their days sober, and I can relate to that. They also keep clean, once their 90 days are up, by helping the newcomers.

    Early on in this re-boot I thought I shouldn't come here too often, but I now believe that it's the sense of community that will get me through.

    I'm currently flatlining. Earlier this week I started to get the brain fog and tiredness. I feel exactly as if I had a late night last night, smoking weed. Not sick, but not all that focussed at work. In previous re-boot attempts I've flatlined earlier and harder; I can only assume my mental state going into it shapes the process.
  4. 40New30

    40New30 Keep going

    Wabi-sabi, I have found it's somehow easier to stay clean with a counter, with porn blockers, coming here often, and by helping others. I really can't say exactly why, but those things make it easier.

    Jack91, I was prescribed depression pills too years back...and it makes sense, I was depressed. And nobody, I mean nobody, me, my parents, my doctor knew that the depression was caused by porn addiction, we didn't have the data or science back then.

    I was depressed, the pills were the answer...or so it seemed.

    Will those damn pills are an evil band-aid, there is no easy route to beating an addiction, you have to go through the fire to be born again. I'm still dumbfounded at how great I feel after a clean streak, much better than on ANY drug I've ever taken...that is some powerful shit right there. Amen.
  5. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    I have mild depression, but it seems that I've spent the past 30 years since I was 15 conspiring against myself to make things worse, largely through alcohol and porn.

    Possibly everyone with an addiction starts off feeling depressed, and genuinely believes they are self-medicating. And then go on to make things much worse. . .

    And we are legion. One third of all US adults - 78.6 million people - are obese. There are 60 million cigarette smokers (nicotine addicts), and 15 million gambling addicts. Fourteen million Americans abuse alcohol, the same number regularly smoke pot, and 2.1 million are addicted to prescription opiates. Among the illegal drugs, the big two seem to be cocaine (two million addicts) and heroin (600,000). It is impossible to count the compulsive spenders, workaholics, TV and video game addicts and so on.

    There will be a lot of crossover in these numbers - smokers tend to be drinkers, and so on - but it's hard not to think that everyone is addicted to something. Addictions are terrible for your mental health, physical well-being and finances.

    There are a lot of unhappy people out there. Whole nations of people feel stressed and lost.

    The answers to our problems are spiritual. People get addicted because they are searching for something outside of themselves. The Eastern tradition tells us that the answers are all within - our Buddha nature is likened to the sun behind the clouds; it's still there, even when you can't see it.

    I'm meditating, getting some exercise (I could be doing a lot more) and facing my unhappiness and poor social skills. I'm still flatlining, which is less depressive than other times, but with more tiredness and brain fog.
  6. WRAT

    WRAT Active Member

    It is amazing the time, money & energy we spend in order to be so miserable. I think many of us are hurting so bad that we grasp any type of temporary relief. The trouble is it is temporary relief and it ends up adding more pain.

    I wish I had answers.
  7. Arizona

    Arizona All answers can be found within

    Gate gate Wasabi
  8. 40New30

    40New30 Keep going

    It would seem that a life of seeking pleasure rather than seeking to help your fellow man leads to addictions and pain. All religions have been telling us this, I guess we aren't listening hard enough.

    When I've gotten good no PMO streaks together my depression all but fades away to nothing, and I also become way kinder and more functional of a human being. Win - win.
  9. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    We have had the route to happiness mapped out for thousands of years but we want to believe that their message is too simple.

    Instead, we would rather consume our way to freedom. Which, obviously, just makes things worse. I can't say capitalism is at fault, when our society invented capitalism in order that we'd get more shiny toys. (And also that we wouldn't have to watch our children going hungry on those years with bad harvests.)

    I like how the Dalai Lama talks about the selfish benefits of being good to people - they are good to you in return and your life gets better.

    We have a world of choices, but we make prisons for ourselves.

    I posted earlier about statistics for addictions, and I want to add something here about the scale of porn addictions. (I put something similar elsewhere but want it in my journal where I can come back to it)

    A 2014 Proven Men Ministries survey of 1,000 U.S. adults found that "Approximately two-thirds (64%) of U.S. men view pornography at least monthly ."

    That's somewhere around 76 million U.S. men viewing porn every month - who I think are well on their way to addiction, considering I'm a porn addict who would sometimes go a number of weeks between binges. This figure will only grow, as younger guys are viewing more than older ones - 79 per cent of men between 18 and 30 view porn every month, and 20 per cent of this age group view each day. (Guys under 18 were not surveyed who are probably the highest users of all.)

    How many of these porn users are addicts? The survey suggests 13 per cent of men thinking they might have an addiction and a further five per cent being unsure.

    So, at least 13 per cent (15 million) of U.S. men are porn addicts - and this figure could go as high as 64 per cent (76 million).
  10. 40New30

    40New30 Keep going

    I wouldn't be surprised if those numbers were correct or even higher than that. Think of all the misery, dead dicks, and sheer pain that this epidemic is causing, it's staggering. It is the emasculation of an entire species.

    Thanks to the higher powers for YBOP, YBR, Reddit, NoFap...word is getting out, and I truly believe that porn addiction and it's terrible effects will be common knowledge in a few short years. People will know that porn can fry your circuits just like crack cocaine or heroin. Amen.
  11. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    I'm very nearly 50 days into this reboot and I'm starting to feel better about things. Or less worse. . .

    I'm still flatlining, but it's less depressive. I know from experience that the worst part is over, although I am about to face more temptations. Bring it on!

    Over the last few weeks I've removed the biggest source of temptation by cutting down my home internet use. No more compulsive surfing every evening and weekend. I go online only for specific tasks and then switch off. Sometimes I've had the house to myself and logged into YBR - it was strange how compulsive this was, but then I was fighting an urge, and coming here was by far the better compulsion!

    It's amazing what you can achieve without the timesuck of the internet! I've been reading more and generally getting out of the house more, which has included family activities and yard work. I am starting to feel more involved in life. I hope this will become a new habit.

    On Saturday I tried doing push-ups again, for the first time in years. I managed three. It was pitiful. Now I'm up to six. Still pitiful, but I can see an improvement. My main form of exercise, to be honest, is walking, which I find meditative. But I have two gym vouchers, so I'll give that a go, maybe next month (which sounds like backsliding, but I've been tired and unmotivated as I've flatlined, so I'd probably not achieve all that much; it's better for me to find an outlet for my energies when I'm coming to the 90 day point.)

    My immediate concern is working on creating a more positive world view, which I think will involve becoming a more social person.

    The first step was to not listen to 'the voice' - my inner addict who berates me for being 'a loser.' I've found that forgiving myself for PMO'ing has been the best thing I've done so far this reboot. I'm also working on starting a positive narrative.

    I just finished reading Kidding Ourselves, by Joseph T. Hallinan, a book about perception and self-deception. Basically, we don't have direct access to the world - everything we experience is done through our senses, and filtered by our brains. In short, although we may say seeing is believing, in reality it's the other way round: believing is seeing. You will never win a political argument with facts - to the true believer it's as if you are trying to take away a vital part of their self-identity.

    The book details how pessimists make more realistic assessments on any given topic, but end up earning less and suffering poorer health. Optimists make fools of themselves at any given opportunity but end up winners. The clearest example of this is how power changes people - powerful people get tunnel vision, becoming preoccupied with their own feelings, and unable to tell the fake smiles and flatterers from the true team members. I suppose it's how you are able to make big decisions - mostly through underestimating risk. It's something I've seen throughout my professional career: my managers have consistently hated me for observing how things could be made more efficient. Consequently, the better results I've achieved, the more they have despised me. I should have sat on my ass doing nothing but tell them how smart they all are and I'd not be on a final warning right now.

    There is a lot I need to do - get a new job, improve my relationship with my wife and get more freelance work. . . but being more positive and outgoing is the first part of the journey.
  12. WRAT

    WRAT Active Member

    Wabi-sabi, congratulations on the long clean streak. I am no athlete or body builder but exercise has been my best friend of late. It improves my mood and my overall state of being. Be proud that you've doubled the amount of push-ups you can do. Start slow and easy and gradually build up. I enjoy the gym. At my gym I see extremely fit people and extremely out of shape people; both types motivate me.
  13. 40New30

    40New30 Keep going

    Incredibly insightful post, it's amazing how much quitting our addiction opens us up to change. All sorts of change.
  14. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    Thank you, WRAT and 40New30.

    I was an addict because I was frightened of change. My life was this vast ocean of fear, in which I felt PMO was the life raft.

    Now, after only a couple of months off - currently 55 days clean - I'm finding myself more able to grow spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally. I've made more progress in the past few days than the previous decade.

    This morning I managed 10 push-ups, although I'll probably plateau there for a couple of days. My best ever, years ago, was around 15. I'm aiming for 20. It's minor in the scheme of things, but I'm finding a result from the few I'm able to do so far - my posture is improving. Also committing to build a positive habit helps me feel better about myself.

    I also walk for a minimum of 45 minutes per day, sometimes an hour and a half, but I need to work on all-over fitness.

    I'm also working on my self-confidence - I cannot recommend highly enough the post 25 Killer Actions to Boost Your Self-Confidence from the Zen Habits blog. I've printed the list and re-reading it daily. ("By taking concrete actions that improve your competence, your self-image, you can increase that self-confidence, without the help of anyone else.")

    On previous reboot attempts I'd thought it was enough just to white knuckle my way through - that being porn-free would be enough of itself to change my life. I was an unhappy person who was trying to stay away from porn. . . This time around I'm finding that rebooting is a wonderful opportunity to begin a process of transformation. Quitting porn will make anyone feel better about themselves, but it's only by working on this, and getting better at being happy, that I will be strong enough to not relapse.

    I did notice that hitting the internet on Saturday evening awoke some addictive urge in me - my birthday is coming up and I was looking at stuff I could buy. I had all these pages open with cool stuff on each. I felt a dopamine surge and some brain fog.

    A lesson learned and a trigger averted, thanks to mindfulness.
  15. 40New30

    40New30 Keep going

    You're going to find that that fear melts away even more as time goes by...the danger is that we get complacent or we forget that a slip to porn can take us back into the abyss. At least that has been my issue.

    It is definitely true that just avoiding PMO isn't enough, our special brains NEED physical exercise and meditation. Get in the daily habit of these two things along with abstaining and in a year or two you will have a brand new brain that is many times superior. If that doesn't motivate people I don't know what will!
  16. WRAT

    WRAT Active Member

    I'm also working on my self-confidence - I cannot recommend highly enough the post 25 Killer Actions to Boost Your Self-Confidence from the Zen Habits blog. I've printed the list and re-reading it daily. ("By taking concrete actions that improve your competence, your self-image, you can increase that self-confidence, without the help of anyone else.")

    Thanks for sharing. I've printed and read a couple of times. Great material.
  17. Arizona

    Arizona All answers can be found within

    Check the link jack
  18. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    This gem of inspiration from fellow 40+ journal-writer Brandnewday is too perfect not to steal.

    HALT: hungry, angry, lonely, tired. The times you are at greatest risk of relapse.

    I've relapsed many, many times over the previous couple of years, and at all different stages of the process - literally from Day 1 to Day 100 - but the common factor that links them all is being hungry, angry, lonely and/or tired.

    I'm not saying it's as simple as just avoiding these states, because this time around I'm working on a whole load of self-improvement projects: facing my fears, forgiving my porn use, killing my negative inner voice, exercise, being part of the YBR community and consciously working on my self-esteem and social skills.

    However, despite all my gains, I can still relapse in a moment. And if that happens, it will be in one of these frames of mind.

    However, for me, I'm inclined to add internet to the list. Then it’s I HALT: internet, hungry, angry, lonely, tired.

    I was mindlessly surfing on Saturday night, and had dozens of browsers open, and recognized my return to addictive ways. There was no porn, but the longer I'm online, the greater the chance of landing on a trigger. I mean, it's impossible to read a news story these days without some click-bait advertising on the page. For now, I really cannot afford to use the internet after 6pm.

    Now the symptoms of flatlining are starting to abate, I have to be more wary of triggers. I've noticed that this time around I've stopped mentally undressing every women that passes by, which has been a major trigger in previous attempts. I hope I continue to regard attractive women as individuals rather than eye candy.

    I still have to be careful, though. As Brandnewday says, I need to make sure I am rested and nourished, and working at being connected and communicative. (Pure gold, by the way - he says in a couple of lines what I spend pages trying to wrestle with.)

    It's not as simple as just staying off porn - I need to fix my mental state so that a relapse does not attract me.
  19. Arizona

    Arizona All answers can be found within

    Yes. Doozing in front of your browser are entrances to porn. I recognize them too. But there's also good use of the computer. Trick is indeed to 'feel' the moment you could leave it, and still stay just because you… and that's a nice one. Because of what? You have nothing better to do? Sitting behind a browser still sedates a tiny but? You want disctraction from what will appear when you leave your computer? For all of us to discover for ourselves.

    Good job seeing this one wasabi.

    And yes, finding an alternative to fill the emptiness after stopping porn or any addiction, is a must I would say to have the discipline to stop dissolve and make place for whatever you find to fill that gap with. Love, true love for yourself, your family, a dog, friends or a spouse are very potent alternatives.
  20. Wabi-sabi

    Wabi-sabi Imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

    It's been a week since I last posted on my journal and five days since I last visited YBR. I've been busy, that's all - and often surrounded by people at the times I normally visit (I am still keeping away from the internet in the evenings).

    I passed through a major trigger a few minutes ago - argument with wife, immediately followed by having the house to myself. Normally I'd be frantically searching for porn right now, just to piss her off. She basically knows when I've been using porn.

    As she left I thought about relapsing but just as quickly realized that even though I'm angry at her, I'd suffer the most. No, I'm better than that - I'll wait my time and call her fat.

    I passed another trigger in the week, when we visited a get-together at a neighbour's house. I'm desperately working on my social skills right now, and although I was able to talk to people early on when people were in ones and twos, I was intimidated later when everyone was groups of fours and sixes and I didn't have the guts to break in. I went over to the food table and ate, as much as anything so I wouldn't look like such a social leper. Thinking about this brought me down, and I allowed myself to be angry at myself. The inner voice opened up again. Not for long, and I gained control, but I might have subsequently relapsed if I'd been anywhere near the internet alone.

    Anger is a major trigger for me.

    The thing is, when I'm talking to people I can be very entertaining, and I can keep the conversation going. I just can't instigate it for the life of me. I can't do small talk. I don't see the point of talking just to be talking. I can't stand middle class gatherings where everyone is doing the humblebrag.

    Part of the problem was my own expectations. I'd just finished reading How to Talk to Anyone, by Leil Lowndes. Now I can see that one book isn't going to solve my personality defects. . .

    By the way, I recommend checking out How to Talk to Anyone, up to a point. The essence of it is pure gold for an introvert, but it's written as if the author was chatting to an old friend - corny as hell, and with a whole bunch of padding. I'd certainly recommend getting it from the library, like I did, or else reading it online for free. Some aspects of it I'll be using for the rest of my life - particularly meeting people as if they are an old friend (which makes you exude warmth) and to check your body posture every time you walk through a doorway (the only important thing about the doorway is that you pass through so many each day; it's a way of getting into a habit to hold your head high and feel more positive). There is a lot of useful stuff in there about smiling, eye contact, and not to worry about being interesting when making an introduction to someone, as it's the tone of your voice they will listen to, not the content of your words. Also, to read the paper or watch TV news before going out so you have something to say.

    Weeks ago I listed my fears, and I think it's the fear of being dull that's holding me back. Of course, there is nothing more dull than standing by yourself at a social gathering, so it's completely self-defeating.

    It's interesting that I had a dream the night before last in which I'd relapsed, and was disappointed with myself. It was not an erotic dream, so much as whether I had to come here and reset my counter.

    I will continue working on my self-esteem and social skills. And claw my way to being happy!

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