The Day I Truly Entered Recovery Was...

Discussion in 'Success Stories' started by Joshua Shea, Sep 12, 2018.

  1. Joshua Shea

    Joshua Shea Active Member

    ...the day I stopped waiting for other people's advice or tricks to be the magic bullet solution. I'm now just over 4.5 years sober from porn. I would have told you then that M/O was also an issue, but once the porn went away the M/O reduced by 98%. I was a porn addict.

    I was in therapy for years long before I ever admitted to my porn addiction, trying to deal with my anxiety and feelings of always being out of place in the world. While it did come to light that I was bipolar, and that was important to contain, I just kept waiting for the piece of advice or the pill that would make my life fall into place and I'd become like all of the other people.

    Through my 20+ years of porn addiction and alcoholism, there were certainly times where I was very weak and I know that I certainly did some damage to my pleasure centers by nuking my brain with dopamine, oxytocin and all of those others happy chemicals.

    I am grateful for my therapist. She is an amazing guide through my psyche and has helped me connect so many threads that I finally understand the web of who I am, and I couldn't have done it without her, but she couldn't have done it without me...and for too long I was waiting for that.

    I didn't know about NoFap or boards like this where most guys try to white-knuckle it, or theories like the whole Red Pill thing back when I was in early therapy. I think there are holes to all of those modalities, but if they work for you -- actually work -- then I think they're fine because it's YOU who is making them work.

    I sat in a few months worth of Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings mostly listening to men complain about their sexless lives and realized that the only way you're going to change is if you truly become committed to change.

    My therapy moved in a bit of a cognitive behavioral direction and that started to make all the difference. How often do you ask yourself, "Why am I about to do this?" "What is motivating me here?" "Why am I having these feelings?" At one point in my recovery, I was probably doing this 25 times a day. Now, there is a level of muscle memory that has sunk in. Triggers are hardly a bother, for both porn and alcohol.

    I'm proof that anybody can beat this thing, but I'm also proof that this isn't like a broken leg where it just heals on its own, and it's not like an illness that antibiotics will take care of. It's not a mental condition that a few pills will contain and nobody is holding back the secret that will make you better.

    It's on you. You need to make the commitment to change. It's not a desire, it's not a hope. It's a commitment. You get your ass up everyday to go to work. You visit your family on holidays. You pay your taxes. You know how to handle commitment. You just have to decide this is worth it and once you take control -- well, the hard work has only just started -- but at least you've taken that legit first step.
     
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  2. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    Thanks for posting your story, Joshua. I am long term sober too and like you, I am convinced that a recovered state from this addiction doesn't really exist. We have to make a daily effort to stay away from the lure of porn and masturbation. There will be times where the addiction seems to have been 'cured', but it is actually dormant, waiting in the shadows for when we feel disharmony in our lives. Just out of interest, why are you choosing to post a success story now when you have been 4.5 years sober? Is it because you feel that you have made breakthroughs in a particular way? I am also interested in your mental health. Has this improved for you over the course of your recovery journey? Many congratulations again on your achievement :)
     
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  3. Mickeymouse

    Mickeymouse Member

    Can you share some before and after changes in terms of arousal sex stimulation etc?
     
  4. Mickeymouse

    Mickeymouse Member

    Did you ever face symptoms like no erection, premature ejaculation sunken eyes, hair fall weak pennis, fatigue and most importantly insomnia?
     
  5. Joshua Shea

    Joshua Shea Active Member

    I have been participating on this board for probably about 6 months, mostly in the 40+ category, so I couldn't post before that. Several guys suggested I create a journal, but I kind of feel like I already did that with my book. I figured the best thing I could bring to the table to a larger, not-segmented-by-age group was the revelation that finally helped me kick this thing, or at least has given be so many years of sobriety. I've been doing a lot of presentations to small groups about porn addiction lately and in getting a lot of the same questions, over time I've developed my answer to "How do you beat porn addiction?" I finally realized it wasn't really in the details, because everybody's details will be different...yet all have to make a real commitment, not just wish it will happen.

    I went through a rough mental health patch about 3-4 months ago that lasted probably 6-7 weeks. The nice thing about it was that I realized I hadn't been through one of these patches in nearly four years, which is by far my longest stretch without a prolonged challenge. I can credit that to the lack of porn, or lack of alcohol, or the cognitive behavior therapy, or the fact I'm a nicer person with a less stressful and hectic schedule. I'm not sure what percentage each of those things play into it, but I feel like I mentally more clear for longer periods of time than I have been at any other point in my life. When I really went down and the addictions reached a critical point, my therapist said it was like a perfect storm. I think the way many negative things played into my implosion, many solutions play a part in my recovery. Thank you for the kind words.
     
  6. Joshua Shea

    Joshua Shea Active Member

    It took a while for me to get back to the point I was early in my marriage. It's not like a light switch where my libido and performance flipped on and off. It was more like a dimmer switch where it slowly came back over time. For quite a while, sex with my wife was good, but I had to finish myself off and kind of detach from the intimacy. These days, I wouldn't say our frequency of having sex increased with my recovery, but the quality did. Now, I'm on a handful of medications for my bipolar disorder and those can have side effects, so I don't want to say that my story will be like everyone else's. I was on one pill for a while that allowed me to get an erection, but I couldn't finish. After 45 minutes, I want to finish. So I changed meds.
    I think I'm at the point now where I recognize there has been some long-term damage to my dopamine receptors, or I'm just getting older (42 now) and the equipment isn't as brand new as it once was because I've never returned to that place I was in my early 20s. Something tells me that's natural, but either way, it is what it is.
     
  7. Joshua Shea

    Joshua Shea Active Member

    When my addiction hit its worst phase, in the 6-9 months before I finally started getting help, I was sleeping only about 2-3 hours a night because my porn use was always after my family went to bed. What was once an hour of viewing turned into multiple hours and probably took place 5 nights a week instead of 3. That lack of sleep left me hugely fatigued. My hygiene took a hit and I started making stupid mistakes at work and the quality of my output went down dramatically. On the rare occasion I would have sex with my wife, I'd say there was erection issues about half the time. The other half, I usually had to finish on my own.
     
  8. Mickeymouse

    Mickeymouse Member

    I m 20.5 almost but I look very old due to this overmasturbation. Can this thing get better. I have huge confidence issues due to this. I have no real time erection. what ever happens is just when I relapse to PMO. I developed pigmentation too on the face. my face always looks full. I take clonazepam 0.5 mg to fall asleep
     
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  9. Joshua Shea

    Joshua Shea Active Member

    You should probably explain this all to a doctor. It can get better, but you've got to get help on figuring out what is physical and what is mental.
     
  10. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    Thanks for filling me in. Congratulations on getting a book published. This is not an easy thing to do at all. It takes some courage to share your story , and I admire the way you are not afraid to get up and talk to people so that others may benefit from your experience. It is something that I would possibly like to do in the future, but I fear discrimination the way things are in the UK at the moment. I will check your book out when I have gone through my reading list.
     
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  11. ruggerdoug

    ruggerdoug Well-Known Member

    I came to the same conclusion about commitment over this past weekend. Lots of data points, good and bad, pointed to the fact that over my 4 years fighting PMO I was fighting just enough to make sex possible again instead of being really committed to making a healthy change. I'm 2 days in to what I realize is a long road. I'm reading success stories tonight to help me stick to that commitment. Thank you for sharing. Your story speaks to where I hope to be 498 days from now.

    RD
     
  12. Joshua Shea

    Joshua Shea Active Member

    I don't know exactly what day I'm on, but first you measure in days, hell sometimes hours, then it becomes weeks, then months and now I'm at years. You'll get there, too. We all have a Day 3. I'm glad to see you recognize the need to change your mindset. I'd put my money on you this time.
     
  13. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    Your post reminded me of something that came up at my SA meeting last night, which was that we can only remain sober one day at a time. If you set yourself a target of 498 days, its too daunting, and you will likely fail. I am two years 3 months sober and I don't think that I would have made it this far if I told myself that I would have to be sober for this long to begin with. Tackle things one day at a time and you will be surprised of how much you can handle. However, it also possesses truth in another way that sobriety is incredibly non-linear. I have gone through quiet spells, but the temptation to act out is ever present. I was an addict day 1 and I am still an addict now. Eventually, you realise that the number of days that we have under our belt is almost meaningless, though it is a good ego booster. I can only stay sober for this day.
     
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  14. Joshua Shea

    Joshua Shea Active Member

    Very well said, but I think those who are constantly failing without ever getting to a week should not lean on the "I've only got today" reality that you and I live with. You and I know we can get through today and tomorrow, even if we are faced with triggers. You and I have the muscle memory to get through this successfully. My biggest criticism of these day counters is like it's some kind of contest and I've read too many entries from people who see one day beyond their last streak, even if it's only 4 days as success. It is a success of sorts, but it shows that your tools are not sharp. Imagine trying to build a house without a sharp saw, or with a broken hammer. There are too many people who feel like they can't change their tools or who subscribe to only one modality, like the Red Pill cabal. As I said above, it's great if it's the tool that works, but if it's not the tool that works, get new tools, be it therapy, SAA, whatever... The bottom line is that you are committed. Committed doesn't mean easy. Committed doesn't mean always correct, but it does mean there is no wiggle room for failure, however excused.
     
  15. Mickeymouse

    Mickeymouse Member

    I don't get the point. Why are we becoming so serious about this. I am questioning you. Even myself. All of my friends are enjoying their lives and we are here. I fail to understand why even after knowing this I come here search for answers for my problems.
     
  16. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    You make a good point that the counter is not entirely without purpose. In the early days it can provide valuable encouragement as a means of tracking our progress. I have found that it is too easy to get caught up with the numbers as we progress further into recovery. It is also misleading as counters feed into this narrative that addiction can be cured in a set number of days, but sadly it doesn't work like that in practice. Eventually we reach the question what are we counting for? Knowing that I can only stay sober one day at a time is much easier for me to stay sober in practice. I don't have to look at the long journey ahead. It is the same too with the other challenges I face like anxiety.
     
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  17. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    Mickeymouse, I would like to help you, but I don't understand the point you are making.
     
  18. Joshua Shea

    Joshua Shea Active Member

    As I mentioned earlier, I think you brought up some questions earlier in this thread that are best handled by a medical professional. I don't think Freedom and I are being particularly serious. I think we're having a fairly basic discussion of how we got to the milestones we've reached while many others stumble to reach a week or two. I believe what we're saying -- and correct me if I'm wrong @Freedom from Servitude -- is that successfully beating this is about making a real commitment to yourself, not about subscribing to only one belief system if it isn't working, nor participating in a multi-player contest with a statistic counter in the bottom of your profile.
     
  19. Mickeymouse

    Mickeymouse Member

    Gentlemen I more worried about my bad sleep and ed which lands me here everytime I think about it. Life has drastically changed. I m sry for bothering you. It's like some 2 yrs back I was enjoying life. But since I got to know I am suffering from problems due to my masturbation and porn use the life has changed completely.
     
  20. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    There is every chance it might be withdrawal related. In which case, the only solution is to stay sober and to sit and wait. I am not an easy sleeper either, but I have found that trying conventionally recommended advice really does help. I tend to get at least 7.30 hours of sleep most nights if I play my cards right. The key things I have found that helps involves shutting off electronics an hour before going to bed and doing some yoga, going for an early morning walk to set the circadian rhythms. Also use essential oils like lavender which has been proven to make it easier to sleep. There is a lot of other stuff too, but this can be found online in many articles.
     
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