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 Patria--The Full Story 
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Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 4:28 pm
Posts: 550
My name is Pat and I’m a recovering computer/video gaming person. I don’t say “gamer”. As I am more than that. I’m a person who gamed addictively and is now in recovery.

I discovered computer gaming about 1995 when a beautiful, single-player, visually awesome game came out that 4 of us from work played together. The game was set up to solve complicated visual and audio puzzles, which opened up more of the story, and transported us to different unexplored areas. I loved it. We got together once a month for an in-house picnic, and then played for the rest of the afternoon.

At that time I enjoyed the game tremendously. I loved the computer graphics, the music, the visuals, and the ambience. I wasn’t addicted yet, being content to play once a month with my co-workers.

But then in 2002, I bought my first MMORPG, and that’s when gaming addiction hit me hard.

I had never heard of MMORPGs before. But it was suggested that multi-player games had been used successfully in the recovery and treatment from cancer, as a way of coping with the side effects of chemo. It got our “minds” off of the suffering. And since I had just completed a year of cancer treatment and chemo, I thought I’d try it out.

The game worked great and it did get my mind off treatment. However, the game not only got my mind off chemo, it also got my mind off of everything else: work, play, eating, relaxing, vacationing, kayaking, swimming, camping, hiking, playing piano or guitar, painting, drawing, cleaning house, gardening, and cooking, and anything else we used to do as a family. My family life died. All that I was concerned about was gaming.

And I thought it would be great fun for my two grandsons to do while visiting us for the summer. They would have something to do and not be bored while we were at work. They loved it, but so did I. And I remember wishing they’d go home earlier so I could have the game to myself. It was agony watching them play, and having to wait until they left for home so I could play myself.

That MMORPG led to another one, which became my 8-year-all-time addiction. I loved, ate, worked, slept, and slept [yes, slept] at this game. Nothing, NOTHING, in my life was allowed to interfere with that game.

At first my husband was happy I had something to do which made me happy. I loved my job but it was very stressful, and it was glorious coming home to play the game and forget about work.

And I fully intended to keep on working, playing, and interacting with family, and then game in any spare time. But somehow I didn’t want to do other things anymore. I didn’t want to take time off from my game.

Eventually I gamed at work. I played the “cancer” card. “Oh I am so injured, I need this game at work to keep on going.” And everyone bought that. Unfortunately, I gamed during breaks, lunch hour, before work and after work. And even during work. The techs set me up to play the game during work time “if I felt bad,” which somehow I did feel bad every chance I could get.

I even set up a routine to game with an Australian/New Zealand group, and to do that this was my schedule: go to bed at 9pm, wake up at 2am, play for 3 hours, go to bed again until 7am, get dressed and go to work. Work, play game, work, play game, work, play game, then rush home to play game (to get ready for the raids at 2am) then a quick dinner with husband--A little bit of TV to keep husband happy, and then early bed to get some sleep before the 2am raid.

That was my life for about 6 years.

And then real life started intruding on my game life, and husband began rebelling. Husband wasn’t happy and was getting very angry at me. He spied on me, made demands, acted entitled and generally didn’t support me at all, ever.

At work my boss got wise and called me into the office with the door closed. This happened twice. In fact, I decided that I’d had enough of that cranky boss and their stupid job; I’ll quit. So I quit. I retired early. And of course lost a lot of my well-earned benefits, because I wouldn’t stay employed another 3 years.

Now I can play full-time. And I did.

I’ve heard addiction described as:

1. Fun
2. Fun and trouble
3. Trouble

I was now in phase three. Gaming had been both fun and trouble for a long time and now it was sliding into nothing but trouble. I was home and not working and doing nothing but gaming. I let everything go: cleaning house, cooking, and gardening. I didn’t even take care of myself; ate fast foods, pizzas, sodas, nothing but junk. I didn’t get a lot of sleep, and when I did sleep, it was stressful and anxious.

Along about this time my husband was getting sick. He had liver disease and was slowly getting less able to do much. He needed more of my help, so I tried to help him, gaming continuously of course. But I could see that gaming needed to be controlled or modified.

So I tried to control and modify my gaming for the next 6 months; and was horribly unsuccessful. I couldn’t keep promises even to myself. I couldn’t stop gaming when I wanted to. I couldn’t limit my gaming, and I couldn’t make a firm decision to play X amount of hours. I couldn’t even decide to take a night off from gaming to watch a movie with my husband. Someone from the game would frantically call up and say “help! We need a tank or a healer!!!!” or whatever task I was currently doing. And then I would drop everything and run to the game. My husband was disgusted.

But I tried to control it; I really did.

I had been successful—through AA—to quit drinking, and stay stopped. I managed to quit smoking pot, AND quit cigarettes. So why can’t I control a game? Why? It’s just a friggen game! Something kids do, including this kid. We don’t give kids drugs do we? So this can’t be as bad as I think it is.

However, I was starting to notice aches and pain spikes in my arms, my wrists, fingers, and debilitating sharp pained headaches that would not go away. These headaches, usually on one side of the head, kept up all night when I was trying to sleep.

Somehow, I knew, that something had to be done, but I didn’t want to stop totally; I wanted to control gaming more and enjoy it more.

One night we were watching a re-run of a Dr. Phil Show which dealt with gaming addiction. It never occurred to either of us that my gaming was an addiction. So I Googled the website listed on the TV show and joined this fellowship. That was June 1st 2011. I went to my first meeting that night, and realized by listening to other people, that, yes, I am truly addicted to this game, and probably all games. I stopped playing that night, and have since stopped gaming, one day at a time; sometimes one minute at a time.

I went to the meetings every night, got a sponsor, and worked the 12 Steps of recovery for gaming addicts. I still didn’t believe I was an addict—not yet--but the more I listened to people’s shares, the more I was convinced that this was true of me, too.
And the thing is, I only had to work a simple 12-step program one day at a time. What I can do for an hour, a morning, or a day was much easier to manage than “for the rest of my life.”

BUT!!!! The withdrawals! I didn’t expect withdrawals. AT ALL, EVER!!! I had never gone through withdrawals like this from drinking. I had a lot of discomfort from quitting smoking, but nothing this severe. This was incredible.

I couldn’t sleep. Couldn’t rest. I mentally bounced off walls and couldn’t concentrate on anything beyond a half a minute or two. I couldn’t read, watch TV (for more than 15 minutes or less), and was so antsy that exercise and walking was about the only thing that calmed me down. And meetings helped.

I tried reading. But couldn’t concentrate on one book. I had 5 books lined up to read. I’d read a paragraph of that one, and two of the other one…etc. I finally bought an eBook so I could pack around a lot of books to read several, it was the only way I could stay focused.

Along about this time I was also experiencing hallucinations. I would “see” things from the game in my real environment, only to realize that it was stuff from the game. Plants and “herbs” I used to harvest in the game, were now showing up in other people’s yards. Sometimes driving home from shopping I’d almost veer the car over to grab a fake herb. I didn’t, but the desire to was intense.

At night I constantly dreamed of gaming. In several dreams, I had gone back to work at the college, and the entire department had created a guild in my game, and they wanted me to play with them. And in the dream I was not a person playing a character, I WAS the character. I would wake up in a panic, was it real? It took a minute to climb out of that dream and realize I hadn’t gone back to gaming.

After that month of extremely disturbed sleep (did I mention the headaches I’d have all night?) I suddenly wanted to sleep constantly.

Someone in the meetings mentioned that we all suffered from sleep deprivation toward the latter part of our gaming addiction; oh yes, that is absolutely correct. After that first month of twitching and jerking, all I wanted to do was sleep. And I did. I couldn’t stay awake for too long. I had never felt so exhausted in my life.

The dreams kept on, but not nightly, and I started calm down. I wasn’t as anxious and got much better sleep.

Another thing was my anger. During gaming, I got extremely angry. Game people and real life people. I was enraged if my husband even hinted at me gaming if I was at my computer emailing friends. I was extremely upset he didn’t trust me (well why would he?).

I still get a bit angry—rough around the edges—but not as often and not as intense as it was during gaming, and during the early days of recovery.

Gaming addiction really changed my brain. I know this, not just from scientific proof—which there is plenty of proof of this--but from my own observation of how I used to be and how I ended up to be, both physically and mentally.

Since anger was my major concern, I work on developing a stronger relationship with my higher power. I use prayer and meditations on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. I go to meetings, try to be of service. I use exercise (yoga and walking) and diet (I stopped eating sugar in any form) to help calm me down.

My doctor was thrilled that I am in recovery for gaming; he told me that a lot of his senior patients are now getting heavily into gaming and he wants to know more about it to try to assist them.

Gaming has no boundaries on age, ethnicity, education, or sex. It grabs us all.

_________________
Let your past make you better, not bitter.
Don't Lose Heart. If your efforts are greeted with indifference, don't lose heart. The sun puts on a wonderful show at daybreak when most people are sleeping. Keep shining!


Last edited by Patria on Fri Oct 03, 2014 1:09 pm, edited 3 times in total.



Mon Sep 29, 2014 3:47 pm
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Joined: Sat May 24, 2014 11:37 pm
Posts: 151
Location: Rockland NY
State/Province/Country: Rockland NY
Well if gaming addiction was stronger than cancer for you, then if must have been strong indeed!
It is amazing the was that the obsession twisted our minds to thinks that everything which mattered to us including our family and jobs meant nothing to us until we held them in contempt.

How did you recover Pat?

_________________
leveling in steps, serenity, sponcys, sponsors, exercise, and sleep, (sanity has been downsized)


Thu Oct 02, 2014 11:01 pm
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Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 3:06 pm
Posts: 886
Location: Charlottesville
State/Province/Country: Virginia
Thanks for sharing Pat! I just noticed that you updated your story to the Full Story. :)

I can relate to much of it. Especially the anger and sleep deprivation, and the dreams and "hallucinations". Powerful stuff!


Sat Oct 11, 2014 7:17 pm
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Joined: Tue May 20, 2014 7:54 pm
Posts: 216
Wow, intense share Pat. It's nice to know more about you and I feel for you. So glad you're part of our fellowship *hugs*

_________________
    skype: jslinden
    other: Ascender or Zenn


Wed Oct 22, 2014 11:58 am
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