I have been an addict in denial for more than ten years. In joining this community to help cure my addiction, I would like to share my story with you all. It is a long read, but if the urge of gaming is on your mind once more, instead of giving up to the demons of your addiction, you could read my story to distract yourself.
My gaming addiction started when I was introduced to CivII at the age of twelve, and that was more than ten years ago. Since an early age, my family had expected much from me in terms of academic achievements. The pressure and the belief that these achievements were the goal of my life drove me to try harder and harder.I became top of my class, of my year, of my school. My end of high-school results was one of the best in the country that year. Despite all this, during these years that I built up these achievements, as hard as I tried, I could not be rid of a great feeling of loneliness and thirst for pleasures in life. Moreover, as my achievements built up, so did my pride, and it became impossible to reveal to anyone this great weakness in myself.
This sense of loneliness and crave for pleasure had helped me to become easily addicted when I was introduced to computer strategy games, and within these games, were the only places where I felt relieved and had great fun. It wasn't long before I realized my playing was having a detrimental effect on my studies. I made countless number of attempts to create a balance of game time and study time, but I never succeeded. It was always cycles of uncontrollable playing, then relentless scramble to recover my studies.Once I have caught up to my standards, which was probably unhealthily too high, I would allow myself to be seduced by these games once more. Then it would become uncontrollable, until I realized it was time I must scramble once more. I knew, this was a problem, and I was ashamed of it. Yet I was not ready to give up the games, because I feared more of a world without these games. I could not deprive myself at the time, of what seemed to me to be my only pleasure in life. The situation is made worse by my ability to hide the amount of game playing I do and the whole problem from my parents.
So it was, these cycles of frantic gaming and scrambles continued right up to the start of my university. During these seven to eight years, I played so much, from strategy games, to rpgs. At one period, I used to go to the game store and buy some games, play it so much until I was beyond it, then go back to the store and swap for another game within a week. I pretty much played every decent strategy and rpgs at those times. Then naturally, went online when Internet gaming became available to me. Initially, I was addicted to play real time strategies such as Age of Empires series online competitively. Then started to play hardcore Diablo II, the fun and thrill of which got me hooked for almost two years. Then Ultima Online, which I played for a year and ended up being one of the riches persons on my server. The fun and attention I was getting kept me completely absorbed. And the only reason I did not play EQ was because I was completely absorbed into UO. I cheated myself in believing the 'play then scramble' was the way that I controlled my game playing, and that my scrambles would always pull me through whatever hole I landed in. Only now do I realize how wrong I was.
Things started to go horribly wrong at university, mine was one of the best in the UK, and I got in with one of the best results. I started a relationship with a girl, who I was to discover had little appreciation for both my academic achievements and my gaming.When the relationship ended, I felt extremely hurt and upset. And started to feel that my sacrifice of much happiness for these academic achievements was not worthwhile. After that, I became lost and felt empty.The motivations for the scrambles to keep up my academic achievements then quickly faded. By that time, I lived alone during term times. I suddenly realized how empty my life had been, and soon felt extremely lonely and depressed, even suicidal at times. I blamed my situation on the pressure for me to do exceedingly well in my studies. Then there was my pride, how could I reveal such weaknesses to anyone, given the high standard everyone perceived of me from the outside. So I did what I knew best - hid all my true feelings. Yet, I was not able to deal with the depression and loss of motivation.The only thing that was able to help me relieve the pain of my life was games, and lucky for me, at this worst period of my life, Wow launched commercially in Jan 2005.
Within days of commencing Wow in an ever so enthusiastic community, where everyone was starting Wow at the same time, I become completely addicted. I felt I had escaped from hell and ended up in heaven, a feeling of euphoria hit me so suddenly. It felt like Wow had saved me from the depression and misery I have had, I was even grateful. That second semester, I just decided to not turn up to university and played Wow exclusively. I had stop caring about getting good grades, or as it turned out didn't care enough to even attend. At the end of that year I did not turn up for two of my eight exams, and barely scrapped a progress to the next year.
Blaming my bad results on the failed relationship, I convinced my parents to leave me alone and assured them I would recover the following year. By which time, even though I was becoming bored of Wow, it was too difficult to stop. Every time I tried to quit, I felt such emptiness, which I tried to fill by playing some other games. Even though I started to want to do good again at university, I couldn't stop gaming. Something had changed so drastically during that period of my exclusive Wow playing. So that when I tried to go back to the 'play then scramble' as I did before it didn't work any more.I had developed a most destructive trait - a state of mind that allowed me to block the thoughts of bad consequences of over-gaming. With that, I was able to game for prolonged periods at a time without getting worried. The scrambles either didn't occur at all or occurred far too late and hard little effect.As a result I failed my third year completely, but I was able to convince my university to allow me to retake the year for full credit on mental health grounds. As I convinced the college that I had bad depression, which I did have at that time in all fairness, but I was still not ready to give up the cause : gaming addiction, and worse, still not ready to admit the cause to anyone.
To say I have been extremely fortunate is an understatement, as that following summer (last summer), I found a wonderful new girlfriend. We are very happy together, but went to different universities, so are separated during term time for this year.Even then, I wasn't ready to give up games, for some reason. I had still hoped, and believed I can control it. First term went fine, at least I went to most of the lectures, and sometimes got myself to study. Though my gaming was far from under control. After Christmas, when Wow expansion came out, I got pretty much instantly addicted. Within the Wow community I was apart of, I had became competitive, and in order to stay that way, it meant pretty much 24/7 Wow playing. I couldn't achieve that as my mother was with me the whole term. Yet, I would maximize my playing time by sleep as little as possible at night, and make up for it during the day. Worst of all, I simply could not stop thinking about Wow when I am not playing, and became disinterested in other things.Again, I did not attend classes, missing one class made it very difficult to understand in the next class, which helped to put me off from attending.The mental ability to block off feelings of guilt was exasperating the addiction.
There were of course times, when I came to realize and tell myself I should 'scramble' but the 'scrambles' were so weak, and never lasted very long with the thought of Wow always on my mind.I had almost eight weeks before my exams to revise or in my case learn the courses. If I were able to scramble well as I had been able to before, this would not have been a problem. Yet, even during this period, I was unable to control myself.It was clear to me that this time, if I fail again, there was no more second chances. Moreover, my weakness will be exposed once and for all. Still, I was unable to control myself, used gaming to calm and comfort myself. As the deadline towards my exams approached, I became extremely agitated, restless and depressed. All sorts of things came to my mind, I started to really panic desperately. At these darkest hours, my new girlfriend has become my greatest inspiration I had thus far, hid my problem to her. Yet, she cared for me so much, was such a good person. Eventually, for once in my life, the guilt of hiding the truth from someone, my girlfriend in this case, was eating me inside, and torturing me slowly with such pain. I could bear it no longer, on the 14th of May, I gathered what courage I had left, and wrote to her to confess my problem.
To my surprise and relief, she understood this problem, and was very supportive. I have never felt so close to anyone my whole life, even my mother, I could not expect her to understand this very well. For all her merits, my mother has little understanding of the problems my generation of youth face, which is no fault of hers. My girlfriend's support was of great importance to me, as I did not feel alone any more. Someone so close to me had understood this, and did not just blamed me for everything blindly. It was over the next a few days, that I found this website and read more about gaming addiction as a problem / illness. Eventually, made a decision to quit all together. I had finally found the courage to try to live a world without computer games.
To anyone not having this problem, this must seem very absurd, they might wonder why does it take so much to even decide to quit. Yet to any addict, they will be able to tell you that, to us, the world without games seems very difficult to imagine and very unattractive. Most of us are so used to the seductive comfort of our games and kid ourselves with denials of our addictions. To believe that the world can be just as fun and satisfying without gaming was very hard for me, but eventually, a few days after my confession to my girlfriend. I decided to quit for good and try to find a new life without games together with her.
Her support came at a critical time. I was at breaking point, with my end of year exams coming up within a week. The feelings of panic and desperation were driving me insane, and would have deprived me of all confidence very soon if it were not for her support. Within those a few days, I had understood something positive, that those a few days, though some of the most painful of my life so far, are more than worthy of remembrance. For finally, after more than ten years of on going addiction problems, I feel I am on the road of recovery. I know I have potential to do well in life, my addiction may have cost me a few years of my life, but it's not too late to start living once more. And to have gone through this ordeal, the experience should make me stronger, and be able to overcome other obstacles life may through at me in the future. Moreover, to have my new girlfriend was the greatest thing for me. With this in mind, I am no longer afraid of the possibility of failing this year, because if I can cure my addiction, I can come back for better things! My new girlfriend had given me the support and courage to start this recovery, and I cannot express how grateful I am to have her.
To have decided to quit is one thing, but to quit is an entire new world! Last two weeks, I had managed to organize myself to prepare for my exams. To my utter annoyance, images of a game I last played became fixed on my mind urging me to play and continue the story. Fortunately I had managed to control myself with my girlfriend's support, and did not play. A struggle it had been, and still is, I have thus far completed five of my eight exams. I am relieved to say, only one went very badly, the rest is assured to pass, one of them I even did exceptionally well should get nearly full marks. There are three more next week, one of which I had studied very little. I am trying hard to focus and prepare for it over the next a few days now. As I did well enough in my first year, I need just to pass one out of the three remaining exams to progress, so I should be fine.
I have read many of the stories here; the fellow who lost his wife and family; the wife whose husband is an addict in denial; the many youngsters whose addiction mirrors much of my own; and of Liz's poor son. I can relate closely to many of you, understand and appreciate your pains. Your stories also give me strength to fight my addiction. I have decided to join your community to help myself get better, and to help others fight theirs when I can.A,A
So this is my story, of a youngster who in many outsiders eyes have gone to such heights then collapsed down so suddenly What will happen next? Hopefully something better.