I'm recovering gaming addict and I just wanted to share my story in order to support and motivate and provide insight to other players who are recovering or still battling the addiction. I'm 23 years old.
I came from partly dysfunctional family and I suffered from alot of abuse and bullying in home/kindergarden/school/work. So basically I've lived in anxiety since ever I remember. I liked computers and all that electronic stuff. I started to be addict at age of 10 when I started to play FPS games, than RTS and MMORPG games, ever since then my life has been driven just towards gaming. Since I liked the games and it started to serve me as escape or relief from what was otherwise daily dosage of abuse IRL I just kept playing playing and playing, more and more and more. I have had periods where I didn't play excessive amounts of time, but still games were what I built my confidence and personality upon, no matter what will happen, the games are there in my background and I can just lure inside anytime I wish.
Over a time I became more and more functioning in games and less in reality, sedetary lifestyle, social isolation and excessive hours, just almost destroyed my mind and my body.
Not really noticing this I became worsening in every part of life, from housekeeping to school grades and maintaining friendships. And suffered from severe physiological health problems, such as increasing anxiety, nervoussness, severe fatigue, back pain, vision problems, sleep deprivation, bad dreams, eating problems and more. In addition to this, when I was not playing but I was outside, I was smoking and drinking, not that excessively but I still did that too and I quit that shortly after gaming, because I was afraid that it will replace my games.
I never realised that anything is wrong until I started to think of my nightmares I've been having for years in January 2010, since then I my anxiety skyrocketed even during playing and I got burnout syndrome followed by full-blown general anxiety(that's the constantly present anxiety and clinical depression). I started to think my life needed massive changes if I want to sustain being normal healthy person, but I haven't changed much in regard to gaming.
I was really a hardcore gamer, I knew everything about my games, I have always topped score boards, had the characters with top end gear and been raiding the hardest end-game content.
My addiction peaked in December 2010(was 20 at the time) where I, after 10 years of compulsive gaming decided to quit it the cold turkey way, because of it I was no longer able to work on my health issues. Through this time, what my excessive gaming caused was disastrous and since I have quit 3 years ago and haven't touched any games(not even those on phones) I still suffer from withdrawal and sobriety problems. My anxiety and depression went to extremes that I was not able to get out from the bed. My only hope was back then to pray, wait till it lowers abit, get to the hospital and get bag full of meds to get me working somehow. I was taking antidepressants for 2 years and attened 1 year of psychotherapies, but I mainly worked on self help. Since I had no escape and fun and things to do in games, my deepest and forgottern childhood traumas came to life like if they would happen yesterday and I've been battling these feelings to this day. In addition to this because of social isolation caused by the games, I still lack alot of social skills and while I am kinda talkative and so on, I still have problems with some social situations and finding a partner. I suffered from anything from headches to derealization. What all the violence and graphics effects in these games does with your mind is incredibly bad. And while I no longer take meds and my depression/anxiety episodes are only occurring occasionally, I still wake up everyday with feelings that I need to play and my day to day basic life tasks are still very challenging to me, although I was able to graduate with As and provide top performance in my first and now second job, it is still something that is excessive stress for me. Reality looks grayed out and boring and uniteresting. That's why I started to look for 12 steps for games, because I haven't used it at the time I quit, in order to prevent relapse and improve my thinking patterns because while I'm not playing anymore, my mind is still not free and does not allow me to focus on future achievements. I objectively learned and dealt with alot, but I'm still not done, wish me luck. What is a huge burden right now however is that I was and I am alone in this battle and it has been greatly slowed by some people trying to harm me somehow, either emotionally, physically or otherwise being stupid and annoying. Family, school and work...etc until February 2013 when I changed my job, there were abusive people constantly present in my daily reality without my ability to change it or pass around it somehow. I don't know why this went so long with me, I consider it conincidence because there are lot of people like me that haven't had these problems. My parents were kinda bad, same as peers and teachers in school, as well as my brother. The friends I had weren't that bad, but they still didn't show enough respect for the fact I suffer from gaming addiction, my boss in my previous job was so hostile that I was no longer able to withstand that.
My bro moved to other state to study, my mother has improved relationship to me and I moved out of home in August, but I come to visit on holidays and my new job is quite easy to do and alot of nice people are around. So life is much better it once was. I occassionally talk to my mom about my problems, but since she has alot of stress in her job and to keep up with everything. I just don't really discuss it oftenly and deeply. My bro wasn't support for me either because he laughed at me and my problems and even when we meet here on holiday he is so annoying I just count days and hours till he or I will leave. Since I don't have any friends viable to this either, I was thinking If I would join some recovery 12 step club, but it seems that there is nothing like that in this whole state, and commuting to other state is not reasonable for me at this point so I will just endure this and will continue alone I guess.
Hopefully one day I will meet someone who I can tell my recovery story to and be confident and happy person. Even when I'm going through this and my mind is more and more free and relaxed, It's something I haven't experienced in so long time(if ever) and I even must get used to feeling ok, since it was so unnatural to me.
Since I quit playing I'm trying to use computers and free time in constructive ways, I am enthusiast so I occassionally do some programming or hardware and electrical stuff or study history of computers, what was difficult for me to withstand was that the computers were hobby that brought me to gaming, so I had to work alot on how I view computers and electronics that are everywhere right now. In summer time I'm running and riding on a bike alot, I bought a car and I'm learning to drive. I have so much free time now that I just can't avoid boredom from time to time and I used to study alot of addiction recovery and physchological literature.
The games and years I played.
2000 to 2007 - Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Quake 3
2002 to 2004 - Warcraft 3, Max Payne, GTA 2, GTA 3, GTA VC, Starcraft
2004 to 2006 - Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike Source
2005 to 2006 - Quake IV, Battlefield 2
2007 to 2010 - World of Warcraft
What I'm trying to say here is to never give up and just work on the issue, withstand painful and annoying feelings and continue. Patience, Humility and respect are the keys to successful recovery, no matter how long it has to take. It's hard but possible and the process of becoming addicted can be reversed. Thanks for reading and hope you all have a nice day.