I relapsed or am in danger of relapse. (EMERGENCY MEASURES)
Visit these threads before you do anything:
- Simple and powerful tool that Yale Professor recommends for skilfully handling our urges.
- 45 Lies Your Mind Uses to Keep You Addicted
- The Ten Questions of Relapse Prevention
- My personal panic button (also reproduced in child-pages below this page)
- A relapse does not mean a complete reset! Don't hurt yourself further by binging.
- "Before you relapse" (thread on www.yourbrainrebalanced.com)
- Another "Before you relapse" thread.
- The Big List of Tips & Tricks
- A very entertaining anti-relapse peptalk
- Cold water technique
- My personal panic button
- My relapse - lessons learned
- Relapse pep talk by female
- The Big List of Tips & Tricks
- Thoughts on relapse by forum members
Suggestions by Forum Members:
A forum member wrote:
- Come on, you’ve lasted so long without porn, it’s time to reward yourself.
- Let’s just look at some porn, no masturbation, and see how much progress you’ve made.
- You feel miserable, porn will make you feel better.
- Porn isn’t that bad, every guy views it at some stage, you’re a drop in the ocean, etc.
- OK, no hard porn, just nudes, that’s not so bad.
- Right, make that no nudes either, just bikini models.
- Come on, one more video, the last one ever!
- You relapsed yesterday, a Tuesday in the middle of the month. Let’s watch porn either until Sunday or the end of the month, so you can start recovery on a fresh week/month, that’s how all successful recoveries start
- Etc, etc…
They all basically boil down to “let’s watch one more, one last time”, and it’s never, ever the last one. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
If you relapsed recently, for the next 1-2 weeks:
- Before you go to bed, put your laptop in your car each night (even better if you leave it at a friend's or family member's)
- If you have to use it, go to Starbucks (they're everywhere)
- MUST use it at home? Tell your brain to shut up, that's probably an attempt at rationalizing
- FILL UP your social calendar - plan to go out each night for the next week. Go to a friend's. Go to a theater - anything that occupies time and gets you out of the house. You have to pre-plan this. If you don't, you'll likely fall prey to an addicted brain's rationalizations. "I need to check my email for that thing...."
- Be compassionate with yourself. Keep saying "This is hard for everyone. I've been addicted for x years; it's supposed to be tough..."
One guy posted this to himself on his blog:
Remember how terrible you felt when you started your reboot? You were hanging out on that suicide channel on mirc. Anxiety due to lack of fapdom is worth it over chronic depression. Over time things will only get easier. Plus there's no doubt you experienced a surge in confidence, a desire to go out more and significantly improved gym performance when you skipped the porn. There's no room for error here. One fail always seems to result in binging and a horrid state of mind. You don't need that.
Another guy posted this:
Almost relapsed. Luckily, I'd made a list of reasons for avoiding porn at the start of this reboot. Without it, I probably wouldn't have been able to reason myself out of it. Even though going over the list reduced my desire by a large amount, I still had doubts, so I switched off the computer and lay in bed for a while thinking things through until the cravings had almost completely subsided. After that, my brain was way too active for me to fall asleep so I thought I'd spend some time typing up this experience for future reference.
If you have problems with your urges when you are alone, get where people can see you! seriously, open your curtains, get out into common area of your house, go sit outside, go to a coffee shop. just don't stay holed up in your dark bedroom with your PC. If you do that, you're bound to fail.
After I relapsed on Sunday my mood has been swinging like a rollercoaster. For you guys who are tempted, DONT DO IT!!! It's not worth it at all. You are just going to feel like shit. And it's no fun feeling like that.
So here I am working on stuff when I randomly encounter hot-girl-pic on facebook (Damn you!). I get that familiar chain-reaction-of-feelings and because I haven't fapped in 3 days I get hard real quick. I decide to double-down on my focus and concentrate on the task at hand. I find it increasingly difficult to do so-- I decide I need to shower-- I keep thinking as long as I can survive the shower, I can get over this thing. I go into the bathroom, do 20 pushups in overdrive mode and jump into the shower. I start doing some weird shit when in there though-- I remembered watching this Bruce Lee interview where he talks about being like water (link).
I begin this visualization-- it was completely random, and since I'd been reading some books about it, I decide to just trust myself with it. Not to fight it. I imagine putting all that energy that I would've wasted fapping into this beautiful, clear globe-- and I link it with the energy of the universe. (Mind you, I'm fully aware that this is just a mental exercise)
I decide to store that energy there, to let it "cook" until I finish showering-- I pretty much don't think of fapping the whole time. When I'm done I feel great, I decide to "reach" over to grab the "energy" and I thank the universe for allowing me to use its storage. I decide to re-invest this energy unto myself for positive things- work, play, relationships, etc.
After I'm done with that, I figured I'd meditate for 20-30 minutes. I had an epic relaxing meditation, and here I am a few hours later working on my projects feeling completely accomplished because I tamed an aspect of myself that I had previously zero control over. (At least for today, I'm going to try this every day from now on!)
A binge must be very different than just a relapse. For the almost 4 months I've been rebooting I have never had the urges or withdrawal symptoms I've had this past week (after a binge). All of my prior relapses were short / one-off type situations and all of them caused much less of an urge afterward than I have fought off this whole week.
What if it's already too late?
Then you have a golden opportunity to observe yourself. You can learn a lot, as this guy points out:
I started this challenge for fun, as I thought. I made it about 2 weeks, when I thought, "Screw it! It can't be that bad," and edged. But it was, and so I relapsed. But the "good" thing is: After my relapse, I realised that I indeed am addicted to fapping. (Not too much to porn. Although I fapped, I didn't look at porn.) Second, I didn't realise, before my relapse, which benefits I had from not fapping. But after it, I can give you some examples: Before NoFap, I had some terrible headaches for about 5 minutes, daily. It vanished during nofap but came back after the reset. Same with my hands. They would suddenly start to shake and the more I looked at them, the more they shook, up to the point where I couldn't control them anymore. You can't always see your benefits while quitting. But I can tell you: I bet you have some. Although you didn't notice.<
tl;dr: Didn't realize how good my progress had been until my reset
Here's how another guy handled his relapse:
I am at day 9 of my current reboot and I have learned a lot since my last relapse. When I decided to PMO 9 days ago, I really made a strong effort to learn from the relapse and continue living my life in a positive and social way through "participating in the world." I forced myself to continue to be social, talk to strangers, get out everyday, exercise, complete all my daily tasks, and keep being productive each day. I found that doing that, rather than sulking in my relapse, made it seem like I picked up right where I left off before my relapse! It also proved to me how much I genuinely want to reboot and recover from PMO, which also made my choice to continue to move forward on the reboot a no brainier!
Another thing that has helped tremendously is that I have put together a full daily routine of things that I never used to do when I was consumed by my PMO condition. That routine consists of:
-Eating oatmeal/ 1 cup of coffee
-Listening to a chapter of a self help audio book while I get dressed
-Riding my bike to the library (3.7)
-Smiling at passing people on the biking trail
-While at the library I sit down and keep myself busy through research, college preparation, journal writing, organizing weekly goals, working on my life plan etc... I also talk to the cute librarians when I am taking a break from my work
-Riding my bike back from the library (another 3.7 miles)
-Checking off my entire To-Do list (Which is a really inspiring feeling! If it goes on the To-Do list, I have committed to getting it done that day)
-Eating a healthy dinner
-Making tea and reading a good book
-Sitting face to face with my in fears silence, and taking my power back from them right before bed
-Go to bed
I have really gotten into biking as a new daily activity! It is a perfect way to arrive in a social setting such as the library because by the time I walk into the library, my endorphins are running rapidly and I very eager to be social because I feel so good from the exercise! Since keeping on this plan, I can feel my brain rewiring itself to adapt to this new way of life.
One of the most often asked questions is: "I've just relapsed, does this mean I am starting over at Day 1?" The simple answer is, "no." The days you spent not using porn have altered your brain in positive ways. Every time you say "no" to your porn habit, it strengthens your executive-control brain circuits and weakens your addiction circuits. Is an obese dieter back to day 1 because he pigged out on the weekend? No. Neither are you. Simply learn from the relapse, expect a strong chaser effect for a few days, take steps to prevent a similar one in the future, and start again.
Another question is, "Once I relapsed, I decided to binge because it makes it easier to resist porn for several days. Is that the right approach?" Rebooting is all about rewiring and you'll have to rewire the "urges" part sooner or later, meaning that the sooner you take the urges head on, the sooner your brain is back in balance. So a binge slows things more than a slip. Since the goal is rewiring your brain in the face of resistance (cravings), it's best to get on with it as soon as you can. Binging to quell cravings doesn't make the task any easier, and may, in fact, intensify your addiction. Said one guy:
I usually have more success in resuming my reboot when I hold out after having just one orgasm. Three days ago, I binged and had four O's within a few hours' time. I almost always relapse again quickly if I binge (watch porn several times and go several sessions as soon as my refractory period is over).
When I first started this process, my feeling after a relapse was a very big low. And even days following. These times are crucial to avoid PMO even more. Train your brain to not want another "hit" even after you relapsed. It was hard to do no doubt, but it is SO worth it. Even now, after my last few relapses, I didn't get down on myself and said "All right, messed up, no big deal, try again and move forward" rather than "I messed up, I hate myself, why am I like this? I'll never recover." All these things will try to invade your mind, but they become more and more distant.
It's a rare addict who does not relapse during a recovery period. I suspect that a higher percentage of porn addicts relapse than do those recovering from other addictions. Cues and triggers are everywhere. Most users spend hours on their computers. And masturbation is a normal part of most (Western) existences.
Imagine a recently sober alcoholic taking a job as a bartender. Not a good idea. Still, the alcoholic has a choice as to whether s/he will consume alcohol. You have no choice. You will see sexy pictures. You are like an alcoholic taking little sips all the time, and yet you resist. Give yourself some credit, and keep going.
A relapse is just a "fresh cycle." Yes, it may produce some neurochemical ripples for a few days, which may show up as intense cravings, and "I don't care anymore" attitude, irritability, discouragement, brain fog or a desire to isolate. Yet, it's only a big problem if your brain succeeds in pushing you into a binge.
Be watching for strong urges over the next few days. See Do You Need a Chaser after Sex?
Others have found the techniques listed below helpful in avoiding the urge to binge. Find the combination that works for you. As one guy said,
"Edging" didn't ease my urges. I'm feeling much calmer and quieter on the inside without it. What helps when urges arise are: touching myself in a different, non-erotic way, cold showers or just dripping water softly on my penis and balls, breathing, and distraction (doing something different).
DISTRACTION is your friend right now. This guy explained his technique:
When you give yourself permission because you have a strong urge, relapse IS automatic. It's definitely true once you've said "OK, I'm horny my boner is stiff, I can MB." That's when you've already failed. The most important thing I can suggest to anyone at any level in this addiction is shift your focus. That is so important. So So So important. As soon as your focus has correctly been shifted, your urge has disintegrated at least 50%.
What do you like to do besides porn? What entertains you? Go on YouTube and watch a video of that. I like to watch guys lifting weights that almost seem inhuman. By the time, I'm done watching that video, I watch another one relating to that video. Before you know it, I'm in "sports performance mode" and thinking about how I can add 5 lbs to bench press. And not in, "Shit, is this gonna be another relapse?"
There's gotta be some type of group of videos (besides porn) that can get you into a different state of mind. Put whatever "hobby video" in "priority one" mode ALL the time. Always put it in "priority one." Give yourself no choice but to watch "priority one" FIRST.
If you definitely are going to watch porn and MB without a doubt in your mind, and you've given up, then I recommend telling yourself, right after you watch one "hobby video" you can watch a porn video. First things first.
Another guy discovered this:
It seems that most single people who find truth [that constant orgasm is not fulfilling] turn to a path of total abstinence. "No PMO" as many call it. I personally tried that path and it simply didn't work for me!!! I felt disconnected from not only from my sexuality, but from the intimate aspects of myself. So i gave up and went back to orgasming, almost daily...and it was just as unfulfilling as i remembered it to be!
And then I discovered solo tantra. The solo equivalent of karezza, if you will. And it's changed everything! The whole idea is to treat the sexual act like a meditation, rather than some uncontrollable animal impulse. I prefer to call it "genital massage" as opposed to masturbation (because masturbation to me is linked to orgasm!). So my whole technique involves a very SLOW, gentle, completely and totally relaxed genital massage, much like partnered karezza. The goal is to stay in the 60-70% arousal zone. If you go past that, you reach the "point of no return" and have no choice but to orgasm.
The goal of this solo technique is to awaken your own sexual bliss through a gentle, loving and meditative self-massage, and to let that blissful feeling fill up every single cell in your body. Once you have massaged yourself into a relaxed state of bliss, focus on your breath and feel every cell in your body radiating with creative energy. As you meditate on this feeling, your sexual parts will no longer be aroused but the bliss in your body will remain. It's like a natural high, and the feeling will last for hours if you do it right!!!I've gone 16 days without orgasm and have been using this method almost daily. It truly works for me, and I hope it works for you as well. If you're frustrated with your current inability to remain PMO free, then try this out! [Note: Some find that the solo techniques are not useful at first (too stimulating), but are very useful for easing sexual frustration once balance is restored.]
- Cold water (on genitals in the sink or tub) or cold showers seems to calm the body down (see instructions below this page)
- Try the Red X Technique
- When you have an urge, take these 3 steps: Urinate if you need to. It will help relax you. Eat a snack with glucose as research has shown that willpower effort can deplete it, making struggles harder. (Research here: The MYLN method. A different approach.) Immediately get yourself to a safe place (a place you wouldn't masturbate).
- Read Rebooting Advice & Observations - "advice columns" written by guys who have made it through the reboot.
- I've found, during relapses, or almost-relapses, that peeing immediately reduces the urgency of whatever you're feeling. So even if you've been edging, a little, take a one minute break and pee. I guarantee you, it works. It takes the edge off. Suddenly, you'll be able to think again and you won't have the PMO tunnel vision/fog that prevents you from focusing on anything.
- Talk to a friend that knows about your addiction (by phone or in person)
- I use a breathing technique... Basically I put my hands on my knees, semi-bent over, and get rid of all the air in my lungs. I then straighten out, with my fists on my hips, and count to 10. I then take a deep yoga breath in (breathing through the diaphragm, not the shoulders) and relax my hands to my sides. Do that a few times, and I find it helps control and dissipate erections... Along with just calming me down.
- Find a nonsexual Internet video, such as watching surgery, or something "gross." Said one guy, who strongly recommended this "gross" video, when you see something gross, you have no desire to do anything sexual.
- Give your pet a massage, rub down or grooming
- Install a porn blocker on your computer
- Go out. When I first tried to quit, I thought I wouldn't go out for a long time so I could recover. What I discovered was exactly the opposite. Yes, going out and hitting on girls when you have porn-induced ED is an emasculating, awful experience. But the point is, you're pointing out to yourself what you're missing. And most of the time, when I'm out and talking to girls, I'm not thinking about getting inside of them, but about what it would be like to be with them, near them, to hear them laugh and smile at you and sensitive shit like that. Emotionally resonant stuff. Some people may disagree, that the anger/shame of not being able to get with girls at bars/parties/etc. makes you relapse, but I've found I need it to remind myself of why this is important beyond simply controlling my base instincts. Give yourself alternatives, even if they're future alternatives. Who knows, you may even meet a girl that makes all the pain worthwhile. I've found that I've started liking girls a lot more since I've started to do this. One piece of advice: don't drink too much while you do this. Drinking leads to more intense feelings of shame/anger when you don't hook up with these girls, which can trigger a relapse.
- Write all of your experiences down as they happen
- Isolate the trigger for your relapse, and figure out ways to get around it in the future. For example, rehearse what you will do the next time that trigger shows up. "The next time an arousing erotic image pops up in a music video, I will close it and take a 10-minute break from my computer."
- Experiment with one of the rewiring tools
- Get up and go away from your computer. Now. Take a walk. Hang out at a Starbucks. Do something.
- Whatever happens happens, but do not beat yourself up
- What you should be paying attention to in the long run is to see if you are progressing. The worst thing you can do is to get depressed after a relapse and binge on it, thinking "Oh well, I failed, it doesn't matter anymore". It matters, and don't ever fantasize on porn, it's a certain road to relapse. When the urges come, just tell yourself a loud "NO!" (even say it aloud, ha ha) and start thinking/doing something else.
- Stand upright, with a good posture, hands at your side. Now looking straight up, really bending your neck (of course no strain here, just look directly on the ceiling above you). Now stand on one foot and close your eyes. Hold this for a minute or so. That sounds a little bit weird, maybe, but it offers some obvious benefits (at least for me):a) enhanced balance/coordination and therefore enhanced athleticism) you can’t help, but stay in the moment (especially kinesthetic awareness), so absolutely no room for cravings/porn thoughts) transfer meaning: struggle for balance (in your body and your brain), feeling, that you can struggle without falling, feeling of control
- Get organized - The main thing to do if you want to stop fantasizing is to get organized and get busy. No free time twiddling your thumbs in your room means no time to convince yourself to PMO. In other words, don't stagnate and hang around. First off, get enough sleep. This doesn't mean sleep for 10 hours. Sleep for 6-8. Before you go to sleep, make a to-do list of all the things you want to do tomorrow, including leisure activities. This has helped me immensely. When I wake up, I don't want to think about all the things I have/want to do that day, so do it the night before. Don't give yourself only 3-5 things to do either. Make it a respectably-sized list. I find I can usually do about 14 things on my list per day (writing emails, picking up dry-cleaning, finding a new pool to swim in after Labor Day, picking up groceries, etc).
- Find a place to do your work on the computer that's NOT at home. Try the library, or a Starbucks.
Note: Internet porn is a superstimulus—like nothing our ancestors' brains ever encountered. If you feel out of control, rather than looking at porn, try masturbating/orgasming without porn (or porn fantasy...which activates the same brain pathways). (If you can't climax easily without porn and/or vigorous friction, then your horniness is not true libido; it's your "addict brain" screaming nonsense. Do your best to distract yourself using the ideas above.)
The less intense the initial stimulation (no Internet porn) the less intense the fallout over the days following masturbation. Progress comes down to managing your neurochemistry.
Remember, you are not a bad person just because a primitive part of your brain grabs the neurochemical rush of endless, novel, synthetic stimulation now available on the Internet. This result is just a fluke of our current environment clashing with the way our brains evolved. So even on bad days, be very gentle with yourself.
Keep in mind that the content of the things you viewed is immaterial to the primitive part of your brain. It is just looking for a neurochemical fix—which unfortunately only makes your state of mind worse, after the immediate relief. Bad feelings drive people to self-medicate, so try not to spend any more time feeling bad.
You can't pound this ancient part your brain into submission. It's too big a part of your gut-level decision-making in daily life. When you want one thing and it strongly wants something else, pounding leads to intense inner conflict. As one guy said,
I've noticed that the slip ups can be a common occurrence, but they start to be spread further and further apart from each other. Like I used to think that 5 days was a big deal and then 6 and 11 and now I can envision myself going months and maybe years. So stay strong, chin up, and remember there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel.
Instead, you have to gently coax your limbic system by indirectly—by staying away from superstimuli to the extent possible and watching the gradual improvements—or setbacks after you try the reverse experiment. Setbacks can teach you as much as successes. Detours don't matter as long as you get your inner GPS working right.
You can also reduce inner conflict by steering for those things that help regulate mood: exercise, friendly interaction, time in nature, meditation, etc. These quiet the screams (cravings), making it easier to steer for your chosen goals. As balance returns, inner conflict eases.
And, if you relapsed, ask yourself if you are being overly self-critical. Remember you’re only human. Everyone struggles with willpower challenges and everyone sometimes loses control. Can you think of other people you respect and care about who have experienced similar struggles and setbacks? This perspective can soften the voice of self-doubt. What would you say to a friend? Consider how you would comfort a friend who experienced the same setback. This perspective will point the way to getting back on track.
There is a serious learning curve to this rebooting process. For example, I never connected the dots between feeling insecure and worthless, and withdrawals. I never understood that I would MO out of feeling bad about myself. I also never would have realized that I still had to learn how to connect with women, and that I was afraid of being vulnerable. I learn something each time, and each new attempt I go in with a different perspective. You simply can't take it all in at once.
Here's one guy's list:
TRIGGERS THAT CAUSE RELAPSE:
#1 Craigslist Personals ads
#2 Dating sites (not good for early stages of my reboot)
#3 Using internet as my daily social source
#4 Not doing a form of exercise everyday (must do something EVERYDAY)
#5 Killing time on the internet
#6 Spending too much time by myself
#7 Not talking to new people each day
#8 Skipping a daily journal write
#10 Staying in my comfort zone and not progressing further into the unknown each day
#11 Idle time
#12 Reading sexual stories (allowing the fantasy to play out)
#13 Talking to girls about graphic sexual experiences
#14 Longing for a loving, understanding, and lasting relationship
#15 Letting fear stop me from pursuing/accomplishing something
THINGS THAT PREVENT RELAPSE:
#1 Riding my bike for long distances
#2 Going to the gym
#3 Riding my bike to the library
#4 Talking to girls in person
#5 Overcoming a new fear
#6 Exploring a new area
#7 Involving new things in my daily pattern
#8 Having a written out To-Do list
#9 Taking a walk
#10 Going somewhere with no internet or television for a couple day
#11 Talking to someone about my PMO recovery progress (my accomplishments & fears)
#12 Getting my mind into "work mode" and involved in something productive
#13 If I must get on the internet, do it in a public place (Such as the library)
#14 If triggered, immediately get my mind involved is something non sexual (Do not linger on the "trigger thought")
Ideas from this post:
When the urge to fap arrives you will have a designated site to go to or an activity to do, unless more there are more urgent matters to tend to. Are you wanting to learn about educational subjects such as Math, Biology or History? Khan Academy is one of the best places to go on the internet. It is completely free and has over 3000 videos that I have used personally and find them to be incredibly useful.
What if Khan Academy isn't your thing and you want to have a move class room like experience? MIT Open Course Ware is a site made by MIT that caters to self-learners and those that simply want to learn. They offer hundreds of videos on a variety of subjects that were filmed on the MIT campus. They also include actual tests and work assignments taken by MIT students. There is no sign up and it is completely free.
Perhaps you like to read, but you don't necessarily have a lot of money to buy books. Project Gutenberg is a site that offers over forty-two thousand free e-books legally for download in a variety of formats including HTML, ePub and kindle. They can be sent to online cloud services like Dropbox and Google Drive.
Are you feeling like doing some charity work? Free Rice is an organization that will send grains of rice for every question answered on quizzes available on their site.
Do you want to learn a new language? Duo Lingo is a free site that offers free language learning that actually works. You learn a language and also help translate the web for others to read.
Also have a look at the items below.