Age 19 - The lessons I've learned after 6 months
if you want a tl;dr, skim to the bolded points!
Hey there! So I've actually reached 90 days twice now, and haven't masturbated twice in the same month since last March. However, I never wrote up any 90 day report for either of the times I have reached 90 days and beyond. This community helped me scratch and claw my way out of the darkest period of my short life, so it is only fitting I give something back.
Little background: I was exposed to porn at 11 years old. Growing up in a very religious home, I let my curiosity roam a little bit before freaking out and shutting the computer down before Jesus struck me with a bolt from heaven. I stayed away from it for quite awhile, but slowly delved into that world by looking at Sports Illustrated Swimsuit mags and Maxim online. Basically, in my mind I rationalized that if they weren't "naked", it was okay. This was really the beginning of a long and dangerous road of rationalization that took me years and years to break.
Fast forward...about 6 or 7 years. I was 18. I was goodlooking, athletic, and when I was around people I was the life of the party. Every girl wanted me. I couldn't see this, however, because I still couldn't accept myself. At this point I had moved beyond the idea that porn was bad because of religion, and was now just accepting it as something everyone does. I never really was open about that with anyone else though. I still hid it as best I could. But basically, I rationalized that once a week was okay. That if it was lesbians then it was better than heterosexual porn because it wouldn't taint my idea of what actual heterosexual sex actually is/looks like. (we all know 99% of porn is complete acting guys, lets not beat around the bush). I'd rationalize that if I only M'd every few days instead of every day, then it was okay and I wasn't actually addicted because I could control myself enough to not do it at will.
So I continued on. I ended up moving summer before senior year, which was a complete shock to my system. I really didn't have any friends before junior year of high school, and now that I was just becoming popular, I was basically having it all ripped out of me. Honestly, this would be incredibly hard for anyone, but I decided to self medicate with porn and video games. I did this for about 7 months, until I got to the point where my depression, video games, addiction, PMO addiction, and lack of willpower culminated in me attempting suicide. I tried to hang myself with a belt on my pullup bar in my room in the basement. Fortunately, the belt buckle broke, and I ended up laying on the floor all night crying, wondering where the hell I went wrong.
The next day, I looked in the mirror and I promised myself right then that I would change myself into a person I loved. Not for other people to love, but a person that I would truly love.
A week later I found reddit, and then this sub, and from then on, well, the rest is history. 'I'm going through a tough time right now, but the past year and 3 months has been incredible. I love life and all it has to offer. I've had two girlfriends, and in this case I was the one to break up with both of them. This may make me sound like a jerk, but I have gotten to the point where I have the self respect to not beg for someone to love me. Both girls were bringing me down in some way, and instead of being needy and desperate for their love, I had enough respect for myself to cut them off and move on. My new mantra is "never settle." That applies to myself, my lifestyle, my friends, my day, my dreams, my relationships, etc. It applies to everything. I have friends now. Quite a few. I'm in college and I have very ambitious plans for my future. I read more. I have to do something productive in a day otherwise I feel like I wasted it. I have a long way to go, but I am no longer ashamed of who I am. I am no longer the victim. I am the wolf.
So without further ado, here are a few lessons I learned and thought I should share with you young-in's that I have learned along the way.
1) IF YOU PLAY VIDEO GAMES REGULARLY (DAILY) THEN YOU HAVE TO QUIT BOTH AT THE SAME TIME
There are quite a few studies out there linking video games and porn as being detrimental. Now I don't have time to go link them, they're not hard to find. But at the root of both of these habits/addictions is the dopamine spike in your brain. Porn especially peaks this, because dopamine rewards you for basic survival functions. Since porn is obviously linked with sex, it's pretty clear why this would happen.
For whatever reason, video games does the exact same thing. Now I believe you can control it if you are strong, but I highly reccomend you abstain from both PMO and video games, at least for the 90 days. I call it the brain paleo diet. Put your mind in a state free from anything that was not on the earth when we were all cavemen. Our brains are still wired this way, so anything that stretches our brain beyond that capacity will be detrimental.
Also, you know what else sparks dopamine? Cocaine and cigarettes. You know how hard those are to quit right? You're dealing with the same concept. The less artificial dopamine stimulation you have, the better.
2)YOU MUST DISCONNECT PORN FROM MASTURBATION
The reason this is so important in the beginning is because you basically have two addictions built into one. You can't look at porn without masturbating. You can't masturbate without porn. Thus, when it's late and you're tired and you just want to relieve stress, so you fire up incognito, you're going to fail. Now there's nothing you can really do about this for awhile. It took me 3 tries and about 70 days in to really be able to separate in my mind the two. But once you do this, my god do you have self control. You can walk by a billboard at the mall and glance and continue walking without skipping a beat. You know all those triggers you see all over the internet? Once you get to this point, you can ignore them so easily. If you're at a coffee shop and a cute girl in short shorts walks in, instead of sitting there fantasizing about her and thinking about masturbating to her, you get up, look her dead in the eye and smile. This is the epitome of self control, and consequently, it's the epitome of power.
3) YOU HAVE TO HAVE CLEAR CUT DEFINABLE REASONS WHY YOU WANT TO GO ON THIS JOURNEY
If you don't have these, the moment you fail, your mind will rationalize why it's okay and why you don't really neeeeed to abstain. In the short term, you can get away with this. When I started, I was so lost in life I would've turned to anything. The first couple times I failed, however, when I went back I had trouble motivating myself. I made it 60 days my first try, but then sputtered for a month barely eking out a week before falling again. At this point, I knew if I truly wanted to be rid of this addiction once and for all, I would need clear cut reasons. I had experienced the "super powers" before, and I knew how I acted and how motivated I was when I was on nofap. (btw, those super powers take about 2 or 3 weeks to really kick in, so hang in there young guys!). So I took out a piece of paper and wrote down all I wanted to do in life. Everything from traveling the world to owning a yacht to having a beautiful loving supportive wife and wonderful kids. Everything. And then I looked at that list and I knew that there was no way I could do that and still PMO and play video games. I've failed a couple times since that point, but every time I simply thought about everything I wanted in life, and that's the reason I've kept going.
1 Cold Turkey http://getcoldturkey.com/ Program that blocks your choice of websites for specific time slots of your choice. Useful for killing your internet addiction and preventing you from getting bored and wondering off to nsfw or wherever.
2 Meditate meditate meditate meditate
I started this after the last time I relapsed, and have easily made it the farthest I've ever made it. checkout headspace for the iphone if you want a guided start. Really once you do it for a week, you won't ever want to stop. It's life changing.
3) Exercise exercise exercise
Play a sport. Get yourself on a regimen. What I do is I workout 3 days a week and run in between those days, and then I take a nice walk on the 7th day. I don't schedule these at any particular time, but I'm a student so if you need to then by all means. I do them whenever I feel bored and my mind starts wandering, and it keeps my head focused.
4) Get yourself a morning and an evening routine
I can't stress this enough. My biggest problems were always laying in bed with my iphone either when I woke up or when I went to bed. Not only is this terrible for yourself and productivity, but it's definitely an easy access trigger. I also PMO'd almost exclusively at night. What I do now is at 11 pm, I shut down all electronics. I put my laptop in my closet, set my alarm on my phone and put it far away from my bed, and then I go wash my face, brush teeth, etc. I then journal (not everyday, but thats okay) and read until I'm tired. This takes away all triggers and temptations away from me, and instead of leaving my mind to wander, I am engrossed in a book.
5) Forgive and accept yourself.
Know that you will not be perfect at this. Know that you are going to fail eventually. And be okay with that. Forgive yourself for all the time you wasted.
6) Get hobbies. Explore things. Learn. Fill your time as much as you can
I'm sure everyone who has been successful at this mission knows this. You can't expect to live the exact same lifestyle you've been living, (ie. get up, do a little work, surf web, do a little more work, surf web, surf nsfw, do a little work, surf web, etc) and expect anything to change. You are living the exact same pattern of life that you've been living and expect a major part of that pattern to magically disappear.