Age 20 - My thoughts are less jumpy, less chaotic and wild
I know a lot of what I'll say has probably already been said. Though the title says that I offer advice, and I do, I'm doing this, selfishly, mostly for myself. Quitting porn has been one of the most eye opening experiences thus far.
Since I haven't talked to anyone about it, I need to tell someone. Anyone. So apologies in advance for the length.
A little background first. I'm 20 years old, a sophomore in college. I wasn't a popular person or anything in high school, but I was generally liked and have a group of really close friends. During my early years of high school, I guess I would say I was a pretty sociable person. I liked talking to people, making people laugh, and just being friends with everyone. This has completely changed. I started masturbating when I was 13 years old to an MTV show called "Pants Off, Dance Off". Hey, it gave what it promised. From there I did move to porn, normal stuff at first, but I had something else at quite a young age as well. When I was 14 I met and started dating a girl I would go on to date for 4 years, and who I would lose my virginity to. Though I was using porn, it wasn't very frequently at first, and there was no problems with her and I. When we started having sex everything went swimmingly, no ED or performance anxiety to note...AT FIRST. Somewhere along the line, my porn use increased, and my sex life decreased a bit. I was plagued with random bouts of performance anxiety and ED, which was really, really distressing to me. I felt weak and pathetic and terrible because it made my girl friend feel like she was doing something wrong. I had no idea what was wrong with me, and that was what really started my anxiety problems. Though I had occasional ED, it was still just that, occasional. I was still able to have sex and it would probably 90% of the time work just fine. But that 10% still plagued me, hanging in the back of my mind like some cackling spirit, a voice of doubt that couldn't help but whisper into my ear.
Anyway, by the time I graduated high school, I was headed to community college(broke) and my girlfriend was going to a big 10 university(rich). Though it was a long and drawn out decision, we decided to break up, as our paths and life seemed to be diverging, and it would be best for both of us if we gave each other the freedom to start a new life. That's all well and good, but that didn't make the break up any easier, especially when I would think about her going out to party at dorms while I was home, in the same town, hanging out with the same people I did in high school, completely stagnant, unchanged. Except for one thing; my porn use sky rocketed. It was some combination of weed use, boredom, loneliness, and dealing with the fallout of my break up that encouraged me to use porn as a crutch. To have some kind of relief to the stress, the depression and general feeling of confusion. Like many of you have found out, porn use did not help these feelings. It only intensified them.
My first year of community college was without a doubt a terrible year of my life. I developed an acute anxiety disorder, and a spiraling, almost OCD like problem. I became convinced I was losing my mind, that I was changing and soon I would be completely insane. I felt different on the inside; I was never overflowing with confidence, but now I was plagued with endless self doubt, an inability to talk to women normally or really anyone for that matter. I was a mess, I had no fucking idea what to do, and my porn use only kept increasing the worse I felt. I felt lost, and I felt like I was losing the person I was, and turning into someone who I just completely didn't like. That lasted for about an entire year. The beginning of my sophomore year, this last august, I finally decided to seek some kind of help. I couldn't keep living the way that I did. I went to therapy, overcame my OCD like problem, and my quality of life generally got better. I felt more confident, more like myself. But still, there were problems. I was still plagued with bouts of social anxiety, even around my close friends. This was such a fucking bother, because I used to love socializing, meeting new people and talking and having fun. Now I'm terrified of them, afraid that I'm gonna fuck up and say something dumb. And I was still experiencing times of depression, of feeling worthless, hopeless, and utterly pathetic. So, some months of therapy later, I was at a point where I wasn't getting any better. I considered taking medicine, but decided that if I could get over the obsessive thoughts that made my life a nightmare without drugs, I could get through my lingering anxiety and depression on my own. Obviously, that hasn't exactly worked out.
And then, sometime in January, I found YourBrainOnPorn and NoFap. And I finally understood what had happened to me, what changed me into such a pathetic and anxious person. I read about all of the physical changes that had happened to my brain, similar experiences of others, and best of all, the success stories. Dear god, did I love the success stories. Nothing gave me more hope then hearing people describe almost EXACTLY what I've been feeling, and better yet, how they overcame it, that they could and DID become better than ever, something I wanted to be. And from then, beginning sometime in late January up until early April, I began my trial and error of quitting porn. Those were some difficult months, filled with me nearly constantly relapsing, unable to escape the clutches of my addiction, getting discouraged every time I relapsed and broke my tiny streak, until I just quit trying completely, giving up hope for myself.
And then, something happened to me. I can't explain it in any possible way other than this; I decided to stop using porn. That doesn't sound like any grand, life changing piece of advice. It doesn't even sound like it makes sense, but I can't put into words in any other way. I was sick of the way I felt, sick of feeling like a slave to my addiction, and sick of being a socially fumbling person. So I stopped. I put every bit of will I had into not looking at porn, and lo and behold, I didn't. This, I feel, is the most important step. You have to accept that you aren't going to look at porn anymore, that you have to give up a source of pleasure in your life, perhaps your only source of pleasure, for your own greater good.
The last time I looked at porn was April 5th. I've gone a whole month without looking at porn. That, I can without a doubt, say is something I'm immensely proud of, something I thought was impossible only a month ago. In that time however, I have masturbated twice, to my own thoughts, non-porn fantasies. So I guess I can't say that I'm 30 day PMO free, just P free. So far I'm 12 days MO free.
Here are some changes that I've noticed, though some of these may be due to the fact that I have masturbated twice:
-More clear headed. I don't know how to describe it, but in general, I feel calmer. Like my thoughts are less jumpy, less chaotic and wild.
-I sleep better. I have been going to bed most days at around midnight and waking up the next morning around 8, feeling great, completely well rested. I have always had sleep troubles, and I think I know why now.
-General anxiety is less present. I am able to calm myself from silly worries and fears, and have a general feeling of calm about me while I go about my day.
-My social anxiety has been shaky. There are days where I feel decent, other days where I feel worse than when I was heavily using porn. My inability to talk to girls, especially, has pretty much persisted. There are times where I feel confident and can communicate like a normal human beings, and others where I feel like an idiot. This, I've heard, is somewhat normal, and may pass with time.
-Depressing feelings come and go, mostly in waves, but I am able to talk myself out of them usually. I can better see the positives of life.
-Increase in motivation.I have had the motivation to eat better and exercise, and have slowly gotten in better shape. In general, roaming bouts of motivation. I write for a hobby, and have had times where I've felt compelled to iron out a story and pour my all into it. Conversely, I've had moments where I've wanted to do absolutely nothing.
-Sexually numb.The urges to masturbate were really hard to deal with at first, but as time has gone on, I have gone generally sexually numb. I sometimes wake up with morning wood and the urge to put my weiner inside of anything warm, but after I get up and start my day, the urge is usually gone. This is actually a good thing; the less urge the better.
-My mood in general is numb; I sometimes feel happier than usual, other times sad, but I always return to this blank, empty feeling. I'm hoping in time this will pass too.
-Increase in creativity.* A feeling of new found creativity has come to me, something I think I had a lot of as a kid but let porn slowly destroy.
So, overall quitting porn has been a positive experience, or at least I know it will pay off positively. Though I'm going through a bit of a down turn at the moment, I have faith that I will get better, especially now that I have the tools to make sure I don't masturbate for the coming months. So, here's the bits of advice I have to give. I know I'm not the expert, but as someone who had A LOT of trouble starting, I have a bit of insight:
-Read The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson. If any of you are having trouble starting, or staying the course, read this. I actually just finished it just before writing this post, and can say without a doubt, this book has literally changed my life and the way I look at the world. The lessons you learn are not only applicable to all aspects of life, but especially to quitting PMO, or even losing weight. ANY goal you have can be achieved through the slight edge. Give it a shot, even if it's 10 pages a day, give it a shot and the lessons within and it WILL change your life.
-Exercise and eat right. If you don't already do this, DO IT. It will give you another goal to aspire to, so your though process isn't constantly consumed by "I'M NOT GONNA FAP I'M NOT GONNA FAP". The less you THINK about fapping at all, the easier it becomes. Plus, the physical benefits will start benefitting all aspects of your life, improving your mood in general.
-Forget about streaks. Or rather, don't take them as seriously. Yes, they are motivating, and I'm not saying that you shouldn't keep track, but don't let them dictate you. IF YOU RELAPSE, DON'T QUIT. This was my BIGGEST mistake and what caused me to spend 3 months TRYING to start quitting porn. Every relapse I took as a sign of failure, every 4 day streak I broke I took as a reason to give up hope. But it's not. Even if you're 90 days porn free, and you relapse once, that 90 days still counts. That's 90 days you went WITHOUT porn. Even if it's 1 day, 5, 500, that's still time you went without porn. Breaking your streak once won't undo the work you've put in. Just get back on the horse. Don't let it happen again. Most of all, forgive yourself.
-Be productive.Fill your time with productive activities, preferably new ones. Read something new, watch a new movie or tv show, pick up a new hobby, exercise, go outside for a walk, talk to a friend, anything. Fill your time with new experiences, new stimuli to overwrite the old, porn related ones.
-Be patient. Obvious, but this was something I struggled with. 90 days seemed daunting, and I desperately wanted to feel better NOW, right away, and when I didn't I would be discouraged. Take everyday a day at a time, moment by moment, and know that the drastic changes ARE coming.
I guess that's all I had to say. Sorry again about the length, keeping this all bottled up this past month has been a bitch and finally here, at 1 in the morning, I finally had to let it all explode out of me (terrible metaphor, couldn't resist).