Age 23 - 27 attempts before I got to 90 days: rediscovering normalcy
I discovered and began /r/NoFap on July 3, 2012 at age 22. I already had it in my mind to end PMO when I endured a psychological break the prior February. One of the messages I derived from that experience was to get my shit together generally and to eliminate all underlying conceptions of the lovely opposite sex as an object.
When I began recovering from this, I was in midst of a deep and profound depression and it was incredibly empowering to find in /r/NoFap a support community with a definite and quantifiable goal. I knew I had to focus on filling the cracks of my psyche’s foundation, and a core inhibitor of this task was PMO. It had to be eliminated.
I would attribute the bulk of my success to my calendar. I use large monthly wall calendars and for each day I use color markers to mark various things about the previous day. In yellow, I reward a simple dot on days I abstain from PMO. Pursuing these yellow dots was incredibly important for both ending depression and succeeding at NoFap. The day counter helps, but there is something meaningful about victoriously pressing the yellow marker to that day.
Framing NoFap in a calendar form also made me conceptualize the challenge differently. I could see exactly how many days out of a month I had abstained. I could track individual streaks in the context of my schedule. In writing this post In writing this post I went back and examined these 'records' and made this graph. Here we see a visual narrative of my successes and failures at NoFap since I started. I personally haven’t seen something like this on here before so I hope it is helpful to everyone, but especially for newcomers.
As you can see, it took me 27 attempts before I got to 90 days. That seems really imposing, but if you look at this pie chart you’ll see a comparison of the days I relapsed versus the days I abstained. I had 349 days of abstaining compared to only 32 when I PMO’d. For me, this is a powerful visualization. I think of all the time I saved by not doing PMO almost daily, as had been the routine until late 2011. This abundance of liberated time had to be put to some use of course, and this is where the real change took place.
Here is how I found success:
- Streaks began to be longer when I started my Fall semester and I was busier with my Master's program.
- By November, I began to run...a lot. This became my biggest outlet for anxiety and frustration. Anybody interested should add me on Runkeeper and Fitocracy.These two sites were critical in establishing a new routine. Just send me a message! I'd love to have some more friends on there. I also set goals for running 600 miles and doing a 12 minute plank for 2013. These are both on track.
- I made progress on piano and broke the same old skill plateau I had lingered at for the past few years.
- I eliminated the depression by the middle of the Spring semester and was in the best shape of my life
- Most importantly, I learned the scenarios and mentalities that lead me to relapse and I now can consciously avoid them: anxiety over procrastination or planning ahead, debilitating hangovers, and simple inactivity.
Around this time I was beginning to see better interactions with ladies, and really with everybody. Nothing sexual though; I won’t ostensibly pursue this until I feel my foundation is complete, but I am close. I could maintain solid eye contact, empathize in meaningful ways, and I knew I was exponentially more fun to be around. And, even outside the context of girls, I can just feel a passion intensity about both positive and negative things. Wishy-washy apathy and boredom is rarely present, even if I still tend to sometimes stifle expressions of that passion because it just feels so different. This was all observable but it wasn’t until about two weeks ago when I realized the extent of my change. You can read about it at my post here.But essentially, I was at an academic seminar and had a goal of taking a girl I would meet on a ‘date’ to show her around my city. I succeeded in this with, literally, the highest quality girl there. She is of such a caliber that in any year prior I would have subconsciously self-sabotaged any effort to relate with her. But now this amazing interaction seemed normal, a new normal, and now we're planning on meeting up next week when I'm traveling through her city.
I realized that the changes in NoFap don’t always come to people like those sensational “OMG I have amazing NoFap superpowers now!!!!” posts. Maybe for some, but for me it was about rediscovering an almost benign ‘normalcy’. You see, NoFap is not like a drug that gives you a new ‘high’. No, PMO is the drug that alters the normal you into a twisted version. Real success at NoFap yields lifestyle changes that bring you back on course. This ‘normal’ only feels profound because you had been floundering in PMO for so long. I like this conceptualization, because I know that all the benefits I have worked for are actually the normal me and it won’t go away.
I could list all the individual things I’ve noticed as improvements but I’ll just point to nearly any other 90 Days Report and say “Ditto”. I just want to emphasize that these improvements don’t need to feel sensational, although I know that’s what we all seek when we first start. Don't expect too much too quickly. Maybe it’s just because my quest began in a state of depression, but my success needed concentration, work, and the establishment of positive routines. It wasn’t until I had that interaction with that girl when I had my moment of realization of just how much I had changed.
Thanks /r/NoFap! I’ll update you all again at 120 days and beyond.