Age 29 - A re-evaluation of r/Nofap, some thoughts on facing real life (social anxiety)
If you need a TLDR, skip to my concluding thoughts at the end, where I reflect on my current situation. But you’d get a whole lot more out of this post if you take ten minutes to read it.
Alright, now that I’ve reached this colossal milestone, I’m gonna get real with you guys.
First of all, some words about r/Nofap. Don’t idolize the Nofap community. Do not expect the Nofap community to do the work of recovery for you. Do not become addicted to this online forum. Get what you need, and make sure you’re doing the work in real life, too. For those of you who are new here, sink your teeth into this community as much as you want. It can be a very inspiring place for a porn addict. There are some beautiful souls on this forum and there is a lot of wisdom to be shared.
But I have noticed over the past year of being on this website, watching the number of fapstronauts on the sidebar grow from something like 60,000 to +120,000, that it is becoming increasingly disjointed. You will not find a structured recovery program here, and that’s what many (though not all) of you need. What you will find is a complicated mixture of genuine people seeking to better themselves by overcoming addiction, dick heads who get off on creating conflict and bathing in their own grotesque cyber-egos, dudes who think getting laid is the ultimate purpose in life (many of whom, I might add, are simply substituting one addiction for another), married older men who can’t get it up for their partners or feel that their relationships lack intimacy, religious folks who feel guilty about their porn use, and everything in between.
So, given the utterly incompatible mishmash of conflicting interests in this rapidly evolving online community, there is very little unity, and it can sometimes be an unreliable source of help. So take r/Nofap for what it is.
For those of you who feel seriously addicted to porn and masturbation and truly want to recover, make use of r/Nofap for as long as it makes sense to you. But also utilize other sources of outside help, namely therapy, and recovery websites like Recovery Nation. Also read everything on the Your Brain on Porn website. Gary Wilson is the man for putting so much together to help younger generations of guys regain their manhood and battle this epidemic, this disease, this 21st century drug from hell.
A couple other thoughts and reflections about my own experience. (I speak from the perspective of a serious addict. We are all here for our own reasons, some of us are in rougher places than others. My reflections may not be of any significance to some of you. When I make generalizations like “You will not be healed in 90 days” I am speaking to people who have been SERIOUSLY addicted to pornography ever since hitting puberty.)
You will not be healed in 90 days. Do not expect your life to be in order after 90 days. Do not expect to be completely healed. You will experience wonderful gains. Life will most likely take on entirely new meaning. But that comes at a price. The price is worth paying, of course, but it also stings. A lot. So be ready for that. Life ain’t peaches just cuz you kicked porn. No, now you have real responsibility. Now you actually have to do something with your life. Now your go-to excuse to be a complacent, mindless little fuck is no longer an excuse. You’re no longer on training wheels. Learn to fucking ride the bike. It’s not going to be easy. But there is NEVER a good excuse to go back to the training wheels.
If you’re like me, porn hijacked your entire life as soon as you discovered that your dick performs sexual functions. You grew up associating pornography with pleasure, comfort, escape, excitement. And you came to depend on it. It was an easy coping mechanism to have. Accessible and effortless, and seemingly without consequence.
But this robbed you of your adolescence and the healthy growth that you should have gone through when you were younger. You don’t know how to manage your emotions. You don’t know how to have healthy sex with a girl. You don’t know shit about yourself. Now you’ve gone 90 days without touching your cock or looking at porn and you think everything’s going to magically fall into place? No.
Don’t get me wrong. This accomplishment should be celebrated. It took me a whole fucking year to finally reach 90 days. A year of intense pain, despair, suicidal thoughts, rejection, loneliness, the whole fucking pie. I ought to be proud of myself. And I am. But you know what reaching this milestone does for you? It shows you just how lost you really are as a person. But, by the same token, it also shows you that you are much stronger than you originally thought. You develop a powerful belief in yourself, and this is indispensable.
Let me try a corny analogy to illustrate the significance of the porn addict reaching 90 days. At first, he was off in some small little ditch somewhere being picked on by a couple of punks. He was outnumbered. These guys were smacking him around and calling him names. All he had to defend himself with was a plastic fork. Now, by some feat of superhuman greatness, (har har) he escapes the bullies and climbs out of the ditch, only to find himself stumbling onto a huge battlefield that stretches farther than his eye can see. The battlefield is chaos. Filled with people killing each other. Ripping each other’s hearts out. Blood and screaming and horror and death. But what’s this? Somebody hands him a huge, sharp sword, and a decent shield. Now he’s armed to face the world. Does that make facing the world easy? Not at all. Does having the sword automatically make him good at fighting? Nope. Will the shield protect him indefinitely, no matter what comes at him? Not a chance. But what do the sword and shield do for him? They provide him with a starting point. He now has to take matters into his own hands. Will he immediately be slaughtered, or will he fuck some shit up on the battlefield? Same question applies after the fapstronaut reaches 90 days. What are you gonna do now? Continue to challenge yourself and recover from your addiction? Or fall back into a pit of despair and self-hatred? You have the tools to succeed. Fuckin use them and don’t look back.
Some concluding thoughts.
I still get urges to look at porn. All the time. I don’t know if the term “flatline” applies to my situation at all, as I have always felt like my libido has been pretty consistently high, but I do have periods that are unbearably depressing, dry, empty, and tedious. Negative thought patterns, self doubt, worrying about relapsing, social anxiety, lack of motivation, low energy. These kind of symptoms are still with me at day 90.
Thankfully, I do not experience them every day. It does seem that they are slowly becoming less heavy on my psyche. I am gradually becoming a more stable human being. But they’re still there and they probably will be for some time. My biggest challenge right now is accepting that every day is a battle, that “every day is day 1”, as one fapstronaut wisely stated.
- Aimless internet browsing.
- Fantasizing about sex.
- Stumbling upon something sexually explicit by accident.
- Sex (chaser effect).
- Porn wet dreams.
My responses to those triggers:
- Going for a walk outside by myself.
- Making some tea. Meditation.
- A cold shower.
- Listening to inspiring, spiritual music.
- Reading a book.
- Writing in my journal.
- Going to therapy.
- Connecting with friends.
- Playing guitar.
- Visualization techniques.
I don’t yet know how to distinguish spontaneous arousal from impulsivity. I lose my sense of self as soon as I get into a relationship with a girl. I am not ready to date. I’m going at least 6 months hard mode, starting now.
I have found recovery nation to be very helpful. I am currently participating in the self-help recovery program. It’s free. Check it out.
Quitting porn was just the first layer of the onion. My sex and love addiction runs deep. I am attending Sex Addicts Anonymous, and I am excited to spend at least the next couple of months SINGLE discovering what my needs are as a healthy young man.
I pride myself in being a very open person, both online and in real life. If you have any questions about my experience, or anything at all, feel free to comment or message me.
Just a few things that might really help you if you are struggling. Cold showers. Regular exercise. Changing up your diet to something healthier. FORCING yourself to be more social, even if you have anxiety. There’s no way around it. Daily meditation. Finding a creative outlet: music, art, poetry, whatever.
In conclusion, you still need to do the individual work of healing, but this community can be an immensely helpful tool. I must say I feel a deep sense of gratitude to the hundreds of fapstronauts I have interacted with over the past 12 months. You are fighting a worthy fight, you are becoming strong men, and I love you for doing that for yourselves. It is beautiful that so many people are starting to take control of their lives. Just make sure your commitment to recover carries over from the Nofap forum into real life!
Thank you for listening. I will certainly be sticking around for a while, giving advice and seeking support in times of need, because my addiction is still very close in my peripheral vision right now, I recognize that I still need your support.
My 90 day video report on youtube:
- You are not your Brain - Jeffrey M. Schwartz, Rebecca Gladding
- WACK: Addicted to Internet Porn - Noah Church
- The Power of Habit - Charles Duhigg
- Is it Love or is it Addiction? - Brenda Shaeffer
Also please read this post: http://www.yourbrainrebalanced.com/index.php?topic=15558.0
After almost four months since masturbating or looking at porn, I have a lot to say.
The past 105 days has involved some of the most beautiful moments of my life, as well as some of the most painful ones.
Beating porn addiction will most likely be one of the hardest things you'll ever push yourself to do. It will also be one of the best things you will ever do for yourself.
Here are some of my most important observations and insights after 105 days of chaos.
Loneliness. Isolation. Self-doubt. These are your biggest enemies in your battle to beat porn addiction.
You MUST force yourself to be more social. At first it will seem stupid and it will make you feel uncomfortable if you aren't used to it. But this is an ESSENTIAL part of your recovery. You must re-teach your brain to enjoy SOCIAL CONNECTION. It will be one of your STRONGEST pillars of success.
Isolating yourself is a TERRIBLE IDEA and it will make your recovery much more challenging. Don't get me wrong, everyone should have a bit of solitude now and then and be mature enough to spend time alone and enjoy it. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about depriving yourself of human connection because it scares you, or because it no longer interests you, or it bores you, or makes you feel pressured to perform.
Intentionally avoiding connections with other people will handicap you significantly. The degree to which you need more human connection will vary to some extent between individuals, as some are more introverted than others, but we are ALL social creatures. Avoiding socializing is like trying to scale a cliff with no equipment. Good luck.
What makes isolation so dangerous is that it often breeds self-doubt, and creates a nasty cycle where you close yourself off from others, then you criticize yourself for being so unlovable/lonely/boring 'insert self-sabotaging word here' .. etc.
It is much easier to convince yourself that you are worthless and you do not deserve to recover from porn addiction if all you have is your lonely self and nobody else to keep you company and put a smile on your face.
In other words, being alone too much makes feelings of self-doubt stronger and harder to ignore. It also makes urges to watch porn stronger and harder to ignore.
You will be amazed at how much connecting with people can do for your mood and your self-esteem. I think I've made my point. Use this to your advantage. Your brain will start to value social connection and prioritize it over isolating yourself and jacking off to porn. But it takes time and effort. You will not become socially skilled overnight.
Complacency. Oh, you fucking bastard, complacency. Don't come near me.
Find things that inspire you and make you feel excited. For me, that's exercise, playing guitar and writing music, drawing, journalling, connecting with friends, studying philosophy, yoga and meditation. Find your own interests. Pushing yourself to go to the gym or take a cold shower when you feel like a lazy sack of shit will do wonders for you. So practice that.
For some people, not focusing on women/sex for a while can be helpful. A lot of people get upset about that so I won't say much there. If you want to hear my thoughts about relationships while overcoming porn addiction, watch my 90 day video on youtube:
TL;DR: Stop doubting yourself. Connect with people. Discover what your passions are. Don't look at porn. It will steal your soul and take away your magnetism. You don't want that.
Also, check out the Recovery Nation website. It has helped me a great deal.
I have made some very strange observations in roughly 5 months free of porn and masturbation. There are a million things I want to share with you all but the main thing is the connection between Nofap and social anxiety.
It is important to note that not everyone who has social anxiety will be able to relate to my experience or benefit from my observations. Some people have a very surface-level social anxiety which usually goes away after a few weeks porn free. Others have a deep-rooted social anxiety that has nothing to do with Nofap, and their masturbation habits and porn consumption have little effect on their anxiety.
There is another camp of social anxiety sufferers that falls somewhere in the middle of these two ends of the spectrum, and I would like to talk about my experience in this camp.
It is hard to say whether or not I have always had social anxiety. I don't know if I was born with it, or if it developed based on certain events that took place as I grew up. My father has always been socially anxious, but I was very confident and had lots of friends when I was very young, showing no signs of anxiety until I was maybe into middle school/high school -- at which point my porn addiction was well underway. This leads me to believe that it wasn't as much about genetics as it was about my environment and my behaviors.
So my anxiety continued to worsen once it took hold. And at the same time, my porn use became more compulsive, and more frequent. By college, after years of masturbating to porn regularly, at least twice a day, even when I was dating girls, my social anxiety got so bad that I could barely interact with people.
Everything involving other people made me uncomfortable. Talking to my mother on the phone. Hanging out with my best friend. Attending a class at school. Meeting someone new. Going into a store to buy something. Asking someone for directions/help. Being watched by people in public. You name it, I experienced it. It was utterly debilitating. I couldn't make any friends. I felt like a worthless sack of shit.
Then, after stumbling upon Nofap, and by a stroke of luck and a little bit of will power, I started to face my addiction. I would start to go a week to two weeks without porn and my social anxiety was significantly less noticeable. I would relapse after two weeks and all the anxiety would come rushing back to me, as if I'd made no progress at all.
Fast forward to now. It's been almost five god damn months since I've jacked off or looked at porn. (Holy shit I'm proud of myself)
I feel like a new person. My anxiety used to be a 10. Now on most days it's like a 2 at the most, sometimes a 0 or a 1.
Quit porn and masturbation and you may just get your life back. BUT. Do not fantasize. Let me repeat. DO NOT FANTASIZE!!!!
I consider fantasizing to be the same thing as edging. Let me explain why.
As I said, after a few months PMO free my anxiety is nothing compared to what it was. But if I don't get enough sleep and then I'm tired the next day, sometimes I catch myself fantasizing. I'll picture my professor performing oral sex on me. Or I'll remember the last time I had sex and I'll start to replay the scene in my head. Now this only happens for a few minutes and then I wake up and realize that I need to refocus my attention to something non-sexual to let my brain continue to heal.
Well, just from those few minutes of fantasy, I feel a little bit more socially anxious. It's like a small piece of my social anxiety came back as soon as I indulged in the sexual thoughts. Isn't that weird?
Man, the brain is strange. Recovering from porn addiction is strange. It's also incredibly rewarding. You all deserve to recover. And you will. One day at a time. If you find yourself in a shitty situation like me where your anxiety comes back randomly after a small little slip up in your attention, DON'T BE HARD ON YOURSELF. Let it go. You will not achieve perfection overnight. These trials are shaping you into a bad ass man. Enjoy the ride and embrace the strangeness and the ups and downs.
It is an exceedingly difficult task to put the last 5 months into words. This has been the most rewarding and the most painful time of my life. I am almost 21 years old and for the first time I feel like I'm really living. A fap free life after around ten years of serious addiction brings unimaginable gifts, and it also brings an intensity of emotional pain that I have never before experienced.
As I know many of you read these long-streak posts for motivation, I will first briefly outline the "benefits" that I have experienced over the course of 150 days. But I will first say that if you are too focused on getting to the "benefits" of Nofap and not willing to experience the pain and suffering that is required to earn those benefits, then stop reading. You aren't really going to appreciate what I have to say.
Some of the biggest benefits of this journey:
*Huge increase in motivation, anywhere from committing to meditate every day and work out, to making conversation with people, to reading more books, and setting serious goals for my future
*Better ability to connect with others, more confidence, less social anxiety
More able to *feel my emotions. No more porn induced brain-fog and apathy.
*More energy and charisma
*Stronger commitment to my values
*Stronger optimism toward the future, strong belief in my ability to succeed
*My life feels more meaningful and more positive
*Becoming more ethical. No longer look at women as objects to exploit.
*Genuine compassion for people who are suffering
I could list off dozens of other benefits but I feel like that would be unnecessary. I really want to say something to all of you.
PLEASE COMMIT TO THIS. EVERY MAN DESERVES A MEANINGFUL LIFE.
It tears at my soul to think of how many guys are still stuck in the vicious cycle of porn addiction. Please GET SERIOUS ABOUT THIS. This is one of the most harmful addictions, especially for people like me who got sucked into it before puberty.
Living with this addiction is like living life with blinders on, like those things they put over horses eyes so they can only see right in front of them. You will never appreciate all that life has to offer if you're wasting your precious energy on fucking pixels on a screen. Wake up.
If your addiction is as bad as mine was, this battle is going to literally cut you open. You are going to suffer A LOT. You're going to cry. You're going to want to punch the wall a thousand times. You're going to get angry and irritated at people you love because they just don't understand what you're going through, and they can't take the pain away from you.
You have to fight the Void that knocks on your door every morning when you wake up, and every night when you're trying to relax and get some sleep. You have to embrace that feeling of emptiness and hopelessness. You can't fucking run away from it. It will ALWAYS be right there with you if you don't face up to it now and let it do to you what it needs to. For me, that meant I had to spend a lot of time sad and alone.
I had to stop obsessing over getting a girlfriend to numb my pain. I had to stop drinking and smoking and filling my nose with coke, I had to stop browsing for some innocent young girl on a dating website to take advantage of, I had to stop lying to myself.
THERE IS NO EASY WAY OUT OF THIS. read that again. There is no easy way out. You can't just skip to the end, where you're fully recovered and you're enjoying a healthy life with no monkey on your back. You need to live with that monkey on your back for a hell of a long time. He's still on my back after 5 months. His scratches don't cut as deeply now as they did early on, but he's still there, holding on for dear life. He doesn't want me to be a happy, healthy individual. He's been with me since I was like 10.
If you're having trouble, find a GOOD therapist. Confide in a trusted family member or a friend. Be open about your problem. Stop hiding everything.
Visit recoverynation.com and do the recovery workshop. That has been one of the most valuable tools in my recovery. After you get a decent streak going, let yourself drift away from r/Nofap a little bit. Don't be browsing the front page all day every day searching for more motivation. That's great for people who just started. But once you have a starting point, let that guide you. Start doing things in your life that make you feel happy and fulfilled, so you don't need to constantly rely on other people.
Cold showers every damn day, unless you have really stuffy sinuses, then a hot shower is nice.
Exercise. Lots of it.
Social interaction. THIS IS HUGE, especially for those of us with social anxiety. One of my biggest triggers for negative thinking and relapse is too much social isolation. That shit will eat away at you.
Meditation. Just fucking do it. Instead of binging on a 12 pack of shitty light beer and playing video games all weekend, take up meditation.
Read something that interests you. Stimulating your intellect is important.
Spend time outside. We are a part of nature. Don't keep yourself removed from it just because you can.
Creative outlet. This is also huge. I play guitar, i occasionally write poetry/journal entries, I draw from time to time, and I sing. And I'm starting a dance class. All this shit is super important. Find something creative to do.
That's it folks. Do the work. This is not going to be easy. I probably need a full year to recover completely. I'm not looking for a girlfriend right now. I tried that route, for me it leads me right back to my addiction. It's too early. I've never been single and healthy before. Now is my time to grow.
I hope you find motivation in this post. For those of you who missed my 90 day report, here it is, along with the video on youtube, just to give you a sense of where I've come from: