"How my porn addiction ruined my sex life" (Cosmo UK)

Printer-friendly version

Daniel SimmonsDaniel Simmons, 23, tells Cosmo his story… I was 15 when I first masturbated to online porn. The high I got was immense, and it lasted about 30 minutes.

At that point in my life I'd been feeling really low, and had been for about seven years. But, for the first time, I didn't feel depressed at all – everything lifted. It made me want to do it again, and again – so I did, until I was watching online porn every day.

At the time, I didn't realise I had a problem. My friends and I talked about porn at school – it was normal, something we all did. I didn't know it could be harmful or that you could abuse it. So I continued to use porn to escape my (then undiagnosed) depression.

It was the only thing that made me feel better, and soon I was watching porn for up to two hours a day. Even if I was ill with flu, I'd find time for porn.

Eventually, I became desensitised to 'vanilla' guy-on-girl porn – it simply didn't turn me on – so I sought out more extreme porn to shock my system into being aroused again.

For the same reason, sex with real women was pretty much impossible. I didn't link it to my porn addiction – because I didn't know I had one. I just thought there was something inherently wrong with me, which made me feel more low.

To this day, I don't know how I passed my A-levels or got into uni to study music. Life was a blur.

It wasn't until the summer of 2013, when I was 21, that I reached breaking point. By then I'd been diagnosed with depression. I was seeing a therapist (who had no idea about my porn use) and was taking medication, but I didn't think it was working.

I wanted to end my life – it was either that, or I had to make a change. I chose the latter. My therapist had mentioned meditation, and I had nothing to lose, so I gave it a try.

After just a few minutes, something hit me. I thought, "Wow, this is the missing puzzle piece. I have a serious problem with porn." It was as clear as day.

I went online and looked up porn addiction. I found a website called Yourbrainonporn.com, which offered advice on how to reverse the unwanted effects of heavy porn use.

It also explained that extreme internet porn can alter the brain, for example numbing the brain's pleasure response. I found a lot of support from other people who also used the site, and I wasn't alone. It was a huge relief.

From that day, I went cold turkey on porn. I had terrible withdrawals. My hands shook and I had awful mood swings, vivid nightmares and hot and cold sweats.

But I was ready to turn my life around, and aside from the side effects, I felt good and my mood was stable. I managed 100 days without porn and masturbation, and after a few months, I didn't have any desire to watch porn.

Two years on, I've moved from the UK to Berlin and am working as a piano teacher while learning German. Now, I'm able to enjoy sex with women without it feeling like a chore, which is amazing.

I do occasionally get cravings, usually when I'm bored, but I cope by changing my environment or distracting myself.

Porn addiction is a huge issue. Shockingly, nearly one in 10 children aged 12 to 13 is worried that they're addicted to porn.

That's why I want to share my story – to raise awareness and let people know porn addiction can be harmful. But the effects are reversible – and the sooner you get help, the better.

Daniel will feature in a new crowd-funded documentary about porn's effect on the human brain called 'Rewired: How pornography affects the human brain'. For more information and to support their campaign, visit here

Original article by Harriet Thurley