So here finally comes my success story. Things aren’t perfect now, even at day 127 – but all areas of my life have improved so much; and I feel like I’m now on tracks that are good enough that things will keep improving for a long time. So I write this as an opportunity to give hope to long-term rebooters (I’ve have frequent relapses for about 9 months before beating addiction) and share all the things I’ve found deeply helpful and healing. Because it’s not really about quitting porn, it’s about healing oneself, both physically (think neurotransmitters, hormones, brain plasticity) and mentally (mindset, emotional management tools, self-knowledge).
Back in March 2015, I had frequent suicidal thoughts, no job (I had graduated one year and half before and couldn’t stomach looking for a job, it was too much of a challenge), didn’t meet with friends more than every other month and barely spoke with them online, and some kind of orthorexia with mild bulimia, mild OCD. I had periods when I would work out regularly, meditate regularly, and periods of months where I wouldn’t do any of those. I also had insomnia – the kind that kept me awake everyday until 3-7am. Obviously low energy, very high anxiety and brain fog. I wasn’t able to write a full sentence in my mother tongue without several mistypes (before meeting porn, my orthography was nearly perfect – just an example to show my lack of concentration).
When quitting porn, withdrawals hit me like hell at first (and came back after my first relapses). For several days I could barely open my eyes, was freezing cold and was sooo tired, I was really surprised. Anyway – they still come and go now, but they are very mild.
Now things are pretty good most of the times. My social circle is still quite shaky, but I basically come from ground zero – I usually meet up with people once or twice a week to socialise. My focus has improved a lot at around day 100-110. I’m much less anxious, more self-confident, aware of myself and my thoughts, and not depressed anymore. Socialising isn’t easy (it never was for me, including before starting watching porn), but I do it and eventually enjoy it. At work I’m usually able to get into a kind of flow, and much more tolerant to stress.
The first change came with a mindset shift, or rather, several interconnected shifts. By learning to forgive myself and others, I’ve stopped grasping onto the idea that “it’s not my fault I’m so damn unhappy, so I shouldn’t be the one getting myself out of this mess”, and so I’ve empowered myself.
By empowering myself, I took responsibility for my actions. From that point I needed to be coherent with my values (which the Recovery Nation and meditation helped me develop, see below). This has led me to place an emphasis on being more committed to recovery and self-improvement, because there was no other way. I’ve also learned the importance of social connections (the single most important thing for mental and physical health), which is an area where I’ve basically started from scratch: very inefficient social skills, social circle close to zero… but, slowly, I’m building new skills and relationships. As of now, I know that if things get wrong, there are at least a few people I can turn to and talk to. I’m going out to meet some friends or new people on average 1-2 times a week, as opposed to once every 2-3 months like a year ago (when I started rebooting).
Education is very important. Without knowing what you’re dealing with, what tools exist, you’re walking towards nowhere, and your effort may very well be in vain. Great resources are YBOP (for all the neurologic and chemical aspects of porn), Greater Good Berkeley (they have a blog about positive psychology with great mental exercises to improve mental health and happiness, as well as the Science of Happiness free course on Edx), the Recovery Nation workshop (which helps you define your own values, understand the nature of your cravings, and ultimately provide the framework to move from addiction to a healthy mind).
More generally, Buddhist books are very interesting (by reading just a few key Buddhist books, written by Thich Nhat Hanh for example, you can have a good, functional understanding of how the mind works and some tools to improve your daily life – no need to be Buddhist or religious, I’m talking about sheer psychology here). One important thing, in Buddhism, is that there isn’t good or bad – there are skilful and unskilful thoughts and actions. The difference is that, while good or bad are intrinsic, skilfulness is a skill, which can be developed. Happiness, moral judgement, ability to socialise… All that can be developed.
Gathering information about general health, too, can be very important (what’s a good diet? Is your gut healthy – and, given the gut-brain axis, how does this impact your mental health? How to have good sleep and why is it important? What’s the HPA axis? Is it better to do chronic cardio, strength training and/or HIIT workouts?), and rebooting seems like a good time to do just that: setting the foundations for a lifetime of improvement, of body and mind.
So, based on all the information I’ve gathered, this is what works for me. I would say it’s actually universal, but don’t take my word for it: learn, try for yourself, and see what happens.
In terms of activity, meditation is the cornerstone for everything else. Clearer thinking, sounder sleep, better emotional regulation skills, more energy, being more social, increased willpower, and the list goes on. Meditation isn’t hard; if you find it hard, it’s because you are doing it wrong. Let go of expectations, and be aware that being caught in thoughts very often while meditation is normal: it’s part of meditation itself. There are so many meditation techniques – nondirective, mindfulness, guided meditations, loving-kindness, plus all the forms of Yoga– that there’s basically a meditation style suitable for anyone, including those with medical diagnoses of OCD, ADHD, depression, anxiety, etc.
I find that HIIT (intense sports), work better than chronic cardio. They train you to endure some higher amounts of discomfort, and to tolerate stress better. You also save time for better physical results. But it’s also more exhausting, so good sleep also becomes more important (7-8 hours; don’t use screens of blue lights before sleep; use this time to read a book, stretch a little or meditate!).
Diet-wise, something like a Paleo base with a lot of liberties seem to do me good (eating dairy and eggs, sometimes grains and legumes and the occasional sweet). Either way, just make sure to eat enough protein (dopamine and serotonin, among other things, are produced by the conversion of amino acids, so it’s important to have more than the official recommended amount when you’re recovering – proteins also stabilise blood sugar levels) and fats (omega 3 from fish are important too; also, the brain is just a big node of nerves, and all nerves are made with saturated fats, so they’re critical to recovery too).
Other than that, working at my job is very important. Doing good work is good for self-esteem, and the brain. It also provides a schedule which is beneficial, and some social interactions. I’ve been doing positive psychology exercises (self-compassion letter, gratitude journal) and am in the process of finding what I’ll do long-term in this regard.
For sleep, glycine and magnesium are great to take on a continual basis (there are 90% chances you’re deficient in these two nutrients). L-theanine is a great add-on, not natural but safe and effective. They all improve sleep duration and quality. I also recommend checking Julia Ross’s Mood Cure, especially the amino acids chart. Basically, it explains how taking specific amino acids (tryptophan/5-HTP, tyrosine & phenylalanine) can help recover from drugs addiction by re-building the stocks of neurotransmitters.
Mind your gut health. High-potency probiotics can help with OCD, ADHD, stress, emotional regulation, sleep, … And so can prebiotics (with the super-star, resistant starch, which is wonderfully cheap). Odds are, if you’ve been eating processed food, been under stress and/or have used antibiotics, those can help. Gut bugs produce serotonin and GABA, just to give an example of how they can impact your mood.
Another group of supplements that helps, and I’d recommend to virtually anyone are adaptogens like (but not limited to) rhodiola and ashwagandha. They are great stress busters (stress is a major cause of relapse, and very harmful to the body & mind), help the adrenal and thyroid glands (which are usually down due to years of addiction, poor sleep, poor habits, etc), and are good for the whole body, including the brain. One of the major causes of withdrawals, along with low dopamine and serotonin, is a high level of stress. But I want to make it clear: supplements won’t reboot for you. They won’t undo a negative mindset. They just go along and improve a well-thought reboot plan, and can make some aspects of recovery a little bit easier/shorter.
TLDR: take responsibility for your life, educate yourself, determinate what’s best for you, commit to doing it repeatedly no matter how difficult this is, and you’ll recover
LINK – My ongoing story
BY – Tseldo
INITIAL POST (13 MONTHS EARLIER) – 24yo new member!
Hi guys !
24 years old male here, I started porn at 16-17.
I varied going on porn sites from 1 to 3 times a day, regardless of whether I was in a relationship or not. If busy (ie away for holidays, at a friend’s place, or something else), abstinence wasn’t an issue for the first 2-4 days usually. No erectile dysfunction whatsoever, but heh, better safe than sorry. I mostly want to get over my social anxiety, kinda depression and increase my energy level. I’ve always been very shy and quiet, even before my first encounter with porn, but removing a layer can’t be bad.
I noticed that Metta (lovingkindness) meditation decreased my need for porn these last few days, to ‘only’ 1-2x a day. Even though I never tried hard to stop porn as I do now, I have a bit of experience on meditation, so maybe my input will interest you on this subject
Some searchers (like this one : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/the-real-cause-of-addicti_b_6506936.html) think that we are only addicts because we lack social bonding, and to some extant, willpower. It seems metta/lovingkindness meditation creates a sense of social bonding even without socialisation (even though, of course, it’s limited) and increases our ability to socialise with actual people. I’m trying to do 20-30mn of Metta per day in the morning, and the same of Vipassana/mindfulness meditation in the evening. I usually use guided meditation (Jon Kabat Zinn, Gil Fronsdal, Sharon Salzberg, …), but not always. Also, I do a bit of yoga instead of meditation sometimes (which is, IMO, like meditation in movement, and a great way to improve the ability to focus for someone who just can’t sit for more than a few minutes at a time).
Also, I hope intermittent fasting will ease and speed up my recovery. I’ve read that it increases neuroplasticity, improves mood, and actually helps cocain addicts sticking to their abstinence plan. I also ordered some n-acetyl cystein & magnesium citrate, that will come in about two weeks (I live in France, and I couldn’t find affordable, good quality supplements closer), I feel like I’m gonna need them.
Hopefully, I’ll quit porn forever. I’m on day 1.
All right, that’s me.
I’m glad to see a community to share this with