Age 28 – No more debilitating depression, suicidal thoughts. Energy, concentration, stamina up

I’m a 28 y/o guy who started fapping at around age 11 and started looking at P (first stills, then videos) at around age 13. I was an introverted teen, a gamer, and socially awkward but embracing it.

P had been a regular part of my life for over a decade. I first became serious about quitting P when I was in a committed relationship with a girl I loved, and then experienced PIED.

I quit for a month (still MOing regularly without P at the time), got rid of the ED somewhat, but then as soon as I went back to P, the PIED was back. It was then that I decided to call it quits for good and stayed clean for 4 months. My girlfriend at the time was dealing with emotional scars from a previous relationship in addition to having a low sex drive. I ended up breaking up with her, the desire to watch countless insatiable women on screen being a major factor in the decision.

I regretted it soon after. I traded what I considered true love for internet P, which left me feeling empty, worthless, guilty and ashamed, a monster and a hypocrite. I felt that I’d lost my personality, and with it my sanity.

For the next year and a half I dealt with debilitating depression, suicidal thoughts, isolated myself socially, couldn’t concentrate on anything, felt that I’ve “lost my character” and felt dissociation from reality. I didn’t trust myself as a friend and in general didn’t trust myself around people. I had brain fog and recurring intrusive thoughts.

I felt that something has forever changed in my brain chemistry. It was as if coming back to hardcore P after a 4-month hiatus led to an “overdose” that irreversibly damaged my brain. I remember hurrying back from class one day just so I could get my “fix” by letting one out. I started loathing myself and became angry at the world.

I became serious about NoFap about a year ago. It took me anywhere between 20-30 attempts to get to 32 days (I’ve had a few streaks of 17 – 19 days and one 25-days streak).

My early streaks were characterized by extreme mood swings – euphoric highs and crushing lows. It was a constant struggle, but I felt that any streak longer than a few days made a real impact for the better. I had better communication and a better connection with people, was able to concentrate better, had more energy, and was more conscious of what I ate, therefore eating more healthily. I still experienced terrible loneliness, guilt over the break-up, and that I had at best a tenuous hold on my sanity. With every relapse I felt that I was back at square one and was ready to despair.

The longer I stuck with NoFap, the fewer mood swings I experienced, the more stable I became. My mind and body were getting used to the new reality of no orgasms and no P. Indeed, I now think of masturbating as “getting high.”

In this current streak – my longest – I have experienced virtually no depression. I have insane amounts of energy. I have to wake up at 5am for work every day and I’ve been doing so consistently and with ease. At work, I can concentrate and perform well, and still have lots of energy left when I get back home (I was once awake from 5am to around 2am and it wasn’t terribly hard). I barely have any intrusive thoughts (my first intrusive thoughts started when I was around 13). I am more assertive and confident, feel comfortable around women, and sleep soundly. I started working out and jogging again, feel that I have more stamina and better muscle retention. I’m not lazy about tasks around the house. I started seeing a girl and there’s mutual attraction.

I am more patient when talking to people. I look them in the eye and can really listen and pay attention to them. I have little to no brain fog (on a few occasions I did feel some fog creeping and started clenching my teeth really hard, but now that’s mostly gone too). I am more eloquent in my speech and more optimistic about the future. I actually gave a two weeks’ notice at my job (I had wanted to quit for a long time; it remains to be seen whether this was a good decision).

What helped me on my journey so far: 1. Checking this subreddit often

  1. Reading other subs such as r/depression and r/suicidewatch, which showed me what turmoils others were going through, and which helped put my situation in perspective.
  2. Learning about addiction through documentaries about hardcore drugs. I watched documentaries on YouTube about heroin, meth, cocaine, crack, oxycontin, and so on. It helped seeing addicts turning their lives around (as well as seeing what happens when they don’t); it taught me about the addiction cycle (dopamine, cravings, urges, withdrawals, rationalizing self-destructive behavior, etc.). Also, schadenfreude had something to do with it – seeing people worse off than me gave some relief :/
  3. Keeping a relapse journal. I recorded how I felt on good streaks and after relapses.
  4. Working out (running, swimming, push-ups, etc.). It helped clear my mind.
  5. Getting to know my habits/patterns and changing them. The urge to fap would come soon after waking up, so I learned that I was most vulnerable in the mornings. Changing my habits meant getting out of bed as soon as possible, etc.
  6. Opening myself up to people. Going it alone meant for me that I could only get so far. I needed people in my life, and now try to include them more.
  7. Picked up a new hobby – playing the piano. It has a therapeutic effect on me and gives me something more to do when alone.
  8. Avoiding alcohol, at least when I was still having my mood swings. For some reason, I became hyper-sensitive to alcohol in my early streaks, and a single beer or a few sips of wine would hit me like a rock. It would impair my judgment and often lead to a relapse. Now, however, I can actually drink and it doesn’t affect me so much.

I feel that I cannot MO in moderation for the time being. I cannot maintain a normal life and a PMO habit. If I watch P once, it creeps into every aspect of my life for days. I never regretted abstaining from watching P the previous day. My experience with P is that it’s a bottomless pit that never quenches the thirst it creates. I know I can still relapse on any day. Once I started NoFap, I felt that I could not go back to the PMO lifestyle.

Thanks everyone for sharing your struggles and successes, they’ve helped a lot, and I hope mine will too.