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
- 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.
- 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 :/
- Keeping a relapse journal. I recorded how I felt on good streaks and after relapses.
- Working out (running, swimming, push-ups, etc.). It helped clear my mind.
- 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.
- 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.
- Picked up a new hobby – playing the piano. It has a therapeutic effect on me and gives me something more to do when alone.
- 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.