2 years ago I said, ‘I’m sick of this, I have to stop.’ I searched around and found some tools, did a lot of reading, fell down and got up and fell down again many times. I mostly followed the Tony Litster method (more on that in a moment), and a big difference in his method for sobriety is that he doesn’t insist you count the days of sobriety.
You listen to his audio, and he asks, ‘how did you do last week? well, never mind about that now, just let it go.’ because it’s all about where you are now. I don’t want to say that’s definitely the way to go, because I know many people live by the ticking off the days method, but it worked for me. You don’t beat yourself up over the previous week, you don’t go through the guilt and the shame, you just feel calm and determined to do well today. I had good weeks and bad weeks. I had a lot of bad weeks.
Then the good weeks started to outnumber the bad weeks. I haven’t been looking back, but then I did, and I see, wow, it’s been a year of sobriety. a year of sobriety doesn’t mean much, because there are hard days ahead and all that matters is how strong I am in that moment. who cares if I fall off the wagon again, but I can say, ‘well, I did have that good year.’ I just thought it would be a good title for my topic.
My first important tool is a diary. Actually I found a great online resource by ‘Fierce gentlemen, quit P in 30 days’, but I can’t see it online anymore. it was very simple – a word document that said consisted of:
My Commitment To Myself Today:
If or When Cravings Arise Today, I Will:
My Commitment To Myself Today:
If or When Cravings Arise Today, I Will:
…and so on.
Pretty simple stuff. I made a document for every month, wrote down my hopes, learnings, regrets, triggers and so on. I wrote about the previous day, how i’m feeling now, and my intention for the day ahead, and I do it first thing in the morning. Some would say use a notebook and not your computer for this, which makes sense, but I was too scared of it being found and read, so I did it all on my computer.
The other thing was following the tony litster programme. Google ‘cure the craving tony litster‘ to find it. You can also paste that into youtube to hear him doing some talks on what the programme is about. it’s free, Tony suffered addiction himself and now simply wants to help others. On his website, go to ‘programmes’ and you can sign up for the 9 month audio programme, and you can an email with an audio file a couple of times a week for nine months. he gives you ideas to work on slowly, bit by bit, so not to overwhelm you. because it’s a marathon, not a sprint. So as I worked on all these assignments and ideas, all that I was doing and my thoughts went into the journal.
One thing I’ll say that was confusing is that he calls his audios ‘Calls’. Because you can dial in on your phone to hear the audio. I live in a different time zone and so it made no sense to me. If I didn’t ‘call’ would i not be participating. Other than a couple of question and answer sessions, there is simply an mp3 download in every email where he gives you advice, a pep talk and new NP tools to ‘cure the craving’.
Hope this helps and gives some of you hope. A long time ago, I was looking at this forum feeling hopeless, looking for information and help, and I found it. And I’m on the other side, fitter, happier, married. Speak to you soon.
This bit’s about depression.
I don’t officially have depression and don’t see a therapist or anything, but I’ve had deaths in the family and hard times over the last few years, and of course P addiction makes it 10 times worse. I wonder, what came first? the P addiction or the depression? P always helps when you want short term distraction from real life, but it makes things so much worse when you have to return. So it doesn’t matter what came first, I just know these are two things I need to do a lot of work on.
I’m 35 now. Things got really bad several years ago. I was in my 20s, life was easy, I was living with my gorgeous, very lovely, long term girlfriend. Suddenly tragedy, deaths in the family, and my girlfriend suddenly turns into someone else, she’s angry, unsympathetic, and leaves me without saying goodbye after 4 years of living together with no explanation. Lost my home, lost my job, it was all pretty rough. I move into a place with a lot of privacy, get my own laptop; I’d been watching P since I was a teen, but on cable and for me internet P was still quite limited, but this is when I discover it’s free and unlimited. Cue several years of depression and T addiction, that vicious cycle of thinking real life is rubbish, and whenever I stopped watching P and went outside, the rainy town where I live (hence ‘rainman’) seemed to confirm all of it.
for me, a big help fighting depression is the famous book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns. You can skip the first part where he talks about depression and how great his book is. the great stuff are the mental exercises that help you live an active life. Depression stops you wanting to do anything (except maybe watching P). and if you stay home alone in bed, you get more depressed, but when you’re depressed, you’re cant get motivated to do anything. a vicious cycle! So the exercises include, for example, organising an evening (or week, or a day hour by hour), with activities like meeting a friend for a drink, or going for a run. Rate how high you think the pleasure will be before, and how good it was after. Getting out and living is always so much better than you imagine it will be (when you’re at home thinking everything sucks).
A big breakthrough for me came a year ago when I accepted my sadness. There’s a famous saying – don’t shoot yourself with the second bullet. Ie, you feel depressed and you cant talk to people properly, and you cancel seeing a friend at late notice because you really can’t bear the thought of going out, or – of course – damn, after a week of sobriety, I just spent a whole day watching P. that’s the first bullet. The second bullet is thinking, ‘I’m crap, i’m not a good friend, I cant function as a person, damn this addiction, depression has a grip on me and i’m wasting my life!’
But one day, I thought, ‘all this bad stuff has been happening for the last several years, and I’m allowed to be sad. If I have to cancel a friend at the last minute, I apologise and give my reason. I don’t think i’m pathetic because of it.’ A massive breakthrough!
I have a huge morning ritual I do every morning (which i’ll go through soon, it includes reminding myself that watching P will make me feel awful for the rest of the day/ week after a brief period of distraction), and sometimes I thought, ‘i’m sick of this, when will I be ‘normal’, a happy guy who can stay off P, jump out of bed each day and live life to the full without going through a really long self help ritual, arrrgh!’ Now I say to myself each morning (part of the ritual actually, because i’m not a morning person, I always wake feeling terrible, and i’m very susceptible to watching P), ‘You’ve been through a lot of shit, and the P addiction adds to the depression and lack of feeling any satisfaction in anything. so you probably feel unexcited about getting up and going to your job in your rainy town. That’s why you need to do all the activities in your morning ritual, and you’ll be ready to face the day.’ Once i’m prepared and use a lot of ‘Feeling Good’ exercises to tackle all the tasks I need to do, I’m active, and when I’m active, I’m less depressed and in need to lock myself in a room and watch P.
Cheers, have a great weekend everyone, speak to you soon
LINK – 1 year of sobriety
BY – rainman