Desperate Times and Desperate Measures


#1

Greetings people of NoSurf!

My name is Sean, I’m 21 years old and I hail from the beautiful and great Pacific Northwest of the United States; specifically the state of Washington, city of Spokane. I was born here and so far have stayed here, not too much else to say about that. This is going to be a long post, so if you don’t have the time or will to read it then the important bits are in the last three paragraphs.

I could write about my whole life story but that would be one hell of rabbit hole, so I’m going to make it as brief as possible: Born into catholic family, both grandparents died at age 2 and 5, father died of drug abuse at age 8, next 6 years spent with obese bed-ridden schizo mother and abusive alcoholic step dad, both of them either were manipulative or abusive and most of the time neglectful, step dad left and child protective services got involved, foster care from age 14 to 18 moved through 4 different homes, spent the next year moving around a lot, moved in with my brother and things have been good since.

There’s a lot more details both good and much much worse, but I just want to help you understand that my life has been quite the ride to say the least. Anyways, I’m in my third year of college now and I have a 3.5 GPA and recently certified into my major of marketing, I live with my brother and my 3 best friends, we are renting a 5000 sqft home together, I drive a nice car, I have a nice room with a 65" flatscreen, a luxury bed, and…

A custom-built $3000 computer. Did I mention I love computers? Sorry if that whole paragraph seemed like one big “flex” but that’s not why I mentioned all of it. I decided to mention it because I wanted to paint the picture that everyone else sees at first glance. A healthy-looking, well-adjusted, and responsible young adult with everything going for him. Except…

That’s far, far… FAR from the truth. I spend up to 20 hours a day on my computer when accounting for my horrendous and non-existent sleep-schedule. I stay awake for 24 hours at a time (I’ve been awake for 22 hours at time of writing this), and I sleep for 14 hours (on a regular basis). I rarely leave the house, or my room for that matter. I may look healthy, but I have back-problems from sitting and slouching for 90% of my waking hours, and I haven’t even ‘occasionally exercised’ since I was 18. I deleted all of my social media, but that’s not because I spent too much time on it; I deleted it because aside from the friends I live with and the ones I talk to on discord, I don’t talk to anyone. I used to have loads of friends but it turns out if you never message them they all seem to disappear. Who knew?

The list of issues is extensive. I eat trash food, I have terrible hygiene, I gave up on dating, I’ve smoked weed or drank alcohol every day for the past 3 years, I’m an absolute nicotine fiend, I have worked a total of 5 months since I turned 18 at 3 different jobs (quit all of them), everything I start I give up on within a week,
and most of all… I hate myself.

Well, maybe I don’t hate myself, but sometimes I wish I could be anybody but myself. I have had severe chronic depression since I was 10 years old, and developed general anxiety disorder a year ago. I’ve been to the psychiatric ward a couple times and been on multiple medications, talked to multiple counselors, and at this point I’ve given up on all of that.

I’m not unhappy anymore, I’m not suicidal, I’m just tired. Tired in the literal sense. I have no energy or motivation, I’m an absolute shell of who I used to be. I have dreams but I’ve practically come to accept that they’ll never come true because I’m so fucked up. For some people fixing their problems is as simple as fixing a couple bad habits and starting a couple good ones. However, in my case it would require years of difficult cognitive re-training. I would have to fundamentally change every behavior I have acquired over my 21 years of life and work day-in and day-out at changing them. Just the thought of it is so overwhelming that I immediately get anxious chest-pains. It seems like an impossible goal.

It seems impossible…

However, if I thought it was impossible I wouldn’t be here now would I? I have used technology as an escape my whole life. I needed the internet when I was a kid to escape from the nightmare that was my life. However, things are different now. The only thing I’m escaping from is life, a fun and beautiful life, and I’m sick of running. So what have I done?

Well, over the past year I’ve been progressively changing for the better. I made things seem a lot worse on purpose, dramatic effect I guess. :sweat_smile: A lot of the things I’ve listed are still very true or were true, but there are a few things that aren’t so true anymore. I quit drinking entirely, and I only smoke weed once every other day sometimes up to a week without. I actually quit drinking anything but water, and recently I’ve been drinking water in excess of 100 oz a day. I’ve maintained a zero-sugar diet for a while now, I’ve been eating a lot better, cooking more often, and taking an assortment of vitamins every day. I’ve learned how to control my anxiety and what was once frequent panic attacks is now just minor anxiety. I keep my room clean at all times, and I try my best to wash up, shave, and brush my teeth at least once a day.

It doesn’t seem like a lot, but a year ago I was in such a bad state that I literally would throw up in my mouth multiple times within an hour of waking up and my bowel movements would alternate between diarrhea and constipation. I’m sorry if that was the most disgusting thing you’ve heard all week (or month), but this introduction is mostly really about me coming absolutely clean about everything. With what I just said in mind, I can now say that my movements are totally healthy, but much more important than that… I feel great. I feel like I could start exercising again, and my personal health is the one of the biggest steps towards getting my life together so it feels like I’m a third of the way to doing what I once thought was impossible. However…

I still spend 80% of every single day online. My Youtube watch-time statistics are disgusting. Twelve hours daily average, 84 hours a week on just Youtube alone. That’s more than two full-time jobs. I know that this is an internet addiction recovery forum so this isn’t anything bewildering, but it still baffles me when I see this statistic.

Obviously I will never achieve my ultimate goal if I’m spending all of my waking hours on my computer, and that’s why I’m here. I’ve made efforts to get better but every time I just relapse right back into it and make zero progress, in fact it has just gotten worse. I felt really hopeless, but not hopeless enough that I didn’t google search internet addiction recovery… and viola! Well, I haven’t made any progress, at least not yet.

The good news is, progress starts today.

I installed Cold Turkey and set a list with every website I use (except Youtube), and I blocked it for a week. I also included a list that someone made of 5000 adult websites and added that to the list as well. Every time I visit a website and realize that it’s a waste of time, I add it to the list so it immediately gets blocked. I set my adblocker to block Youtube so I do have the choice of disabling the block, but it requires a more conscious decision to do so. Along with this, I’ve also deleted every single video game I had installed on my computer and blocked access to all of the download pages. It’s hard for me to go nuclear because I do school online, but basically everything that’s not school or ‘lifestyle’ related gets added to the list. I’ve also un-bookmarked all of my regular sites and bookmarked NoSurf, so expect to hear from me again. :grin:

I have still yet to figure out my phone, but that will be taken care of soon. This is all a test-run right now and after I go my first week I plan for my second block to be longer, maybe two-weeks or a month? Regardless, this is a serious commitment, and I’m expecting serious results. It won’t be easy, but it also might be the single most important decision of my life. If you actually took the time to read all of this… 1. You really didn’t have to…
and 2. Thank you, really… Thank you. :blush:

As a final note… What are your opinions on a progress vlog? I guess the problem with a vlog is that most people on here are trying to spend less time online, so I don’t imagine many of you would watch it. Anyways, it would be nice to not just update my progress towards spending less time online (for accountability sake), but also talk about what I have been doing with all the time I’m not spending on the computer. Also, I would want to do a vlog because I want to get comfortable in front of the camera and practice more with Premiere Pro, I would be comfortable just writing update journals on here; but what’s the fun in that?


#2

Welcome, Sean. I read your whole story, just so you know. While probably not as extreme, it’s not unlike the story of many here on NoSurf. In this day and age, if one has an inclination to escape the pains of reality the internet is an option available anytime and many people use it. It was the same for me, even if I cannot recall 22-hour non-stop sessions.

I want to caution you not to get over-enthusiastic but to view this as a long-term project, a marathon, if you will, not an all-out sprint. People tend to want to swallow the problem all at once, predictably fail and then give up entirely. This is not something I want for you. It’s better to look at the status quo and tackle the main problem first - and only that. For you it seems to be YouTube and I find it strange that you locked so many sites down just to give yourself an option to access YouTube if you want.

I would advise you to think about the following: What absolutely necessary thing is YouTube giving you? There is nothing wrong with entertaining yourself using YouTube, but for that to happen you don’t need to have access to it all the time. There probably is a hard core of content you really want to watch and most of the other stuff you watch you do because it’s there and it’s convenient to continue watching instead of shutting off after watching what you went there for. It’s easier to not get sucked into this black hole if you only access YouTube once or twice a week. The good content is still there for you, it’s not as if YouTube is deleting it, so there’s no hurry to watch it.

Another reason I zero in on YouTube is the fact that it’s far easier to waste a lot of time watching videos versus reading text-based content. While it’s entirely possible to waste away days on, say, reddit, it requires a different level of commitment, while video content can be consumed passively.

Lastly, I am divided on the topic of a progress vlog. While it could be a good exercise for your video skills, it imposes a burden on those you want to keep posted on your progress, because it takes much longer and is more convenient to convey the same amount of information in spoken word than in text form. This is exactly the reason I dislike receiving audio messages over text messages, where it takes me a fraction of the time to grasp the meaning of what is said and I can do it anywhere whereas I need headphones when I want to listen to audio without disturbing people in public.


#3

First off, thank you so much for reading and responding. I just want to be clear that this isn’t my first time trying to stop, and I have wanted to for a long while. The only difference being that I am taking a much more drastic approach this time in which I am sort of tying my hands behind my back. I have quit a few bad habits in the past successfully, so I think I have a fair chance at this.

Yea… I don’t know how to feel about blocking Youtube. I’m so addicted to it that the thought of being unable to access it is a little scary. Before receiving your reply, I have been watching Youtube for an hour on my phone and was thinking the whole time how none of this information was necessary; so I’m a little grateful that you replied when you did. Just for you horatio… I’m blocking Youtube through Cold Turkey and deleting it off my phone. I already disabled both of my browsers on my phone so I can’t access Youtube unless it’s through the app. I still have the ability to re-enable it through settings on my phone, but now it’s even more difficult to access then before.

Damn… clicking the save button on the block list was actually really difficult. It sent shivers down my spine… I’m already feeling like I made a big mistake or something. It really shows you how addicted I am, huh?

Anyways, the reason I would want to make video content is because Youtube has basically no videos about NoSurf. Being a Youtube addict, when I found out about NoSurf my first reaction was to look on Youtube for videos about it but found practically nothing. At the same time I’ve seen hundreds of comments from people comparing watch time statistics, many of them saying more than 5 hours daily, some up to 10. There is obviously an audience of people who are addicted to Youtube and aware of their addiction, but the likelihood of them stumbling across this forum is very low, so I feel like it would be an important message to get out there. Personally, I wouldn’t just want some random person telling me that internet addiction is bad, I would want someone who is sort of the ‘worst case scenario’ showing me how he changed and all the good that it has brought to his life; so I wish to lead by example. As well as spreading a good message, it would make me feel accountable to really go through with it. It would be nice to have a small group from the community to support me at this endeavor, but maybe it’s too much to ask for.


#4

I think it’s great that you have now brought yourself to step away from YouTube. The feeling you describe, I know it all too well and I too have had difficulties imagining a single day without watching videos. It’s insane, if you think about it logically. Rarely is there something you truly need to know or see, something you did not already know. Those pieces of content exist, but they are too rare to be found each and every day.

As for your reasoning to do your progress report in video form, I can understand where you are coming from and it’s true: I recently did a search on YouTube for No Internet or NoSurf and results were sparse. If this is something you really want to do then do it. Depending on how you do it, it can become a valuable resource to people in similar situations. YouTube is more and more becoming the Google of young people: It’s where they are looking for answers to their questions. Video is their medium of choice and not text.


#5

I read your post, it’s amazing how much progress you’ve made so far already. You’re only 21! You’re only just beginning your 20’s and there’s so much potential there, it’s great that you’re taking on these changes now rather than later.

I’m 28 and I feel like I didn’t really start to get the hang of myself until I turned 25. I still have a lot of work to do, but that time in my life felt like a turning point. I moved to another town, didn’t have home internet access and it gave me a chance to see what life could be like without being online so often.

Slow and steady. I agree, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when looking at how much further we need to go.


#6

I haven’t made that much progress considering how long it’s been since I started and how many times I’ve failed along the way. As of right now with spending less time on the computer/internet I really haven’t gotten anywhere. I spend less or no time at all on the sites I normally visit, but I’m still on my computer all day, just about two or three hours less. At the very least, I’m practicing mindfulness and conscious decision making. Even if I’m not initially as successful as I would hope, I’m becoming more aware of what I’m doing when I do it. I have been periodically watching Youtube on my phone still when I wake up and go to sleep (I can’t sleep without a video playing), but the longer I watch the more I tell myself that I hate Youtube.

That’s what worked for when I quit consuming sugary and caffeinated drinks. Whenever I would drink something like soda or coffee, I would just be aware of what I was doing and associating that action with the thought that I don’t drink soda or that I hate it. Now whenever someone offers me soda I just immediately think and say “I don’t drink soda” or “I hate soda.” I found this works incredibly well, and actually changes your psychology. I did the same thing with candy, with baked sweets, whatever. I just tell people that I don’t eat sugar or that I hate it, and it has psychologically made me dislike sugar. I actually hate the taste of soda now, it’s amazing. I have done the same thing with junk food to varying degrees of success. I try to remind myself of how terrible I feel when I eat freezer food or bags of chips, and now when I pass a bag of chips in a store I just think “I know I will eat that whole bag in one day and hate myself.” I have definitely stopped eating as many chips.

This same trick works the other way around, every time you are trying to build a good habit tell yourself that you love doing it, and associate doing that thing with all the positive things it brings about. I found it helps to remind myself of how good my teeth look when I brush them and how clean my mouth feels, because eventually when I think of brushing my teeth I will immediately think of beautiful clean teeth and not how much of a pain it is to do that whole routine. The negative thoughts are actually what made me not very good about brushing in the first place. If you think about it, all of our actions and habits are based on our initial thoughts when we think about doing it, even if these some of these thoughts are subconscious. The only way to reverse it is by making these thoughts conscious ones.

Anyways, hopefully that advice was helpful. I wish you good luck in all your endeavors!


#7

I read that you watch videos when going to bed. Please don‘t do this. It‘s important that you stop looking at screens quite some time before going to sleep as it messes with it.

As for hating soda, sugar or YouTube: This seems like building identity-based habits where you tell yourself that by hating soda you‘re not the type of person who drinks it.