Addiction and Anxiety

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It hasn’t been a week and I feel like I’m in withdrawal. I get spikes of intense anxiety and this ache in my hands whenever I wind up with nothing to do for more than five minutes.

“Should I check Tumblr? What do I tweeet? Holy shit is Facebook still around?”

Around and around, but going nowhere. Having already pruned them all to almost nothing, checking doesn’t give me the fix I’m looking for. There isn’t anything new to consume, so I post a few things instead. Look at me! Blogging! Not much relief, if I’m honest, but it feels better than just staring at a screen and silently wishing I could murder everyone who isn’t posting cat pictures quickly enough.

I was seeing a psychologist a little over a year ago, when I was on antidepressants and looking for a fix to my problems; some clinical silver bullet that would transform me into a normal person who could function inside an insane society, regardless of how unlikely that was.

I was given a diagnosis that was a non-diagnosis, but an admission of some problem existing they (the doctor) couldn’t otherwise identify. Some mixture of anxiety, depression, and maybe some other flavours of psychic bedlam to tie the whole package together. There isn’t a happy ending to this story, or much of an ending at all, but struggling with paying attention to myself instead of the rest of the world reminds me that there is something going on behind my need for distraction that renders productivity or socialization almost impossible.

Anyways, there was no magic bullet that helped me get better. Antidepressants only worked for a little while, then I didn’t feel anything. Of course, feeling nothing at all made me feel pretty terrified, which I GUESS is a feeling, but only from a rational place. I decided I’d rather feel anxious and periodically happy over flat like soda, but probably that wasn’t the best choice.

I’ve tried a lot of natural solutions and nothing really did the trick, which led me, obviously, to just eliminating most of the sources of self-medication I’ve chosen: the internet, social media, GNDN videogames, and rerun television.

Social media was easier than I expected. The internet, as a general rule, was more difficult. GNDN (goes nowhere does nothing) videogames are pretty much anything without a win condition. MMO’s, Free-to-plays, sandboxes, shit like that.

Cutting out the games is, by far, the hardest part of this. Look, I mentioned on here that I used to smoke. For years, even. Sometimes I still have a cigarette here and there and miss it terribly. I loved smoking, I still do. As far as addictive substances go, quitting smoking and giving up sugar are virtually impossible, and I found both of those a goddamned cakewalk compared to slashing out games. They are designed to squeeze your mental reward centers, for fucks sake! I woke up this morning with every intention of doing some writing and, before I realized it, I was scouring the internet to play a Twenty-year-old game that was never very good! I knew I was doing something stupid and pointless, and i did it anyways.

I rationalized it away before even realizing there was some mental trickery going on, somewhere between making coffee and sitting down to type. “I just wanna see if I can find it/get it running/rate it for posterity. It’ll only be for a minute! i’m not doing anything anyways!”

Alllllll bullshit. I was desperate for the satisfaction of playing the game, even if it was a poorly executed RPG with nice backgrounds. I didn’t care about what my intentions with the day were because in the here and now, I could have immediate gratification. Later is later, so who cares?

This is addiction, of course. But the addiction isn’t because I like the act, it’s always to medicate away some other problem with the sensations the addictive activity provides. I don’t want to drink myself stupid because I like being drunk, I want to drink myself stupid because it feels better than mental sobriety.

I don’t find it hard to stop because the act is pleasurable, I find it hard to stop because the alternative is horrifying.

So here I am, trying to figure out what, exactly, that alternative is, and why I’m constantly trying to bury it.

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