As an adult, I spent over 3,000 hours gaming. That's more than four straight months of doing nothing but gaming. That's also the same number of clinical hours I had to complete in order to become a credentialed Licensed Professional Counselor. I initially started gaming to spend time with some of my friends. But the more I played, the less I cared about connecting with my friends and the more I cared about improving my skills to obtain the next achievement.
I became truly intoxicated with the games I played. I enjoyed the adrenaline rush and excitement they gave me. Not only was I part of a world when I played the game, but there was an entire gaming community to experience outside of the actual game. I spent countless hours watching my favorite streamers and watching Esports games. This gaming world drew me away from the life I had going on around me.
When my daughter was born, I focused more on when I could game next than spending time with her. I missed out on time with my first-born that I will never get back, all because I was addicted to gaming. I was addicted to an artificial life rather than the real life of my daughter and wife. My wife commented to me several times about how gaming was having a negative effect on me. For five years I justified my time gaming saying, “It’s just a hobby, like golf or fantasy football. I’m just doing it for fun.”
This thing I was doing "just for fun" was something I could not stop after several attempts. After a few years, I knew gaming was causing relationship problems between my wife and me, yet I did not stop. When I could not game, I became irritable and angry. I lied about how much I was gaming. Most of my thoughts were focused on gaming. I constantly looked up statistics and information on my phone about the games I played. I wanted to play more and more and did not have interest in things I used to be interested in. I remember at times when I was in a counseling session, I had trouble focusing on what my client was talking about because I was thinking about games. I felt a lot of shame. I thought all my friends were "normal" and did not focus on something as dumb as a video game as I did. This "hobby" was taking over my life.
What made me stop? When my family and I moved into our first house, I knew this was an opportunity to break free from my problematic gaming. I wanted to be fully present with my family in our new home, and I could not do that if I was addicted to video games.
So, one night before I moved, I stayed up late praying for help to commit to this decision to stop gaming. I tossed and turned for what seemed like hours because a huge part of me wanted to justify the behavior and continue to game. But I had justified it for long enough. I submitted this decision to the Lord, and God provided me the strengthen to stop for good. From that day on, I did not game. I became free from my addiction by constant focus and hard work towards my goal: to live a fulfilling and healthy life in reality, not the Internet. With that motivation and the support of my family, I accomplished my goal. My life since then has been a life free from the grip of artificial games that prevented me from fully experiencing real life moments. And let me tell you, freedom is great.
One day when I was at work, I had a fortune from a fortune cookie that read, “Happier days are definitely ahead for you.” I opened this fortune only a few weeks after I stopped gaming. Since I’ve stopped gaming, I feel 100% present with those around me. I want to be fully engaged in what I am doing rather than thinking about the next time I can game. My overall health has increased, thanks to that decision I made to stop gaming.
The road to a life free from addiction is long and hard. I constantly fight against triggers that make me want to game. However, like the result of winning a hard-fought battle, victory is well worth the struggle. You don’t need to talk to me to stop problematic gaming. You can overcome your problematic internet use without me. But, if you would like help, I would love to be part of that process. Book an appointment with me today to start your journey to freedom.