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 Hirshthg's Story 
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Joined: Sat May 24, 2014 11:37 pm
Posts: 168
Location: Rockland NY
State/Province/Country: Rockland NY
Here is at least part of my story. I did not edit or proof read it, and I retain the right to edit it as I go. I am simply seeing that I have pushed off writing my story for over a year, and I simply need to share something in writing. It is amazing to me how resistant I am against meditation and basic healthy behavior. Please comment!

My first gaming experience was backgammon when I was around 5. My dad thought it would be easier to learn to play on a board which set up itself kept the die’s number and only allowed you to move correctly. Board games were big on our family. I always was too involved and too interested in winning. Our tv/vcr got thrown out because we were always sneaking out of bed in the middle of the night to watch something. My next big hobby was reading. I would disappear in the fantasy world of the written world and imagination.

I discovered gaming at my friend's houses. My parents rarely got us the electronic games and my friends always seemed to have all the new stuff. I would go over to their houses and watch them play and then use their computers or consoles when they were done playing. Personally I never understood why they would stop and play ball. Personally I would stay all weekend and game. I would game all weekend and into the night if I could get away with it.

When I was around 12 years I found a gameboy in our car after car pool. It had the kids name on it and he lived down the block. I kept it used it for 6 months before returning it to him. I felt sick about stealing his gameboy however I didn't feel like I had a choice.

My parents worked at home and eventually I turned to their computers to play. While they let me use their computers a little, usually they did not want to allow me to use their computers, and engaged a password. It took me forever but I eventually hacked windows to allow me to get on without a password. I had no computer training at the time. I would sneak into my parent’s office after they left for the night. I remember one night when I was in fifth grade, I played red alert until my parents woke up in the morning. This was on a regular weekday.

I thought that what I was doing was normal. I was a kid and I was playing! I did not understand that the game had become more than a game for me. While I always figured that I played a little more than everyone else, looking back, each game I played longer than was normal, however the entirety of my time (whatever I could get away with as a kid) was spent gaming. Way above and beyond normal.

I played mostly strategy games, although I did a fair bit of first person shooter and role playing (never ending games). I tried once to make a list of of all the computer games I played however it is irrelevant.

At 17 years old I attended a boarding divinity school in France for 2 years and then for another year in Germany. I did not have access to any computer or gaming console. When I came back to the states I started working part time while I continued my studies. The first paycheck I received went straight into a laptop. This is when my gaming got serious. What started as chess offline and pinball turned into RPGs and soon I was gaming 6 hours a night while studying full time. Naturally my grades started to get a little soft.

For the most part I did not have internet connection and my gaming career was offline.

Over the next 3 years my gaming scheduled crept up from 6 hours a night to 8 hours a night. I would have gamed longer if I was not working 8 hours a day and finishing my rabbinical degree 8 hours a day. If you do the math you will see that this isn’t really possible. I was cutting corners both with my studies and my job and I started to fail at both of them. I got an average of 3 hours of sleep a day.

After failing a few tests I managed to scrape through with my Rabbinical degree and I started working full time. My mental state was suffering immensely. When you spend the all of your brain power killing things and don’t get any sleep to recuperate you start to see thing exploding all day long in the outside world. Thankfully people can’t read minds because they would have locked me up. I will not go into all of the details of my insanity here, although I have shared them one on one.

Part of the problem was that I was not only gaming when I was gaming, I was fantasizing my game and playing it out the rest of the day as well. I would have a daydream going on in my mind on the side of whatever else I was doing.

The effect gaming had on my mind was extreme. When I gamed I was in the game entirely. It was no game for me. I can remember detailed conversations which happened months ago and recite them back. When I was gaming I couldn’t remember conversations which happened an hour ago. Gaming had a stronger effect on me than alcohol. Of course alcohol has a very strong effect, however both intellectually and emotionally gaming took me over 100% which I never could get alcohol to do. On a bad day gaming numbed out everything. Even just knowing that I could game later that day would provide me a sense of relief.

I had tried to stop gaming many times. I usually could make it stretch for 3 weeks or so before everything in my life got so tedious and boring that I simply had to go back. My social interaction were cut down to a minimum and I had a hard time even attending basic social events or sitting around a table for an hour. I knew that I was deeply ashamed of my gaming whenever anyone close to me who was not a gaming addict brought it up.

I finally felt that I needed to quit gaming because I saw that gaming was sucking the life out of everything I did. Everything which happened in my real life meant less and less to me as time went on. I had a fantasy that I would be found insane and they would lock me up in a padded room with a gaming computer where I could game the rest of my days. Sick sick sick. I had figured out by that point that I could not stop on my own, and that if I did not find a way to stop I would never have much of a life.

I had tried counseling for 2 years and they tried to help me moderate and eventually quit. As some of my relatives are addicts I had attended another fellowship similar to Al-Anon to help cope with their destructive behavior. It finally clicked for me that perhaps this slightly unhealthy behavior I had was an addiction and I searched the internet for a 12 step gamer’s addiction program.

I worked through the first 9 steps within 3 months of joining the program, and I have sponsored many gaming addicts, most of whom eventually went back to gaming. I went to a meeting a day online and spend many hours talking to other gaming addicts.
I got married after being in the program for about a year, and I currently have 2 kids. I attend 1 face to face meeting a week which is not enough, however there are so few recovering gaming addicts. I hope that recovery from this disease will become more widespread both for me and for the addict who still suffers.

While my story is much longer and complex than these 3 pages, these are the cliff notes of the path of my addiction, and my recovery today. I urge you to consider, is your gaming habit a little too much, or have you lost control of your life, your mind and your sanity?

leveling in steps, serenity, sponcys, sponsors, exercise, and sleep, (sanity has been downsized)

Sun Sep 21, 2014 12:53 pm
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Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 4:28 pm
Posts: 550
Wonderful Hirsh!

I have known you for three years and wow!, have you accomplished a lot through recovery. (((HUGS)))

Let your past make you better, not bitter.
Don't Lose Heart. If your efforts are greeted with indifference, don't lose heart. The sun puts on a wonderful show at daybreak when most people are sleeping. Keep shining!

Mon Sep 22, 2014 12:32 pm
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Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 10:08 pm
Posts: 148
Location: Boston/Providence area
State/Province/Country: MA/USA
Thank you for sharing, Hirsh. You do a good job here describing the effects of the games on your mental state, particularly regarding the obsession and fantasy. It's hard to talk about this aspect of the disease, so thank you for your honesty.

Mon Sep 22, 2014 8:39 pm

Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 3:06 pm
Posts: 968
Location: Charlottesville
State/Province/Country: Virginia
Thanks for sharing your story, Hirsh!

Mon Sep 22, 2014 10:43 pm
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Joined: Sat May 24, 2014 11:37 pm
Posts: 168
Location: Rockland NY
State/Province/Country: Rockland NY
Thank you all for your feedback. Is anyone else looking to share?

leveling in steps, serenity, sponcys, sponsors, exercise, and sleep, (sanity has been downsized)

Sun Sep 28, 2014 11:34 pm
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Joined: Tue May 20, 2014 7:54 pm
Posts: 216
I appreciate you sharing your story honestly, hirsh. Well written and very touching, glad you're with us :)

    skype: jslinden
    other: Ascender or Zenn

Wed Oct 22, 2014 12:00 pm
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