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 Tam's Recovery Story 
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Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2014 12:05 am
Posts: 53
State/Province/Country: Sydney, Australia
I am unable to control my addiction. In many ways it controls me. Even in recovery. Managing my behaviour in order to function like a normal person needs to be top priority. I cannot do this on my own. When I was a child I experienced many traumas; I was painfully shy and intensely bullied at school so I isolated and made patterns in everything. I played long incomprehensible made up games that went forever that had no final result; only a repetitive nature that I could control or destroy at my personal whim.
Computer games were not the problem, they were simply the easiest method I had at my disposal to manifest the patterns I had created in my head. They were repetitive, distracting, and full of light, colour, and sound. They could be aimless and purposeful at the same time. I could be strong and in control. They made me feel happy. In the real world I was insecure and clumsy. When things went wrong I didn’t know how to cope with problems except to act completely helpless; until someone else came along and out of pity or frustration cleaned up the mess I had made. Games were not the problem, they were my respite.
I liked simple 2 dimensional platform games and flash games. They have a goal and no goal and can be played over and over and over and over again. It didn’t matter that I knew a level inside out and back to front. It didn’t matter that there were other levels still to finish. I didn’t want to finish ever. Whenever I did complete the last level of a game I would simply start over again. By 1996 I had already been fired from one job because I was gaming and not working. My boyfriend and I had moved to Queensland. He got work and started a business. I played games like Commander Keen, Duke Nukem or Red Alert. For months on end I didn’t look for a job even though we were struggling financially and trying to plan a wedding.
For about a year I worked on the family business and things were ok. We got married and then my gaming increased. I got a few jobs and in turn lost those jobs and couldn’t function normally in an organised manner. We lost the business. I couldn’t manage stress without having major anxiety attacks. I couldn’t keep a tidy house. We were evicted from our house due to non-payment of rent. I saw a psychologist, we saw a marriage counsellor but not much changed. I tried different medications and took up knitting. I talked about going to University, I talked about being a singer but I didn’t do either. By the end of 1999 my husband couldn’t take it anymore and we separated. We reconciled quickly though and moved back to Sydney and again for a while I was better. I’m actually quite skilled and always found it easy to get jobs when I actually made an effort so I decided that temp work was better than permanent work for me. I said that it was because I often got itchy feet and liked meeting new people. It was really because I could game at work and before anybody really knew how unproductive I was the assignment would be over or I would resign citing "personal reasons" which was code for I can't game much longer without getting caught. I gamed like this for a few years and then took a permanent job in recruitment which only lasted just over 6 months. I didn’t get fired for gaming, I quit before they caught me out saying that I was going to music school to become a singer. I did more temping and found a contract in a child care centre. I loved this job but couldn’t stay away from the games; the phones there got cut off because I hadn’t entered the phone bill into the accounts register and remained the bill remained unpaid. It was sitting on my desk in my in-tray under a large pile of other neglected bills. Again I quit before being fired.
I did more temping and then I had a baby. I loved motherhood; this was one of the best times of my life. I still gamed but I was moderately under control. I changed careers and became a childcare worker. Having a job with no computers available to me was a blessing and I kept this job for 15 months which was the first time I had held a job for more than a year. I was 34.
By the end of 2005 I had failed the Early Childhood Certificate I had started. I had been given time off the floor at work to study but I spent it gaming. I knew there was no way I could pass so I resigned my job in order to get help. It was the first time I had acknowledged I had a problem, but I didn’t know what the problem was. The process of recognising my total dysfunction and accept that I was an addict took about another year or so. I visited around 10 different mental health professionals. They diagnosed me with various mental illnesses such as depression and generalised anxiety disorder. The one that frustrated me the most was OCD – Not Otherwise Specified. In other words; we don’t know what it is so we’ll call it something nonspecific and see what happens. The theory seemed to be treat the mental illness and the computer problems will go away in the end when I treated the addiction the mental health symptoms went away. Even professional psychiatrists and psychologists didn’t know what was wrong with me or how to fix it. Even in rehab I had to pretend to be an alcoholic before anybody could acknowledge that I could get help from them.
When I allow my addiction to take over I don’t function. I can’t maintain a tidy household, I can’t engage in my life or with my loved ones. I can’t hold a job. Even basic personal hygiene is out of my reach. I am unable to resist the temptation to play a game or surf the net once I start and no amount of gaming or surfing is enough. I am ashamed of the person I became. I want to be a good person, but when I admit to myself the truth of my addiction’s I can’t possibly imagine how I could think that about myself. I am so grateful to OLGA and CGAA because this is where I have found hope that I can finally achieve a normal life. In the time that I was sober from games I finished my Early Childhood course and got qualified. I stayed in one job for 6 years before choosing to resign for better job and not because of gaming. I have found a new hobbies and have by some wonderful miracle remained married to my long suffering Husband. My step son said once that he couldn’t ever imagine me being a liar. There is so much I have to gain from being game free.
I want to claim this for myself, but I can’t do it alone. I’m grateful to my Higher Power and to the program because both say “come as you are”. There is no need to be perfect, I just need to have the desire to abstain from gaming.
In the last week or so – and especially today I have struggled with the gaming urge demons and I’ve determined to stay connected to recovery instead of backsliding. It seems a bit unbelievable to me that I can hand it over and be released from the craziness that my life was, but I’m trusting in the experience, strength and hope of other recovered addicts who say that my recovery is possible too.
My recovery journey has been long and lonely. I did recovery by myself for a long long long time. I do not recommend it. When I first found OLGA in 2006 I relapsed and lost time on that forum so I stayed away from it for many years. I just didn’t trust myself with any kind of technology. I attended Gamblers Anonymous near where I lived and kind of held on for dear life, total white knuckle scenario. For a period of about 1 ½ years I did not touch a computer at all and did everything with pen and paper, or I did without. Eventually I even had to get rid of my mobile phone because of the games on them that could not be uninstalled. I relapsed many times playing Golf, Poker and Solitaire on my phone. Then I stopped going to meetings and didn't work recovery. I thought that I was sufficiently strong and could handle things just fine on my own. I started going to church again and arrogantly presumed that I didn't need to work on myself because I was on the team of the “Good Guys” now. God had my back so I could relax. Then I had another relapse after almost 5 years of sobriety. I felt so completely demoralised but I knew I had to work my recovery again with diligent effort so I found OLGA again, began going to meetings again and this time I found a sponsor to work the 12 Steps with me.
Today I am grateful for my sponsor who knows the good, the bad and the ugly and still reminds me of the spiritual nature of the program. I am grateful that CGAA has voice meetings which is a healthy way for me to connect with people even though it is not face to face. I am grateful that I am more self-aware now and can recognise triggers before they become busts. I am grateful for the friendships I have made with other recovering addicts that also became beaten by their addiction but have now begun to find peace.
Thank you for helping me stay sober one more day.


Sat Apr 11, 2015 12:40 am

Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 4:04 pm
Posts: 324
Location: Detroit, MI
Hugs, Tam. So glad you're here. Like you, my capacity to function on even the most basic level disappears pretty quickly once I start gaming. Hygiene, diet, exercise, work, mental acuity...everything goes down the tubes really quickly once I start gaming. Now that I'm sober, all kinds of things have become possible, and I'm grateful for that. Thanks for sharing.

Sat Apr 11, 2015 3:47 pm

Joined: Mon Nov 17, 2014 12:45 pm
Posts: 98
I found this story really powerful and moving to read. Thank you so much for sharing. It helped ground me because I also start thinking that I can manage without recovery - even if I don't consciously think this, I often start acting this way. Reading about the dramatic difference in your life when you were and weren't gaming was a really jolting reminder for that part of my brain which gets complacent.

Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:28 am
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