How I Overcame Video Game Addiction & Reconnected With My Family
I used to be online for 15-16 hours daily. And it almost destroyed my relationship with my family.
I’ve been addicted to many things. Coffee, food, alcohol…you name it. But before it all, I was addicted to video games.
On this episode, I’m going to walk you through my struggle with video game addiction and how it almost cost me my relationship with my family.
Before I end today’s episode, I will be brutally honest with you. So prepare yourself.
Me and My Playstation: Love at First Sight
In 2002, my parents bought me a Playstation 2. When I was a child, I was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactive disorder, or ADHD.
To a twelve-year-old with ADHD, getting a Playstation was like crack. Except this had flashing lights and colourful characters, and didn’t kill your dreams and ruin your life.
On the first day, I played for around 12 hours. Soon, I was spending an average of 8-10 hours playing on the PS2 every day. On days that I didn’t have school, I played for anywhere from 12 to 15 hours every day.
I loved God of War, Resident Evil 4, Timesplitters, Devil May Cry 3, Burnout, and a lot of other games.
The First Signs of Trouble
The first time my mother locked up the PS2 was because I wasn’t studying enough.
Or maybe it was because I wasn’t getting any exercise. My mother locked it up in her cupboard when she went to work.
But what I remember was I was livid.
How dare she? How could she do this? She didn’t have the right to do this! My heart was beating really fast and I couldn’t think clearly. I was experiencing palpitations, I was anxious, irritable and extremely unable to focus. And this was barely 2-3 hours after she locked up my Playstation.
My hands were shaking, I couldn’t think straight. I didn’t know this back then, but I was experiencing symptoms that are associated with addiction.
I forced our cleaning lady to give me her copy of the cupboard key and I opened my mother’s cupboard. I quickly took out the Playstation 2.
I plugged it in, and the moment the loading screen came on, I felt all my tension just dissipate.
I felt waves and waves of relief wash over me. And I felt shame that I was so weak.
Gaining Weight & Social Isolation
The other issue was my health. My biggest concern about the food I ate was that it should be easy to eat while playing, delicious, and that it was either fried or sweet.
We want the comfort of sugar, of deep-fried food, and the reassurance that it offers. Couple that with the fact that junk food is really easy to overeat, and I was on a road headed straight for disaster.
I was already an overweight child, and I felt like people made fun of me often… and because of this, it was easy to find my comfort in a video game.
A video game would never hurt me (except for you Pokemon Go). A video game wouldn’t make fun of me and make me feel bad about my weight. It didn’t expect me to be okay with jokes and even outright insults about how I looked. My friends did.
I never let up on how bad I felt. I always smiled and acted like it was a joke I was okay with. But I wasn’t. Even to this day, I feel unattractive and ugly. So can you blame me for choosing video games over real life?
Because of all the time I spent sitting and playing video games. I gained more weight. Soon, I was a teenager who was morbidly obese and had been diagnosed as pre-diabetic.
Hitting Rock Bottom
Eventually, my mother reached out to one of my cousins.
I remember this vividly: I was sitting on my couch, playing Timesplitters, and my cousin was sitting with my mother on the sofa on the other side, trying to talk to me about my problem or in their words….my “addiction”.
He’s telling me that my mother mom is upset and feels hurt. I don’t care. My eyes are still on the screen. He’s telling me how my mother is worried about me. I don’t care. I don’t react or reply.
My mother starts crying, and tells him that I have a problem. I don’t even bother looking up from the TV. I tell him she’s lying.
Then my cousin points out that my mother is crying, while I’m still sitting and playing. He asks me if I feel no shame. Then I finally replied. I argued with him. I yelled for some time. But eventually I couldn’t keep denying it any more.
That was when I hit rock bottom. All of 13 years old, I hit rock bottom. I hated myself.
Addiction carries immense shame with it. Every addict knows the feeling. When you try and try, and you hate yourself, but then you give in to the thing that controls you. As an addict, whatever you’re addicted to, carries the burden of shame with it. You hate yourself. You hate how weak you feel.
If You Have a Problem, Ask for Help
If you have a problem, acknowledge and accept that you have a problem and seek help. Don’t feed your addiction with more video games or other things.
If the time you spend playing video games is starting to affect your daily life, ask for help.
For me, help came in the form of a cousin who was good enough to hold an intervention for me. What my mother and he did for me wasn’t easy.
It’s easy to stand up to someone you hate. It’s a lot harder to stand up to someone you love. And I’ll always be grateful to them for it. Every time I read what I’ve written about this, I feel shame. But that’s the cross you have to carry when you’ve fallen victim to addiction.
I eventually drifted away from video games. After a while, my Playstation also stopped working. And I didn’t want to get it fixed.
Video games are amazing. I will NEVER deny that. They’re beautiful. Some video games are art, like The Last of Us or Shadow of the Colossus. Others are DESIGNED to have repetitive reward patterns, like a drug, which require you to do more each time to unlock a new achievement or get the same ‘high’.
I still love video games. But I understand that while they’re fun, FOR ME they’re a waste of time.
Today, I can say no to video games. When I’m done, I just lock away my Playstation 3. I haven’t played or used it in months.
But I’ll never forget how good it felt to play for long, long hours... or how easy it was to lose myself in video games completely over time…
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