I applaud all of you

Submitted by tremblingwithfear on
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Wow... what a great website. Don't know how I stumbled upon this but it appears that I've found a group of guys that is dealing with the same thing I deal with on a daily basis. Sometimes I feel as though I'm the only man trying to overcome porn/masturbation and the rest of the world has just given up and doesn't care. I believe those of us that are on this site and trying to deal with these issues are in the minority.

Can you guys relate to how I feel about porn/masturbation?

I have noticed that when I masturbate and look at things I shouldn't I want to isolate myself more. I'm actually a church going person and I notice that when I have relapsed I want to make up excuses so as to avoid church and seeing people. It's a terrible feeling to have, but the addiction is so strong that part of me just wants to have that feeling of "whatever I dont care" that i always get afterward.

I also notice that the urge is alot stronger for me if I haven't been around others and had human contact for a while, which makes the isolation worse.

It also doesn't make it any easier that no one knows about this problem. My best friend and I used to explain how we struggled with this back in our teenage years, but we have lost contact. If anyone were to describe me they would say I'm one of the kindest people they know, and they wouldn't believe some of the things I've seen or thought about. it's a part of me that is dark and only comes out during relapses. Can you guys relate to this?

Welcome!

This site has a lot more on it than recovering porn folk, but it's fine to focus on what you need just now.

If you look back through the past posts, you will see that what you are experiencing is normal. That is, friendly human contact during the day seems to decrease the need to masturbate. AND, frequent masturbation can apparently lower dopamine, and low dopamine has definitely been linked to social anxiety. That same anxiety then *increases* the search for "relief" and can make cues related to masturbation hit your brain like a freight train.

The good news is that if you make it a point to connect more with others, and you cut back on masturbation, you should find that your social skills and sense of humor, and general charisma noticeably improve. Many men here have independently reported this result.

You are obviously very observant to have picked this up on your own. You might find this chapter from our new book of interest. It summarizes a lot of what the guys here have taught us about overcoming porn use, and also weaves in the neurochemistry of sex's effects on the brain which we (my husband and I) have been learning about. http://www.reuniting.info/download/pdf/Cupid-Ch6.pdf

I can relate

...to what you said about how you feel after looking at porn, wanting to isolate yourself and avoid seeing people. While I'm using porn I often feel an intense 'high,' but I usually feel very low in mood the day afterwards, and given the choice I'd probably choose to lock myself away in my flat and not speak to anyone while I'm feeling like that.

Warm welcome..

Thanks for the warm welcome!

A few more of my observations over the years....

I have noticed that when I'm not using porn/masturbating I tend to speak my mind more freely, and i'm more willing to stand behind my convictions. It's as if I feel "more like a man", I'm more willing to take charge, and I get lots accomplished. At times I've grown to really enjoy the feeling of not orgasming for weeks as it gives me greater will power in my decisions. I can think of one time my wife was in the mood and in my head I was thinking, "Nooo, then I'll orgasm and lose this feeling of having power that I have." However, I'll never turn down an invitation from my wife! I am much more avoidant about speaking how I feel if I have just masturbated - I think this is due to not wanting to let anyone know about the turmoil going on in my head about what act I've recently committed.

This one I don't completely understand, maybe someone can fill me in. When I have gone several weeks without "doing it" I become a much more serious person, very melancholy. I look at things more matter of factly, I am less angered by things that would normally set me off. I have less highs and less lows, I'm somewhere in between. However, I've spent so many years of my life using porn/masturbation that I've become accustomed to the highs and the lows, and when I'm somewhere in between for weeks at a time I feel like something is wrong and my life feels boring - this usually leads to a relapse. It's not so much that I felt the NEED to do it again, it was just that I wanted to get back to having the highs and the lows again. Not sure if that makes sense.. After "doing it" I am much more happy go lucky about life, I joke around and laugh things off constantly, and I make jokes that I normally wouldn't and are sometimes out of place. I think this is due to my brain internally thinking, "Well, you lost the battle with porn/masturbation, might as well make a joke out of everything else in life too." At times, I almost feel as though I'm more of an exciting person to be around when I've masturbated/looked at porn because it puts me in these bizarre joke like moods, but I know this is not the case.

I have noticed that when I've gone weeks without "doing it" and my mood is much more serious and melancholy, when I carry on conversations with people they look at me different and they seem surprised that there is more substance to me than they initially thought and that I'm a deep person who cares. Whereas the other side of me is very shallow and "small-talkish".

I will continue to add more observations later, feel free to chime in! I'm so glad I found this place.

Here's an article Gary just found

If you understand that dopamine is chronically down (or suppressed) in between frequent orgasms (and during the initial phase of recovery...which is what makes withdrawal so tough), then this article will help explain why it's hard to get motivated.

Worth the effort? Not if you're depressed

New research indicates that decreased cravings for pleasure may be at the root of a core symptom of major depressive disorder. The research is in contrast to the long-held notion that those suffering from depression lack the ability to enjoy rewards, rather than the desire to seek them.

The research, led by Vanderbilt psychologists Michael Treadway and David Zald, was published Aug. 12 by the online journal PLoS One.

"This initial study shows that decreased reward processing, which is a core symptom of depression, is specifically related to a reduced willingness to work for a reward," Treadway, a graduate student in psychology, said.

Decreased motivation to seek and experience pleasurable experiences, known as anhedonia, is a primary symptom of major depressive disorder. Anhedonia is less responsive to many antidepressants and often persists after other symptoms of depression subside. However, understanding the different components of anhedonia - the desire to obtain something pleasurable versus experiencing pleasure - has been difficult for researchers to determine in humans.

"In the last decade and a half, animal models have found that the neurotransmitter dopamine, long known to be involved in reward processing, is involved in craving or motivation, but not necessarily enjoyment," Treadway said. "To date, research into reward processing in individuals with anhedonia has focused on enjoyment of rewards, rather than assessing the drive to work for them. We think this task is one of the first to do that."

Treadway and his colleagues devised the Effort-Expenditure for Rewards Task, or EEfRT, to explore the role of reduced desire and motivation in individuals reporting symptoms of anhedonia. EEfRT involved having individuals play a simple video game that gave them a chance to choose between two different tasks, one hard, one difficult, to obtain monetary rewards. Participants were eligible but not guaranteed to receive money each time they completed a task successfully.

The "hard" task required pressing a button 100 times within 21 seconds using one's non-dominant little finger and carried a potentially higher reward than the easy task, which required pressing a button 30 times in seven seconds using one's dominant index finger. The subjects were told at the beginning of each trial whether they had a high, medium or low probability of winning a prize if they successfully completed the trial. The participants could choose which trials they completed and were given 20 minutes to perform as many tasks as possible.

The researchers found that subjects who reported symptoms consistent with anhedonia where less willing to make choices requiring greater effort in exchange for greater reward, particularly when the rewards were uncertain.

"Consistent with our hypotheses, we found that individuals with self-reported anhedonia made fewer hard-task choices," the authors wrote. "These findings are consistent with theoretical models linking anhedonia to decreased (dopamine levels)."

"By addressing the motivational dimension of anhedonia, our findings suggest a plausible theoretical connection between dopamine deficiency and reward processing in depression, which may eventually help us better understand how anhedonia responds to treatment," Treadway said.

Wives

Something I've noticed since I stopped using porn that I am not so afraid when my wife brings up an issue we need to work out. I don't have that hidden thing lurking waiting to be found out. It's been quite liberating.
Best Wishes

I can relate

I can relate trembling. The sense of humor and melancholy theme you mentioned sounds familiar. People consider my sense of humor to be dark and bizarre, but some think its very funny. Ive always wondered where this came from or what it is. I notice that some people at my work might be using it to deal with stress. I seem to hit on things that are somewhat true, but twisted in a way so that it doesnt really allude to the real thought behind it. Its a strange thing and seems to be affected by recovery. I think Im a little more careful about when and how I express these thoughts right now. When I was acting out heavily or when I was really depressed, I would make these jokes at the worst times. I still find ways to make them at bad times, but i kind of catch myself. My friends understand it well and they feed off it, but most people do not. I have also hurt feelings and aroused suspicions countless times because of the underlying and obvious truths under them.
On the other hand, I can also relate to your seriousness when you are not acting out. I am a lot more objective and feel like I have at least one foot in the real world. I feel like a lot of my brain has been released from anxiety/depression to do more work and entertain "fuller" thoughts. My anxiety would have me focus on the small picture. Right now I am having more glimpses of the big picture. Like the article Marnia posted here, there seems to be a major link between all of these things. Its pretty neat, once you practice abstaining from acting out, you really see and experience this connection, and more importantly, you experience these things dissolving (with some pain and turmoil or course). Good luck with your abstinence. You are really "manning up" by taking this leap. Clears up so much fog. I havent decided whether Ill go back to orgasm (or even if I can resist!), but I kind of see what I need to do for myself if I ever start getting down or whatever. I never really made the connection between all of these things, but it has done much improvement for my mood. You combine this with other suggestions that other research backs like diet, exercise, social connections, behavioral therapy, and you have a powerful combination that cant help but to change yourself for the better. Think of your will like a switch, flip it on!

feeling good

Hey
Well done trembling. you are doing yourself a favour and you'll look back in months/ years to come and realise just what you were putting yourself through. However, watch out. It took me nearly three years since finding this site - and Marnia - to finally feel I have the strength and the understanding to conquer my addiction which was/is very similar to your and many others.
My brain was very cunning and found ways to get me to take peeks etc which then led to binges. In my opinion there are two times when it is most difficult to break this habit: when you are alone and when you feel good.
Any time I was left alone I'd be straight on the net. Straightaway. I didn't even have to think about it. The other times were when I was feeling good and I wanted to feel better. That would always get me thinking about porn.
Recently, my wife and kids went away for a week and left me alone. My biggest challenge ever. I passed. Now I am going through a severe difficulty facing eviction from my house and I'm out of work. This period does not worry me like it used to. But there will come a time when the boat rights itself and the sun comes out and I start to feel good. Then I'll be tested again.
Just know that what you are going through is normal, that the brain is very clever and you have a lot of chemicals swimming around in your body that need to dissipate. This takes time. But you can do it. I don't spend so much time on the computer any more - that has helped me. But its all about will in the end. If you want to quit you can. But watch out for those sneaky moments. I still get them every day and they are always the same - actually they're quite funny to me now - but sometimes they can be deadly serious and I need to admit to myself that the urges are strong and I need to be strong.

Best wishes

seachan

My thought is

that wacky and overly serious are not your final "menu" of choices. I think there's a lighthearted sense of balance, which lets you switch gears quite easily, that becomes possible as you get back into balance...and connect with a partner in a satisfying, harmonious way (whatever that means for you).

Great insights, guys.

Excellent

insights guys, and thanks for responding.

Marnia, fantastic article! That relates perfectly to what I was just saying about how after "doing it" when my dopamine levels are lower, I avoid making tough decisions and standing behind my convictions/speaking my mind. That is very interesting to me.

Yes,

the timing was perfect. So many people fault themselves for their lack of character traits...when a lot of it just comes down to better management of our neurochemistry...whether through prayer, meditation, exercise, diet or making love differently.

Glad it's all coming together for you.