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Round 11: Episodes and Addiction

June 29, 2014

Blast From the Past

I had an unpleasant rerun from my younger years. I felt something coming the day before but I wasn’t expecting this sort of episode. Several days ago I spent the better part of three hours sitting and half crying in the smallest, darkest corner I could find. Being anywhere else for those few hours would have been impossible.

I spent more time in, or just outside of, that condition than I care to remember around my high school years. A lot of my reputation for being flaky, indecisive, and unreliable can be traced to that state. I often didn’t want to go out or commit to anything because all I wanted to do was hide, or I was afraid the mood would set upon me and I wouldn’t be able to hold out. Having a public breakdown has always been low on my to-do list.

Sometimes I would pull a card from my reserve of catch phrases. “I’m busy” and “that sounds like a lot of work” being the most popular. Some months ago a friend remarked after I used the latter phrase, “Everything is a lot of work to you.” She’s not wrong, but probably not for the reasons she thinks. I didn’t push the issue.

Other times I did something worse, and this plays into the flaky/unreliable status. Given an event far enough in the future, say a week or two, I would agree to an outing, sometimes to great surprise. As the date approached, or frequently hours or minutes beforehand, I would either pull a trademark excuse out of my reservoir, or simply not show up and ignore all associated friends for a few days until I could handle their disappointment and ever dropping opinions.

More than once I pretended to be asleep and ignored honestly worried people right outside my bedroom door. At least once a family member fetched a spare bedroom key to open up and check on me, friend in tow. I don’t feel good about that sort of thing, especially since I suffer from frequent chest pains. Those worry people, you know.

There’s a poor dilemma involved: calling and canceling plans makes me feel awful, and so does just ignoring people. Either choice leads to resentment, with inaction being the worse of the two. Inaction is the default course, and indeed sometimes the only thing I can manage. Very “damned if I do, damned if I don’t.”

I’m not sure which sort of valley I like least. The Sadness Valley fills me with incredible sadness (I’m great at names!) and I am overwhelmed with self deprecating and often suicidal thoughts, but at least I have feelings to aim at something. Myself being the target nearly 100% of the time, of course. The Numbness Valley is bleak and deafening in scope, eating even the echo of normal feelings, but I can interact and pretend to be normal through all but the deepest of its caverns.

It’s Not Lent, but…

On top of the regular medical (cancer, thyroid, gallbladder, so forth) and mental (depression, bi polar, one distant cousin ate a guy’s ear) health issues I also have some family history of addiction, primarily alcoholism with a dusting of cocaine. That’s really the main thing people think of when the word “addiction” is tossed about, isn’t it? Alcoholics, smokers, meth heads, heroin druggies – in no particular order may I add. All very real problems, to be sure. But it’s possible to get addicted to things that don’t go directly into your body. At least I’m pretty sure it is. I’m pretty sure I did. I am. Tense changes are dumb and Wikipedia says I’m right and so does this other guy, so there.

John Cheese is a prolific writer for Cracked.com. His most well know article, perhaps, is about when he stopped drinking. He has a slew of other articles about the hard knock life and they’re all wonderful reads. I read his article on ceasing booze consumption a few years ago, but only recently discovered his video documentary about the process. Forgive the pun I’m about to make because I do feel it’s in somewhat poor taste, but I found his videos sobering.

After watching his videos I noticed a few interesting parallels. The way he talks about beer is the way I talk about games. The urges he feels toward beer are the same urges I feel toward games. The things he’s done since battling his addiction are things I would like to do in my future as well. That last one may be less correlative and more wishful thinking, but I’m willing to give something a shot just like Cheese did.

I’ve tried brute forcing the gaming issue via willpower before (in retrospect those failures should have been a sign I might have a problem), but this time I’m taking it out of my hands. Whenever my sister shows up this morning I’m handing over the authenticator to my Blizzard games. I’ve already logged out of the service on both of my machines and without that token it’s pretty much impossible to access my account. Shortly I will be moving all of my save files from my emulators to a disk disc to entrust to her care as well. Deleting the ROMs and programs is pointless since they’re available online, but I’ll be damned if I hundreds, possibly thousands, of hours of work again from scratch.

I feel awkward even thinking that I’m addicted to video games, what with the (former) actual drug addicts in my family and friends circle. One guy I know was on and off with meth for the better part of a decade before he got a handle on it. Repeatedly murdering the Lord of Terror seems trivial by comparison, but I have to follow the facts of the matter: hobbies you can’t stop doing without withdrawal symptoms aren’t hobbies anymore.

My expectation is that I’ll be a bored wreck for a while. My hope is that my path will follow that of John Cheese. I’ll pour my nervous addict energy into my writing, reading, and maybe even a little exercise (let’s not get too crazy). If I can keep it up maybe I can do something I find worth while. Maybe a Cracked article? Hell, it pays! Why not?

I have to cut off my optimistic ending and be open about something. Not disclosing this information would be dishonest given the end of the last paragraph. I started an article pitch once and gave up. Just left it to die. Finishing the article, or giving it a proper burial as it may end up, is probably a healthy choice.

~ Rao

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