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Numb All Over

 

Why is this happening? Things are going good. I’m doing better. I’m more focused and motivated, school is finally manageable again, I feel calm around my friends and my family. I know this is working… but I still just feel empty. I should be ecstatic about all the changes I’m making, and sometimes I am, but just for a moment. It’s like I’m numb all over.

Does this sound at all familiar?

We can get caught up in an addiction for many reasons but at some point it becomes about escaping. We stop trying, working, or worrying. When negativity and stress come our way we try to sweep it aside with the wave of pleasure that come from porn use.

Three things come as a result of this constant venting of our feelings and problems. First, we stop learning how to deal with anything that puts pressure on us, even if it’s good pressure. Second, we don’t just numb out the bad but we numb out the good. We are so used to the huge flood of chemicals in our brains from porn that anything normal that should make us feel great, just feels like another small drop in the bucket. Third, because the simple pleasures in life no longer cut it, our brains and bodies freak out. This is known as withdrawal. This lovely combination of emotional and mental fallout from porn addiction is usually manifested in things like depression and anxiety.

Depression/Anxiety

When it comes to porn addiction, the first thing to remember about depression and anxiety is that they are symptoms of a bigger issue. That isn’t to say that these imbalances aren’t a very real issue for tons of Fortifiers. We know that a lot of people struggle. But the surest solution is in recovery. The problem with depression and other negative feelings is that they can be a double edged sword. When we mess up, they drag us down even further and can lead us to wallow in our mistakes. Then, even when we are doing well, they linger and keep us from getting back up. There is a silver lining though. A lot of the same strategies you are learning as a Fortifier can be applied to dealing with depression and anxiety.

Step by Step

It is important to start small when approaching these feelings. Remember to be very patient with yourself. We know how much you want to get into the problem and just fix it. The trick is that no matter what, depression isn’t going anywhere overnight; it is something fades away gradually. You have to be ready to live your life so that every day and every choice moves you one step closer to being and feeling better. When that fog settles into our lives, we can’t let ourselves get lost. You need to move in the right direction to find your way out. But how do you do that? And where do you start? A lot of these tips will sound familiar if you know anything about the Fortify program but they are really important.

  • Regular Exercise (30 mins of intense movement at least 3 times a week.)
  • Regular sleep patterns (8 hours of sleep and going to bed around the same time every night.)
  • Getting more sun. (Vitamin D is your friend.)
  • Practicing relaxation and meditation.
  • Healthy eating habits.
  • Taking care of a pet.

The trick with these activities is that they help activate dopamine, but more importantly they also activate oxytocin. Both of these compounds are linked to how happy we feel. Dopamine provides a rush that is more fleeting, while oxytocin is referred to as the “bonding” chemical. The reason it is called this is because one of the most critical ways to increase oxytocin levels is quality time with important people. Healthy, positive and supportive relationships are critical when dealing with extreme emotions and it comes down to the difference between these two chemicals.

Think of dopamine as sugar: it tastes good, we get quick energy, but too much will throw us off and we can crash. Oxytocin is like protein: our bodies use it more slowly but it is directly related to our physical growth and long term energy. After being involved with porn for too long, our dopamine levels are totally out of whack. We need some now and then but too much can be a problem and it won’t sustain us. What we need is oxytocin and the best way to get it is to build our connections with family and friends.

Other positive activities should be done in moderation, and should also be challenging in some sense. The reward from something we have worked towards with consistency is much more likely to trigger oxytocin.

Let Go

“Jealous is the night when the morning comes.”

Depression can give us a pretty twisted view of the world and especially of ourselves. Sometimes we don’t even notice what we are doing because we are so used to approaching situations in a negative light. You Fortifiers already know that will-power or “positive thinking” won’t cut it. You need a plan.

Take a step in someone else’s shoes. Ask yourself if you would see yourself this way if you were looking from the perspective of another person. Don’t let your secrets stand in the way. This is when having an accountability partner who you’ve honestly shared your struggles with comes in handy!

Cut yourself some slack. Many depressed people are perfectionists, holding themselves to impossibly high standards and then beating themselves up when they fail to meet them. Battle this source of self-imposed stress by challenging your negative ways of thinking.

Save problems for later. If you’re having a very negative thought or experience, don’t try and tackle it if you aren’t in a good mood. Jot it down somewhere and then go do something fun. When you’re feeling better come back to it and think about the situation in a new light. You’ll be surprised how much things change when you look at them with fresh eyes.

Like we said earlier, you have to be in this for the long haul. Don’t give up and try not to get discouraged. It may be hard now but there are better days ahead if you stick with Fortify and your recovery. We promise.