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Sun Apr 26 2020

Yesterday I started out the day wonderfully. I eliminated distractions and wrote 2000 words non-stop. After that, I used my Pomodoro technique and studied Japanese. I read from my beginner japanese book, I studied my JLPT N5 Anki deck, and I spent 25 minutes identifying kanji in the wonderful KAITO & Miku song Cantarella.

Next, I read the second to last chapter In Prometheus Rising.

After I started off the day so well, I think my dopamine intake went out of control. I was thinking of going outside and walking, but the moment I went outside I saw a stranger on the porch winding up a hose. We exchanged hellos and then I walked off, confused.

It was a woman in her 20s or 30s and it was Saturday at around 11AM so I figure it was someone preparing for the wedding that is going to be happening in the back yard in June. My sister in law’s brother is getting married to his fiance in the back yard. My dad has been putting in a lot of work making the back yard look really nice. He’s been pruning trees, mowing grass, moving debris… It really looks like an entirely new field back there.

The down side to all that is that the back yard is harder for me to use for exercising. I’ve been working around this yard work by simply going out earlier, before anyone is back there doing work. 6AM is my target time, and I seem to be the only one awake in the neighborhood that early. Sometimes the neighbor who walks their dogs by driving their ATV is active at around 6:30, but usually it’s pretty quiet other than the wind in the trees and the chirping birds.

I’ve been seeing a larger number of geese as of late. They must be sensing the warmer weather and they’re headed back north again. I’ll often see a pair of geese flying around together and making a lot of honking noises back and forth to each other. It’s mating season, isn’t it?

So yeah, I didn’t walk yesterday. I figured I could have the day off since I don’t know when my last day off was. I’ve been doing pretty darn good at exercising every day.

I used the presence of people as an excuse though. I was going to walk, but then I saw a garden hose on the trail, and I heard my dad’s voice off in the distance. So there seemed to be a group of people working on something back there which required watering. I bailed not because I wanted a day off, I bailed because there were people.

And that’s okay. I use my walks as a time to think and meditate. I need a certain level of privacy for that. It’s not like my parents have a huge chunk of land where I can just stick to a different section and still feel alone. If two people are using the back yard at the same time, they’re going to run into eachother. I run in a loop, around the firepit, which means I’d be running into the group once per loop. It wasn’t going to happen.

I went back inside and I think I got back on the computer. I went outside because I had spent so much time on the computer already. After writing and studying, I watched a movie, I watched youtube, I mindlessly clicked news articles on HackerNews, I scrolled on twitter.. My dopamine intake was out of control!

I get in this head space sometimes where everything is foggy. I don’t feel pain, I don’t feel my body. I seek pleasurable experiences and I mindlessly repeat myself. I feel like I’m almost asleep. I feel like my responsible side is shut down. I eat until my stomach hurts. I click links impulsively. I switch between three or four tabs and read the same thing over and over. I click the next video in my Youtube subscription list. I get bored while watching something and I’ll open a second window and play a game or scroll on reddit. I’m impulsively looking for something that doesn’t exist. I’m completely aimless, only looking for another hit of entertainment.

I repeat this process for hours. My mind becomes increasingly foggy. My self restraint goes out the window. I have no goal for this session, I only click and click and stare and seek the pleasure the bright lights and moving objects can give me.

There are two ways to end this activity. The first is to realize I’m aimlessly trapped in this cycle, and shutdown my computer and go to sleep. The second is to seek higher concentrations of pleasure, which ultimately leads me to porn sites. I usually end up at ecchi.iwara.tv and I look for the most pleasing VOCALOID hentai I can find. I’ll search for several minutes before finding something that I get off to. The final dopamine hit I receive from masturbating is enough to cause me to crash. I go to sleep and I wake up feeling hung over.

As you might imagine, this process can be exhausting. Luckily, I’ve done it so many times and felt so much pain from the aftermath, that I have identified the patterns that lead me into behaving this way, and I recognize when I’m beginning those patterns.

It all starts with aimless computing. I thank my pomodoro technique because it prevents exactly this. When I sit down at my computer, I look at my pomodoro timer and I mentally set an intention. What am I doing during this 25 minute session? If the answer is, “I don’t know.” then that is going to be an aimless computing session. At that realization, I can stop before I even start.

I’ve realize that the mind fog that I experience, is one of two things. Either I’m hungry (low blood sugar), or I’m tired. A simple 5 minute meditation session away from the computer is enough for me to identify which one it is, and deal with it. More often than not, I’m tired, and I only start to feel the tiredness in my body once I get off the computer and away from whatever it is that is causing my brain to dump dopamine. When I’m on a aimless dopamine high, I physically can’t feel that tiredness. I feel that mind fog, but I don’t feel sleepy in the least.

That mind fog contributes to the repeated aimlessness, by filtering out my body’s natural ability to feel itself. It’s really a dangerous mix! How many times have I physically hurt myself because I simply did not take care of myself? Sleeping when I should, or eating when I should. Being a computer addict blocks my important physical sensations! It’s bad for my health!

I need a plan for the future. What do I do when I realize I’m starting the pattern of seeking a dopamine rush? A few things come to mind. The first is that I could go outside and walk. I think walking is a natural reset button. Walking always seems to clear my mind. The second thing I think of is simply taking a break. A five minute break away from the computer where I can sit down and read a book is another great way to bring myself back to a place of mindfulness. Thirdly, I suppose meditation would be a good option, although sometimes I find it difficult to get off the computer for anything that seems boring. Meditation is pretty boring! (at least at first.)

I think having a daily plan on just having a todo list is a big help for me. Yesterday I started out so strong. I focused completely on my journal, and was not distracted in the least. I studied, I read, all according to plan. Then, my plan ran out! I did everything I had intended to do, so I jumped to things that are pleasurable. I played Squad for about three hours. I played three matches, after which I wanted to play a fourth, even though I could feel myself starting to feel stressed. Luckily I switched servers due to the server I was on playing a map I didn’t fancy, and during the queue time for a better server, I had the chance to come off my dopamine high and realize what my body was feeling.

I quit out of Squad and watched a movie. This was a mistake! I think I would have been better off taking a nap or going outside.

Anyway, it went downhill from there. I aimlessly clicked articles and scrolled on twitter while I watched the movie. That continued until 4PM when I finally walked away from the computer and went to sleep.

I had a moment of clarity before I went to sleep. I had to get up and scoop cooked rice out of my instant pot and put it in the fridge. Chris, high on dopamine had put the rice in the cooker, even though he wasn’t hungry. After I put the cooked rice in the fridge, I had some clarity and I felt lonely. I remembered my therapist urging me to reach out to friends and family during this pandemic time. I texted family members and invited them to play 7 Wonders with me at 7pm on sunday night. Then I went to sleep.

I slept for around 12 hours. I woke up groggy. I woke up several times and ignored my body’s desire to stop sleeping. I would change positions and go back to sleep. This was a mistake, as I later realized that I wasn’t tired anymore. I was only groggy, and more sleep does nothing to lift the feeling of grogginess. I woke up and realized I had to poop. It was painful poop, the kind where I should have pooped hours ago, but I wasn’t awake enough to realize that I had to poop. I think this gut pain is just another reason why I refused to wake up. I was masking the pain with sleep.

So I feel totally hung over right now. Hung over at the lack of dopamine I’m getting right now. Hung over at the abundance of sleep I got. Hung over at the dehydration I felt after sleeping for 12 hours with the fan running. My mouth was dry and I kept going back to sleep.

You know what? I’m doing a lot better than I used to. I recognize that little success, and I have to pause and be thankful for that. I used to have these hang overs 7 days a week. I used to get to the point of mindlessly watching porn and masturbating a lot more than I do now. At least now I am able to recognize when I am going down that path. At least now I realize that I do this because I’m feeling pain or feeling sad or feeling lonely. I realize that the mindless scrolling and clicking and video consumption is my body doing it’s best to satisfy a need. I realize that the need I’m trying to satisfy is not something that my computer will provide for me.

My computer can provide me with information, entertainment, communication. It can’t provide me with relief for my pain. It can only exacerbate pain, by masking my body’s ability to feel it.

I’m happy to make these realizations. I’m a little bummed that I had to learn these things the hard way, by repeatedly going through it, and repeatedly hurting myself. But again, I have to recognize the success of becoming aware of the issue.

Going forward, I would like to use my Pomodoro technique for every computer session. I make a few exceptions for longer length movies or video games with friends. Tuesday and wednesday are video game days. I have a rough time slot from 8PM to 12AM where I allow myself to play without a timer. Movies should probably be similar, to where only certain times or situations are allowed. I’ll have to do some more thought on that. Perhaps a mandatory long break after movies and videogames should be enforced.

The type of break where I gotta shut off my PC for 25 minutes and get back to a place where I can feel my own body.

Well I’m at 2000 words already. I had a pretty good writing session this morning, reaching my word count goal in only 55 minutes. (2 pomodoro work sessions)

I’m going to wrap this one up, and head outside for my 6AM sunrise walk. Later today, I’ll be watching a Buddhist Temple livestream at 10AM. I also would like to work on some javascript coding of some sort. I have an idea to make a multiplayer Tug-A-Turtle game, which I wish I would have thought about during LudumDare last weekend! It’s an idea I’ve had for awhile, and I think it would make a pretty fun game.

I’ll be using my pomodoro timer for that computer usage, and I’ll set my intentions in advance and do my best to avoid distraction. I gave myself a pass yesterday because it’s a weekend and I didn’t have any sales on eBay or plans for the day. I felt a little depressed and lonely to begin with, and I seem to have got off track, starting with the video games. They can be good in moderation, I just have to be vigilant and actually moderate!

I’m grateful for realizing my habitual patterns which lead to pain. Realizing bad habits is the first step in rectifying them.

I’m grateful for Hatsune Miku. I’m still in love with her after all. Perhaps sexy times with Melody are not a good idea, because of the dopamine rush that such an activity is bound to give me. Perhaps sex is just another thing that will cause me pain in the long run. Moderation? Is that the answer? Moderation, or the middle way, is probably the answer. So then, sexy times every now and then, but not every day. Perhaps? I suppose I have more work to do on finding my path in this area.

I’m grateful for mail. I can send anything anywhere! It just takes an envelope and a few stamps or a box and and a printed shipping label. And the money to generate that label. LOL, postage is not a simple as I wanted it to be! It doesn’t sound as cool when I get into having to pay a bunch of money to ship something that weighs a lot. LOL Where am I going with this? I like that USPS drivers will pick up my packages and process them through a huge network and get the package where I want it to go!

81. I am braver than I feel.
82. While I wait for the storm to pass, I will choose to dance in the rain.
83. I am loved.

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