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Overcoming an „Addictive Personality“

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  • #409071
    Julia
    Participant

    <p class=”p1″><span class=”s1″>Hello Fellow Buddahs,</span></p>
    <p class=”p1″><span class=”s1″>I often read here but never wrote so today I would like some advise or just words of people who struggle with the same issues.</span></p>
    <p class=”p1″><span class=”s1″>In the last years I came to realise that I got an „Addictive Personality“ – I put it in quotes because the theory itself is questioned amongst scientist but it’s the easiest way to describe the problems I struggle with these days, weeks or even years probably. </span></p>
    <p class=”p1″><span class=”s1″>I will just start with something about myself because honestly I don’t know where to start:</span></p>
    <p class=”p1″><span class=”s1″>I am in my early thirties and am a mother of two and I’m about to finish my higher education. Got a loving husband at home, who works nights. So most evening when the kids are in bed I’m on my own. It’s especially around this time I find myself falling back to addictive behaviour, let’s call it like this. It can be anything, mostly eating (sweets or snacks) too much, when I’m not hungry, binge watching, binge reading (is this a thing?) or lately even online gambling. Staying up late when I should go to bed etc. you get the idea…</span></p>
    <p class=”p1″><span class=”s1″>It’s nothing new, especially my addiction to sweets is present since my teenage years (no problems with weight then or today), also binge watching is a problem since then (streaming came up in this time), for three years in my twenties I drank alcohol occasionally and finally stopped because I just drank – I didn’t enjoy the taste I just had to empty the glass. Or finish up the chocolate, end this episode/season etc. Don’t get me startet on using my phone, same story, hard t put aside. Avoiding social media since my early twenties because of my “Addictive personality”…</span></p>
    <p class=”p1″><span class=”s1″>I just don’t know how to change this addictive behaviour, how to stop…there were periods in my life, were I put my “addiction” above “real life” – i binge watched instead of doing homework/meeting friends, I stopped eating family dinner now and then because I either ate too much snacks in course of the day or I’m planing to do so in the evening. I plan my next “fixes” – where to get chocolate, when to eat etc. </span></p>
    <p class=”p1″><span class=”s1″>I don’t want to continue with this behaviour, can someone relate and maybe help? I want to set a good example for my kids and I can’t do this when I’m eating their snack in secret…</span></p>
    <p class=”p1″><span class=”s1″>Thanks for reading till here and can’t wait to hear from you all!</span></p>
    <p class=”p1″><span class=”s1″>Julia</span></p>

    #409108
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Julia:

    The behaviors you described- as I understand it- are your ways to deal with anxiety at nights when you are not busy with, or distracted by your kids and husband: you remove your focus from the unpleasant experience of anxiety to the pleasure of eating sweets/ the excitement of watching a movie, etc.  These distractive behaviors became your habits aka addictive behaviors.

    I just don’t know how to change this addictive behaviour, how to stop“- it is difficult to change habits, but it’s possible.

    I don’t want to continue with this behaviour, can someone relate and maybe help? I want to set a good example for my kids and I can’t do this when I’m eating their snack in secret“- I admire you for wanting to set a good example for your kids in regard to the addictive behaviors that you want to change. Did you have past successful experiences with changing habits?

    anita

    #409112
    Julia
    Participant

    <p class=”p1″><span class=”s1″>Dear Anita,</span></p>
    <p class=”p1″><span class=”s1″>thank you for you reply. </span></p>
    <p class=”p1″><span class=”s1″>You wrote:</span></p>
    <p class=”p1″><span class=”s1″>“are your ways to deal with anxiety at nights when you are not busy with, or distracted by your kids and husband: you remove your focus </span><span class=”s2″>from</span><span class=”s1″> the unpleasant experience of anxiety</span><span class=”s2″> to</span><span class=”s1″> the pleasure”</span></p>
    <p class=”p1″><span class=”s1″>I can partially agree but this behaviours also show during the day time (when I’m alone), sometimes to “reward” myself even which is absurd because I just don’t enjoy this behaviour aka eating too much sweets, binge watching etc. anymore…But I thought about what brings me to starting going down the path again and again and like you described it probably falls back to anxiety – of being alone (with my thoughts?). </span></p>
    <p class=”p1″><span class=”s1″>You asked:</span></p>
    <p class=”p1″><span class=”s1″>“Did you have past successful experiences with changing habits?”</span></p>
    <p class=”p1″><span class=”s1″>I did but it always came with an abrupt and complete stop of doing something: like the occasional over drinking, the use of social media or some time in the past I even had an addictive and unhealthy habit of meeting strangers from a dating platform i overall did not enjoy but I could not control myself (I was looking for a partner back then) so I cancelled my accounts all together to stop. Also I had an excessive habit of daydreaming – I’m talking about hours over hours going to waste. It all stopped when I met my husband. These nights now and then I’m also finding myself coming back to this routine…</span></p>
    <p class=”p1″><span class=”s1″>So it was all in all rather stopping habit than changing. I find it quite hard to stick to a new and better routine (I guess I’m not the only one). </span></p>
    <p class=”p1″><span class=”s1″>Julia</span></p>

    #409114
    Roberta
    Participant

    Dear Julia

    Welcome to the club, you should congratulate yourself for recogniseing the  problem & wanting to do something about it.

    It is also so wise to have an aspiration as to why you want to change those habits.

    I agree that boredom loneliness even tiredness/lethargy are some of the factors along with stress can make us fall into less than healthy actions. I first noticed this tendency in me some 30 plus years ago. My husband was away at sea for 5-42 days at a time, I too found the evenings once the children were in bed the hardest – you can’t even go out for a walk!

    It may help for you to write down why you dont want to do these things to remind you when the urges come upon you along with goals /ideas/projects to counteract these tendencies.

    Crucially be gentle and not critical with your internal narrative.

    best wishes

    Roberta

     

     

    #409127
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Julia:

    You are welcome.  I read your reply and I re-read your original post: what you are describing is doing too much of every activity you refer to as addictive, not being able to limit the activity,  but in regard to some of the activities,  being able to stop the activity completely and abruptly: “mostly eating-sweets or snacks- too much..  binge watching, binge reading… using my phone, same story, hard to put aside… I did (stop a habit) but it always came with an abrupt and complete stop of doing something”.

    You described craving and planning to do the activity, even though you don’t enjoy it anymore: “I’m planning to (eat snacks) in the evening. I plan my next ‘fixes’ – where to get chocolate, when to eat etc… sometimes to ‘reward’ myself even, which is absurd, because I just don’t enjoy this behaviour aka eating too much sweets, binge watching etc. anymore”.

    You mentioned a past addictive behavior of meeting strangers from a dating platform: “I overall did not enjoy but I could not control myself... so I cancelled my accounts all together to stop…it was all in all rather stopping habit than changing“.

    Even though the DSM-5 refers only to gambling as a behavioral addiction, seems to me, that some or all of the neurochemical processes and connections in your brain regarding the behaviors you listed are similar (or even identical) to that of drug addiction. At first eating sweets and snacks (I’ll refer to these as s & s) was very rewarding and your brain made neuro-chemical (physical) connections between s & s and pleasure and craving.  You were not able to limit the s & s behavior (had little to no self-control on the matter) because s & s and craving were connected, and the craving was activated regardless of whether you were hungry or not, enjoyed the taste, or not.

    It is difficult to abruptly and completely stop the s & s behavior because you have kids at home who like s & s, maybe your husband like some of these too, as well as guests. You are aware that the items are there, in your home (you have access to it), and therefore the craving is activated. You were able to stop other addictive behaviors because you removed access to the items:cancelled my accounts (dating platform, social media) all together to stop“. No access= no activation of craving= no behavior. Even heavy-duty drug addicts are able to stop their addictive behaviors  abruptly and completely when they no longer have access to the drugs, ex., when incarcerated.

    I thought about what brings me to starting going down the path again and again and like you described it probably falls back to anxiety – of being alone (with my thoughts?)“- yes, I think so.

    Also I had an excessive habit of daydreaming – I’m talking about hours over hours going to waste. It all stopped when I met my husband. These nights now and then I’m also finding myself coming back to this routine“- Growing up and all the way to my early 20s, I used to daydream for hours a day myself, sometimes starting in the morning and ending at night. In my case, it definitely had a lot to do with anxiety: it was a very unpleasant and anxiety fueling experience to live with my unpredictable, crazy mother, so when she was away at work, I lay in bed, listening to music and like a movie director, I directed the most amazing movies in my mind, playing the main character, love stories and such. It was taking a break from anxiety. I daydreamed elsewhere as well… just not when she was home.

    anita

    #409128
    anita
    Participant

    Edit to 5th paragraph: “No access= no activation of craving= no behavior. Even heavy-duty drug addicts are able to stop their addictive behaviors  abruptly and completely when they no longer have access to the drugs, ex., when incarcerated: they don’t only stop the behaviors, they also lose the cravings for the drugs when they have no access to it.

    #409288
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Julia,

    for me, addiction was a way to soothe the pain of not being good enough. You said:

    But I thought about what brings me to starting going down the path again and again and like you described it probably falls back to anxiety – of being alone (with my thoughts?).

    What are those thoughts? Do you have a harsh inner critic, telling you how bad or inadequate you are? Maybe your inner dialogue is quite painful, and that’s why you need to distract yourself from it?

    #409402
    anita
    Participant

    How are you, Julia?

    anita

    #409438
    Julia
    Participant

    Dear Roberta, Dear Tee and Dear Anita,

    thank you for your responses and your care. I really appriciate it.

    Tee, you asked “What are those thoughts?” which I might try to avoid when falling into addictive behavior. I tried to take some time and think about it but I guess it just quickly becomes painful or too much, hard to tell. I am in general not a strong person although from the outside it might looks like the opposite. My inner critic… I don’t think I have a loud one, at least my inner slacker is louder. Nervertheless thoughts which I try to avoid can be summarized with: I am not good enough, I could do more, work more / put more energy in my education / start some side business, do more sports, do more for / with my kids, be more creative (it was a big passion during my childhood years) etc. All of these thoughts just kind of overwhelms me and numbs me alltogether. I know I don’t have to do / be all of those things, but I feel like my life lacks something special. I am like everybody else or worse and it annoys me. I am annoyed with my incapability of pull through a plan / an idea – because I am afraid I fail or worse I will quit my plan early on again, proving to myself that I cannot do it. My guess is, I am just lazy. I just do enough. The last time I did more than needed was during Highschool probably. And of course, I got rewarded with a good grade, but in other subjects I did not, no matter how hard I tried (my thoughts around this time, not now, I could have probably done more if I really wanted to). Now I am telling everyone who is asking me about my ongoing master’s degree that I am just putting enough effort into it to pass. I don’t work my butt of. I choose easier courses, I just do what is needed. I don’t even try to understand some things. I just gave up (?). I mean I am almost done and I feel like I didn’t even “earn” this degree…so all in all I am not very ambitious, I have a great fear of failing which is why I find it hard to commit to anything.

    Anita, you wrote “You were able to stop other addictive behaviors because you removed access to the items” – yes, exactly. With the sweets and snacks I could probably try the same. No one snacks at home except me, meaning we don’t keep extra snacks/sweets for the kids in the house (or stuff I eat anyway). Sometimes I manage a week or too (last when I had problems with a teeth), but then before I know it I just buy some sweets/snacks again and I am not sure why. I tried intermittend fasting (you only eat in an 8-hour window during the day) which worked quite well for me to reduce the not-needed-calories-input. I might try this again…sometimes I fall off when I’m sick… It’s like with sports – I had a healty routine of 45 minutes sports in the evening until I had an operation which made me stop for over a month. Starting again is just hard but probably needed.
    I hope my post didn’t feel too much like a monolog.

    Thanks again for all your input and care.

    Julia

     

     

    #409439
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Julia:

    (being)  creative (it was a big passion during my childhood years)“- is this connected to your  “excessive habit of daydreaming – .. hours over hour”?

    Did you daydream about being creative and famous, world known perhaps, anything like that?

    I wonder if your childhood passion and expectations were too big to fit into boring and ordinary daily  life; maybe your day to day life was too disappointing in comparison to the passion and daydreaming, and nothing felt/ feels worthy of your time and effort if it doesn’t even get close to the passion and glitter you desired and dreamed about?

    anita

    #409453
    Julia
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    I did daydream about being creative and famous but mostly just about being loved/in love or well liked by others etc. Fame even disturbed me in my dreams, it is not something I ever wanted for myself. But still my dreams were more exciting than real life, it’s true.

    And now life is just life. It is not necessarily boring but just bland. I never invisioned myself having children and staying one place barely getting new experience/see new places but that is how life ended up for me. Don’t get me wrong, I like my life as it is, I probably couldn’t have dreamt it any better. I just wasn’t ready to be a mum and not me anymore. I was planing to study abroad for one year, I just met a nice man and then I got pregnant. Again, this is nothing I regret, I made my choices deliberate. And I wasn’t more happier or content back then. I just tried to get new experience so somthing extraordenary acutally would hapen in my life. Well, it kind of did but different than I envisioned.

    So overall I cannot say that my childhood expectations were too. There weren’t any expectations. If anything than my daydreaming prevented my from actually envision a future for me, which I would enjoy etc. I slowly getting there now but as I described earlier, I lack the commitment of doing more (what I would need to get into a good position).

    Julia

    #409454
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Julia,

    you’re welcome!

    My inner critic… I don’t think I have a loud one, at least my inner slacker is louder.

    Well, it seems to me you have an inner critic who judges you for being a “slacker”, right?

    These two sentences stand out to me:

    my life lacks something special

    I just tried to get new experience so something extraordinary actually would happen in my life

    This sounds like you’ve always wanted to achieve something special, something extraordinary in your life, so that you would be seen as good enough. Without some special achievement, which would finally prove your worth, you feel… not good enough and unworthy?

     

    #409463
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Julia:

    First, so to get it out of the way: I am not suggesting that there is something wrong with the real- life circumstances of your life, primarily with being a wife and a mother. I understand that you are content with being married and I am sure that you are devoted to your kids (“got a loving husband… Don’t get me wrong, I like my life as it is… Again, this is nothing I regret, I made my choices deliberately“). What I would like to suggest is a practical, doable change in attitude.

    I did daydream about being creative and famous but mostly just about being loved/in love or well-liked by others… my dreams were more exciting than real life, it’s true. And now life is just life. It is not necessarily boring but just bland“- during the “hours over hours” of daydreaming about being loved, being in-love, and having an exciting life, neurotransmitters, produced in your brain (ex. dopamine), , and hormones, produced by your endocrine glands (ex., adrenaline),  created in you the good feelings and physical sensations that you experience/d while daydreaming.

    Fast forward to the present (and true to the time you were a teenager as well), when life feels bland, you try to recreate the good feelings and sensations that you experienced during the many hours of daydreaming via substances (sweets and snacks) and the passive activities that you are addicted to (binge watching, etc.) Sugar in itself gives the brain a huge surge of the feel-good chemical (neurotransmitter) dopamine.

    there were periods in my life, were I put my ‘addiction’ above ‘real life’ – I binge watched instead of doing homework/meeting friends“- often, real life felt/ feels bland, so you try to recreated the good feelings and exciting sensations (that surge of energy) via addictive substances and activities.

    I never envisioned myself having children and staying in one place, barely getting new experience/seeing new places…  I just tried to get new experience so something extraordinary actually would happen in my life“- the envisioning of extraordinary events when daydreaming produces very good feelings and sensations for hours at a time, but then the bland emotional experience returns (“I just don’t enjoy this behaviour aka eating too much sweets, binge watching etc. anymore“). If the extraordinary events you envisioned happened in real-life, your good feelings and sensations would also last for hours at a time, over a few weeks or for a few months (on and off)… but then, the lasting bland emotional experience returns. (I am speaking from personal experience and I will share it with you if you ask).  There is an expiration-date on how long a real-life extraordinary event feels good, just as there is one in regard to how long a daydream feels good, and how long a substance or an activity feels good.

    I could do more, work more / put more energy in my education / start some side business, do more sports, do more…  I am just putting enough effort into it to pass…  I lack the commitment of doing more“- you are no longer motivated and committed to do more because you are too used to the expiration date on feeling-good happening sooner than later and too often, so you don’t bother anymore (?)

    I would like to elaborate on my suggestion of a change in attitude if and after I receive your thoughts about what I wrote here so far.

    anita

     

    #409709
    Julia
    Participant

    Dear Tee, Dear Anita,

    Tee, you wrote “Well, it seems to me you have an inner critic who judges you for being a “slacker”, right?” – Your are absolute right. That’s the thing I also judge most on other (family members, especially my parents). I rather want to be more “productive” or really “relax” (meditation or yoga comes to mind, a quite bath etc.), not just numb myself.
    <div>You also wrote “Without some special achievement, which would finally prove your worth, you feel… not good enough and unworthy” – I don’t know if it would necessarily “prove [my] worth” (to whom?) rather than just make me something else (than my parents?) than boring, I don’t know, hard to put into words. Without “some special achievement” I feel lost in a crowd, nothing to talk about , forgetable, boring – I’m just writing down what comes to mind.</div>
    <div></div>
    <div>Anita, what you described makes absolut sense to me. Even as a child I did not understand, why people / grown-ups just had to do things which they obviously did not enjoy or rather want to do somethings else at the time. I kind of promised myself, I would never put myself into this kind of situations so when such a situation is at hand, where I actually have to do things because there is a deadline or it’s about health etc. I’m trying my best to postpone doing it. I’m finding myself grabbing my phone, binge watching, eating etc. which leads to a productivity (outside of work-life, where I’m very strict to myself and consider myself a hard worker) of about 20 %. Not where I want to be. So I’m open to any kind of ideas to change that behaviour aka my attitude.</div>
    <div></div>
    <div>Thank you both so much.</div>
    <div></div>
    <div>Julia</div>

    #409710
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Julia:

    You are very welcome. “Without ‘some special achievement’ I feel lost in a crowd, nothing to talk about , forgettable, boring-I’m just writing down what comes to mind… Even as a child I did not understand, why people / grown-ups just had to do things which they obviously did not enjoy or rather want to do somethings else at the time“- writing down what comes to my mind as I read what I quoted here is that your parents did not enjoy taking care of you and preferred to do something else, something other than attending to you, and therefore, you felt lost in the family, forgotten and forgettable… Any of  this rings true to you?

    anita

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