How I Tried To Fight My Depression With Porn

It started, like so many other stories I’ve heard, by accident. I was 12 or 13. I was home alone, and found myself rummaging through some magazines in the house out of boredom. I came across a Cosmopolitan magazine that my sisters had. The pictures inside, while not explicit, were by no means tame. The back inside cover was what grabbed my attention though. It was a rather explicit short story depicting a man and woman having sex. My curiosity was peaked and it all went downhill from there.

My habit of pornography evolved over 10-12 years. It went something like this: from magazines, to Google images, from Google images, to online videos, from online videos, to porn websites. My frequency of using porn that started as a once in a blue moon occurrence in grade school and high school, steadily worked its way up to once a month, once a week, and finally two to three times a week at the worst point in my sophomore year of college.

5347580266_aa42232124_o

In college, it got to the point that pornography use was one of the greatest contributors to my depression. The guilt of trying to live an upright moral life while harboring a dark, uncomfortable secret was a difficult burden. My sleep schedule became very odd. I would get sick and the doctors could find nothing wrong with me. I isolated myself from friends and family. I have never felt so alone in my life. It turns out that my experience is not unusual. A study performed in 2005 states that loneliness is a common denominator of users of internet pornography, regardless of employment, socioeconomic status, etc. Another study done in 2013 states that “Greater pornography use correlates with higher anxiety, depression, impulsivity, and vulnerability to stress.”

I wasn’t just depressed because I was using porn though. My depression coexisted with or perhaps preceded my porn use. The truth is that once I had first discovered porn, I started using it as a way to “self-medicate” from my inner turmoil. The greater my stress and loneliness, the more likely I was to use porn. I found that porn was an effective medicine. When the stress became too much, or even when I simply got bored, I turned to porn to escape or to entertain myself from my other thoughts. Before I knew it, I was using porn for very little reason at all. How could I say no to something so simple to access and so enormously gratifying?

Little did I know that by accessing pornography, I was literally changing. With pornography, there is a huge chemical influence that primes us to form it as a habit. In his book, The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge writes: “An important link with porn is that dopamine is also released in sexual excitement…activating the brain’s pleasure centers – hence the addictive power of pornography.” Now obviously, anytime individuals engage in sex, huge amounts of dopamine are released. It is supposed to be a rewarding experience and that’s normal. But what I found with porn is that a similar thing happens and this was encouraging my addiction.

Accessing porn three times a week and releasing the deluge of dopamine was something my brain was not prepared for. The huge influx of chemicals that rewarded me was so powerful that after a period of time, I became accustomed to such high levels of those chemicals in my brain. If I didn’t use porn in a certain period of time, I suffered from what can be argued to be withdrawal symptoms. Once again, my experience was not uncommon. When discussing the addictive nature of porn, the website fightthenewdrug.org cites that it is common for symptoms of withdrawal to appear when trying to cut back on porn use. Notable symptoms of withdrawal I experienced included a highly elevated heart rate, anxiety and irritability, and mild to severe tremors in my hands.

Seeing these behavioral shifts and recognizing how they affected me and hurt others led to a slow road to recovery. It wasn’t until my senior year of college that I began to make serious progress. It took 10 years to get to that point. I had fits and starts of recovery prior to that, but never got very far. I talked to a friend about it, tried to pray, and tried to just “try harder.” It all failed. It wasn’t until I took real, measurable steps that I made progress. I met with a counselor on my college campus my senior year. He introduced me to a computer program called K9 Web Protection. It is 100% free, and works extremely well. This alone chopped my frequency of porn usage from three times a week to maybe once a month, and then to once every three months. The catch is that you simply must have an accountability partner to keep the password for the software, or else it simply will not work. If you are the one who has the password, there is almost no point in having the software installed because there is nothing stopping you from simply typing it in to access porn. I know, because that’s exactly what I did.

Currently, two years after graduation, I recently took another significant step. I joined a support group for men who struggle with pornography. This was a huge leap for me. My pride has always prevented me from joining a support group. I never thought I would need it. I hated the idea of it, and didn’t think I was so far gone that I should take time out of my schedule to talk about my feelings. But I was invited to one by a man who learned of my struggle, and at the encouragement of my fiancée (now wife), I went. Currently, I can say that the group has been extremely helpful. It has engaged my recovery into an active state and has given me a huge network of men to lean on in my powerlessness. And that is priceless.

The group has opened my mind to new possibilities behind my tussle with pornography. And that is why I am writing this. Maybe this could help you or someone you know. I realize now that there is a very old and deep-seated wound in my heart that pushes me to act out in pornography. My goal is to find this buried pain and work to mend it. I write this not as a total victor over pornography, but as a man who has made significant progress and still has miles to walk before the end. My fight with pornography is connected to every other part of my life, so as I continue to recover and become healthier, I will slowly change for the better. What sort of man will I be on the other side of this? I’m very eager to find out.

 

 

References:

Doidge, Norman (2007). The brain that changes itself: Stories of personal triumph from the frontiers of brain science. New York, New York.

Egan, V., & Parmar, R. (2013). Dirty Habits? Online Pornography Use, Personality, Obsessionality, and Compulsivity. Journal Of Sex & Marital Therapy, 39(5), 394-409. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0092623X.2012.710182?journalCode=usmt20

Yoder, V. C., Virden III, T. B., & Amin, K. (2005). Internet Pornography and Loneliness:An Association?. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 12(1), 19-44. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10720160590933653

Anonymous

All stories published at I Believe in Love are real stories, by real people, about real love.Sometimes, our writers may choose to remain anonymous to protect the privacy of friends or family that may be referenced in their stories.
Anonymous
Written By
More from Anonymous

Will I Lose Him If I’m Not Ready to Have Sex Yet?

On the very first date I had with the man who would...
Read More