What I found was an understanding of who I am and what I was struggling with . . .
I was not happy with life, but nothing seemed to be changing. I did not feel up to making more than occasional hesitant efforts to improve my situation. Goals and desires went unfulfilled. I was reliant on others for support necessary to live, to fulfill basic needs. However, I was unable to reach out for deeper, emotional support, and so I faced the daunting and exhausting issues of my life alone.
Instead of turning to others for help, I turned to the Internet to escape the realities of life. It provided an easy way of forgetting my troubles and a safer means of social contact, so I could tell myself that things weren't really that bad. Of course, it didn't help with actually solving my problems. The stress became even more paralyzing when I tried to return to the real world. Eventually, I left the computer only to do basic, solitary tasks. The Internet was a safer and still somewhat effective way to interact with the outside world.
When I came to reSTART, I was skeptical. I was still eating well, maintaining good hygiene, and keeping tidy: the opposite of the conventional view of the Internet addict, right? I felt perfectly capable of taking care of myself. However, I was aware that I didn't seem to be getting any further than subsistence living. I didn't see Internet use as a hindrance, but I knew I was stuck so I agreed to participate in case I might learn anything useful.
What I found was an understanding of who I am and what I was struggling with.
Stress and depression, which I had thought of as the barriers in my life, were really just the symptoms of anxiety, fear, lack of social support, and sensitivity to negative emotions. The reSTART staff helped me as I worked on a new awareness and acceptance of myself.
The work we did was balanced around many activities so that no single one became overwhelming. Aside from being necessary to accomplish so much in a short time, this was also a valuable lesson in itself for coping with the stresses of life. Much of reSTART was like that. As we learned together, we gained knowledge of ourselves, others, how we relate to each other, and how we relate to objects -- things like the Internet. Everyone involved in the program was more than just a participant, counselor or teacher; we became true friends.
As I leave reSTART and begin to change my life, I am faced with intimidating challenges. Many of them are ones which I could not deal with before. However, I now have the serenity and mindfulness to cope with difficult times and the social connections to make my life fulfilling. The purpose of my recovery is not to forcefully resist using the Internet to escape; it is to obviate my need for escape. My time at reSTART will be my foundation as I build a future for myself and become who I wish to be.