Memoirs of an Addict Pt. VII

Instant gratification and manipulation to achieve such gratification became common themes in my life from an early age.  A word of warning for anyone overly driven by instant gratification, it’s only a matter of time before it manifests into addiction.  Food was my first addiction. A state of nirvana was reached in the countless hours spent stuffing my fat face with potato chips, sugary fruit snacks, and popsicles.  Anything containing high fructose corn syrup as a primary ingredient was a siren call to my insatiable appetite. I was an overweight child throughout most of the grade school, from 2nd to 7th grade, because I couldn’t stop consuming. Like most chubby kids, this played a role in me being painfully insecure growing up.  Video games were the second incarnation of addictive behavior in my young life. When I was in the fifth grade I meticulously kept up the roster of every NHL team for three years on one game. Not an easy nor timely feat considering player movement on top of the number of new players each year. An obsession to the point of addiction in my youth also led to me read a number of the Harry Potter books cover to cover.

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I was a shy kid growing up, it took me longer than others to become comfortable with my environment.  The first major determinant to my social development came in the form of repeating 2nd grade. It was a wise move on the part of my parents given my outright refusal to do homework, however, it had the unforeseen consequence of killing my self-esteem. This was the start of a pattern into isolation, I remember wanting to go unseen.  Making friends with my new classmates terrified me as I felt humiliated. This is when my addiction to food developed. I would eat because it provided comfort, it filled the void created from my insecurities as well as my lack of meaningful friendships. Who needs friends when you have an endless supply of sugary snacks, salty potato chips, and every video game a young child could ask for?  From this young age, I found comfort in the pleasure of external stimuli, a recipe for disaster and addiction. When you’re an addict, at least from my experience, you don’t understand the difference between pleasure and happiness. More appropriately, you confuse pleasure with happiness. Pleasure is brought on from an external source and it only lasts for a short time. Happiness comes from within and is long lasting. Those unfortunate enough to confuse pleasure with happiness fall victim to the Hedonic Treadmill.  An endless crusade chasing drugs or sex or food. The feelings fade, and then the external source of pleasure is pursued again. Wash, rinse, repeat…

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