Bacchus (Dionysus) by Caravaggio
Bacchus by Caravaggio (Bacchus is also known as Dionysus, God of wine and ecstacy among other things)


Hello. My name is Amber J Gardner and I am an addict.

*pauses for applause*

But my addiction isn’t to any type of substance. My addiction is embarrassing.

I’m addicted to stories.

I am serious.

Like any addiction, even one that doesn’t directly damage the body, it’s still bad.

This time it was a mix of anime and manga. Triggered by anxiety and feelings of failure, I went on a 48 hour binge, maybe even longer, meaning I spent practically two days doing nothing but sitting at my computer reading Japanese comics and watching cartoon shows/movies.

This is bad because I haven’t done any writing in the past week (or cleaning for that matter). This is also a serious blow to my self-confidence because I really thought I had this addiction beat. I hadn’t read manga this obsessively in months. It was supposed to be taboo to access any manga or anime sites, but still, it happened.


I know it doesn’t really sound that bad or serious. It really is. I call it a story addiction rather than an anime/manga addiction because I haven’t done this with JUST that form of entertainment.

Back when I still trying to make college work, I spent an entire Thanksgiving break playing Final Fantasy 12 when I needed to work on a research paper I was ignoring (I barely submitted it in time).  I literally spent an entire day, from one morning to the morning of the next day, with my butt glued to that couch, controller in hand (and I STILL didn’t beat the damn bastard of a game).

Another time I spent an entire month reading three fantasy trilogies, earning myself failing grades for all my classes that semester. For four weeks (possibly more), I remained locked in my room, barely eating or drinking, without showering, my face stuck in my books.

A bad side effect of this damn obsession is I often feel disappointed when reality doesn’t play by the same rules as the worlds of the stories I read. I don’t mean magic or any of that. I mean love and friendship and all that lovey-dovey stuff. Most of that stuff doesn’t work in the real world the way it works in the worlds of movies, video games and anime, which is disappointing…and also gives me this weird feeling of being… disjointed from reality.

A feeling I don’t appreciate.

This addiction has really made a mess of my life.

But I have to give myself credit that I’ve improved greatly. Despite my relapse I managed to snap out of it fairly quickly (hopefully), or at least quicker than I used to, with no residual depression.

I suppose the hardest thing about kicking a bad habit or addiction is how to handle when you relapse, how to not let that get to you, to remain positive and still have faith in yourself and your dreams.

This is true for creating productive routines and habits too, like writing or exercising every day.  You miss a day or a week and you feel like crap.

The key is not to let the small failure to get to you and to get back on the horse.

By now, I’m covered in the scars of how many times I’ve fallen of that damn horse. Hell I was off the damn thing this very morning. But now, gently, carefully, I’m back on it.

The past is the past. It’s long gone. All that matters is what you do in the moment.  The future depends on what you do now, not on what happened yesterday.

It helps when you have people looking out for you and people you really don’t want to disappoint.

So here I am. Back in the saddle, ready to try something new (anything new) to stay on it this time.

Does anyone have any strategies or ways to get back up after a setback or prevent one from happening in the first place?

How do you stay on track on your dreams?


3 thoughts on “Relapse

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  1. I know just what you mean because I struggle with the exact same problem. Sometimes it’s reading, sometimes it’s Internet surfing, but it’s always basically the same thing: procrastination. I’ll go for hours and hours at a time, whole weekends, where I’ll just slack off the entire time, hating myself more and more. Like you, I think I’m slowly getting better.

    Tips for beating it? #1 is what you said already: “The key is not to let the small failure get to you and to get back on the horse.” This is so hard and so necessary. Every time you fail, you try it again.

    Another thing I’ve found that helps a lot is to set very specific, very definite short-term goals and tell other people about them. So for instance, I’ll say “From Monday to Friday this week, from this time until this time, I won’t get on the Internet at all.” And then I’ll tell my wife, and telling someone else seems to make me stick to it better. And since it’s short, it doesn’t seem so impossible to stick to it – it’s only a week! Then when that week is over, you’re pleased with your success and you renew it for another week, and so on.

    And if you relapse…get back on the horse! 🙂 Good luck to both of us.

    1. Great idea! I have noticed that I tend to relapse more if I have a goal with a lengthy deadline. The longer the deadline, the most likely I’m not gonna do it or do it last minute anyways. But usually lengthy deadlines means big project, and doing such a project last minute is intimidating and also increases the chance of failing…which triggers my addiction.

      I’m trying to form a goal/routine of not allowing myself to go online or at least not open any browsers until I have something to share/upload, such as a story, blog post, status update on my novel, or perhaps even a drawing.

      If I have nothing to share, I’m not allowed online till I do.

      It’s a rocky start…and I totally didn’t do it today, but every day is a new start 😀

  2. This is how I think about it.

    What’s the most loving thing you can do for yourself? Procrastinate, or do that thing you know you love, that you know you were born to do? You’re not sure you really, truly love yourself?

    “If you want to see the love of your life, look in the mirror.” ~ Byron Katie

    Start there.

    Also, let your feelings whine. They don’t get a vote. (Kristen Lamb said that.)

    And I say, you can do it!

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