We’re interrupting our current blog series to share this personal story of addiction recovery. Huge thanks to our anonymous contributor for his courage and generosity in sharing this powerful story with us all. We hope that it inspires others to reach out for help.
“The rush of advances in technology is phenomenal and relentless, and while on the whole they appear to make us better connected, do we really know how it might be affecting our health? Remember the smoking adverts of the 1930’s and ‘40’s that told people smoking was good for them? Are we in another era of ignorance, not yet aware of the damage being done, not to our lungs this time but to our minds?
Harmful and addictive material (both legal and not) is too easily accessible with the potential to hook people and alter their behaviours. I consider myself to be compassionate, of reasonable intellect and tech savvy and yet, to my great shame and regret, this happened to me.
If only I had known how easy it was to reverse this devastating transgression and regain my identity. I would have reached out and chosen an intervention instead of it arriving by itself through a knock on the door by the Police.
I knew for some time that my behaviour was wrong and that it was at odds with my core values and sexual identity. I wasn’t always offending, sometimes my conscience won through, and I was able to remove myself from harmful behaviours. Without dealing with root causes I inevitably lapsed, caught in a viscous destructive cycle thinking “I’ve got straight before on my own, I can do it again”.
Following my arrest, I did reach out to a specialist sex offence therapist; I needed to know how I had allowed myself to become what I had always naturally despised.
For most of my life I worked in top executive positions for multi-million-pound corporations. I was successful, influential, and pioneering. I was respected as a good, honest man, but I now realise I was crippled with a hidden anxiety and imposter syndrome, resulting in an undiagnosed depression.
I was forcing myself to continue as though nothing was wrong, believing the world would fall apart should any chink arise in my armour. Suicide felt like a genuine good option, but my inability to follow through with it was just another failure to add to the list.
I became distant to my family and friends resulting in a failing marriage which I interpreted as a lack of care and support. I turned to pornography as a replacement for the loss of intimacy with no idea that any harm could come from it.
I joined an adult chat room where my pornography addiction combined with an addiction for approval; imagine the ‘hit’ you get from a Facebook ‘like’ multiplied by sexual stimulation.
The material I viewed began to escalate to images I had never been interested in before, and as each escalation became ‘normal’ I eventually began to access illegal images. I created inappropriate justifications enabling me to live with myself by day, then retreat to my escape at night.
Through therapy, I was able to see that I was still the good man that I was before, and that by addressing the root causes of my addiction and depression I could re-create a healthy, meaningful and dignified life living to my true values. I learnt that help is a value, not a failure, and that including people in addressing issues can help with relationship building.
You can see from my story that there were many opportunities for me to reach out for an intervention, but my pride, fears and ignorance prevented me from doing so. I urge anyone for whom this resonates to reach out now. I know it is scary and there may be consequences, but believe me, they get far worse the longer you leave it.
I hope this message might just be the intervention that changes a life, and hopefully before the devastating ‘knock at the door’.
Please, please, reach out and choose your intervention before it is placed upon you”.
– Anon (July 2022)