‘Porn nearly made me kill myself’: York graduate speaks out about his addiction

He didn’t watch porn or masturbate for 100 days in an attempt to cure himself

His voice shaking down the phone, York graduate Daniel Simmons tells how he hit a wall in 2013: “I came to rock bottom where I was gonna kill myself, I had it planned. I was gonna jump off the bridge.

“Or I was going to get my life back, repair it and build it back up from scratch.

“I chose the latter thank God.”

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Like most teenagers, Daniel started watching porn when he was 15 but he was quickly hooked on it: “It was talked about so much in school, it was just the thing that everyone did.”

But something that started off as harmless quickly became a dangerous addiction for Daniel.

“I couldn’t not watch porn.”

The music student was dropping grades in school because he was taking days off to watch porn. But as Daniel’s warm manner starts to fade, he tells me how his taste began to escalate towards transsexual and homosexual porn, after he stopped being turned on by “normal porn with one guy and one girl”.

“It had to be shocking. It wasn’t exactly arousal anymore, it was a synthetic arousal from the shock of what I was watching.”

While at uni, limited contact hours meant he could make a timetable to ensure he got his fix. Daniel admits to a period of porn-induced erectile dysfunction where he wasn’t performing in bed with his girlfriend of the time: “I knew I wanted to be turned on but I couldn’t be.

“There was something disconnected from real life and fantasy.”

Not only was the music student becoming disconnected from his sex life, but he speaks about feeling completely detached from society. Daniel began to find difficulty in interacting with others at uni due to spending so much time consumed by porn.

He told me how his addiction to porn stopped him forming relationships: “Even if I wanted to have empathy for people, I just simply couldn’t feel it.

“I was in a cerebal fantasy land.”

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As lonely as his addiction made him feel, Daniel’s past situation is more common than you might expect. Sex counsellor Owen Redahan told The Tab that around 3-5% of people become addicted to porn: “One of the concerns is the 20-30-year-old age group has been brought up on porn.

“We’re beginning to see more clients with sexual relationship problems. We’ve been programmed to do three things, drink fluids, eat food and procreate.”

The brain encourages these things with pleasure hormone, dopamine. He explained how we can train our brains to be stimulated by events of our choice, meaning that when the brain is wired to respond to a screen, the stimulation isn’t there in real life.

Daniel was affected by his underlying case of depression he had since he could remember and that his addiction to porn only made it worse by numbing the pain.

In June 2013, Daniel had enough and contemplated suicide when his panic attacks and constant break-downs became too much. His voice loses it’s tremble as he tells me how meditation saved him, prompting him to understand that he had a serious problem with porn.

Recognising his problem, York grad Daniel likened it to a drug addiction. He found himself with terrifying withdrawal symptoms when he started his reboot process, abstaining from both porn and masturbation for 100 days.

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“I found myself shaking uncontrollably. I kept having really vivid dreams, both nightmares and really good dreams, ones that I could recount every single detail about the next day. I was having hot flushes and disturbed sleep or sleeping for longer.

“I felt so shit, I had intense cravings to go back to the porn – it was so uncompromising.”

Meditation helped Daniel to feel comfortable talking about his addiction: “I’m able to perform normally, I’m almost two years on so now I’m happy to talk about it.”

Discussing porn addictions, Owen Redahan explained the rewiring process: “You have to retrain people how to have intimate relationship”, which is exactly what Daniel did by rekindling a relationship with his ex girlfriend.

Porn is like most addictions, but you don’t really give it up because you still have sex. With drink and drugs you completely give it up – that’s why it’s so difficult.

Fritz Sechner, who is making a documentary about Daniel’s story to raise awareness of the issue, discussed how young people are hit the hardest: “There isn’t enough research. We grew up with the internet and it’s our generation who suffer so we feel responsible to inform the older generation.”

Porn addiction is often batted away as a made up thing. With lack of recognition from international medical boards, sex addiction remains unexplored and relatively unexplained.

Summing up about his ordeal, Daniel assured me: “Like any drug, it doesn’t affect everyone in the same way – not everyone will get hooked, but abuse will turn into negative effects.”

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