The Emotional Timeline Of Being A Binge-Watching Addict
It may seem like an easy task to spend your day wrapped up in comfy blankets in your bed full of pillows stuffed with soft down feathers.
Your favorite mug of coffee sits on the table next to you, leaving half-crescent shapes on the wooden surface.
And before you know it, that one coffee mug is surrounded by three others — all half full. The coffee got cold before you finished it and you couldn't drink cold coffee now could you?
It may seem easy, but it's not. It's hard work. It's tiresome, and some say even detrimental to your health.
I tell you this because you should know what you're getting yourself into.
This is not a task for the faint of heart.
Do you enjoy sleep? How about warm meals? Because you can kiss these things goodbye.
Do you enjoy Friday nights out with friends? How about friends at all? Because once you begin, you'll find it very hard to quit.
I hope you know how to cover up those dark bags under your eyes, and if you don't, I sure hope you can wear them with pride.
I know I do.
But, just like any other process, there are steps to follow. And, these steps are important. Honest.
They could make or break you, set you up for an experience that'll change your life or curse it to failure.
Binge-watching is delicate, you see. You could very well end up a mindless zombie, passed out on your couch with drool and potato chips matted in your hair — classic Lays, because messing around with that salt and vinegar sh*t is just plain crazy.
But, I guess that's how I spend most Sundays, and I'm not complaining.
Anyway, if you think you're ready to undertake this daunting task, it is imperative you follow these carefully-crafted, meticulously-constructed steps in order to achieve the success you seek.
But, if you want to know the honest truth, you'll probably be less satisfied by the time you finish than if you never started at all. But, you'll probably be too far gone to care.
First, you must choose your television show — unless it was already chosen you. If that's the case, you may not be fully prepared for what is to come.
Maybe you began watching “Doctor Who,” the heart-stopping saga of a time-traveling alien in a bright blue box (starting with season two, of course).
Or maybe, you've stumbled upon the dangerous, back-stabbing world “Game of Thrones,” full of dragons, dark magic and lots of death.
Seriously, be prepared for death, those writers are great at crushing your heart and leaving it a goopy mess.
If you've fallen victim to the two demon fighting brothers of “Supernatural,” you'll be in my prayers. But in any case, once you make this decision, you are ready to begin the binge.
Congratulations are in order, of course. You've just made the best decision of your life. Or maybe, it was the worst. I'm too far in to be able to tell the difference.
Now that you've made your selection, you're ready for step two. This one is rather simple, and in many cases it's quite fun.
It's now time to prepare your watching area. Maybe you plan to binge-watch in your bed, or maybe, you've stolen the couch for a few hours, but I can assure you, you'll be there for more than a few hours.
Or maybe, you set up your basement with surround sound, thick curtains and just enough space to throw yourself down on the ground and sob.
Regardless of where you choose, you have to make sure it's ready for you.
Do you have pillows? I hope so. I recommend at least four. You'll be sitting here for a while, so comfort is key. Maybe you want to build a fort? A cave of mismatching sheets?
Maybe you want to wrap yourself in a burrito of warm blankets, I know I do.
My arms never have to leave my warm cocoon unless the episode has ended and I have to let Netflix know that yes, I plan on watching another episode.
I've only been here for three hours, what do I look like, a rookie? Half-crazy rants aside, if you've made yourself an inviting little nook, it's time to put on the finishing touches.
Now that you've bundled yourself in a delicate cocoon of safety, it's important to prepare your stomach for the long hours ahead, as snacks are the next step.
Any snack will do — preferably all the snacks.
I like to surround myself with a multitude of bowls, all full of various goodies with calorie counts so high I pretend that not knowing the exact number means they don't exist at all. Because, duh.
The calories can't count if I'm not aware ahead of time that there are 160 calories and 7 grams of fat in three Oreo cookies. They just can't.
So, get your Oreos ready — double stuffed, of course. Get your popcorn popped, topped with movie theater butter, and open that box of extra large Cheez-Its. You're going to need all the comfort food you can get.
With snacks taken care of, it's time to get ready for the inevitable thirst. Hydration is important, my friends.
Maybe it's midnight and coffee sounds like the perfect pick-me-up for your binge. Maybe you like to keep it simple — cough cough, boring — and you prefer a cold glass of water.
Personally, I'm a Shirley Temple kind of person, filling my glass with more grenadine than is ever necessary (and occasionally a shot or two of Smirnoff.) Hey, you've gotta live a little, right?
Now it's time. Everything is ready except for you. It's time to begin the binge.
Take a few deep breaths, blink your eyes a few times and try to relax because this is the calm, and the storm is rapidly approaching.
So, grab a cup of something delicious, snag a handful of chips and get ready to begin. Turn off the lights while you're at it.
Darkness is key — unless you're watching “The Walking Dead.” Maybe then you should have a nightlight by your side… and a kitchen knife, just in case.
If you think you're satisfied with where you're sitting — and I'll reiterate that you'll be sitting there a lot longer than you realize — the next step is for you to hit play.
Seconds will tick by; you'll watch your screen light up a bright and happy red.
NETFLIX will flash across the middle of your screen, a happy little gray line appearing underneath, as the episode begins to load.
These are the moments you should cherish.
The anticipation is killing you; the elation and the excitement and the adrenaline all mix together and you can't keep that stupid smile off your face.
You're helpless to stop feeling like you are a part of the Scooby Gang, dusting vampires alongside Buffy or like you're locked inside Litchfield Penitentiary alongside Piper and Crazy Eyes.
You, too, are the Mother of Dragons, marching your army to King's Landing in the hopes of reclaiming the Iron Throne. Because for these next few hours, you are all of these things.
I mean, technically, you're a lazy pile of wasted potential. You stink and you make unnatural noises as your favorite characters fall to their deaths.
You eat all the junk food your hands can find, even resorting to cheddar cheese slices that should be going in your younger sister's lunchbox.
Your family won't see you for days, and when they do, you are nothing but a shell of what you once were, mumbling incoherently to yourself about how evil King Joffrey really is, and how crazy it is that “Grey's Anatomy” is on its 12th season.
Your breath smells like Cheetos and chocolate covered almonds. Your hair is in a perpetual bun because it's so dirty, you can't stand the way it feels on your shoulders.
Your family doesn't know whether to call your doctor or get in touch with a specialist. But in your mind, you're far from the present reality in which you are immersed.
It is so easy to get lost. It is so easy to forget about life and school and the sink full of dishes your parents have been yelling at you to clean all day — because God forbid they get a dishwasher that works.
Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons, doesn't have to do dishes, you tell yourself.
But these things are beside the point because now, you're hooked. You're in. You're here, right at the heart of the binge. You're invested now.
You're probably realizing how very little control you actually have.
Why can't you just close your laptop? Why can't you just click that little red dot at the corner of your screen? Why can't you just say “no” when Netflix asks if you want to continue?
You're a prisoner and you don't even know it, not yet, but as the hours tick on, the realization sets in.
Don't panic; this feeling will pass. You're confused and disoriented. You're questioning your ethics and your beliefs. Are you even a real person? Why do your toes feel like they haven't touched a shower in days?
You've sat on the same couch, or maybe even in the same bed, for upwards of a week and you don't even remember what it feels like to have the warm rays of sunshine cascade across our face.
But, hope is not lost. The season is not yet over. You will once again know the smell of freshly-mowed grass.
You will feel the comfort of water as it washes over you as you take a nice hot shower. You will feel alive again. You just have to watch a few more episodes. Because the only thing that'll end this quest are those final credits.
Maybe you're coming up on the last episode of the season, or maybe the series is ending entirely.
Regardless, you've put yourself in a world you can't escape from.
These characters matter to you. Their troubles are important. You love them.
They jump, you jump, you got that? And you may be thinking, so what? I thought that, too.
And then, days went by, and then months, and with no new episodes, no new characters or storylines, I started to lose my mind. And you will, too.
All of a sudden, you'll become an expert on the world of “Game of Thrones,” or Buffy's hometown of Sunnydale.
You'll suddenly find it very hard to strike up a conversation that doesn't have to do with which Litchfield Penitentiary inmate is your favorite, or which demon-fighting brother is more deserving of your love.
And that's just the beginning.
But, you must move on. There's no cure for this kind of addiction, not really. You've lost how many hours to this television show?
You've spent the equivalent of days cooped up in a dark room full of the same stale air that welcomed you days before when you could have been doing so much more.
You could have reorganized your closet. You could have written the next great American novel.
You could have spent hours tanning on a warm beach.
But instead, you gave yourself up to the Netflix gods; if only the creators could have foreseen the pandemic that was to come.
Curse you, Netflix, for the fire that now runs through these veins! The season has ended.
The show is off the air. The curtain has closed and all of your favorite characters have said goodbye.
It feels like a dark and empty world. What will you do with all your time now? Take up knitting? Go to bingo nights at your local town hall?
When a binge ends, it feels like the end of everything: purpose, love, happiness. But it's not. There is so much more to see, so much more to explore.
The story may have ended for the inhabitants of Sunnydale, but that does not mean that the journey must also end for you. That's the beauty of it; Netflix gives you so much more to explore.
At this point, there are no more steps. Once you begin the binge, you can't stop. You can't escape. You can't give up.
The only way to cure the addiction that has taken root in your mind and body is to begin anew.
It is time for the final step, after you've come to the realization that you're hooked.
After the show that has caused you hours of both happiness and misery has ended, it's time to move on.
You'll cry and you'll stare at your computer screen like it is the key to the universe.
You'll sit on the floor of your bedroom and play with the fibers of the carpet because what is the point of living if your favorite characters are dead?
But this can't last. The next step of the binge is to begin a new series, and ultimately, a new addiction.
That bright screen the color of apples in autumn is calling your name. All you have to do is click start.
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