STAGE 1: Just A 'Little Taste'
Life seems a little dull...there's no excitement and absolutely nothing to look forward to. You overhear a colleague at work raving about an 'amazing new tv series' that they have been watching. They can talk of nothing else and everyone in the office has started watching it as a result.
You're not a big TV watcher per se, but you want to see what all the fuss is about. You want to join in with your colleagues and to be a part of their conversation.
You decide to sign up to Netflix and watch an episode of this 'amazing' show just to have a little taste to see what it's like. What harm can it do?
You press play.
Seven hours later you notice the rays of the sun peeking through the gap in the living room curtains. You force yourself to let go of the remote, turn off the tv and go to bed.
You have to be up for work in 2 hours.
STAGE 2: SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE
You head off to work a few hours later where you spend most of the day talking with your colleagues about your thoughts of the new box set.
Everyone wants to hear what you have to say. 'Wait til you get to episode 9' they say. 'Oh, don't tell her what happens to the wife!! You musn't!!!', someone shrieks.
You spend all day thinking of nothing else and dash home to pick up where you left off. You must find out what happened to the 'wife'!! You MUST!!
By 4am you're nearly at the end of Season Two. And the 'wife'?...Well,things have taken a shocking turn!
STAGE 3: RELATIONSHIP BREAKDOWN
As the weeks pass by your addiction intensifies.
You've stopped doing the long-winded bedtime story and have opted for the express version and now manage to put (force) your kids to bed an hour earlier than usual.
You've stopped cooking proper dinners and have grabbed some quick and easy microwavable junk that takes 3 minutes on Category E to cook.
You've stopped answering your calls and your parents and friends worry that something bad has happened to you...perhaps abduction or even death.
You and your partner haven't seen each other naked in weeks and the white triangle on the play button of your remote has started to wear away.
Your complexion is grey, the circles under your eyes are green and black and you're now on two cans of Red Bull and a pint of coffee just to get through the working day.
But the 'wife'....she has found out the truth...and she isn't happy.
And it turns out that the nice guy at the chicken restaurant is the very essence of evil. Evil!!
STAGE 4: ANXIETY
You worry that you're nearly at the end of Season 5 and Season 6 is not available on Netflix for another six months. You can't wait that long!! It just won't do so you order the new season from Amazon Prime knowing that it is guaranteed to arrive the next day. It's only £25.99. That's perfectly reasonable...still cheaper than a night in the cinema and you can always resell it on eBay once you've watched it. It's a bargain. Really, it is.
STAGE 5: MISPERCEPTION OF REALITY.
The box set has become such a large part of your life that you start believing that the characters in it are real. You look to them to help solve your problems and you use their experiences to offer advice to your real-life friends .
You find yourself saying,' Well. when it happened to Carrie, Samantha told her to dump the asshole and move on. I think that's what you should do too'.
You find yourself choosing to sit on the giant leather sofa's in Starbucks (not the wooden chairs) where you drink massive mugs of coffee and sing songs about cats that smell.
You mistake your exhaustion for a misdiagnosed case of Lupus but then panic that a Dr House-equivalent won't believe you and will diagnose you with Munchausen's Syndrome.
You start doubting the shifty nature (and the new-found wealth) of your child's Chemistry teacher and you're concerned that a terrorist attack is imminent every time you step foot on the London Underground.
Will Jack Bauer go against protocol and save the day?...You pray that he will.
STAGE 6: WITHDRAWAL.
The season comes to an end and you're left feeling empty and traumatised.You go on IMDB for the 400th time to double check when the next season is being released in America but learn that they haven't even started shooting it yet.
Life as you know it is over...it's meaningless and there's a huge void that can't be filled.
You contemplate starting at the beginning and watching it all over again....but you can't bring yourself to do it.
You're not that desperate.
You settle for reading the CV's of the cast and crew on IMDB and watch the season's outtakes on youTube instead.
STAGE 7: RECOVERY
Time heals all wounds and after a while you feel ready to move on and life returns to normal. You start reading your kids the full version of 'The Hungry Caterpillar' before bedtime, start cooking nutritious meals and get yourself to bed at a reasonable hour. The natural pinkness returns to your cheeks and you cut back to just two cups of Nescafé a day.
But then you overhear a conversation at work.
Apparently, the 'most amazing new TV series ever' has been released on Netflix.
And you'll never guess what happens to the dog at the end of episode ten?!!