So it's been an interesting couple of days for me. Yesterday after not sleeping well for 5 or 6 days I just had enough and the pain I was in was just getting unbearable so I went to the hospital. I couldn't take another day of it. Well turns out I had a fever of 102 and I was dehydrated which makes sense because I've been sweating profusely ever since I stopped taking the Zoloft. They put me on an IV and took some chest x-rays and did some blood work. Of course I came back completely healthy (what always happens, no matter how much pain I'm in) but I was there for like 7 hours while they did all that. When I left my temperature had dropped to 99 and I was feeling slightly better and I managed to sleep when I finally got back home.
I was feeling better yesterday but not up to poker so I watched some videos and played a little League of Legends. Also studied a few different articles on psychology, mostly concerned with ADD. It was nice to not spend the day bed ridden and racked with pain though. Mostly just sweating my ass off for no particular reason.
It's becoming apparent to me that if I do get a degree in psychology it will just be so people listen to me and I have some credibility, because I feel the field is incredibly lacking. For one thing, they seem overly concerned with symptoms. What chemical imbalances exist? What vitamin deficiencies? What are the symptoms of ADD and how do you diagnose it?
As far as effective cures, or discovering what might actually cause the various symptoms associated with a disease, there is not much available. The status quo is to find some sort of drug (usually a powerful mind altering one like meth aka adderall or cocaine aka ritalin) to calm down whatever symptoms are associated with the disease and then hopefully with therapy the patient can learn to not need the drug by developing specific behaviors and ways of coping with their symptoms. Still though, not much is said about WHY someone might have said symptoms. Not to mention it is very disturbing and downright horrifying to read about peoples experiences with the side effects of such powerful mind altering drugs and the fact that these are prescribed to young children.
Imagine your child has a broken bone that is protruding for the world to see, yet the only thing doctors tell you to do is to either have the leg removed or to be given a drug that takes your mind off the pain but you will have to take it for the rest of your life in most cases and you will never be 100%. I think most people would be outraged at these circumstances, yet that's exactly what goes on in the field of psychology today. A percentage of people recover and return to living normal lives, most don't and are forever doomed to a life of prescription drugs and the side effects associated with them. Often people end up even worse than before. It's as if the field of mental health is still in the dark ages compared to the rest of society.
Well having spent the bulk of my life with symptoms classified as manic depressive, OCD, ADHD, bi-polar, NPD, you name it, I have been in a constant and habitual search of my mind for answers. That was part of the problem of course, but I'd like to talk about my own insights on the subject.
First off, one element that is sorely lacking in psychology is the concept of responsibility. In fact, the very definition of insanity is that someone is not responsible for their own actions. To be not responsible for your actions is to be doomed to live life as an animal in a constant state of stimulus response survival. You are no more than a dog trying to get a bone. A sack of chemicals that wanders around waiting for your environment to dictate your actions. The truth is it is very easy to fall into this state. When you are in a situation where your fight or flight response mechanism kicks in, your logical and reasoning side shuts down and your mind and body take over. It's true a person could be said to be not responsible for their actions in this state. For the neurotic they are stuck in this state on certain subjects. For the psychotic they are stuck in this state nearly 100% of the time and often to a debilitating level that doesn't let them function, never knowing true peace or relaxation or love having completely lost touch with their humanity.
So what makes us human then? What can someone really be responsible for? Do we define ourselves by our actions? Some would say so. But if someone is a murderer and completely changes their life and never murders again, when do they stop being a murderer? Of course the answer is when he decides to, and no amount of prison or punishment can force someone to do that. In fact I think it's clear that trying to define a person and label them by their actions is completely cruel and unfair, and our prison systems are a testament to that, that's another subject though. All that should matter is that they learn from their mistakes.
My opinion is that the only thing that defines a person is the very thing which makes us human and not animals. That part of ourselves we call our soul, our conscious - that part of us that is aware of being aware, the observer, whatever you want to call it. The part of you that is pure awareness and creativity, the operator pressing the buttons of this amazing computer called the mind. That part of you that is certainty, that recognizes what is real and what isn't. That part of you that can tell the difference between vivid dreams or mental wanderings and reality. It's what brought us out of mere subsistence survival and separated us from just being an animal.
So what is the mind then? Separate from the conscious part of ourselves is the mind which is basically just a collection of tools at our disposal that are meant to better our chances at survival. They are meant to be useful which is a key distinction. Any habitual tendency you have you have it because you find some use out of it. As children we are quite free with our minds and have fun just going from one thing to the next playing with this awesome toy. One second we are playing the evil guy, the next the saintly knight, the next dinosaurs are attacking and we are cavemen. We don't take it personally, we know it's not real, we just have fun. Over time our habitual tendencies become ingrained in ourselves and in a lot of cases begin to take over forming literal neural trunk lines in our brains. We begin to get lazy as the observer or the conscious and just let our minds take over. Everyone does this.
There is nothing wrong with any of this of course, and no one could get anything done if this system wasn't set in place. The problem lies when traumatic and painful incidents occur where our life is perceived to be threatened in some way. During these moments our survival mechanisms kick in, our fight or flight response takes over and the observer is sort of kicked out of the picture. We are no longer being human, we are responding as if an animal would when you put a hot poker to them. Ever have a bad case of food poisoning and then never want to eat that food again? You might even still think of the food as tasting good, but the thought of eating it just makes you ill. The emotional impact of the event is such that you can no longer be responsible, the mind shuts you out and takes over. It has recorded anything unique to the event and if you put yourself in a situation with similar circumstances it is going to hit you with some pain to make sure you get out of there. Like I said everything in your mind is there because it's considered useful.
The truly devastating thing though is when we are told that we CANNOT CHANGE. That we ARE those habitual patterns in our mind. It's like being handed the keys to a ferrari with no brakes and we are cruising around at 180 mph all the time. Eventually we give up trying to stop and forget there was ever anything else besides driving this dumb car around, and we lose ourselves and believe WE ARE the ferrari! What else is there to life after all? It's funny if you think about it. It's clear with things such as NLP that this is simply not true, any of our habitual patterns in our minds can be replaced with new more effective ones. When we are told we cannot change, when we are told we cannot be responsible for ourselves, our humanity is ripped away from us. All of us instinctively fight against this, and I think that is why psychology is still looked down upon and it's a sort of stigma if you admit to having needed therapy.
Well, I could go write a book about all this if I wanted to (maybe I should). My plans for now are to get my degree and then start practicing my own form of therapy. I plan to use marijuana extensively, having smoked it myself I found it to be extremely therapeutic and beneficial when combined with the right guidance. It allowed me to separate from my mind, to see the habitual and subconscious thoughts swirling around in my head and to regain control of them and replace them with new ones. It allowed me to get back to myself which is the only place true healing can begin. Zoloft did similar things, and maybe in some extreme cases harder drugs like that could be used, but I feel like I never needed it in the first place. It did basically the same thing marijuana did, just with way worse side effects and a ridiculous withdrawal.
I hope some day I can make a huge change in peoples lives across the planet. This is something that applicable to all of us, not just the ones that are so obviously crippled that they have to be put on medication. All of us are a little crazy, anything that you couldn't change your mind on easily and quickly you are somewhat crazy on. Think about that for a second and the far reaching effects it would have on society if everyone was fully conscious, aware, and free minded. Governments would not be necessary, you couldn't control people through mental manipulation and advertising, the poker economy would die lol. I think poker is proof that people just do not have control of their minds, so many times just "shutting off" and going on auto pilot and not understanding why. It really does anger me how many people have suffered needlessly with minds that were out of control and debilitating.
Worse than that is how people with mental conditions are looked down upon by those who don't. I say "don't" loosely, they just appear more sane by societies standards. All of us have the capability to become a serial killer, a murderer, a rapist. Whatever evil humanity is capable of we all have within ourselves but most people don't want to admit that. They read about someone like the godmother of cocaine Griselda Blanco who was responsible for the murders of 100's of people and look down in disgust and contempt.
I prefer to take pity at just how far people can fall from their humanity, understanding that if I was raised in their situations I might very well have become the same. For Griselda Blanco, death and murder and violence were just an ordinary part of her childhood, she had committed her first murder at the age of 11. That could be you if you were in her shoes. There are so many poor lost souls out there and we just torture them even further or lock them away so we don't have to think about them because we don't understand them. They highlight our own worst fears and things we don't want to look at in ourselves.
Well, if I can effect any change in my life in regards to all of this I will die a happy man. Of course there are many people in positions of power who are hopelessly lost and have a vested interest in keeping everyone at the state of chemically addicted animal. They are so afraid of not being in control their worst fear is a society of sane free-willed individuals. I'm sure I'll be flying right into the teeth of them. Hope I don't end up dead. If I do at least I'll be a martyr and hopefully it will make people take notice, we all have to die at some point after all.
So it's been a while since my last update... so much has changed for me. This will be long but should be a very interesting read. If you have any interest in psychology, brainwashing, overcoming great difficulty and pain, self discovery, the vulnerability yet strength within us all, and the indomitable will of the human spirit, then read on...
For the lazy people out there,
Brainwashed as a kid to be a Scientologist and couldn't remember or access the subconscious programming that was instilled in me. Struggled with anxiety disorder and panic disorder most of my life but because of brainwashing never sought medical or psychiatric treatment. Completely turned my life around through hard work, discipline, and self analysis and confronting my fears, a lot of which poker taught me. Got a hot girlfriend, went broke, sold all my stuff, had a breakdown, finally got on therapy and was able to undo the brainwashing and now I'm doing much better and have a very solid outlook on life.
First off, a quick recap to those that didn't read my last blog post. I had hit rock bottom in my life, I had lost the trust and respect of my friends who I owed money to, my body was breaking down on me, and I was very depressed. Suddenly my life had shifted from having a high but deluded belief about who I was to an incredibly low but equally deluded belief. I had been diagnosed with migraines, a disease not easily treatable, and I saw no way out of the chronic pain that had become my life. Instead of believing I was a healthy able individual I now had to admit to myself I was sick and needed help. This belief was very debilitating and hard to swallow. Unfortunately the only person I could rely on for help was myself, but I was in no state to do anything. I was sleeping all day, I was suicidal, I was beginning to lose hope. I had come so far and made so much progress yet somehow I now seemed even further away from my goals. I just wanted to not be in pain, I wanted to be happy, I wanted to be respected and loved. How I got to that point is a whole other story, but in this post I am just going to talk about how I turned it around.
The first breakthrough I had was finding a message board for Ex-Scientologists. I stumbled across a story about a high ranking church member who had suffered with chronic migraines for 20 years until they became debilitating and she left the church. After 7 years of being out, she had a breakdown and finally sought psychiatric help. It took 7 years because Scientology instills so much terror in you of seeking help through medical or psychiatric means that you basically have to be facing death before you consider it. It is quite vicious and frighteningly effective brainwashing. She got put on a prescription of Prozac and started receiving therapy, and within a year she had made a full recovery. Her migraines were gone and she was enjoying life again. This made me feel hope for the first time in as long as I can remember and my depression instantly lifted. Her story was so similar to mine, I finally had hope there was a way out of this mess.
I immediately applied for the CMSP (California Medical Services Program), but there was going to be a few weeks wait before I was able to receive benefits. During this time I was moving out of the apartment I was sharing with two of my friends. I was unable to pay my rent for the last month of our lease and they refused to let me stay. It was a horribly embarrassing experience and my self esteem was at an all time low. What made it even worse is I had no way to explain to them just what I was going through. I also was moving into my girlfriends parents house, a very unsatisfactory living situation and I hated the fact that I was only there because I didn't have the financial means necessary to be anywhere else.
I began posting on the ex-scientologist message board (http://www.forum.exscn.net/showthread.php?t=19945 if you are interested, I warn you there is a lot of Scientology lingo so you may not understand it all), and this was a very therapeutic experience for me. I found it very difficult to post though, the emotional intensity of what I had been through was extreme and I found myself exhausted after writing, yet I could not sleep. I would stay awake into the night trying to get in writing all the
thoughts surfacing and racing through my mind. I would start shaking and trembling, sweating, getting headaches and fatigue, intense grief, a whole slew of psychosomatic symptoms as I tried to write about my life to the best of my ability. I actually had some pretty severe panic attacks as terrifying memories and thoughts which I had blocked out for so long began to surface. I guess I had been away from Scientology enough that it was just time.
I remember one panic attack in which I seemed to lose control of my mind as I was completely overwhelmed by a dozen equally terrifying thoughts as to who I am, what I believe, and what had happened to me. The sensation was like going too far out in the ocean and suddenly being pulled in by the rip tide, unable to overcome the force of the current. I felt incredibly vulnerable, afraid, and exposed, like I had suddenly been thrust out into a dangerous world. I immediately began breathing deeply and trying to focus my mind on the present and I was able to come back, but the power and emotional intensity of what I saw had already taken its toll physically, and I got a horrible head splitting migraine. My heart started racing incredibly fast, I got light headed, confused, and my sense of time became very slowed and distorted. Also, sound became very muddled and dulled. We were watching a movie and it was like someone turned down the volume on life from 10 to 1. It was a very intense and humbling experience. It made me realize as strong as people can be, we all have our limits.
The day came that I was finally going to get to see a psychiatrist and get a prescription for some sort of medication. It turned out I only got to see a family health practitioner, and it was very hard to describe what I had been through to someone who knows nothing about Scientology. From my disjointed, rambling, and nervous description she diagnosed me with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and gave me a prescription of Zoloft. 25 mg to start, and 50 mg the following week.
An hour after I took the pill, I began to feel noticeably better and less anxious. Feelings that I had grown accustomed to and took for granted since I had experienced them my whole life became either muted or non-existant. I remember clearly going into the grocery store and having a completely different experience. I had no idea I had been living with such anxiety for all my life, I knew no other way of being. Looking at people didn't scare me as much, being around people didn't scare me as much, going through the checkout line was no longer a nerve racking experience.
When I got home I read about PTSD (http://www.bullyonline.org/stress/ptsd.htm) and I indeed had it. I had every symptom on the list to a remarkable degree, and for the last 25 years of my life. It was incredibly validating to realize what I had gone through was real, I wasn't weak, and I had somehow kept my sanity and decency as a person. As I upped the dosage, I found it much easier to look at the thoughts in my head without my mind literally shutting down from the emotional intensity. Incidents that I had carried with me my whole life as proof that I was weak and a coward I now had a different perspective on. Things that I never had been able to let go of or confront I found dissipating before my eyes as I finally understood all the panic attacks, migraines, nausea, and constant sickness I had endured throughout my childhood and a good chunk of my adult life. Each thought that came up I was able to resolve and put into a new empowering perspective. I could finally learn from them and move on. I could let go.
I began to feel for the first time in my life a sense of self confidence and strength that I had never known before. I finally had a sense of who I was and what I was capable of. It had an immediate effect on my relationship with my girlfriend. Like my mom she had an anger problem, and she would lash out at me in abusive and critical fashion. It was so similar to how my mom had treated me that I was literally physically unable to defend myself, the emotional intensity of the past would set in due to similar circumstances and the migraines would hit and my mind would stop working. Once that happened I was hers to bully around and put down. On the zoloft I could actually see the thoughts coming into my head, realize they weren't real and no longer how I thought, and I was finally able to stand up for myself.
After a couple weeks of taking it, I began to feel for the first time in my life what it was like to not be depressed. It didn't seem like an ordeal to get up and do the dishes. My migraines had calmed down immensely, and it no longer hurt to just walk outside. I couldn't believe how different I felt, and for how long I had suffered. The change was so dramatic it was unreal at first, like waking up from a nightmare into a dream. I found that all the work I had done on myself trying to solve my problems through self help books and self analysis were finally starting to pay off. Things such as cognitive behavioral therapy, NLP, and positive thinking actually worked. I had control of my mind again. I could concentrate better on tasks and didn't feel the need to fidget constantly. I felt lighter and more energetic. If I thought positively, my body and emotions followed along. On the same token, if I adopted my negative ways of thinking of the past I would feel the negative emotions, but they weren't nearly as intense and I found it much easier to notice what I was doing and think differently. I began to feel an excitement for life I had never know before, like a kid who can't sleep the night before christmas.
Another benefit I had not expected is I had much more access to my past. My memory before 24 years old was always vague and iffy, I really did not have many memories, mostly blackness. On the zoloft I was finally able to look into my past and realize I lead a life of extreme loneliness, depression and terror, only appearing to be normal by an unwavering sense of positivity in spite of it all. Scientology had made me terrified of my own mind, and all of my chronic pain made sense to me now. My fight or flight response mechanism had been constantly pressed down my whole life and my body was stressed out constantly. I also had never known love, never known affection. Physical contact actually scared me as it was so foreign to me. I would be left alone for months at a time at 6 years old to take care of myself including laundry, cooking, and cleaning. I had no schedule, no guidance as far as diet, no discipline. I would drink 8 cokes a day and eat cookies and popsicles. I would stay out until midnight in Sacramento riding my bike downtown and when I would come home nobody would care. I was very neglected as a child. All the while I thought I was lucky to be born into a Scientology family. The mind fuck was unreal.
All these positive effects culminated in a huge breakthrough for me one night. I guess my low self esteem and body dismorphia had caused me to hunch and hide my body shyly away. With my new found self esteem I found myself walking taller and straighter and holding my head up high. As my own mental self image changed my body followed along, and this brought up an old back injury from years ago. This time it was very severe though, I actually got stuck on my bed totally locked up for about 2 hours. The funny thing about all this, it had not brought my mood down at all. I just refused to focus on the negative aspects of my situation. As I contemplated what to do, I realized that by focusing on the pain instead of just relaxing, I made it worse. I got what I resisted. Instead I chose to accept the pain, I told myself it was just temproary and would pass. I forced myself to breath and relax and eventually I was able to make it off the bed. Once up I couldn't sit down though, and after pacing around the kitchen all night until 7 am I was still in a great mood. My pain was considerable, I was drenched in sweat, my body was shaking from the pain and my skin was red from the effort but I had not let it affect my mood. It was incredibly validating that even with all that pain I wasn't letting it get me down. I began to cry as I realized just how strong I really was, I was deeply moved.
I vowed then and there that there was no reason ever for me to get depressed, be afraid, to worry or be negative in any way. No matter how bad my problems were, there are people out there who have experienced worse, and in the grand scheme of things we are all on this rock floating in an unfathomably huge universe. From that perspective there is no problem that seems too big to overcome. The very fact we are here is a miracle and something to be cherished. Life is short doing anything but enjoying it and making the best out of the cards you were dealt is wasting an incredible gift. We are all born with this amazing gift, the human body, with a powerful and adaptable mind capable of so many things if you only decide to use it. So many of us waste it though and put it to work lying to ourselves and defending our precious ego and pride, which I can safely say the mind does a fabulous job of.
I began to be grateful for all the things I had in my life which had allowed me to pull myself out of the situation I was born into. I was educated and from a young age learned to take joy in learning new things and improving myself. I was taught to have a strong belief that you can change anything about yourself and to never give up. I was taught that drugs are bad and avoided the pitfalls of dangerous drugs like alcohol or meth/cocaine etc. I was taught emotional control and discipline. I had access to a tremendous resource for personal growth which was the internet, without which I would have been lost. I had friends who saw the good in me and offered their help in my most desperate times. I lived in one of the richest countries on the planet where men and women before me had fought and died to establish the freedoms we all now enjoy. I felt incredibly blessed to be alive and amazed at just how far humanity as a whole had come. We can all live incredibly rich lives that would make the kings of the past seethe with jealousy. In that moment I fell in love with life again, and for the next 3 days I was in what I would describe as ecstasy. Tastes, smells, and sounds were all enjoyable again. Feelings I had only vague recollections of as a child. Not only that, none of it was random, it was me directing my mind. I relaxed and really learned to direct my mind and take joy in lifes simple pleasures. It was like someone had handed me the keys to a ferrari after driving around in a pinto all my life.
I began to play poker again and found that I no longer felt the pain that I had felt before. I could sit there for 4 hours comfortably whereas before doing 2 hours was exhausting and I was racked with pain afterwards. I already had done a ton of work on my tilt but now my tilt control was just legendary and I found I was playing with a much more free and creative style. I learned from my mistakes and laughed about them, something I had not been able to do before. I used to be a major nit and now people were chewing me out at the tables or posting comments on my ptr stats, so I knew I must have been doing something right.
Still, I found the Zoloft didn't magically make me a hard worker. I still assigned too much pleasure to slacking off and avoiding work. In fact, pleasure seeking behaviors had been so ingrained in me from the past that they were now a problem. I had been in pain for so long that the only way I knew to get pleasure was from things such as coke, food, porn, movies, games or whatever. Some sort of escape. I came crashing down when I was unable to reach orgasm with my girlfriend after 6 days of not masturbating which was like a world record for me. When I finally did orgasm it was weak and unsatisfying. I thought I needed the zoloft but I didn't want to give up the joy of sex. I was able to turn that around as well though and turn it into a positive. It just meant I could last a lot longer and I learned to fully relax into the experience and let orgams happen naturally. Previously when I wanted to finish I would start to focus really hard on a neural trunkway if you will that was embedded in my mind from years and years of looking at porn. I had it down to a science, I could get off from porn at will. On the zoloft the mental aspect of it just didn't excite me enough to get me off though, I couldn't even get off through masturbation. When I just relaxed and let it happen naturally I found the sex was much more enjoyable and so were the orgasms.
Another big problem I had was my addiction to marijuana. I didn't need it as much as before, but I still found it very pleasurable and my circle of friends made it so I was always around it. The living situation with my girlfriend was also not healthy for me and caused me to abuse marijuana even more. I finally made the decision to move down to Santa Monica and stay with my sister while I put in place some healthy habits like exercise, a regular work routine, a diet, etc. I decided I didn't need the zoloft anymore and stopped it as well. I also gave up caffeine and fatty foods. I haven't smoked marijuana in a month and it's nice to say that after about a week of quitting I really didn't crave it anymore.
I have to admit I am still feeling the withdrawal of Zoloft and it is very very uncomfortable. As of now I have been up for 50 hours, I've been getting the "zoloft zaps", sweats, tremors, hot and cold flashes, body aches and fatgiue, and nightmares. The zaps have gotten progressively worse and I'm just unable to sleep. In spite of all this my mental attidue remains positive and I feel happy and confident, and I know the withdrawal will pass. I quit it cold turkey straight off the 100 mg dose which you aren't supposed to do but I no longer wanted to take it. Unfortunately the withdrawal has made it very hard for me to work as much as I had wanted to. Also I'm on a -15 buy-in below ev run at the 10 NL games which is ill-timed but expected, I was due for a bad run. After getting off the Zoloft I realize now that marijuana served basically the same purpose, it's just that I was abusing it as a crutch instead of using it responsibly as a tool. Marijuana has no real withdrawal though and is much milder so I feel it's a lot healthier of an alternative. It relaxed my mind and allowed me to see what I was thinking. I was getting sick with anxiety about twice a month and when I started smoking I didn't get sick for 2 years. I'll talk about my experiences with it in another post though. In hindsight I would recommend anyone to try marijuana (responsibly) before trying something like a anti-depressant. You MUST combine it with some form of therapy though or it will just intensify all the negative internal dialogue or bad mental habits you already have.
The withdrawal from Zoloft is severe, and after reading around I can only sympathize with people who have been on it for most of their lives. I feel incredibly lucky that I have always had a somewhat delusional belief in myself and my ability to overcome my problems. I refused to believe I was weak or insane or handicapped despite all the evidence to the contrary my whole life. I feel it is this belief in myself that is one of the most fundamental reasons I have been able to recover. I see people who have been labeled with some disease such as OCD, ADD, depression, bi-polar, or whatever their whole lives. The trouble is they believe it and it's like a death sentence for their soul that permeates every aspect of what they do and who they are. It takes the responsibility for who they are off of themselves and assigns it to some random chemicals floating around their brain that they have no control over. Once that belief is deeply ingrained, combined with the effects of the drug, they are just hopelessly trapped. I was able to let go of my past because I could take responsibility for my own perception of whatever happened which is what was causing the negative influence, not the incidents themselves. If I believed what happened to me had damaged me irreversibly in some way I would have never have had the strength to continue.
I'm going to be in Santa Monica for a month, then I'm heading back to Sacramento to possibly get a job and use the money to build up my poker roll. The rake at 10 NL is just ridiculous and the only way to overcome it is to just do a huge grind. I'd rather do that grind at a job where I can make some friends and enjoy myself. I no longer have fear of social interactions like before as well and I'm looking forward to it. I also have a very strong conviction for what I want to do with my life. I'm going back to college and I'm going to pursue a degree in psychology with a minor in math. I want to be a therapist, or possibly a life coach, but I also want to use marijuana instead of the normal prescription drugs. I recognize that as strong as people are capable of being, they are nevertheless humans and have their breaking points. Drugs do a lot to take what is physically impossible to reexperience cognitevely and allow to be viewed so that you can take something out of the experiences and move on.
My whole life I have looked at myself and my thoughts, trying to figure out what was wrong with me, and I finally got what I've always wanted. My life back. I feel I have my whole life ahead of me, and I expect great things to come. I feel I have something special to share and can really help people who are needlessly suffering. Because of what I have been through I can no longer sit by and do nothing about it. Because of my insane life I am blessed with a mindset and outlook that some people never get to experience their whole lives, and for that I am forever grateful and only want to share and give and allow others the chance to experience it too.
Hope you guys enjoyed reading and I also hope you were able to take something positive away from it. =)
P.S. If anyone lives in or near Santa Monica and wants to hang out and talk about life/philosophy/poker or whatever, hit me up!
Here's a video me skydiving to put a face to that wall of text. This was during my confronting my fears phase of going out to clubs and forcing myself to socialize (a few years before the events of this blog post took place). I was always afraid of heights, so I thought I'd try this. Looking back it's interesting to see my ticks such as nervous laughter, I've changed a lot in those 3 years.
Well since I was talking about my girlfriend I figured I'd put some pics of her up since you guys are probably curious.
I've been too ashamed and embarrassed to talk to my friends for a while now. I'm on a big downswing at life, I made promises I couldn't keep and lost the respect of some close friends. I'm not sure they even want to hear it, but I owe them an explanation so that's what I'm setting out to do with this.
First off brief background, I've been playing poker for about 8 years now. I'm a winning player (DoctaBluff pokertableratings) and I've made about 300k from poker. Nothing spectacular. My highpoint was living in scotland with steve and iain, I had about 30k online at that point and was playing the 400$ games. I have a background in starcraft and used to play a lot with tillerman and maynard and his gang. I used the handle IceGod back then.
So here is my current situation. I have about a 500$ online roll right now. Last month I was in a similar situation with about 580$ when I decided to really try to apply myself and turn it around. I actually fell to 340$ at one point playing the 25$ games, but made it back to 1100$ after about 40 hours of play. That wasn't quite enough to cover rent and pay for food so I was planning to really push the last few days of the month when I got sick. I was really in a rock and a hard place, I had already burned too many bridges with my friends to even think about borrowing any more money, but I couldn't play because my body wasn't allowing it. I asked family and friends for money and all of them were broke. I ended up finding the number of my scientologist dad who isn't supposed to talk to me and he was able to loan me 700$. That was a funny phone call actually, he didn't recognize me because we haven't talked in 8 years. Problem is, that money was supposed to get to me on the 2nd, but the check got lost in the mail and I didn't get it until the 14th. Getting the money onto full tilt has also been a problem, I'm having a friend deposit for me but that also is not instant so as of this month I have not been able to play at all. So as of right now 550$ rent is due by the end of the month which I am going to sell off the rest of my possessions to cover (tv, couch, ps3). This is the last month I'm going to stay here because after this I'm going to either stay with my sister or move in with my girlfriends family. Neither option is ideal to put it mildly. I have no car (it was repossessed a while ago). I have no work experience. I owe money to my friends which I can't pay back and has strained if not completely broken any relationship we had.
So what happened? How does a winning player who should know better end up in this situation? Well, I actually got what I believe is a big part of the answer when I got sick last month. I ended up going to the hospital because I found out they can't turn you away even if you don't have insurance/money and I was just fed up with the pain. The doctor quickly told me I had migraines and he had a similar story to mine where he put up with pain and was desperate to the point of getting surgery on his sinuses to fix the problem before he found out it was migraines.
I did some research, and it looks like I've had migraines all my life. I've been in bad debilitating chronic pain for about 4 years now. I've had headaches, sensitivity to light, and nausea my entire life but not usually to a debilitating level. I have many strange afflictions that suddenly make sense from my past now that I know its migraines. Basically at it's worst the pain in my face/head was excruciating to the point where all I could do was go lay down in a dark room somewhere. I couldn't play games, watch movies, anything, the pain was too much of a distraction. Even when it wasn't blinding pain, I found it very difficult to relax and enjoy the things I used to. It NEVER goes away. I would sometimes hurt myself in other parts of my body just so I could feel some different pain. I can't remember what it feels like to not be in pain. I don't remember exactly when it first started getting really bad, but I know it steadily got worse, until it was an every day all day thing. Up until a couple weeks ago I thought it was sinus infections maybe related to my deviated septum, then ear infections, then TMJ. When I got back from scotland I went so far as to pay 2.5k out of pocket to get my wisdom teeth removed in the hopes the pain would go away. I was desperate, and it didnt. After I did that the only solution seemed to be to go to specialists which I couldn't afford. That was iffy though, did I need jaw surgery? Face surgery? Change in diet etc? It would obviously not be some quick fix.
The messed up part of all this is I wasn't able to really tell anyone about it so I suffered in silence and didn't ask for the help I needed. I could spend a while talking about why that is and a lot of it has to do with how I was raised but to put it succinctly A) I viewed talking about pain as a sign of weakness, and might make people not like me or view me in a bad way, so I hid it B) I was told repeatedly growing up that I was evil at my core and so a lot of the time I thought I deserved the pain and viewed it as something for me to conquer to prove I was good and C) I was taught that 90% of pain is mental so I thought a lot of it was being caused by something I was doing in my mind. Then just overall I wanted to have friends and be liked and who wants to be around someone who always complaining about pain. So I'm pretty sure most of my friends had little idea of exactly what I was going through, although I did tell them bits and pieces.
Needless to say, all that pain made it difficult to work. In fact, poker became a sort of trigger for migraines. I could just think about playing poker and instantly I would be hit with a lot of pain (more than the normal every day pain) that wouldn't go away for sometimes days. I saw my friends pulling 30 hour sessions and making all this money at poker and I just thought they were stronger than me and I was just lazy/weak. The fact that me thinking about poker made it turn on made me think poker was the cause. I truly believed it was my fault and that if I could just change how I thought I could fix it. I was blind to the fact that it was not something I could get over with just the power of my mind.
On top of the physical aspects, when I got out of scientology at 24 I was a very anxiety prone person with a lot of self confidence issues. I made poker 1000x more stressful than it needed to be, because I was a very easily stressed out person. It's truly a miracle I somehow managed to break through and become successful at poker. After 6 months of 160+ hour months at 5$ an hour I had to make a choice to quit or to fully devote myself regardless of pain. Quitting would have been horrible (hello mcdonalds) so I just forced myself through the pain. I didn't know it at the time but I was struggling with migraines back then too, just they weren't chronic and they weren't debilitating. I had a breakthrough and finally made it to the 100$ games and onwards. The last few years when everything in my life has been falling apart I devoted myself to studying when I wasn't playing and that has done a lot for my game and also my mental game while playing. I find myself more relaxed and calm and with a more positive attitude about myself and the game in general. Unfortunately as you can guess this didn't make the migraines go away.
After I got back from scotland I was only doing about 30-40 hours a month. This was still about 3k a month 12 tabling the 1/2 games and I was probably running decent too so I managed to skate by. I knew something had to be done though and my friends were telling me the same. I knew they were right and that I was heading for disaster but at the same time every time I would play I was in a lot of pain. It actually got to where I was getting sick about twice a month. I thought it was this weird head cold thing but looking back it was definitely migraines. 2 years ago I discovered weed and it actually gave me some much needed relief from the pain. Actually the first time I smoked I was so excited to actually feel good I think the high made that excitement even more so it was pretty intense. As you can imagine I started smoking a LOT. I also got a girlfriend so I started spending more money too and working even less. Sure enough I hit a 4k downswing and had to move down to the 100$ games. From then on my life has steadily been falling apart.
So where does that leave me? Well I owe my friend Kaj 5000$. He staked me for the 100$ games about 6 months ago. I thought it was a motivational issue/mental issue that I wasn't playing and when I asked him to stake me and I definitely felt motivated to play and that I had improved a lot at poker and was pretty confident. Unfortunately I fell into the same cycle which has been plaguing me this last 4 years again. Play for maybe 5 days until I wake up one day too exhausted and in pain to play or just feeling like I deserve a day off for going through what I did. That day off would turn into me putting off playing until the last second because I was trying to avoid pain. Eventually I would feel so guilty for not playing and so disgusted at myself that I would again force myself to play, which would again result in me getting sick and unable to play and so on.
Well, I suppose that's not the explanation my friends want to hear, but it's the truth. In hindsight, there are so many things I could have done to avoid all this, but if I could go back in time and do things over again only knowing what I knew back then I'd do the same thing, because I didn't know any better. I never meant to steal or lie or hurt any of them, and I am terribly sorry for any pain I have caused. I don't know when I can pay you guys back, but I do plan to and I look forward to the day we can all be friends again.