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AgentIce   . Dec 28 2010 10:26. Posts 28
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,
Cliff notes:
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.






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 Last edit: 28/12/2010 15:05

the cleaner   Cape Verde. Dec 28 2010 10:40. Posts 3013

good luck mate.

Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you will be a mile away and have his shoes. 

Spitfiree   Bulgaria. Dec 28 2010 11:13. Posts 8870

cliff notes ???


rednalluk   Sweden. Dec 28 2010 11:18. Posts 626


  On December 28 2010 10:13 Spitfiree wrote:
cliff notes ???



+1


AgentIce   . Dec 28 2010 11:31. Posts 28

It is a lot to read I know.

Cliff notes:
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 now I'm doing much better and have a very solid outlook on life.


AgentIce   . Dec 28 2010 11:38. Posts 28

Now if I could only get some sleep...


XoXthajmanXoX   United States. Dec 28 2010 11:50. Posts 834

Hey man, nice read. I'm glad to hear you're doing much better. I can relate to a lot of the depression part of that. The mind can be a very evil device if it's programmed to do so. You get to that point and you're conditioned to feel a certain way. It's a long process and what you went through won't be cured overnight, but it sounds like you're on the right path. I was raised Christian and had similar albeit less severe examples of some of the things you mentioned. It's fucked up how off track things can get and how simple they are to fix, but yet at times how impossible it can be. Stay positive bro.

SERIOUSLY! 

XoXthajmanXoX   United States. Dec 28 2010 11:53. Posts 834

Also badass video. . like the songs.

SERIOUSLY! 

noface   United States. Dec 28 2010 11:57. Posts 182

Sounds like a tough situation, but it seems like you are doing better. Start paying back your friends as soon as you can, even if its only $50 a month, you don't want to lose the type of friends that were kind enough to loan you money when you were down. GL.

i wouldnt touch a cunnis that raszi has stretched out - Illmatic 

mnj   United States. Dec 28 2010 11:58. Posts 3848

holy shit. im glad for you.


WastedGate   United States. Dec 28 2010 12:01. Posts 667

Try boozin it heavily.

wait wha? 

AgentIce   . Dec 28 2010 12:22. Posts 28


  On December 28 2010 11:01 WastedGate wrote:
Try boozin it heavily.



Solid advice, will try. J/k, I tried that, while being numb was awesome I knew it was only covering up the problems and the last thing I wanted was an addiction to alcohol, so I stopped it. Luckily I found marijuana =)

Thanks for the supportive comments guys. Re paying my friends back on a schedule, was just talking to them about doing that. Unfortunately I can't get a hold of Tillerman, he has gone in the dark as far as online communication goes. Looks like he became a rakeback grinder at the 100 and 200 NL games. I'm sure he feels I betrayed him, but I'll do whatever it takes to make up for any harm I caused him.


OpWestAcct   United States. Dec 28 2010 13:06. Posts 640

Good shit - Just read your last blog to recap and now this one. Really is amazing what the human mind can do. I had the same thoughts as you on the aspect that how lucky we are to be humans. Have an incredible body and mind that can adapt to almost anything and accomplish incredible ordeals. I'm happy you were so strong - but if you don't mind me asking - how were you able to keep a girlfriend through everything you went through?

Fuck me 

AgentIce   . Dec 28 2010 13:33. Posts 28

I actually hid all my problems from her until I had a breakdown. She saw me struggling though and not being able to work as much as I want, the whole time I thought it was an issue of motivation or discipline and I kept assuring her that I would get back on my feet soon. It caused a lot of fights between us and the added stress just made it even harder for me to work. Once I was able to understand what was going on with me it was easier to explain to her what I was going through, and she saw the intensity of it first hand. I'm super lucky that she was there for me and loved me and listened to all my rants during that time period. I guess she stayed with me because I treated her well and had a lot of potential, but truthfully we both were damaged and needed each other. Right now we are on break, it would be awesome if things work out between us, if not I have the confidence and self esteem to know I can find someone else.


wobbly_au   Australia. Dec 28 2010 13:45. Posts 6540

If u are going to write essays i suggest cliffs.

The Last Laugh. 

wobbly_au   Australia. Dec 28 2010 13:46. Posts 6540

aaaa u added them. Good work

The Last Laugh. 

OpWestAcct   United States. Dec 28 2010 13:47. Posts 640

Aww I'm sad to hear that last part. Because as I was reading (before the last sentence) I was thinking 'wow this guy has found a great girl.' I hope it works out with her, if that's what you truly want, of course - because any girl that can look past your dilemma and stay with you through the suffering is definitely someone to hold on to. The ironic thing is that ya'll went through all this together and now when life gets 100x better for you, ya'll are no longer together.

Fuck me 

Bigbobm   United States. Dec 28 2010 14:01. Posts 5490

good stuff dude

Its time to stop thinking like a bitch and think smart like a poker player - ket 

AgentIce   . Dec 28 2010 14:02. Posts 28

I'm moving back in with her when I go back to Sacramento at the end of January. Shes a massage therapist and really matches me in a lot of ways, if she can just learn to control her temper. I've helped her a lot with that and she promises she has changed, but only time will tell.


Carthac   United States. Dec 28 2010 14:07. Posts 1343


  On December 28 2010 13:02 AgentIce wrote:
I'm moving back in with her when I go back to Sacramento at the end of January. Shes a massage therapist and really matches me in a lot of ways, if she can just learn to control her temper. I've helped her a lot with that and she promises she has changed, but only time will tell.



Orrrrr you can get a pair of ear muffs, and just have make up sex all the time


 
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