Anxiety has been getting the better of me in the past month and a half.

About two years ago, I began to feel the affects of my increasing anxiety. I’m not sure what triggered it, but I have a sneaky suspicion it had to do with the reading other peoples’ judgements of myself in poker forums. As embarrassing as it is to admit, those little fuckers got to me. I started doubting myself, and pretty soon, everything made me feel nervous. It kept getting worse, and when your job is to interview poker players on camera, it’s not something you can really hide from.

It always started with a funny feeling in my stomach that would begin to consume me. I’d start sweating, my hands would shake, and soon enough, I wouldn’t be able to swallow or even think. That’s when it would get really bad, but on a daily basis I’d start feeling the same familiar nag. Before interviewing certain players, I’d have to psych myself up and do a countdown like, “3, 2, 1 Ok GO!” and I’d walk straight up to the player before I had time to think and puss out.

At the 2008 NBC Heads UP Drawing Party, I did interviews on the red carpet which got me so worked up that I couldn’t even bring myself to go inside for the party. I wanted to go, but I was scared! I started walking in, turned around, turned back, then turned back around, freaked out, and walked straight to my car and started crying. I was crying because of how ridiculous it was that I was crying. Go figure.

In social situations, I’d often get the same way. You’d think that having the ability to read people would lessen anxiety, but for me it increased it. I can tell when people are bored, or when they don’t really care about talking to you. I can tell if someone is genuine or not, and let’s be honest. Most people, at least in Vegas, are out for only themselves and don’t give a shit about you.

I guess I did a decent job hiding my bat shit craziness because as it continued to get worse, I started talking to a few people about it. Most of them said something like, “Hmm, I don’t see it. Just relax.”

Andrew did his best to listen and console me, and definitely helped, but the first person who I felt really understood what I was saying was Evelyn Ng. She said that I had to just fight the anxiety head on, realize that I have a lot to offer the world, and fake confidence until it became real. I started doing that, and it was so hard at first. I’d stand up straight, smile, and force myself “act” confident even though a lot of times I felt like sprinting to the nearest exit. Eventually it started getting easier.

A conversation with my stepdad Steve really pushed my anxiety into remission though. He talked about what reality is and how easy it is to be pushed away from it. He talked about a Krishnamurti, my dad’s favorite philosopher whose books he used to read to me as kid (fun story time for an eight-year-old). Krishnamurti often talked about the prisons we create in our mind that keeps us from actually being free. Anxiety is one of those prisons. The things that make me anxious aren’t things that really matter in reality.

Now, I don’t think that I even fully understand Krishnamurti’s writings, but it helped me get a grip. Also, I’m not saying that anxiety is always caused by some silly detachment from reality, but I think that’s case for me. I know that a lot of people struggle with it, so I hope people don’t think I’m trivializing the issue.

My anxiety was almost completely gone by the time I started working for PokerNews, but it has crept back in. This time though, most of it is just crazy obsessive worrying. I worry about everything. For example, even though I know flying is super safe, all of a sudden, I guess I’m afraid of it! On the way back from Tallinn Estonia, I was sitting next to Randall Flowers and I got so freakin nervous as we were landing that he had to do impressions of poker players so I wouldn’t tear my hair out! (ask him to do Isaac Haxton :) It’s pretty good). I was no joke putting my hands under my armpits like Mary Catheryn Galleger on SNL. I may or may have not smelled my fingers after we safely landed.

I guess I’m writing about this because I want to help suppress my anxiety again. It’s not nearly as bad as before, so I want to nip it in the butt now. I’m also writing this because in the past month and a half, I’ve had SOO many things that I’ve wanted to write about, but kept stopping myself because I was worried about what people would think about me.

Hmmm good solution — write about how mental you are instead!

Anyway, if I can write about this, I’ll be able to write anything after this. Haha, if you only knew the anxiety I’ve gone through while writing, deleting, and rewriting this.

So, how do you guys feel about being my shrink? Let’s be real, you guys are so much cheaper…

Thanks for listening. I’m going to write more often- for serious… well, if you care. You probably don’t though. Well maybe, but is it is super self indulgent to think anyone cares? I don’t think I’m indulgent, but isn’t anyone who has a blog indulgent? AHhhhhhhhh