What a week it’s been as we’ve caught up with Ben Wilinofsky in our 5 Part Special – A Week in the Life of…Here’s part 4:
I understand that you suffer from depression and anxiety. How was your state of mind last week?
It hasn’t been good if I am honest. I had a fight with my girlfriend, and generally my worst days are the days when I feel like I have hurt her. Looking at it objectively, I don’t think I deserved to feel responsible for hurting her, but the fact that she was hurt…I tend to get very anxious around stuff like that. I can be very sensitive about the people I care about. So it has been a really, really, tough week. I had a couple of very anxious days – and nights where I had a lot of trouble sleeping – and I had a lot of very out of control experiences where I was physically shaking and mentally felt like I was shutting down. I just wanted the feeling to stop.
Describe your depression as best you can?
I think I have been depressed for a dozen years now and the anxiety is something that has become very new to me. I have been dealing with it for roughly a year and am still going through the process of seeking for information, from within myself, and from expert opinions on that. I have had at least one doctor tell me that she thinks I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from a relationship I was in prior to this one. It was very stressful and abusive. The question of what is going on in my brain when I am having these issues is one that I’m still battling with. I am still struggling to understand how it works and how best to medicate it.
Everyone’s brains are different and they are incredibly complex, and the sheer number of neurological and chemical reactions going on is just unfathomable. I can’t say how you’re feeling, and I can’t say how I am feeling. I can feel how I am feeling, but I cannot express it. Trying to understand the cause and effect of this is so, so, so far beyond any of us. I have stopped trying to understand why you feel a certain way and why I feel differently. I am really moving towards understanding how I medicate this to make sure it doesn’t happen, or make it so I am in control and it affects me as little as possible. I wish I had a better answer for you and understood a little bit of what is going on inside me and how to keep it from happening.
You wrote in your blog that you didn’t like yourself. Describe that feeling?
Again, I don’t think that it’s something I can rationalise. If I look at myself objectively I can say that I am a pretty good person. I am very successful, for my age and for my field, and am very good at what I do. I am a very considerate and caring person and I take good care of others including giving money to charity. I would look at another person with that kind of makeup and would be impressed by what they did. The way I feel about myself comes from an emotional place, not a logical place, so I don’t know the reason why I don’t like myself.
You also wrote, “I have gotten very good at doing, without getting any better at being”. Could you expand on that statement?
I am very good at the process of getting from A to B. I am very good at just getting good at things. If I want to accomplish something I am very good at doing that. Whether it is through mental gifts or physical gifts…whatever it is I need to get me there, I am quite adept at making the effort in learning the right process to achieve the ends I am looking for. But none of that has ever made me happier, and I’m not good at staying in the present and looking around me with open eyes – looking at current conditions and being ok with them. So I am very good at affecting change in my life, but I am not very good at enjoying my life in my current state.
Is poker part of the problem?
That is a tough question. I think poker is part of my comfort zone and my comfort zone might be a part of the problem. It might be a problem that I have something that I can retreat into that really has no time limit. I mean there is always a poker game going on. I don’t ever come home from work. There is never a point where I am away from the resources of poker so there is no real limit where I have to stop. If it is comfortable for me, and I’m good at it, can keep doing it and getting that intermittent sense of reward from it I think it can be difficult to take the time to just be. It can be very difficult when I am used to that system: reward seeking, accomplishment seeking and achievement. When I am used that process of continuously striving for more, and poker is a really easy way for me to do that at any time – and there is no definitive stopping point? I think it is very easy for me to get caught up in that accumulating, always getting more and always getting better process and to ignore the need to just be…if that makes sense?
Coming Up In Part 5
In Part Five, we continue to learn more about Ben Wilinofsky’s battles.