I was living the life of a rock star: strippers and sex with lots of hot women, wild parties, jet-setting around the world, playing highstakes poker with million-dollar wins, and throwing money around like it was confetti. I took drugs; lots of drugs. At times that lifestyle was great, like a fantasy come true. I can’t deny it. That was one part of my world. The other part of my world, what the public didn’t see, was much different. I’d be lying in bed in such despair that I’d be unable to move, so deeply depressed that even a trip from the bed to the kitchen seemed just too damn far. I was able to climb the poker celebrity ladder with “The Mouth” persona and win three World Series of Poker bracelets, but I will always be fucked up, thanks to drugs.
As a result of my drug abuse, I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which makes it difficult for me to concentrate. I didn’t have this as a kid although that’s when most people develop it. Kids with ADHD usually outgrow it when they get to be teenagers, but I developed this disorder as an adult, the direct result of drug use. I found out the hard way that drugs can cause brain damage. They can change the wiring in your brain. After you stop, some of that wiring changes back over time, but some of it never returns. Short-term memory and the ability to focus are things that don’t usually come back.
I’ve done some really dumb things and made some really bad decisions in my life—the drugs, the wild parties, jail, and my ridiculous obsession with sports betting—but what I didn’t know when I was holed up in my trailer was that I had a problem bigger than I could imagine.
I have bipolar disorder, which wasn’t diagnosed until 2003. I’ve had it since early adulthood, which is when most people develop it. Bipolar disorder isn’t a product of lifestyle, a brain injury, or anything I’ve done to myself. I was born with the genes to develop it. I didn’t have any of the symptoms as a kid, and was never treated for any mental problems growing up. I was pretty normal back then, or so my family says.