Friday, 16 March 2012

The Dark Ages

Exactly a year ago, I was going through my worst period as a trader. I chronicled it on the blog, with this post being my lowest point:


It wasn't just my worst period as a trader but one of the worst periods of my life. Imagine going to bed each night riddled with anxiety that forced you to toss and turn, eventually waking up and the first thing that hits you like a sledgehammer is 'I've almost lost all my money'. You then have to drag your sleep-deprived limbs through another day of mental torment, as you begin trading with fear as the over-riding emotion. Imagine every minute feeling like an hour, pacing the room, heart beating out your chest, body sweating and boiling like a kettle, barely able to look at the match or the markets as seemingly everything conspires against you. Imagine redding-up at the slightest hint of things moving in the wrong direction only to curse loudly and smash your fist into the wall as it reverses and goes onto what would've been an all-green screen. Imagine swapping strategies mid-match, being unsure what you are doing from one moment to the next, considering having a straight punt just to get any sort of green on the board, flicking through markets you have never even traded before just to find something to stop the rot.

You know you are on-tilt but even if you manage to calm yourself enough for one properly executed trade, it inevitably ends up a loser and so you go back on-tilt again, only this time, the urge to do something stupid is even greater. You know you should stop and take a breather but you are scared of missing out on the next match and the profit you might miss, so you plough on; the tiredness from those sleepless nights throbbing through your aching muscles but the adrenaline from the anxiety keeping your mind alert like a caffeine overdose, fixated on the ladders. You despise trading now and your hand shakes over the mouse each time you see your entry point; sometimes you bottle it and inevitably, those are the times you miss out on the green. 'Just one win' is what you say to yourself, that's all you need just to give a bit of confidence, to stabilize your emotions but the harder you try, the more you unwittingly try to force a win but end up red. In the end, you either see-red and go 'all-in', for a win or bust, ridiculous straight bet or realise it's 4am and there are no more matches left to play, so prepare for another night of tossing and turning.............

Trading should never put that much pressure on you or make you feel that bad but it's inescapable that many people will suffer because of mistakes they make in a risk-orientated business. I'd like to be able to say, a year on, that I can raise a wry smile at how stupid I was but even now, the wounds are still a bit raw. Whilst there is no doubt at all that to be successful in trading, you must at some point experience the downsides of chasing and blowing a bank or two, I don't believe it's necessary to reach the depths of despair that I sank to.

That said, hitting rock-bottom is often the spur that some people need to rectify their problems, both in life and in trading and it's no coincidence that this period forced me to dig deeper, analyse more and make changes that pushed me onto the right path immediately:


Bank management was the first of many basic lessons I was to learn over the course of the next few months, which eventually culminated in me being where I am now; a million miles away from The Dark Ages of last March.

OFF-COURT BEAUTY: World Number 125, Aravane Rezai of France:

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