Trading On Tilt: the truth.

Trading on tilt. It’s every trader’s achilles heel, and no amount of reading, journaling or rules can stop it.

My experience trading on tilt involved crying, vomiting and a general feeling of numbness. I can use a thousand reasons and justifications for why it happened, but to quote Mark Douglas, “no matter what the outcome, I am completely responsible.” 

Both times I’ve traded on tilt came after an incredible run of good trades. Based on that trading, I decided to increase my size. Initially things went well, and I made a series of the largest trades of my career. The type of trades where you blink your eyes to make sure the trades are real and call your friends to brag.

Any outsider could see it coming from a mile away, the build up of elation and over-confidence. I was drunk with power and my own success, convinced I’d finally figured “it” out. The first time it happened was after the Apple Challenge when I’d put together a month of good trades. I sized up and lost it all within a matter of days trading Netflix after earnings. The second time it happened was recently and took place over a single week. I gave back months of gains.

There are parts of that week I don’t even remember. All I could think was “I can’t lose this money. I have to make it back.” I went over and over and over in my mind the theory that if I could only get a large enough size on with a tight stop loss, I could let the winner run to the point that I’d recover all my losses.  Of course there wasn’t a single trend day, and I never once took profit on my winning trades. I let them all come back and stop me out for losses I couldn’t even let myself recognize or process. 

The trading day would end, and I’d spend time with my family. I’d go to sleep at my regular time, but it never lasted long. The nightmares, the fear, and the reality all visited me with regularity. Meditations to stop panic attacks were my constant refrain that week, but of course they didn’t work.

Every morning I woke up tired, stressed and panicked; convinced I just needed one good trade, which of course never came.

There was a special level of panic I felt over telling my mentors and followers how badly I screwed up. I was full to the brim of so much shame.

The biggest loss… the creciendo of my fall from grace, came on a Friday. The market closed at 4 and the trance was over. I fixed myself a large glass of tequila and took my son to his baseball game. I must have been in shock because I remember very little of it.  I sat in the freezing rain staring at the field seeing nothing. Feeling nothing. Numb.

I spent the weekend in deep reflection, asking myself if I could go on with trading or if this had all been a fruitless effort. It was honestly a hard question to wrap my head around because it’s difficult to be objective about your own abilities.

I pride myself in transparency with my followers, and I was silent. I was so worried about letting everybody down. 

When my dad died a few years ago I became obsessed with the idea that a soul comes into this world perfect, and through the hardness of life, the trials and tribulations, pieces of the soul get chipped away. I felt with the loss of my dad I was losing part of myself… but what if the impact he made on me was such a part of who I was that knowing him made me stronger than actually having him. What if the soul only takes in things that make it stronger, and with each major trading loss or lesson, we just become a stronger version of the person we are meant to be. What if in the end WE are Michelangelo’s angel and the hard experiences are just chipping away the unnecessary stone. That, at least, is my hope.

– Penny Lane Blayne

“The sculpture is already complete within the marble block before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material. I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” – Michelangelo

Have you hit rock bottom? There’s only one way to know.

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