DonkeyDave, guess what? I'm like your East coast counterpart but my situation is much more fickle. Hear my story, please.
I began poker in 2001-2002 when I was working at a software company. By 2003 I was ready to take the leap so I quit my job. My income basically doubled every year through 2006 which is when I peaked. I was KILLING online (thanks PartyPoker) *and* also won a nice live tournament too. At one point I was even 4-tabling 25/50nl and 8-tabling 10/20nl... and doing pretty well in Bellagio nosebleeds too. I was invincible.
2007 came in like a lion and my overconfidence and too much playing around with other poker variants, Omaha and the like, contributed my downfall.... and not to mention risking too much live. Luckily, I finished down just a tad that year. It took me all of 2007 and some of 2008, with various hot and cold streaks etc. to realize how the online landscape had changed and that the field was filling up with guys like me.
In mid-2008 I couldn't stomach nearly a year and a half of getting nowhere, and thankfully I still had assets from my prior dominance, so I did what many would be envious of and took 3-4 months off. Literally did nothing but World of Warcraft, some travelling, movies, etc. It refreshed my mind but unfortunately it would prove too late. When I got back to the game at the end of '08 I thought I would have some motivation, since I had just become a father and my mind was clear. The new breed was just too competitive. My edge was gone... I ended up bouncing between 2-4 and 5-10 nl games on various sites, and bubbling many tournaments (or finishing in 11-20th if I cashed) and by the next year I made a slow decline into 1/2 and 2/4.
Now in 2010 my roll is nearly gone and mass-tabling 1/2 for rakeback and bonuses but it just isn't cutting it. I cash out some, but then buy in more. I know that the cycle of constant disappointment is disrupting my psyche and preventing a successful comeback. I'm being squeezed out of the profession and its the worst situation possible. Continue, and its only a matter of time before busto. But I foolishly keep trying to rebuild although I know I'm just steadily going through the motions while I'm spending a lot of time at home with my kid. However, crunch time is looming.
As far as the real world is concerned, I'd be ecstatic to even obtain a decent paying 9-5 job with benefits. The prospect of a schedule doesn't bother me at all. The big problem is that after 7 years of being out of tech, I have no skills. My prior skills were a little rusty as it is (since I had switched from another major into computers), but now I might as well just be entry-level or worse. I feel I'm out of options, almost no one in the industry would hire a 7-year poker player (which is OK I guess since I'm sick of sitting in front of a computer) so I'll have to make some kind of leap into a completely random profession or business venture or go back to school/training. But no idea what for!
So thats it. I'm completely lost... this all proves there are guys out there like you but in much more trouble
Good luck to you, though.