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My story - First time post
I'm just going to get some things out on paper/ forum. I’ve never been a great talker or communicator. But I want to try to change. I’m new to forum and yet to read some of your stories, I’m just going to write my story. Hopefully people can relate to this. About 10 years ago my partner found out that I was in serious debt through gamling, I was 23 and was at breaking point. I worked in a supermarket and felt like I had no real future. I had help from GA meetings, my parents and my partner but unfortunately I’ve never really stopped. I’m not sure I actually wanted to stop gambling back then. When I stopped for the first time, I stopped for around 13 months. From then on I’ve continued to carry on most days. This became easier to do as the trust came back into different relationships over time.

Fast forward to now. I’m 32. Over the past 6-7 Years I have continued a cycle of borrowing money, with the intention of clearing debt. Only to have some bad spikes of impulsive gambling, losing over a short period and then finding myself in a similar situation only needed to borrow more. I’m now over double the amount of debt to what I was back in 2012.

Over the last 8 years I continued to work in better paid jobs that have contributed to me being able to borrow more but also be able to pay for bills etc.. without getting noticed. Amazingly through all this I now have a good career and a well paid job, it's such a shame that considering I was downbeat at 23 with no future, I now find myself with a family of 2 (under 2 years old) and a career. But I still find myself as a compulsive gambler in more debt than I’ve ever been.

This reached its peak around 1 year ago at the start of 2019. I was pretty low at this point. At this point I had my oldest son who was about 6months old. It was here I promised I would not get any more loans and put strict limits on my accounts. In an attempt to at least start to take responsibility and feel like it’s under control. This had worked much better but I recently had another impulsive moment and created a new account and ruined the last 8 months of control. I now feel the only option is to stop all together, its gone past trying to control or budget.

Why stop now?

I think occasionally your mind thinks outside the bubble you are in when gamling and you see the reality of your problem. So what do you do? you go back to your comfort of gambling to make it go away again, sweep it under the carpet. Worry about it another day.

These months where I had strict limits give me weeks where I didnt gamble. Once I had spent the limit for the month I was finding myself waiting for weeks for me to be able to put more money in. It was the first time I really had an opportunity to look from the outside in. Those couple of weeks away gave me some time to think about the reality and put some things into perspective. I needed to stop. This is not going to be easy, but its not a lost cause. 4-5 years my debt could easily be gone, my kids will be 6-7, it’s not too late. I can borrow more and risk losing everything, I still might lose everything, but I’ve got to try. This coincided with the Birth of my second child made me really think about what future I’m giving my kids. I’m able to pay for monthly bills etc but never really save or plan anything with them. Simple things like ideas for going out, spending time away from the house, it all comes from my partner.

The quality of time I spend with my kids, when looking after them or playing with them half my mind would still be focused on gambling. I don’t want to miss the important years of my children growing up, or even worse be there and not remember. I’m there in person but not in mind….

My own mindset/ health - I don’t think I ever imagined I would get myself into this situation. I have a great family, two amazing kids and a wonderful mother who looks after them and me. The last 10 years of consistent gambling has had a big effect on me and my personality.

My mind is constantly on betting, when I wake up, on the train, at work, on the train home, when I put the kids to bed, when I go to sleep. Constantly… I have developed into this person who has become emotionally numb. When you lose money or become addicted you develop this ability to forget or not to worry because you don't want to think about the real issues, you want to move on and continue to gamble the next day, if that means lying so be it. Or my personal favourite is being someone who just agrees with everything because it minimises conversation. Another trait is pretending to be fine, putting on this persona to get people off your back, so you can carry on in your own bubble.

I’ve also developed a bit of anxiety which I never have felt before in my life. I passed my driving test about 3 years ago but cant bring myself to drive, I get incredibly nervous and have to overthink everything like the route, traffic etc.. I’m convinced my addiction has contributed to this

Since blocking my accounts I’ve felt a small relief as a first step to a new start. I feel like the first few months will be easy, once you hit 6-9 months then things settle down and you become vulnerable again. My Partner is still in the dark on all of this, it's a huge worry. I’ve finally confided in my parents for support, but feel utterly saddened I can't tell my partner. I know it would be the end of us and therefore our little family, in my mind I’m like ‘Well I’m screwed anyway, might as well try and get by without her knowing, then there will still be a chance’...

I don’t know why I gamble when I think about it. It just seems to be a necessity, yet I’ve grown naturally to despise it, but I still go back. When I’m winning I have no end goal, in fact on winning streaks I actually have become bored of winning. So what tends to happen is I up the stakes to make it more interesting and ultimately go back to square one and lose. This seems to point back to an impulse or buzz that I need. I need to get my fix, but ultimately I don't really know why I need it. People say it’s an illness, I think it is, but don’t like to use it when talking about myself. I feel as though I’m using it as an excuse.

It’s twice now it’s taken me to reach a breaking point that I’ve had no choice but to speak to someone, otherwise I would no doubt be carrying on. I'm backed into a financial corner with nowhere to hide. It's such a shame I can’t do this when I was a fraction of the debt that i’m in now. Because when at that time things seemed bad, they were not so bad compared to now.

So if you think that you are in a hole now, don’t think time or a different strategy will improve the situation. In 12 months you will think back and wish you told someone back then. I feel confident I know how to manage this, its support from someone you can trust, and knowing that they will check in with you. I don't feel ashamed that my parents will check my bank accounts, I know it helps me. It will keep me in check and give me that comfort that I'm being supported. It’s early days but it’s a start. I’ve self excluded for 5 years. It's time to change...

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