I stopped gambling in august of 2005. it wasn’t easy. I enjoyed gambling, and stopping was a real sadness to me, a huge loss and a hole in my life.
At the beginning i decided to stop gambling in all forms – including buying raffle tickets. Now almost 6 years later i would rather not gamble – i cant really see the point of it any more. If i am pressed into buying raffle tickets i generally donate to the good cause, and don’t bother with the ticket.
I see gambling all around me in the form of lottery, scratch cards, bingo, book maker shops, horses, advertising for casino, and of course i am suffocated by advertising on tv for all the on line stuff. It runs like water off a ducks back. I really could care less about gambling.
About 3 years ago our God daughter became 21. For her 21st her father decided to name a horse race after her. We couldnt not go to the race meet, that would have looked a bit strange. so we went, and for the race in question we were all given a £10 gift voucher for her race. I thought about it carefully, and decided to use the gift voucher for the race, and at random chose a horse who dutifully came in last! the meeting had 6 races and we stayed to the last race, and i was just happy to be there with friends and family without needing to gamble.
Really, the point i want to make here is that i feel i have come to terms with my gambling problem, which was mainly casino and on line poker, and when i am in situations where there is gambling around me, i can handle myself with out worrying about unwanted consequences.
I often hear the phrase controlled gambling, and often read of people who want to stop for a while and go back to controlled gambling. I have no wish to gamble now. I don’t gamble because I don’t want to. the desire has long gone. on the other hand I don’t want to sound like one of those reformed smokers!! LOL, Iam quite happy to live and let live. That being said, i do feel cross at how the gambling industry seem now to be allowed to flog their wares to the unsuspecting public.
I would say that the first year, and perhaps into the second year of not gambling was the most difficult. Not because i wanted to gamble, I didn’t. It was the emotional stuff that I needed to come to terms with. Those early days were hell on earth, both for me and those around me. I was an angry and unpredictable ball of fire My moods swung in all sorts of directions, and my family appeared to learn how to keep their heads down and miss the full flight of my wrath. Well, that is my perception, they may say something different!
About 8 months into not gambling, I decided that i wanted to become a counsellor. when i was looking to stop i was shocked at how little help and support there was for me. there was Gamblers Anon and i found 2 internet support sites. At the time i couldn’t find any specialized gambling counsellors, or indeed any practical gambling help other than the internet sites.
I had some face to face counselling, and also some on line counselling. The on line counselling was with a gambling specialist. the face to face counselling was with a generic counsellor. I have to say i found the gambling specialist counselling most helpful. I went to a couple of GA meetings, and found that GA was not for me. I was a little ‘annoyed’ when people from GA told me that if I didn’t want to go to GA meetings I wasn’t serious about stopping gambling.
Counselling isn’t the be all and end all for the problem of gambling, much like people who think that hypnotherapy might be the answer to all their problems. Bottom line is – there is help and support out their (in what ever form) and that is all it is, help and support. If the individual themself is not ready to stop gambling, then stopping is highly unlikely.
I know from my own experience that it took the best part of a year before i stopped, despite the promises and assurances i gave. The more my husband wanted me to stop, the more it drove my gambling underground. I even went to the extent of funding my on line poker through my daughters bank account to hide my activities. I didn’t steal from her, I just used her account.
I came to the point where i was so unhappy and miserable gambling that i decided that something had to change. I got bored with gambling. Really, really bored. My last couple of gambling sessions i remember willing myself to loose. i just wanted to stop, and change things in my life. I wanted it so bad. Fortunately, I didn’t get into debt by gambling. I know i am lucky there! My huge problem with gambling was the time I devoted to it. In the end i would log on to a poker site and stay there for days at a time, without eating or sleeping and going to the toilet was not easy – such was my addiction.
So, I decided to become a counsellor. That was met with scepticism and derision from many sectors. Particularly those who fell victim to my unpredictability. In 2001 I had taken an introduction to counselling course. I enjoyed it, but my gambling prevented me from taking it further! So in 2006 I enrolled in a counselling certificate course. it was a 2 year part time course.
That 2 year course, i thought was really difficult. Not from an academic perspective – I am a perpetual student – but from an emotional perspective. I felt as though I had been dragged through a hedge backwards. I was forced to look at every little corner of my life. Inside out, back to front, up side down. But i stuck with it, and was chuffed to bits when i graduated with my certificate in counselling skills.
I took a year out. I wanted to come to terms with who i was. Again that was not easy. Depression has haunted me for most of my adult life. I got particularly depressed in winter. from about the changing of the clock in october to the changing of the clock in march. there have been times over the years where i have had suicidal feelings and thoughts. I have had a couple of near misses in terms of taking my own life. Once when I considered very seriously driving my car over an embankment in bad weather where it would have looked like an ‘accident’, and once when i did take an overdose – drank myself silly then took a lot of tablets, vomited and slept it off. Felt such a failure – couldn’t even commit suicide properly!
so in that year out of counselling studies I looked at practical ways I could support myself in depression. I had been using a light box for a couple of years, but wasn’t very disciplined in using it, so that winter i used it a bit more. Also did some reading around taking vitamin D, and have been taking vitamin D, and started taking St Johns Wart when the clocks changed. We also try to get away to the sun at some point in the winter. Usually florida or arizona. All these things together has really worked, and I am really proud to say that this last winter is the first winter in years that I can remember not having a dip in mood.
In 2009 I began my diploma course in counselling. That was a bit scary! In 2010 I was let loose on real people! However, that has been the most enjoyable and most rewarding thing I can remember doing. for my course I needed 160 practical hours, at the moment I have just over 200 practical hours. Working with people in the counselling relationship has taught me a lot about who I am, and what I want from life.
All things being equal I will graduate with my diploma in counselling on june 10th this year. I cant wait! I am so proud of myself. It has been one hell of a journey, with many ups and downs, but I got there!!
For the future, I see myself working as a counsellor. May not be in paid employment, but on a voluntary basis. I really want to be in the privileged position where I can offer myself to those who need me. I would dearly love to work with gamblers, but am finding it very difficult to find openings in the field. Funding seems to be the big issue all around. However, if a gambling counselling opportunity doesn’t open up, that’s ok. I am content with where I am.
Something that I have said over and over again is that iI am so so grateful that I had a gambling problem. Had I not had a gambling problem I would still be bumping around at the bottom, not knowing who I am or what I want from life. Gambling brought me to my knees and forced me to consider a different way of life.
I like my life now, and wouldn’t swap it for anything. I wake up every morning grateful for being me. I love myself now, and trust myself now. something I could never have said before gambling became a problem, or while I was still gambling.
There is life after gambling – meaningful life
To update my story of hope!
Today I got the news i have been waiting for ………….
I can now say with pride that i have achieved the goal i was aiming for
I became a diploma level qualified counsellor
Its been one hell of a journey, but i got there …………. a few bruises along the way, but I got there!
The journey continues ………