I first admitted to my gambling addiction coming up to three years ago. I had intensively gambled everything I had online for the previous 2-3 years, and borrowed a large amount from all sorts of lenders to fuel my habit. I got to the point where I had nothing, had no access to any more money, and had no choice but to admit to this.
I told my mum, I told my work, and they bailed me out of the financial hole I created and encouraged me to seek help, which I did ... poorly. I attended 1 GA meeting and decided that was enough to scare me out of my habits, and proceeded to try my best to brush it all under the carpet and move on.
I relapsed about 4 months later, drawing on new lines of credit and creating a similar-sized hole for myself. This time there was no bail out, and I chose to put a brave face on things and just crack on.
About a year later I set up a DMP and I changed jobs. I thought because my addiction had started whilst in this job, and because my job was very money orientated (essentially a sales job with big potential commissions) that I should start fresh. I was offered a great position, a pay rise, and over the past 18 months the job has been fantastic, has helped me improve my finances, has given me amazing opportunities to learn and improve my skillsets, and introduced me to a bunch of amazing new people.
On September 15th, I flew to Australia for a 3 week work trip to help set up our business there. Within 12 hours of arriving I saw how rife gambling was there. I had no idea. Horse racing and the ability to bet on it in every pub, slot machines everywhere, and casinos.
I wasn't interested in gambling at all initially. I was there to enjoy Australia, the weather, the people, the food. A friend suggested that the casino would be a great place to watch the Rugby World Cup. I resisted and went to the pub instead.
I went to Melbourne, had lunch with a friend who showed me the city and pointed out the casino there. This time, I was intrigued. I went on my own, I lost a bit, but I experienced a new type of gambling and I liked it. I felt absolute shame for losing money, not a large amount, and for reopening these old wounds. I vowed not to go back.
I went back the next day and I won a bit. "Maybe this is how I finally win! Cool!"
When I went back to Sydney, we decided to extend my trip by a further 8 weeks. I knew this was high risk because of the temptation around me and the taste I got for it, but I was there to do a job and impress with my results. "Yes, absolutely. Whatever you need."
I started a 6 week period of intensive casino gambling. When I wasn't working or with friends, I was in the casino, unable to stop throwing my money into the machines and hoping for the best. When I spent all of my money, I loaded up my travel card with some money from my work expenses card, because I'd obviously win it back and pay it back ... obviously.
When that ran out, I asked a colleague if she might be able to lend me money. Not to gamble with, but just to tide me over. She offered me a card to another bank account she had, and I gladly accepted. I checked the balance and I proceeded to withdraw and withdraw money until I won, put money back in her account, feeling relieved, and then continue to do the same again until it felt like I'd spent too much.
I did the same with money from my 81 year old grandmother's credit card that she let's us use for emergencies.
I reached out to a family friend who I had given a lot of support to with some personal issues they were experiencing and opened up to her about what was going on. She did her best to help and suggested I come home.
My family saw what was going on when the credit card statements came in. Busted. But I didn't stop. I was going to sort everything out. I was about to get paid and I could sort this all out.
Work saw the missing money and deducted it from my wage. The rest of my wage went into the machines.
Again, I was at rock bottom. I had no choice but to talk. But I really wanted to talk. For weeks I had wanted to talk. I was screaming on the inside to everyone I spoke to, "I've f****d up!!" I've thought non-stop about killing myself for the past two months.
I spoke to my mum. I spoke to a friend in Australia. I spoke to the colleague who's card I abused. I spoke to a friend at work in the UK. This time I spoke truthfully. I spoke with a couple of years of a 'better life' behind me and the knowledge that this is not the life that I want to live. I admitted the total extent of what I've done, the hole I am in, and the help that I need.
I attended a GA meeting in Australia and received some excellent advice. I met a young lad from Scotland who I really connected with and we exchanged numbers. This was a really positive step, and my realization that GA has to be a presence in my life.
The friend who's card I had used understood what I was going through and offered me support. Said that the money could wait and that we could fix it, but it was perhaps something we should involve work in. I encouraged her to wait until I get home and to try to keep this between us.
I flew home this past Saturday, relieved that the trauma of Australia was over and ready to start fresh. I spent time with friends on Sunday and I went to work yesterday. It was great to see all the faces I'd missed so much and to feel like I had things under control again.
My colleague, completely understandably, informed work of the situation. I spoke with hr and my line manager and informed them of everything that was going on. But I could sense this was now a serious work issue. "Is my job at risk because of this?" "I don't know."
I'm at home today in complete shock. Shock at everything I've done over the past 2 months, and total shock that I am now looking at potential unemployment.
This is a new low. I've abused my work, my family and my friends for their money, so that I can continue my addiction. I've abused myself emotionally and mentally to the point that I really don't know who I am, what I want, what I've done, what I'm doing ... I feel like a complete shell.
I know I have genuine support around me from friends and especially family, who don't judge me for my actions but want me to get better. I am completely committed to getting as much help as I possibly can to control my addiction and to find my happiness. I want to run away to my mum's house in Scotland and have her hold my hand and deal with things with me.
At 4:30 I'm going to meet one of my bosses and our head of hr to talk things through. I don't know what this means for my future, but I need to embrace whatever happens. I don't have the luxury of deciding my own fate. I could be unemployed this evening. I would have about £50 to my name and what I have in my house, without any way of paying my rent or bills ... but I'll have to deal with it.
My hope is that I work for a sympathetic company that will give me the time off to recover and deal with these demons before questioning my employment future. The money will always fix itself one way or the other, but fixing me is going to take a lot of commitment and potentially some really harsh realities.
I am ready for this to be over. I am ready to start a new chapter and to discover who the truly happy version of myself is. I don't think I've ever met them.
But f*****g hell, this is hard.
Seems like you have done all you can . Gambling now would make the situation worse and I am sure you know that . Well done on coming clean about it , but as you say the game was up . Moving forward the worst thing that can happen currently is lose your job . I don’t know what will happen but as an employer in quite a high position (who also is battling ) would most likely offer support if the sales figures are there or if the job is being done well . I know my own career being compulsive isn’t always a negative . It can give you drive and when you use this super power in the right areas we are unstoppable . Good luck would really like to know the outcome .
Thanks for that Bryan.
Unfortunately, my employer looked at the actions and judged them to be gross misconduct. I've been released effective immediately. I wish there had been some time to reflect and to offer support, but I understand their decision.
I now need to hit reset. I have nothing. I'm currently trying to get things in order so I can get back to my family in Scotland as soon as possible. I'll likely have to declare bankruptcy, I need to arrange benefits, I need help.
Thankfully I've had a huge amount of support from friends, family and colleagues thus far and I know that will continue.
Things have settled down emotionally and I've had a chance to really look at what's happening. I am optimistic. I am hopeful. Dare I say it, I feel relieved.
There is a lot of work to do and a lot of reality to face up to, but I am going to get through this. The support from my friends has been overwhelming. My best mate bought me a train ticket so I could get home asap. My flatmate and landlord have been incredibly understanding. My colleagues from work have offered me so much kindness and support. I am fortunate.
I've found a GA meeting already that feels inspiring and like the one I've been looking for. I start counselling on Monday. I have a roof over my head and my final pay was more than I thought. I am starting from the bottom again, but with a head start and wind in my sails.
This is needed. This is a lesson. I am totally motivated to improve my life, and I am going to embrace this as more of an opportunity for a sabbatical than the end of the world.
I am on a high because I was on such a low. I know it won't always feel like this and the coming weeks and months will be fill of ups and downs, but I'll be as ready to deal with that as possible.
I'm with my family, I have asked for payment suspensions on my debts, I don't think I will need to pursue bankruptcy (not immediately at least) and I have income prospects already.
The focus now is on looking inwards and giving myself a break to really deal with this addiction and with my head. This is my new job.
Showing a lot of courage Jason and I admire and respect your positive attitude.
You are thought of very highly by your friends and loved one's which indicates that you are a good person who was simply afflicted by gambling addiction. You have in the past proved yourself to be a hard working, intelligent soul with a good outlook on life. A man who has what it takes to overcome the urges to gamble.
Everything is now out in the open so you can start your life afresh. It might be best to check there are no skeletons in the closet that could come back and haunt you in the future.
You are still young with the world at your feet and in weeks, months and years to come you will be able to look back and be happy and relieved that you got out of it when you did.
I wish you well as you strive to rediscover your life.
Things are going well for me. Or as well as they can.
Being home is great, and the local GA meetings have been very motivating and inspiring. I have attended 3 in 8 days and will be going to two a week.
I have a bit of work and am looking forward to Christmas. Every day I am realising progressively how being out of London and being back home is only going to enhance my life as well.
I'm on a high that I know will bring lows and new challenges to deal with, but I am taking each day as it comes and enjoying what I have.