I kind of wanted to wait for the whole year but my slightly twisted sense of humour thought that ten months sounded better :). It's a bit of a long one again, so apologies for that but here goes.
I've been here a few times in the past. There was
For those who might remember me, I was hopelessly addicted to roulette and trying to stop gambling. There were a number of occasions where I would get up in the middle of the night when my benefits cleared and gamble the whole lot away.
I was also in a situation where I'd made a bet with a high street bookmaker to lose weight over a period of time and I was desperately hanging on to that as it was actually getting me out of the house and giving me some motivation to actually get through the day.
A few people quite rightly suggested I sign up to GamStop which I also resisted.
So we arrive at around a year ago when I was still doing what I needed to do with regards to this bet but I was experiencing a lot of pain in my ankles and feet. I was trying to push through it but it was becoming increasingly difficult to actually do any form of exercise to maintain this weight loss.
I went to the doctors and I was booked in for an x-ray which revealed that I had developed not quite full blown arthiritis, but an arthiritis-like condition in my feet and they advised me to stop doing what I was doing immediately.
Needless to say I was devastated. I had fought for a whole year to secure this bet and I now had to give it up.
I wrote to my contact at the high street bookmaker and told her of the situation and told her that I had to withdraw from the bet and, rather surprisingly, she refunded me the stake.
A few days later, still feeling pretty bad about things, I decided to gamble it. This inevitably triggered me and I ended up with yet another big loss after chasing it. What made this one different though is that because of what had happened with the weight loss bet, I reasoned that I had no excuses not to sign up to GamStop now, so I did. But I only did it for a year because I was still reasoning that if I could turn things around in a year's time, I could maybe try and resurrect this weight loss bet for another go.
But it was done anyway, so it took online gambling off the table at least.
About a month later, I started getting the familiar itch because I'd started having this urge to try the restricted FOBT machines. At this point, I was getting additional money on top of my Universal Credit and it got to a point one month where I had a good amount of money "spare" and I basically scratched that itch - and lost. Again.
I chased it and lost even more but I stopped short of losing everything and had enough for rent and food at least for the month.
Here's the thing though. That particular loss turned out to be probably the best thing I ever did because for the few weeks beforehand, I had been getting used to having money and not having to worry about anything and that loss set me right back again. I had money for food, sure, but I didn't have any extra money to do anything with.
It was as if I needed that session on the restricted FOBT to make me realise that it was all ultimately pointless and that I didn't need to do it. So the very next day, I went back to GamStop and increased my exclusion fron 1 year to the full 5.
I haven't excluded from the shops themselves because I don't feel i need to now. It's a very similar situation to when I finally kicked fruit machines about a million years ago because I see that it's so heavily stacked against you now that there's no point even trying.
And that's been proven by the fact that I literally haven't stepped foot inside a high street bookmakers since that day nearly ten months ago.
And in that time, my financial situation has completley turned around. I've cleared all of my debts, I've paid off my Universal Credit advance, my rent arrears (in full) and I actually having savings.
Me. With savings.
I've bought myself a new computer out of those savings which I'm extremely proud of and having this extra money has really helped me help out my mum during lockdown by being able to buy her things that she's needed that have really helped her.
The extent of any gambling I do now is £10 a month on the lottery. That's it. I can afford that comfortably and I don't have any urge to spend more than that.
Here's the (other) thing though.
I fully accept that i'm nowhere near "fixed". Every now and again i'll get the itch. I've even tried signing up to a few websites over the past few months after a few bad days but, thankfully, i've been "saved" by GamStop.
I've been learning to cope with that itch better each time though so, with any luck, it'll fade to the point of it not becoming an issue but even if it does, I realise that I can't get complacent because I know how easily I could fall back in to it again.
If you've gotten to this point without falling asleep, thankyou 🙂