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Equinox
(@equinox)

0 days gf.

I really hoped I could crack my roulette habit without having to start this diary. But I've realsied that there's no chance of that happening. So it's time to face the music and start my diary.

Woke up this morning 2 days gf - but knew that my 6 week cool-off from a couple of online casinos were due to expire. I was barely out of bed before I'd lost a painful sum of money. Damage done in 5 minutes or less. All before my morning toast and tea.

Felt the all the usual stuff - repulsed at myself, angry at myself, shameful, seeing something pathetic, almost comical with my desparation to chase a loss. While many people wake up to a lazy Sunday morning, I pictured myself, perched on the sofa, laptop balanced on my knees, pretending to check emails as I tried to predict how some ball would eventually land, hiding the pain of each wrong guess with my best attempt at a casual face.

Picturing that, I decided that I'd had enough of that me - so swore that was it. Enough is enough. No more roulette. I tried and failed.

But a couple of hours later I get the bright idea - maybe try them lucky online slots. Never tried them before and I've heard they have big payouts. This was just dumb move ten thousand for me - and I lose another chunk of money in minutes. And it was a totally joyless experience too. I didn't even know what I was looking for when the wheels came to rest. Glad when it ended.

Same again. Enough really is enough. No more gambling.

An email arrives a few hours later - another cool off period has expired. And this is my 'lucky' casino. I swear this'll be the last shot at recouping all my loses - I'm genuinly convinced that a final couple of spins of the roullette make things right. All my money gone in five minutes.

Back to the predictable enough is enough pattern. But this time I really want it to be true.

The bottom line is I can't afford to lose any more money. I just don't have the money to burn. Or more accurately, I just don't have the money. I'm broke.

That's why it's dear diary time for me.

So diary, I'll be back tomorrow.

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Posted : 23rd October 2017 12:08 am
Equinox
(@equinox)

So far so good - although it's less than 24 hours since my first post.

I've come to realise that since starting gambling my idea of money is all topsy turvy. A couple of quid in real life seems a lot, but on the roulette table seems totally insignificant.

I had to go to the dentist for a check up this morning, expecting to pay the £21 NHS dental charge - but it turns out I've got some credit on my account from a previous overpayment, so I came back with the £21 in my pocket. I felt rich! Even though yesterday I squandered massive amounts in comparison on a roulette table and hardly batted an eye.

The problem is, when I gamble - I always think about the amount I'm going to get if I win rather than what is being risked on the table. It's like I automatically think best case scenario. Only when I log out does the real world value of the lost money come thundering back into focus.

Lesson for me today is follow the advice - don't chase losses - accept the fact that a lot of my money has gone.

I've moved what's left into a basic savings account with no card or online access. I've just kept enough to cover this month's bills in my bank account.

I left a good job about a year ago - since then I've been self employed. I always knew this was going to be a risk - but now that I don't have a regular wage, I've got to respect the money I've saved so much more.

This year - after expenses - I've honestly earned nothing. Knowing I'd be leaving my job, I saved enough to last over a year of my share of the bills. So it's idiotic to squander what's left of this money.

Working from home is part of the problem - my son was at college and my wife is at work. There's so much opportunity to settle in for a mega session with the online live casinos. But today, I've busied myself with work work work. And feel so much better for it. Tonight, if I stay up late - I'll read something.

See you tomorrow, diary.

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Posted : 23rd October 2017 3:39 pm
Equinox
(@equinox)

This is morning of day 2gf.

Just had my breakfast tea and toast - but no roulette.

Although yesterday evening, I could feel the pull of the roulette table return ... even though I was trying to busy myeslf with something productive, I could hear little whispers in my mind, tempting me back with the idea that if I could get the money together for a big final gamble, everything would work out fine. Poisonous thoughts really. There is a twisted half-logic to it, but it's built on the foolish assumption that I'm going to win (unlikely) and that I'll be able to leave the table forever if I do win (highly highly highly unlikely).

I didn't act on the impulses. Not sure even if I could, because I've lost track of which sites are on cool down and until when. Plus, there is an underlying feeling that 'I'm done with it'. Like a bad relationship, my heart says enough is enough.

But the dangerous thing is that even at these early stages, the idea of gambling is being sneakily re-framed in my mind as something that could offer a solution. But I know it's a big fat lie, so I just have to keep reminding myself that. The sole reason I'm here and writing this diary to myself, is because gambling wasn't a solution - gambling proved to be the very opposite of a solution.

I remember reading a comment in someone's recovery diary that if we could bottle that feeling of loss, and take a sip of it everytime we were tempted to gamble, it would stop us. I think that's very true - because just a few days away from the tables and my mind seems to want to do tricks and gloss over how awful that black feeling is when I leave a table destroyed ... shamed, regrets, lies, secrets, greed, desperation, resentment, self-loathing, panic - these are the things I need to remember.

My cat has just unexpectedly vomitted on the floor, I'll take that as a handy metaphor for the poisonous nature of gambling and clean it up.

See you tomorrow, diary - or maybe later tonight.

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Posted : 24th October 2017 10:39 am
Lethe
(@lethe)

Why are you 'cooling off' and not self excluding for the maximum amount of time available? Leave loopholes and the temptation to use them is always there. Permanent SE is an option on at least some sites even if they don't advertise it. A blocker to all your devices would also be a good idea. If you haven't got anyone who can set a password for you a random letter/number combo or a barcode you won't remember will do the trick. If you can't block devices, do without. The inconvenience is far outweighed by not being able to gamble.

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Posted : 24th October 2017 10:50 am
Equinox
(@equinox)

Lethe wrote:

Why are you 'cooling off' and not self excluding for the maximum amount of time available?

Thanks for the replly - and you're dead right about the cooling off - it's a half-hearted move - and a risky one. But what normally happened was I could get an instant cool off from the site just by clicking a few buttons, whereas exclusion was harder to activate/find. The cool offs happened at that spontatneous moment when I just wanted out from the site, usually after I've been reminded how wasteful gambling is . Admittedly, that sounds lame even to me as I write it.

I'll look into self-excluding while on cool-down.

Edit: I've just emailed a gambling site I"m on cooldown from asking how I go about closing the account. I'll see what they say.

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Posted : 24th October 2017 11:04 am
Lethe
(@lethe)

If you're SE'ing you may find they try as hard as they can to stick obstacles in your path. They don't like losing their cash cows. One site tried to claim Mr L (the CG in the house) was instructing them from an email address not associated with the account and therefore they couldn't act. We found a threat to report them to the Gambling Commission for being in breach of their own responsible gambling policies got them back in their box. It's also worth telling the head office by post they are not to contact you again for any reason by any means. Mr L was sent offers by post despite being self excluded due to a convenient 'database malfunction'. It's amazing how prone the industry can be to those.

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Posted : 24th October 2017 11:11 am
Equinox
(@equinox)

Thanks Lethe - I should check over my Paypal account to make a list of all the sites I'm registered to. I don't think there's too many, about 10. Then I'll know who needs to be contacted.

To be honest - and this is where my weakness is - part of the comfort of just time-outing for 6 weeks was in the fact that maybe my gambling just needed controlling rather than avoiding. But I can see that's plainly the compulsive in me talking.

I need to establish a solid definite bottom line for myself - asking the question - do I want to gamble ever again? Yes or No.

Truthfully, it's hard to give a difinitve 'no'. I don't want to sound defeatist but that's where my mind is. But even typing this is helping me to see that I need to point my efforts towards a simple and brutal 'no'. Feeble as it is, I'm probably in the 'well of course I don't want to gamble, but maybe ... blah blah blah... in the future blah blah blah' phase of dealing with this.

I've had addicitons or compulsions before - most have been productive and genuinley helped in life. Addciton is like a focus, but the 'bad' addictions put you on a steep decline quickly. Drink was one of my worst - I'd never catagorise myself as alcoholic, but I got to the point where every day I would need a few drinks. About 5 years ago, I managed to give up for 2 years. Then a one-off drink led to the return of a daily habit. I'm now 4 months drink free - and I'm assuming becoming gambling free will be similar for me. I can only speak for myself - but if I can deal with it just as a mindset. Knowing that there will always be temptations around, but it's just somehow finding the strength to see the temptation for what it is and not to engage with it.

But thanks Lethe for making me think more deeply about my hesitancy towards self-excluding. It's been a big help.

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Posted : 24th October 2017 11:48 am
Equinox
(@equinox)

Day 3 starts. Still feeling very positive about this - but my head seems a little more contradicted.

Although I don't expect losing my urges to gamble to be simple and easy - I realise there's going to be all sorts of internal struggles and foolish contradictions going on while I work my way through this.

It might help if I list my positive steps first:

  1. I'm writing this diary, having admitted I've got a problem. Good good!
  2. This site provides a truthful counter-balance to the fantasies I tell myself about gambling. Good good!
  3. I've got blocks and cool downs on all my gambling sites as far as I know. Good-ish - but I should self-exclude ..
  4. I'm beginning to enjoy the sense of mental 'lightness' that not gambling brings. Less heavy self-loathing. Amazing!!
  5. I've been reminded of the real value of money - last night I bought a box of four Tesco Salted Caramel ice creams as a sore throat remedy. They are absolutely gorgeous and only cost £1.55! Much cheaper and much more enjoyable than my recent visits to the roulette table. It's a small thing, but it meant a lot to me - it was an eye-opener. I'm lucky to live the centre of the city, I enjoyed the 'mindful' evening walk to the store, seeing all the happy chatting people (I assumed they were all gf) and then paying with cash from my pocket. Wonderful - and there's still 3 ice creams left!!
  6. Working from home throughout the day, I managed a full day without wasting hours logging into online gambling sites. Perfect!
  7. I feel much better for it - and I'm happy that I'm questioning the items on the next list. Very good.

Now the negatives:

  1. I've got an unexpected £50 floating in my Paypal account - and I thought it might be an idea if I use this account for gambling in 3 weeks when a cool-off ends. Convincing myself it would be just this money and nothing more. - Red Alert. This is where it all starts again ...
  2. At the back of my mind, part of me still quietly befriends the idea of gambling - but gambling with control. Maybe for others, but I've proved time and time again, a controlled gambler is something I'm not.
  3. I did log on to one gambling site - just to see if it allowed me access - it didn't, but if it had - I'm not sure I could have stepped away from it with the money sitting my Paypal account. This is dodgy, scratching at the wound - ready to re-infect myself again after just 3 days​.

I need to be as honest as I can be with this diary. Writing my negative list has helped to show me that I'm treading a real fine line. But I shouldn't make more of it than necessary - everything is choice - and today I'll choose not to gamble. And gradually the urges, if not fed, will fade.

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Posted : 25th October 2017 10:38 am
Equinox
(@equinox)

Equinox wrote:

everything is choice - and today I'll choose not to gamble.

I need to remind myself what I wrote a few hours ago.

Just joined a live casino site - played pretend roulette with imaginary money. This really came out of left field - I really didn't see it coming. It was triggered by an unexpected conversation about a news item about a poker player who'd gone to court to claim huge winnings .. and it prodded the gambler in me to wake up. I watched the roulette for about 10 minutes playing my imaginary money, keeping a track of my imaginary winnings and loses. I lost it all and it brought back lots of unpleasant feelings.

I needed to log on to this site to put me back on the tracks.

Looking on the positive side: what I did was natural - not such a big deal - no different to playing an app. Don't make a catastrophe of it - so far no money lost, which is the main thing. Admittedly, not ideal behaviour - but not destructive either if it stays this way. Not much difference to playing Monopoly. I should consider this to be the silly dying actions of a habit I want to kick. It's still very early days and I should expect this kind of behaviour. Just don't bet with real money.

Looking on the negative side: Here we go again - it's the same old same old and it's starting up again - the addiction is trying to fool me - or let's be honest here - I'm trying to fool myself. I'm looking for ways to gently dip my toe back in the water after just a few days of being gf and feeling all virtuous and in control. In a couple of days it'll be the full plunge. Why - because part of me is still excited about gambling and because a couple of days have passed since my last loss, I'm back to deluding myself with the lie of a big make life easy win.

It's getting late - but I'm going to do some work now and listen to some music and promise myself I'll not visit the casino before I go to bed. I'll read this tomorrow to see how I feel about it.

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Posted : 25th October 2017 11:21 pm
DeterminedDan
(@determineddan)

Going off past experience, this doesn’t end well....

After a week or so of my abstainance (about 9 months or so ago) I downloaded a free app which allowed me to play roulette with pretend money. It worked!... for about 2 days. Then I started to crave the real thing. Don’t go there mate! It’s playing with fire. You need to get yourself out of the firing line.

I think you know that deep down too.

I’m still getting those urges in the early days of recovery but I’m making sure I keep myself busy.

Set yourself some realistic, non gambling goals for you to achieve in the mean time.

Mine are to lose a stone in weight and to get myself fit again. Fit enough to be able to contemplate being ready for a half marathon.

I’ve also set myself the target of being gamble free at Christmas time. So that I can enjoy Christmas without the cloud of gambling and anxiety hovering over me.

Find something that you wish to achieve. Both short term and long term. It’s about keeping your mind active and not letting it dwell on the evils that gambling has brought us.

Keep positive mate. You can do this!

Moorey

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Posted : 26th October 2017 12:07 am
ODAAT
(@odaat)

Hi Equinox, welcome to your diary 🙂

You sound pretty clued up regarding your compulsions & know full well that, like alcohol, this isn’t one that is going to serve you well!

I’m not going to try & dissect your posts further but I am going to say that our pilot light is always on...Don’t stoke it by playing demo games, stick to Monopoly! Also, it sounds like you just quit alcohol...Any chance that gambling is a cross addiction, a replacement crutch if you like? If you haven’t already looked @ counselling or some sort of support group like GA, I would thoroughly recommend it. Being self employed is pretty stressful & finding safe ways to manage that stress is vital.

On the point of cooling off...I harboured the delusion for many many years that I could control myself, in fact it was looking for support for that very same thing that bought me here to the sanctity of recovery. I never wanted to stop gambling, I loved it. I don’t think many compulsive gamblers want to stop the gamble, they just want to stop the losses & the pain of those losses...It takes work to see & accept that the pain isn’t financial, it’s in us! I was horrified reading that there is no such thing as control for a compulsive gambler but I’m grateful for that sound advice because drawing a line under my horrendous losses & kissing gambling goodbye has literally saved me.

Time to stop accepting the gambling lies & choose life - ODAAT

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Posted : 26th October 2017 9:12 am
Equinox
(@equinox)

Moorey631986 wrote:

I’ve also set myself the target of being gamble free at Christmas time. So that I can enjoy Christmas without the cloud of gambling and anxiety hovering over me.

Moorey

Big thanks Moorey for the support and wisdom - especially the line about Christmas not being clouded by gambling. I'd really hate a Christmas stewing in my private misery while trying to look all cheery and festive. Something tragic and unnecessary about that image.

I know I was perhaps foolishly playing with fire last night - but Im glad I didn't follow the impulse to put money down. Three days ago, gambling would have been a no brainer and I'd be either smiling now because of a short-lived win or kicking myself for being a total fool. It does feel good to wake up with a clean slate, without the regret of a midnight loss hanging over my head. The days seem fresher without the smog of gambling.

Yesterday, I started imagining the people I was talking to were secretly gambling using their iPhones while we chatted (which is something I was guilty of, embarrassing to even write that) - and when I projected my behaviour on to them it made them seem rather desperate and sad.

I think this site has really helped in that way - it's getting me to look more objectively at my behaviour, rather than just acting from a blind spontaneous impulse. And I think that's where gaining control over my actions will begin.

Thanks again, Moorey.

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Posted : 26th October 2017 9:20 am
Muststop123
(@muststop123)

Got to say going back on an online gambling site and playing even with pretend money really does set the alarm bells off for me. You are going back into that world of bright lights and spinning wheels with the lure of easy money. You are probably 2 or 3 clicks away from depositing "just" £10 and we all from experience where that goes. You are skating far too near to the fire for people like us.

My mind set, for what it is worth, is the gambling industry is far too big and dangerous for me to have any sort of interaction with even if it is playing with pretend money. I am also pretty sore about the amount of cash I generously donated to it so don't want to give it any more even if it is via click/advertising revenue on free to play sites. Fortunately the thought of playing any sort of online gambling (real or pretend) still makes me feel sick so no real probalem resisting.

I would take Moorey's advice and find something else to do with your time and set some specific targets. You say you are now self employed - don't know what sort of work you do but you could set yourself some sort of additional work related target like contacting 5/10 potential new customers every week or do one extra job a day? That would have the additional benefit of potentially bringing in extra cash which might take some of the pressure off the losses. Alternatively something in your private life. I started going for a walk during the evening - started on a route that my wife and I used to take about 1hr 20mins to do and last night for the first time did it in just under the hour by focusing on walking really fast (too old and lazy to run). Don't think it really matters what you do but I think the "complusive" part of our personalities like targets.

Good luck and keep up the fight.

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Posted : 26th October 2017 9:26 am
Equinox
(@equinox)

ODAAT wrote:

, it sounds like you just quit alcohol...Any chance that gambling is a cross addiction, a replacement crutch if you like? If you haven’t already looked @ counselling or some sort of support group like GA, I would thoroughly recommend it. Being self employed is pretty stressful & finding safe ways to manage that stress is vital.

Hi ODAAT - thanks for taking the time to drop into my diary. A lot rings true there - and there's a good chance the gambling is a cross addiction. When I gave up alcohol, gambling really took over.

I know I've got a tendency towards addictive behaviour - and once something gets me, it gets me completely. That's why I know I have to be careful what I let into my life. Although I didn't see it coming with gambling. Gambling, like for many, just started with a few quid and a sense of 'take it or leave it' - but soon escalated to big numbers and a relentless compulsion.

In my mind, once I started gambling with larger amounts, I was gambling just for money - not for any thrill. Because money's now very tight for me since leaving my regular job, I saw it as a way to risk a months bills to try to win 3 or 4 months back. Worked for a bit, before I was chasing the months I'd lost.

It's hard to read your line 'I never wanted to stop gambling, I loved it' - because I think you're right. Gambling is an intense love/hate relationship that is every bit as kind as it is cruel. And we just tend to remember the kind moments a lot of the time - that heavenly rush of a win that re-sets the burden of a loss. It seems comforting to never say never to gambling, because of that love/hate - but I know, logically and from my experience and the knowledge of others, the only way to really safeguard from disaster is to completely cut if from my life.

I might look into addiction counselling - but I did 12 weeks of CBT and also have been trying my best to meditate my way through this to get a clearer perspective on my thoughts, as I know the answer is in me and my head - it's just having the strength/will to just say 'no'. In principle, it should be as simple as ABC.

If I ask myself - would I gamble if everytime I put money on the table someone punched me hard on the nose. The answer would be a simple no. I just have to shift the idea of the punch on the nose, to the wrecking of my relationships, finances, home, self-esteem, etc - which is much worse. All I have to do is not be seduced by 'the gambling lies'.

I find the reading the diaries and gettng the support from people like yourself invaluable. It gives me a place to go when the urge hits and helps to create a moment of pause.

Thanks ODAAT - genuinely appreciate your advice.

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Posted : 26th October 2017 9:49 am
Equinox
(@equinox)

Muststop123 wrote:

Got to say going back on an online gambling site and playing even with pretend money really does set the alarm bells off for me.

Thanks Muststop - and you're dead right, the alarm bells are ringing loud for me this morning. Even if - and that's a big if - was a harmless dalliance, it was pointless and dangerous. It seems a bit silly now to pretend to play roulette.

Although - I remember doing this about a week ago, when my accounts were still linked to my money - and I lost everything. Every penny of my savings in 10 minutes doubling up my losses - and that really had a good effect on me, it made me realise just how lucky I was that it was fiction rather than fact. It was like miraculously being granted a second chance to go back in time after a disastrous stint on the tables. And even though, it's just 'play' - I still got that ugly and sickening feeling as I waited for the ball to come to rest. It tends to be the moments before I log on when I feel most hopeful and excited - after a few minutes on the table, I'm normally closing my eyes or looking away unable to see the ball hop onto the wrong colour. My 'fantasy' roulette helps to remind me that I'd be parting with my money pretty quickly, even after a run of lucky rounds - because I only know when I should have stopped with hindsight, long after the my money's gone.

But you're right - the gambling industry is too dangerous to play with - after all, that's why we are all here. So I'll take your good advice and today, my challenge is to stay away from a quick 'ghost' bet on the roulette tables.

I'll think about some targets - I normally go to the gym about 5 times a week, and I'm putting a lot of focus into my business, also now teetotal, meditate even - but I'm sure I can think of something productive. Last night, I did write a list of the books I've bought but not got round to reading - there was over 60. So maybe the solution is just to relax and indulge myself in a good story. If I read one a month, it'll keep me busy for a good few years. One of them is Dostoyevsky's 'The Gambler' - that should be either first or last on my list.

Thanks again Muststop - and it's good to hear that you're doing so well with your gamble-free life.

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Posted : 26th October 2017 10:26 am
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