I come on here from time to time to check what my total is and was quite surprised at seeing this number flash up in front of me, but I'd never thought about actually posting about my experience and how far I have come and I hope this helps as some form of inspiration, no matter where you are on your recovery journey, day 1 or day 1000.
I've just read over some of my previous diaries and although tough reading, I an see how I am a completely different person to the person that was in a desperate, desperate position 4 years ago.
Just for a bit of background, I had gambled for over 10 years, mostly casino gambling and the bug hit me hard, I was a bonus chaser when casinos' threw money at people to keep them gambling and although had some huge ups and downs, did well from it at the time, or so it seemed.
See this is the deception the mind plays, at the time I thought I was in a good situation but it's only when looking back with a clear head that I can see what massive mistakes I was making, by not being able to say no. Gambling would be the first thing I did on a morning, until late at night, live blackjack, high stake slots, everything really as long as I was playing.
The breaking point came when I was mentally shattered, losing session after losing session continued, for months on end. Not because I'd lost a lot of games, but because I had continued playing. Remember that there is no casino game where long term the odds are in your favour, NOT ONE. A fellow gambler once said to me that we are all licking at the paint on the side of a paint pot and one day you are due to fall in.
The moment I began my turnaround was actually the hardest and this was telling my wife. After what I thought at the time was the final moment for me, the lowest I could get I told her. I will never forget that night for the rest of my life for two reasons. One the look on her face when I told her I had gambled away almost all of our savings, the second when she came back up and although hurting herself, offered support like I've never felt.
From there it was absolutely horrific, I cannot lie and say that things recovered from this point, it was anguished and painful for months after. There were a few relapses because I could not give up control, I still wanted to keep open a few accounts, just in case.
Finally, after some secret sessions on accounts I had not closed, I finally was defeated and closed the final account, self excluded and from this point I've not looked back.
Recovery has not been easy, I saw a terrible counsellor who was of no help at all, at the moment in my life when I needed it most, but I slowly realised that the work began with me. I was broken, shattered, tired, angry and at times, suicidal.
What kept me going was my daughter. Had she not been around I may not have seen this day, but slowly, ONE DAY AT A TIME, things got better. I started a different job, one with security, I began to enjoy things again that were not sitting at a computer for days on end, began to get outside in fresh air. Began to find replacement activities, TV shows I laughed like mad at and didn't have a phone in my hand playing on a casino game.
Some time now down the line I have found a very level headed version of contentment, being by myself (or with my family), just slowing life down and enjoying the pace.
IT CAN BE DONE, but you NEED TO PUT THE WORK IN.
Thanks for reading this, I wanted to finish off with what I think helped me out in the form of a list, some if not all of these I think are essential to recovery. No matter where you are on this journey, it CAN be done, but it starts with you, good luck.
1. You absolutely must ban yourself from any form of gambling going forward. Do not leave any stone unturned, install Gamban, self exclude EVERYWHERE, do not leave anywhere open, if you do it's a path back in and that small glimmer of darkness can suddenly devour you before you know it.
2. Take your time. I think it took me 18 months to begin to accept what I had done and come to peace with it, the money is gone. It's never coming back, the quicker you can accept that then the quicker acceptance can come.
3. Tell your close family. It will be heart breaking, but I hope they would rather see you at your worst and help you, than ever visit your grave. Some spouses may not be as strong as mine was, but you are kidding yourself if you think you can continue while also keeping quiet, at some point you will break.
4. Give yourself a break. When I eventually came to accept what had happened, it was when I stopped beating myself up. I was no longer face first on the carpet banging my fists and playing the victim. Gambling can be uncontrollable, but with the right blocks in place, I firmly believe anyone can overcome it, but you need to set the wheels in motion first using these steps
Wishing anyone reading this the best of luck, you can f*****g do this.
1417 gamblingg free days is a very healthy thing.
Once we have clean time we are more open to healing the hurt inner child in us.
Love and peace to everyone.
AKA Dave of Beckenham
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