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    • #13639
      markf
      Participant

      I don’t exactly remember my very first bet or my age but I know it was roughly when I was 8 or 9. I remember vividly visiting my relatives in Blackpool and playing on the slot machines on the front. I would say I was compulsive from day one!  I remember not wanting to leave and when I finally did, spent the rest of the day looking forward to returning. 
      For the next couple of years I gambled as often as I could, which would basically consist of each time I was in Blackpool and also at my local bowling alley as I seemed ot be allowed to play the machines thee with no one caring.
      It was at 13 that my gambling took a real turn for the worse. At school I learnt to play poker and would regularly play at lunch break with friends. We would play all sorts of card games and penny up the wall etc…….. I was always the first there and the last to leave . I loved it!!!!
      The following year we were allowed out at lunch break and that’s when my fruit machine addiction became out of control. I found a café about a 5 minute walk from school and put every single bit of my available cash into it all the time. I was losing my lunch money, my pocket money and everything I had at the time.
      It wasn’t long after that I stole for the first time. Again I remember vividly going home after school having gambled away all my money for the week and it was only Monday. I was too frightened to tell my parents what had happened as even though I didn’t appreciate I was a CG, I still knew that what I was doing was wrong. So instead of finding the courage to tell my parents, I went back to school the next day, headed to the changing rooms and started to rummage through blazers until I found cash!
      My desire to keep on gambling was much stronger then my desire not to steal. I knew stealing was wrong, I was brought  up to know right from wrong, but I what I did lack was any courage whatsoever!
      This pattern basically continued for a further few years of gambling and stealing, gambling and stealing etc….
      At 17 I went to 6th form college and that is when I first went to a book makers. Initially it would be to play the fruit machines but with races on all the time I began to start betting on the dogs and horses with absolutely no clue what I was doing. I did however realise that there was the potential to win far more money on the horses and dogs then on the fruit machines so slowly but surely began to bet all my money on the track as opposed to the machines.
      On my second day at university I joined the local casino and then unsurprisingly spent all my time in there rather then the bookies. By the time I left university, I was still stealing from wherever I could, was in a huge amount of debt and was really beginning to hate myself.
      Life carried on much the same for me until I was 24. I found a job, I stole from my Employer, I found another job, I stole from clients, I found another job but would spend more time gambling then working and couldn’t really hold the job down.
      So at 24 I had had enough of my life. I knew I was a CG but didn’t know how to stop and didn’t think I could. I was fed up. I hated waking up each day and needed drugs to get to sleep. I had become nothing more then a thief, was totally dishonest and didn’t feel like I could turn to anyone. So after a few months of thinking about it I stole a box of 100 nurofen from boots, sat in my car and swallowed virtually all of them. It was not a cry for help. I wanted to die. I was so ashamed of myself and really thought the world would be a better place without me.
      My parents found me unconscious in my car some time in the middle of the night and rushed me to hospital and that is when I finally came clean about my gambling. The relief  was immense. Finally I had told someone, they didn’t run away and I realised that there was some support out there. I found out about GH but didn’t want to go so instead started  going to GA a few times a week. My parents were controlling my money, my salary would be paid directly into their account and would be dished out to me daily.
      It wasn’t long before my confidence came back and l was getting my life back on track. I cleared my debts, was holding down a good job, was continuing at GA and was not gambling. I met a girl, we eventually got married, I started my own business, bought a house and had a daughter.
      However as time went on I stopped going to GA as I didn’t think I needed it anymore but almost 5 years after my suicide attempt I relapsed! And boy did I relapse!!! I know the reasons why but this post is long enough as it is without going into the reasons. Within a matter of weeks of my relapse I had lost a fortune. Again my mack of courage was my biggest problem. I hid it from my wife, from everyone and this led me to continue gambling until I had lost everything.
      By the time my wife eventually found out I had lost all our savings, built up astronomical debts, fraudulently remortgaged out home, taken out credit cards in my wife’s name and was being forced into bankruptcy. Because I managed to keep it a secret from my wife for almost a year I was unable to leave the house until the post had arrived each day in case there were letters from debt collectors. We were getting so many calls at home that installed a new phone line and diverted all the calls to it so my wife would not find out. The effort I went to hide my gambling was just ridiculous! When the day came and my wife found out I had managed to collect 2 black bags full of unopened letters that I hid at the back of the garage!
      Needless to say I was kicked out of the house and divorce papers arrived soon after. My wife didn’t let me see my daughter. I finally reached my rock bottom and decided I need to go to Gordon House.
      I have not had a bet since March 2010 and have my life firmly back in my control. I see my daughter every 2 weeks and we are getting amazingly. I work in a decent job. I pay my bills and even manage to put some money aside each month. I contribute to the welfare of my ex-wife and daughter and just booked my first holiday abroad since I have not been gambling.
      I have done a lot of awful things in my past, but it is my past and I cant change it. All I can do is try to live as good and honest a life as possible for the rest of my future. I believe I am good person and I know it was the addiction that made me do all those rotten things combined with my lack of courage.  
       

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