5 September 2013 at 6:29 pm #9174soliloquyParticipant
Well, here’s my story. I’m a loyal husband and father of a beautiful 6-month-old baby girl. I have a biology background, but a dead-end day job as an underpaid closed captioning editor for now. I’ve been dealing with depression and anxiety for years and gambling since March 2010. It started with online blackjack, progressed to online sports betting, then into live casino blackjack and slots, and back to online sports and blackjack. I’ve had my share of ups and downs to the tune of about $80,000 lost overall right now. The worst part is that I’m in debt over my head otherwise. I have about $125,000 in student loans, $25,000 in credit cards, and lots of other debts adding up in the thousands. My wife and I are working towards declaring bankruptcy which would help somewhat but not completely. Ironically, we need to save up for it. We live paycheck to paycheck now and barely make enough to make ends meet so the financial stress in my life is incredibly high. During this time my wife has known about my habits and been more an enabler by letting me gamble what I wish and scolding me when I lose or fail to cash out. She does take some responsibility for our problems, but the burden is definitely on me because I pull the figurative trigger when it comes to gambling.
I’ve also been responsible for pawning lots of our material things and not getting most of them back. About the only thing we’ve managed to keep from losing by pawning are our wedding rings which even as I write this sit in on a shelf in a pawn shop in another town right now. Ive also lost the opportunity to finish my bachelors degree indirectly due to gambling. I used to gamble with some or all of our student loan money and one semester when my depression got really bad I decided to withdraw from university with only a single class left to earn a degree, but I put myself about $4,000 in debt with the university because Id lost the payout money that I had to return for that semester. So now Id have to repay that first before returning after getting professional help (which I have yet to do in almost 3 years now). So, I have all that student loan debt and literally nothing to show for it.
I do feel bad about everything and wish that I could just go back to that one fateful day I created a Bodog account while on vacation and do anything else except connect to this underworld. Since then I’ve burned through so many credit cards that I’ve destroyed the credit of both my wife, myself, and even my mother who’s loaned me a couple cards over the years. I’ve had bank accounts in my own and each of their names get intentionally overdrafted and closed because of my gambling problem and have taken out numerous payday loans that were never repaid causing harassment by phone and mail. My wife, mother, and I have started to get sued by various creditors and now liens have been filed in my name and soon hers for our debts so I cant effectively have a bank account until I start the bankruptcy proceedings.
I have most recently lost some credibility at work as Ive wasted time researching sports instead of finishing projects in a timely fashion. My boss doesnt know about my gambling problem, but he knows I have mental health issues and has a few of his own that have caused undue stress on both my wife and I who work at the same company. Regardless, I’ve gotten to the point sometimes where I feel that I’d be better off dead since I can’t even focus on my job, my wife, or even my child sometimes. I get so distracted not just by the action of gambling itself, but getting the money to use for it, satisfying the urges, researching the odds, and even just the simple distraction that it gives me from my daily suffering that when I cant do anything about it, I get beyond depressed. Ive even had to check into a hospital on a suicide watch for a night because of how depressed I got over my situation. The only help I could get were sedatives and a referral for outpatient help.
I know I have issues to figure out and solve, but I’m working on it. I’ve got an appointment next week to finally get a psychiatrist to help me. I’ve been on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds for a little while now (after an extended hiatus due to lack of health insurance) so things are looking better in that department. I would attend GA meetings, but Ive got two issues with it I cant resolve yet. First, Ive got social anxiety and rarely speak to new people or groups of people so thats a major hurdle. I also dont subscribe to the religious-like aspect of a higher power and the use of a prayer, albeit however cloaked in non-descript wording to make it seem less religious, it feels more like a cult than a support group. The fact that most of these meetings take place in churches bothers me enough to deter me from going, but I do recognize the power of having other people around who have been through similar issues and can support one another which is why Ive decided to at least go online and join the virtual community of support at gamblingtherapy.org.
So, everyone at some point says theyve hit their rock bottom and know when to quit. Well, I dont believe there ever is a bottom because just like the saying that theres always someone out there who has it worse than you, theres always something worse that can happen to you. I have hit what felt like rock bottom dozens of times, but still continued to gamble if nothing else, just to undo that feeling of shame, guilt, and disappointment of previous attempts to win and reclaim some lost glory, self-esteem, and respect. I dont know when to call it quits, but now is as good a time as ever after my biggest single episode of self-disappointment.
One of my latest gambling stints was a terribly lucky hot streak in July that brought me from $300 to $80,000 in 5 days! Of course I lost all of that betting wildly and recklessly in less than 48 hours. I would say that was by far the worst experience of my life, to relive 3 years of losses in just 2 days. I’m working to quit once and for all so I can regain the mental clarity and enjoyment I used to get out of life. I feel like Ive become a different person since that episode, a sort of hollow, lost person hell bent on getting back to that peak that I know is oh so difficult to reach. I know I stand to lose more money as I have already had a couple more paychecks go to waste because of it and put my family in a difficult situation as I tend to do rather frequently nowadays by getting months behind on rent, missing insurance payments, and having to resort to stealing food to get by. Yet even knowing that Ive taken $1,500 up to $16,000 in just two days again since that major downfall, and wouldnt you know it, I lost it all in just hours this time.
I just wish I could remind myself more of why I want and need to quit so that I lose the feeling of wanting to gamble. I understand the addiction part of the disease and thats the reason why I didnt think clearly while wasting away that life-changing amount of $80,000, but the hope that exists in taking a few bucks and turning it into a few thousand seems to almost always win out because there is such little hope outside of my gambling world.
I can sit here and think of a million excuses and reasons for continuing to gamble as a distraction or for that feeling of hope because I get it otherwise in my life. For instance, my daughter was born with a rare genetic disorder and has seen almost a dozen specialists for various health issues and concerns. Her future prospects are literally unknown so Im scared and depressed over that. Ive also got no real friends at all anymore. I was never really social to begin with and the only people I talk to now are coworkers and random chit chat on Facebook with people I rarely know. Or I can look back on the goals and dreams I once had of being a field biologist and realizing the stupid mistakes I made in destroying those ambitions because of the poor decisions I made even before I started gambling like not taking missed opportunities and burning bridges.
I feel my life in general is a train wreck and I just hope that I can stay clear of drugs, suicide, and complete despair, but until I turn things around I dont know what to do to help keep me focused on good things and become a more productive person, husband, and father. I can only hope that stopping gambling cold turkey is a start because I havent placed a bet since September 2nd, 2013 if only by the fact that I lost every last dollar I had to use and am now suffering because of it.
Im on indefinite medical leave from work to get mental health help, but I need more on a day-to-day basis to get me through this. Its ridiculous to think that financial stress is a huge factor causing me to gamble, yet Im not working anymore right now so its become a huge stressor as I work to get better. I can see myself falling back into the same old habits if I dont do something drastically different so thats why Im here.
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