Get practical support with your gambling problem Forum My Journal Trying To Start Over…Somehow

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  • #9063
    soliloquy
    Participant

    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. I’ve also lost the opportunity to finish my bachelor’s 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 I’d lost the payout money that I had to return for that semester. So now I’d 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 can’t effectively have a bank account until I start the bankruptcy proceedings.
    I have most recently lost some credibility at work as I’ve wasted time researching sports instead of finishing projects in a timely fashion. My boss doesn’t 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 can’t do anything about it, I get beyond depressed. I’ve 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 I’ve got two issues with it I can’t resolve yet. First, I’ve got social anxiety and rarely speak to new people or groups of people so that’s a major hurdle. I also don’t 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 I’ve decided to at least go online and join the virtual community of support at gamblingtherapy.org.
    So, everyone at some point says they’ve hit their rock bottom and know when to quit. Well, I don’t believe there ever is a bottom because just like the saying that “there’s always someone out there who has it worse than you,” there’s 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 don’t 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 I’ve 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 I’ve taken $1,500 up to $16,000 in just two days again since that major downfall, and wouldn’t 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 that’s the reason why I didn’t 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 I’m scared and depressed over that. I’ve 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 don’t 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 haven’t 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.
    I’m 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. It’s ridiculous to think that financial stress is a huge factor causing me to gamble, yet I’m not working anymore right now so it’s become a huge stressor as I work to get better. I can see myself falling back into the same old habits if I don’t do something drastically different so that’s why I’m here.

    #9064
    bettie
    Participant

    Hi Guy,
    Where to start right?
    There is nothing that you have done that most compulsive gamblers haven’t done. By the same token most of the things you speak of can be fixed.
    Can you get to a GA meeting? You will find people there just like you ( and me ) who "know" you-even if they don’t "know" you.
    Sucide is a perminate soloution to a tempory problem.
    Have you looked at the 20 GA questions? I can answer "yes" to 19 of the 20 questions.
    my best to you
    bettie

    #9065
    sirena0215
    Participant

    Greetings Soliloquy,
    You have taken a really big step. You’ve decided to get professional treatment and reached out for support from others, as hard as that was for you. It also sounds like you are ready to make a change by sharing your story. As Bettie says, there is no one here who has not been where you are. Some of us are just a little bit further down the road, and we will all tell you the same thing: What you are feeling now, you will not always feel. I am a very private person, and talking to others during my first week of recovery (36 days ago) was a tremendous help. So, however you can find a way to talk to other Compulsive Gamblers or support community…it may take time and effort, but the benefits will far outweigh the potential discomfort. Take care and good thoughts your way.

    #9066
    Dunc
    Keymaster

    Hi Soliloguy, A Warm Welcome to Gambling Therapy
    Having found us you have also found a diverse community who can help and support you on your recovery journey.
    Here on the forum you can share your experiences in a safe, supportive and non-judgemental environment and by reading others stories am sure you will see that you are very much not alone in this addiction
    Please click here to see our services page, feel free to use all that this site can offer…
    To chat with others in real time you may wish to make use of the support groups, the ***** of these groups are advertised under "What’s on and When" or click here to see the weekly group schedule.
    For one to one chat you may want to try the live advice helpline. Click "connect" when these options become available.
    Also to say when you registered we would have sent you an email with an attachment, this attachment will help you navigate the site and find the support you so rightly deserve, alternatively this guide can be downloaded by clicking here.  
    Take Care
    Harry
    25 year poker player, 25 year Hierarchal fool, 25 year ego boost…  Intellectualisation was my down fall, simplicity was my salvation

    #9067
    soliloquy
    Participant

    Thanks Bettie, Sirena, and Harry for the support. I’m glad I finally took this step and just want to get back to my old self again. I’m looking forward to the group therapy sessions and hearing other people’s stories. I never knew how long and complicated mine was till I took to writing it. So far I’ve managed to handle a few urges successfully and hope to continue doing so.

    #9068
    adele
    Participant

    Hi Sol,
    It was nice to “meet” you in the Community Group this morning.
    Having just read your first post I can see that you are an intelligent, articulate, kind and loving husband and father who is obviously in a great deal of pain. While you did not ask for this addiction (who would?!), you are asking for help, and that is such a positive step in the right direction.  
    In group, you seemed to be asking how to prevent yourself from having access to money, and I think you were struggling with the idea of giving up control of your finances … is that right? (I don’t think I am sharing anything you said in group that you wouldn’t say here on your thread. Just say so if I am and I will delete this post.)
    I told you about a few things my CG (husband) and I have done in that regard, and I would be happy to tell you of other deterrents and barriers we have put in place when and if you want to hear about them. All you have to do is ask – here or on my thread, either one!
     Just writing that first post I know was extremely difficult for you. But I think Sirena may have hit on something important about your social discomfort. I would imagine that, once you started writing your story the thoughts and words began spilling out and it must have felt somewhat therapeutic when you were done. Did you feel some relief, or something else that made you glad you told your story? If so, imagine that you were able to overcome your discomfort and started going to GA meetings. Is it possible that in time you might also be glad you did?
    You have a lot of good reasons to beat this addiction, but of course you must do the work yourself for yourself.
    Your wife will also have good reasons to support you properly, without enabling you, in your recovery – but she must first begin to learn about this addiction, just as you are doing, in order to know how to do that. She can come to this site for the knowledge she will need, and she will find Friends and Family (like me) who are affected by compulsive gambling who will listen and understand her concerns.  
    Neither of you need go thru this alone …   
    I wish you and your family all the best.
    Adele
     

    #9069
    charles
    Moderator

    Hi Sol and Adele,
    I just started a thread that you might find interesting.  By handing over "control" of the finances we are actually doing the opposite.  After all how much "control" of our money do we have when we are in action?  By doing whatever it takes to make it harder to place that next bet we are regaining control. 

    #9070
    soliloquy
    Participant

    Thanks for the message, Adele. It was nice to “meet” you as well. I take everything to heart that others tell me. At this point I am considering going to a GA meeting, perhaps next week. If nothing else perhaps to deter me from gambling again when money comes in next week. I’ve started a journal at home to help me clear my mind and keep track of my feelings that has helped me tremendously so far. My wife has been in on it and able to chip in with emotional support, too which is great.
    At this point though I will have access to funds this weekend (until the bank situation is settled between my wife and I) and I’m itching for one last run. The problem I’m struggling with now is since I was a winning sports bettor, but a losing blackjack player I’m having urges to try to just play the sports and avoid the casino altogether. I know it’s stupid to try to split up the addiction between vices, but in all honesty if I had just stood away from blackjack I could have made a living off of sports betting, I seriously made more in one season of tennis betting than I do at my day job over the course of a year. I just always had the urge to make more money faster because I was limited in the sportsbook as a sharp (player who often beats the book) and thus I would bet on blackjack overnights and whenever games weren’t on which did me in ultimately.
    Are there any other people who were in a similar situation of winning on one hand, but losing at another? I know it’s far-fetched to think it would work long-term, but I wanted to ask because it’s something that I haven’t been able to address in therapy yet and I’m so tempted to just make a small run on sports to cover some immediate bills that won’t be covered by my income for weeks at the soonest and they’re months past due. Obviously I have issues with either thrill seeking or greed to continue to play past some of the incredible amounts I’ve won and I’m sure I’ll get to those in due time, but how do I proceed right now? Any advice? Thanks
    -Sol-

    #9071
    charles
    Moderator

    Remember.  When stuck in a hole the best thing to do is to stop digging.  Put down that shovel.

    #9072
    adele
    Participant

    Hi Sol,
    Have you told your wife about these urges?  Maybe she could help you to not give in to them by doing something with the money in your bank account.  Pull it all out, something .. Does she understand the consequences if you get your hands on it?
    Try to remember that sick feeling you experienced the last time you lost it all. Follow the gamble all the way through to the end – not just to the win. Your addiction is really working on you, trying to convince you that you could win enough to pay your bills – it’s classic distorted addictive thinking – and you know that you don’t ever really win anything when you gamble – you just keep digging.
    So, like Charles said, put the shovel down Sol – PUT IT DOWN.
    There is no quick fix for this – but it is fixable. Focus on what barriers you’re going to put in place so you can begin to do just that!
    Keep posting Sol …
    Adele
     

    #9073
    nomore 56
    Participant

    Hi there Sol, I’m not a cg, my hb is. What came to my mind when I read your latest post was “oh boy, he is rationalizing!” Not a good place to be. What would you tell a friend who argues that he is an ********* who wants to stop drinking vodka because he can’t function anymore but is convinced that if he just drinks beer from now on he will be alright? What would you tell a loved one who is addicted to heroin and thinks that switching to prescription opiates is the solution because they are legal and taking them is not a crime? Just wondering….Hang in there, there is life after gambling.

    #9074
    adele
    Participant

    Hi Sol,

    Are you maybe having trouble posting on the new site?

    I’m running around sharing a way that I figured out for getting my comments to post at the end of the thread instead of landing somewhere in the middle.

    Here it is if you’re interested:

    Don’t use the “Add new comment” box for typing your comments.

    Instead, click on the dark purple “reply” button (next to the “Complain about a message” button) just under the last comment posted on the thread.

    When you click on the “reply” button, a new window pops up where you can type in your comment. Then when you hit “Save”, your comment will post at the tail end of the thread like it’s supposed to!

    I hope this helps and you start posting again soon.

    This new site has some really cool features I think we’re all going to like once the GT team gets all the kinks worked out!

    Adele

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