By Guest Writer Kasia
I knew something was wrong when I kept waking up at 3 o’clock every morning, right on the dot, without fail, and not being able to go back to sleep.
I knew something was really wrong when I sat at my favourite restaurant, eating my favourite meal at that time, and looking out to sea… and it felt like all the joy had been sucked out of the world.
I knew I needed to seek professional help when I was crying at the drop of a hat, never wanted to leave the house and had a melt down at work.
My upbringing had taught me to ‘put on a happy face’, my heart told me to ‘just snap out of it’ and my head told me ‘what do you have to be sad about?’
These mantras didn’t work. I smoked cigarettes heavily, began to self isolate and then became obsessively addicted to gambling.
I was diagnosed with clinical depression in 2007.
I started on anti depressant medication, was referred to a psychiatrist and have been treated with both medication and frequent psychiatric consultations since this time.
I was further diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety. HAPPY DAYS !
I was relieved. There was a reason for why I was feeling so terrible and help was available to me. Gradually the medication helped. I was able to get out of bed more easily, I could sleep through the night and I didn’t feel as if I was wading through gallons of treacle to get anything done. I maintained employment, some friendships and have always had supportive family members.
I felt better after several weeks but by then I had firmly established my relationship with poker machines. Gambling had become the great love of my life.
Tuning out of the world, escaping my emotions, experiencing sublime highs and devastating lows got me there and kept me there. Added to this was the excitement of secrecy. Nobody knew. I had changed my social and working life so that I was able to go gambling as often as my funds would allow.
Whenever I was paid my first thought was to attend the club. If I won, I wanted to win more. If I lost I wanted to stay to win back my losses. It was only fair – if the machine had taken my whole pay – the least it could do was to give me a win to keep me going. It did not.
My gambling continued to escalate. It terrified and yet exhiliarated me. I began to defraud my employer, pawn my jewelry and take out short term loans at astronomically high interest rates.
There was not enough money in the whole world to satisfy my need to gamble.
I had firmly convinced myself that a large win would see me repay any amounts I had taken and start to pay off my debt. I saw this as my only way out of the mess that I had created. I would kid myself that ‘this time’ would be different – I would be able to stop while I was ahead. The reality is that as soon as I entered the club I would not leave unless I lost all my money, or the club closed. Any winnings I left with would encourage me to gamble again the next day.
There was no amount of winnings that could have stopped me.
After several years of heavy gambling I have lost all my assets and have secured paralyzing debt.
I have lost contact with friends and missed many family events.
In desperation I prayed that God would stop me from gambling, because I could not.
My crime was detected. My employment was terminated.
I face criminal charges and possible imprisonment.
Jim Villamor | Senior Counsellor/ City, Ashfield,Sutherland, Wollongong, Wesley Counselling Services
Wesley Mission PO Box A5555, Sydney South, NSW 1235
Level 7, 133 Castlereagh St, Sydney NSW 2000| Ph. (02) 9263 5523 | Mob 0418 456 285 Fax. (02) 9114 5683
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