I think the first thing they’ve got to do is an affordability check. I couldn’t afford to gamble, I mean, yes, I had savings, I was a woman of substance, you know, I was comfortable, I had a comfortable life. But really? I was probably only taking home about £1500 a month from my little business. And you know, as I say, I had some students so, to keep the house going, but that still wasn’t an affordable amount, you know, once you deal with everything. So, certainly, affordability check has got to be top of their agenda for change. And I know it’s an intrusion. People are private about their money. I was private about my money, how much I had, how much I was worth. It isn’t something you generally discuss.
Why didn’t those credit card people phone me up or stop me? Because if they looked at my record, it was completely clean, I paid off regularly every single month, and the most I ever did on my credit cards it was for shopping. So, it was unusual activity even then. It probably sounds bitter and complaining but these are these are things that in my recovery and obviously moving forward are the things that you think about. Why didn’t that happen, you know, why didn’t somebody stop?
But, you know, they were good to me. They talked to me and chatted to me and gave me presents, bonuses. They made me feel as though I was the only person in the world that was important. And at the time, no one else was doing that.
And the emails, the phone calls from my VIP manager, if I wasn’t on, “Is there anything wrong?”. The day my dad died, they phoned me. And they knew my dad was ill because I told them all. I told them I sold my house, told them I’d moved in with my dad. So, you know, they knew I was a cash pot and really, for a good probably eight months, they’d been grooming me anyway. They were my best friends.
It was easy access. I mean gosh, the fact that it was unlimited, not a good thing, but yeah, something you can do. And I think online, I mean, I didn’t have a phone that I could do it on my phone, so it was always my laptop. And with the, well just being isolated, you’re not answerable to anybody else. And there’s no distraction and no other distraction is there when you’re just looking at a screen.
I’d never been in a bookies. Never, would never want to be seen in one, I don’t think, even to this day. Because of the type of gambling that I did online, it was, I was isolated and it got to the point where it just became my go to place for safety because I was, I think, everything well, everything that had been happening was just building up and somehow, it just seemed to be a release that I could do for me, and I wasn’t hurting anybody else.
I have to go back to the tobacco industry. Yeah, it took a while, but does it bother anybody now? Nobody. But it’s just like, well, you know, it’s there, you know, it’s out there. But we don’t need to have it thrown down our throats. We don’t need to be exploited. Children don’t need to be exploited. They don’t need to see that it’s a norm, you know, to have gambling adverts. You know, mum playing bingo in the middle of the afternoon, especially at a time when they know the kids are home from school.
But then obviously, bankruptcy has its own label. In a sense, it was a relief that, you know, I wasn’t hiding from the door and windows, I was getting all this mail. But the guilt, of having a woman of my age, just allowing all this to happen. It was just it was just so out of my control. I didn’t know how to work my way through it.
I couldn’t stop things from happening, and I think that goes from way back, way, way back. I couldn’t stop things from happening. I couldn’t change people’s minds. I didn’t understand why people didn’t love me. And why people left me. So, finding solace in a, what’s the word, pernicious, pernicious industry, finding solace in a game, that completely dominated my world, was madness, complete madness.
I mean, the other thing it was probably just the colours because the one thing I didn’t do was have the sound on. I played in silence. I watched in silence. I was isolated, I was completely cocooned. There was no sound other than my house creaking or whatever. I didn’t have the sound. I didn’t like the sounds. So, you know, my brain had just completely adapted to the colours and the movement.
When I look back now, I sort of thought, “Well, why didn’t those credit card people phone me up or stop me?” Because if they looked at my record, it was completely clean. I paid off regularly every single month, and the most I ever did on my credit cards it was for shopping. So, you know, it was unusual activity even then. So, you know, it probably sounds bitter and complaining. But you know, these are things that in my recovery and obviously moving forward are the things that you think about. Why didn’t that happen? Why didn’t somebody stop me?
We don’t need to have it thrown down our throats. We don’t need to be exploited. Children don’t need to be exploited. They don’t need to see that it’s a norm, you know, to have gambling adverts, mum playing bingo in the middle of the afternoon, especially at a time when they know the kids are home from school. You know, there are adverts for gambling on all afternoon.
I thought I was unique. I didn’t think anyone had gone through what I’d gone through. And I wish, back in 2019, I had been more brave, to not just be a voice. But I was frightened at that time. I was frightened of losing my job. I was frightened to bring -any sort of disrepute to my boss, and of losing my job, which was, you know, my, I needed a job.
And I also borrowed money off my dad, which was all written down properly and correctly, and only one of the siblings knew that that existed. Because I was already beginning to feel quite ashamed by the fact that I’d let this debt build up, not, you know, the gambling didn’t seem to be, I didn’t admit what it was. And I actually did make up a fib to my brother, who was the sibling involved. And I said I’d got involved with a man who had basically stolen from me. Because I was too ashamed to say that I was gambling.
I started taking out loans, payday loans and stuff like that. If I blew my wages at the end of the month, there was nothing, absolutely nothing. So, building up the debt. I relied on the food banks because I just deprived myself of absolutely everything. I didn’t buy anything for myself. I did try to make sure that my main utility bills were paid for if I could, but if I’d blown the rent and I wasn’t able to get the money from friends, then I’d try and get another loan from somewhere. So basically chasing my losses, for about three years, you know, small amounts here and there.
I still have counselling. I have worked with the same counsellor for many years now, and she’s been absolutely fantastic and obviously her field is women and gambling. But obviously, recognising that, you know, there are a lot of other issues that just weren’t dealt with and that infamous word tsunami, I mean, for me, it was totally, I say, both emotionally and financially.
I felt left and alone and isolated. So, the gambling kicked in again because I couldn’t deal with the reality of what life was throwing at me again. No more than I could cope with it before. I think with life’s shit that happens, to me, it was like a tsunami of emotional turmoil that through, you know, manifested into the gambling in the first place. And the same emotional toil that I couldn’t, my brain just couldn’t compute anymore would throw me into, you know, relapses.