Well, it was the 5th of June. Went to the bookie, finished work at three o’clock in the afternoon, Sunday afternoon, had £30 on me in cash went to the bookies and I lost it. I just thought, “Why do I keep doing this to myself? It’s like a vicious circle.”. I was like a boxer on the ropes. I want to stop, and I just couldn’t see a way out, said, “I’ve got to stop this or I’m going to do myself some permanent damage.” I’d had enough that day. I’d never gone a week without betting in my life because it had always been in my life. I thought “I need some help here” because I was still struggling.
They need to cut [adverts] down big time because there’s just too many of them, and some of them are during day as well now. Young people that are coming home from school seeing it in the afternoon. It’s not right. It’s just not right that because they’re easily influenced children, aren’t they? They’re very impressionable, and if they see that and think, “Oh, I’ll just download that app and do it.”… When I were growing up at school, there was drug abuse, alcohol abuse, but there was nothing about gambling, never.
A few months into my recovery, I found a lump on my head and I got cancer, but I always say in my meetings, this is by far the worst illness on the planet. This is worse than cancer, in my opinion. I’m not knocking cancer, having gone through it myself, I’m not knocking it in any shape or form, but this one, only you can stop it. If you get cancer or any other illness, you got doctors to help you, get you better, but with this, it’s all mental, it’s all you. It takes your spirit away from you. Cancer didn’t take my spirit, but gambling did. It made me feel worthless like I wasn’t valued.
It’s not like, “Oh, you should be able to stop doing that.” It’s not as easy. It’s not as simple as that… It’s a recognized mental illness now. I know people who judge people for gambling and it’s not right… There’s other different kinds of addictions, and they don’t get judged like gamblers seem to do. I call it the silent addiction. The other ones are really talked about, and rightly so, don’t get me wrong, but this one seems to go under the radar for people and it’s like encouraged. All the adverts, “Come bet with us.” Don’t do that about drugs or alcohol, would they? It’s just seems to be about gambling, encouraging it.
Found it really difficult because you just don’t see a way out. You think, “Is it just me feeling this way, or is it– Am I on my own here? Why is it just me suffering here, nobody else is? What have I done to deserve this? What have I got– Why am I doing this and nobody else seems to be doing it, just me?”
It would have to be people having a point of contact. Some people struggle, and you don’t always have online facilities, even to things like Google. If the NHS had a number you could ring up or something, anything. It’s like because you go to the doctors, and they don’t recognize that there’s a problem. If they did do and put you in touch with a counsellor or like a GA, whereas I had to find it for myself through Google, but people don’t have that facility to do that, you know. There should be a point of contact where you can find things out like that.
I think because if it’s alcohol and drugs, it’s all physical dependence, and they can see the harm it’s doing but with gambling, you can’t see it. If they can’t see a problem, they don’t think it’s there. You can stop yourself. You’re not hurting people. You can stop yourself anytime you want to do, but it’s not as simple as that. It’s not as simple as that.
I wanted to carry on, carry on betting. They were telling me I had a problem. I was like, “No, I haven’t.” When someone tells you something like that you go into denial and it’s like a fight against it. If you think it yourself, it’s like, “Oh, I can do something about it,” or someone tells you you’ve got a problem, it’s like, “No, I haven’t. I can stop this. You can’t stop it. I can stop it. I don’t need any help.” Obviously, it caused arguments.
It’s all mental. Certain triggers do certain things. If you have a web, especially in your mind, and it’s telling you to do things, you’re very easily influenced. You may be not feeling too good. When you’re on top of the world, you can fight it if that makes sense.
I’ve always been good for attending work and things like that, but I wasn’t focusing. I wasn’t focusing on it. I would work from six until twelve in the morning, go to work, have my break. When I’d have my break, I’d be on my phone, but I’d be putting on a bet. In a way, it did impact it in a way really. Even though I was attending work, I wasn’t really participating. I wasn’t giving it the full attention that it deserved, really.
I’m a big football fan. I’m a big Tottenham fan as well. I couldn’t go to any games. I’d watch it in the pub and things like that, but now I go to every home game. As much as I can do, work-related kind of thing. It’s given me a new lease of life. I can watch the game for football just for enjoyment. Without having a bet on it, just watch the game for being the sport it is, instead of worrying about everything else.
At first you think, “Why has it chosen me?” You feel isolated. I’m on my own. I’ve got a problem here and nobody else seems to have it, only me. Then you go to a GA meeting, all the different functions, you think, “Actually, I’m not on my own. There’s other people out there.” Probably more out there who’ve not realized they’ve got a problem. It’s definitely not you. It’s just a problem worldwide, really. You’re not on your own, and you can definitely get help for it.
No one judges anybody. We’ve all got our stories to tell, but no one– We’ve all done things we’re not proud of. I might do things what they had not done, or they might have done things I’d not done, but it’s still the same boat. All addictions are different, but they’re saying they’re all the same at the same time.
Well, I popped myself on a five years [exclusion]. You can only do five years, so I did that. Went to the bookies next to me, gave my passport, and self-excluded that way. Even on my banking app, you can stop site-gambling on your card. It’s only for four days, but you can change it, but it takes four days to come back on. I’ve never changed it, but I know that it takes four days to come back on. It’s that thinking period, then, if you want to start gambling again.