There’s not really much out there really. Obviously at the time, or at the time I didn’t think there was any help at all about it until, obviously, it got to [person]. Obviously, the GPs and counsellors they’ve not really helped a lot. They don’t know anything about what you’re going through, the gambling side. They’ve not been through it themselves.
I know a lot of people don’t understand. Basically, they just think it’s just because of the money, if that makes sense. They’ll just think, “Oh, it’s your money you’re gambling.” It’s the money while you gamble online. It’s literally not the money. It started off being the money, wanting a big win. A bit of fun wanting a big win but then when you get addicted to it, it’s not even money. Money’s irrelevant, it’s just a tool you need to gamble. When I got to the point where, yes, it’s not money. I don’t know how to describe it. They said, “Oh, you can just stop.” They said, “Oh, you can just stop gambling” but it’s literally not like that. My dad, he didn’t at the time understand why I couldn’t just stop because he says it’s money. You can just stop. I’m like, “Money ain’t the issue.”
A lot of families don’t really understand. Even in certain ethnic groups, gambling’s seen as– you can’t talk about, can you? You can’t even talk about it to anyone. You’re basically on your own, you can’t talk about it in public or talk about it at home or get help. I just think GPs and doctors need to be made aware of it. Obviously, the issue with that is you have to actually go through it, if that makes sense, to be able to understand what they’re going through, people who have gambling problems. That’s the only issue.
I said, “I don’t want money, that’s the one thing I don’t need.” As soon as I have money, that was just a tool for me to gamble then. I used to get really anxious in the 40 hours before payday. This was literally my cycle. I got paid once a month. I used to be nervous, panicking for that 40 hours before I got paid. Then I need to be up until my money cleared into my account. I used to gamble all my wage within the first hour or two.
I used to get literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of emails, text messages, calls. Literally every day as well. This went on for two years with offers in all sorts of gambling sites, details and offers for me to use. It was the worst thing for me because I couldn’t get away from it. It was just constant text messages, emails, calls, even phone calls, were ringing me constantly, automated messages saying, “Join up,” and welcome offers and stuff like this. I had to actually change my actual phone number and everything. I think at the time must have had over 9,000 in my inbox. That’s just gambling companies promoting offers and all sorts.
It was horrible… Because I was that addicted to it, I thought there’s no way I’m going to be able to stop, and I’ll get myself in more and more debt even though I was working full-time… As soon as I had money in, that part of my brain just don’t think straight because the gambling side just thinks, “If you put that money in, and get it up to what you owed you could pay it all off.” Then I thought, “Then that’s a clean slate,” not gambling. Yes, there was quite a few times that I felt like I wanted to kill myself. At that moment in my life, anyway.
I didn’t want anyone to find out really how bad it got because I didn’t actually enjoy doing it or want to do it. I just felt ashamed that I was ruining my whole life. It got to the point where I wasn’t even paying my bills, my rent either which – that’s not me. I always aspire to be paying my way and support others.
I don’t really know how it escalated because it was a little bit of fun and then it just got to the stage where I was thinking about it all the time. I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t stop gambling either, I couldn’t stop doing it. I knew I didn’t enjoy it. It was strange. Knowing that you don’t enjoy it, you sit and then carry on doing it. It just got to the point where I didn’t even know. I couldn’t even think straight. When I was working, thinking about that all the time. That was where it got to in the end when I owed £1000 and it just makes you depressed because you can’t control it.
It’s a hard one right because it’s strange that certain people couldn’t just do it whatever they want and then others can’t. It’s a weird one. I’m thinking about how that comes about. Everyone like young, old from any background or any household, any sort of upbringing, expect anyone. My upbringing was amazing. Mine was perfect, my upbringing and somehow I got into that. I don’t really know how to explain it.
I was worried about money. Even though I had money but obviously I’d gambled it all. Just the shame and constantly thinking about them slots and football gambling constantly. I couldn’t get it out of my head. It’s that dopamine, isn’t it? Part of your brain, isn’t it? I felt shame, you know, depressed because of it as well. It got to the point where I couldn’t even– even in my job I couldn’t think straight at all when I was working.
I just felt ashamed about gambling because– I don’t know, there’s so much stigma about it in society nowadays. One of big things was as well that my dad at the time, he absolutely despised gambling, and I was ashamed… I didn’t want him to find out. I didn’t want anyone to find out really how bad it got because I didn’t actually enjoy doing it or want to do it. I just felt ashamed that I was ruining my whole life.
[They] then spoke to me about how I could put those barriers in place so I could build the relationship back up with my family and put barriers in place so if I did slip, I’d talk to my family, who I’d fallen out with because of it. And just to start building my life back up, really. Just so I could actually be able to think straight really and actually write down on a piece of paper and figure out what more money I owed finance-wise and everything, and how much I earned so I could basically not have access to my money, basically. To my phone, my card, my wages. So I couldn’t have them in order to gamble.
But when you’ve got an addiction to gambling, it’s literally in your head all the time. You can’t think. Say if you’re doing a job, you can’t — you’re thinking of that in the back of your mind, you can’t concentrate on anything… I didn’t even know what day it was because I was just literally overwhelmed thinking about how much money I owed and that I couldn’t actually stop.
That was the issue really, that I knew it wasn’t going to help me at all with my gambling problem because they just said I needed to go and see my GP as well. He’d just say to go on antidepressants and that’s not what you need because it’s got nothing to do with the gambling.