Memoirs so vacant: A new start

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(@rj4fv3lw8x)
Posts: 11
Topic starter
 

This is my diary.

Day 1 of the new chapter is 1st June 2024

 

Today I did something I’ve been putting off for weeks now. Maybe it’s even months. It all melds into one when you’re gambling. Those that know, know.

 

Today I finally registered with Gamstop. So glad I did. There’s a freedom like feeling from the prison I had created for myself. A seemingly never ending cycle of earn, gamble, rinse and repeat.

Not only did I register with Gamstop, I also deleted all the apps I was using and requested those accounts to be closed.

 

Where do I begin?

 

I gambled on pub fruit machines about 25 years ago. The habit stayed with me for about 2-3 years then I stopped. I don’t know how, or don’t remember how, but I just stopped. I didn’t feel the need to gamble anymore. On reflection and re-reading this before posting, for me there’s a link between lack and gambling. I mean, I can see that I was gambling when I felt like I had less than I needed.

 

About a year ago my business was failing due to covid/cost of living crisis. I was working crazy hours but it became increasingly difficult to keep everything running above cost.

I would like to note at this point, I was not gambling in any shape or form. Gambling started after the business had closed down.

I was very alone in that process. I had to start over but I didn’t have much to my name.

 

A gambling add came up on one of my social media feeds. An online casino with a new member offer - if I recall it was a 100% bonus with 50 free spins. I saw it as an opportunity to make a few quid and have fun in the process.

 

I was alone at home. I gave it a go.

 

For me, gambling took a relatively lonely world into an even lonelier place. I was ok with my own company and found comfort in gambling.

After a fun two hours, I was about £100 up. That first gambling session was such a thrill.

 

So the next day I played again. I lost it all and more.

The cycle started here, around September 2023.

As at yesterday, 31st May 2024, I was active with 6 online casinos chasing previous losses.

 

My gambling was mostly funded from selling off things from my previous life. Stuff I had collected over the years that I was no longer attached to. Sad I know, but that helped me to justify it.

 

I had several go to slot games which I won’t mention here as I don’t want to encourage gambling. At first they were fun to play but by the end of it I was constantly chasing losses, thinking my luck would change the next day.

The games I regularly played gave me my biggest consistent wins…..but of course I was not truly factoring in my losses, only remembering the feel of those wins.

 

My biggest loss? Probably around £500 in a single day across two or three of my go to sites.

 

I did have deposit limits in place but this was pretty pointless. If I felt the need to gamble, I’d just hit up one of the other sites on my list.

It’s one of the flaws of gambling restrictions imo - it entirely relies on the individual to play responsibly when you could effectively have six separate limits of £500 in place. Monetary limits are flawed as they are not evaluated.

 

Many of my gambling sessions would last until the wee hours. I’d typically be recycling the same £100 over the course of 6-8 hours at weekends. If I was up, I’d rarely stop. I’d generally see it as more money to gamble with. I’d get many screen reminders about the session time but none of them actually stopped me playing. Another flaw of online casinos.

Yes we should play responsibly but instead of a session warning why not instead give a message that clearly indicates your current loss or hey, you just won £100, now take a break.

Or just kill the session and make you wait 24 hours before you can return.

 

I digress.

 

So last night I finally saw the light. Well I say last night, it was about 14 hours ago as I type this.

I was doing the usual - going up and down in the £100 region switching from one slot to the next until I finally lost that £100. I was tired and feeling totally out of luck. I hadn’t had a good win for about a month. I no longer had any form

of positive association with gambling. The buzz had gone.

I finally realised I would always be chasing the thrill that those big wins gave me and that the only real winner is the casino.

Yes, I hear you laugh. We all know this. I know I am coining a phrase here and trust me, I have relapsed many times before when I told myself I would stop. This time was different for me - I knew outright it had to stop now.

I figured that if I woke up feeling the same, I would take positive steps to change.

Within 30 minutes of getting up today (after four hours sleep I might add), I had registered with Gamstop, closed my accounts and deleted the apps.

 

Memoirs so vacant is a nod to how empty my my mind had become whilst I was gambling. I found comfort in the temporary peace that it gave me. Gambling was my solace.

 

So here we are day 1.

Will I feel the same on day 2? day 10? Day 365? We shall see. Right now I’m just focusing on the now - day 1.

 

I have already started to learn basic video editing to give me something new to focus on.

 

I would like to help others too. There is so much stigma regarding gambling and not everyone will be brave enough to speak up via online forums or even acknowledge how it affects them.

To close out day 1, some of you may be wondering what the reference is with my user name. It’s two fold - (1) a song by Supergrass and (2) more importantly, the feeling of having my phone in my hands and those hands sat on the table for hours on end, going numb from barely moving whilst gambling.

 

To others out there reading this, know you are not alone. Just posting this was a huge step for me. I hope this diary inspires someone else to make that change and share their journey.

 
Posted : 1st June 2024 5:26 pm
(@p6z38njbqm)
Posts: 225
 

Sounds like you've made a good start and hit this head on with blocks. Might be worth adding any banking blocks you can too. I did this and, whilst I've not had the urge to test it, just knowing I've done this gave me some peace of mind.

The big hurdle is the acceptance and admittance you had a problem. You seem to have crossed that point now. This is where the marathon of small hurdles begins. Time to get yourself debt free (if you have got any) but more importantly in a head space that says, I don't want to gamble, but in a lasting way. The chance of relapse is huge from what I've read and you and me do not want to go down that route.

Gambling is a lonely habit, and beating it alone is too. You can see as well as I can that there is no winning in gambling. We both seem to have used it as a time wasting exercise. Boredom? Lack of mental stimulation? Who knows but we are both in the same boat. Good to see you've found something to occupy your mind. That's my next goal. Had a lot to content with recently but that's dealt with so I want to make sure I don't slip back into boredom and find my own 'friend/enemy'!

Good luck on your personal journey, and I look forward to reading of your success.

Stay strong 💪

 
Posted : 2nd June 2024 1:14 pm
(@rj4fv3lw8x)
Posts: 11
Topic starter
 

@p6z38njbqm Many thanks for your feedback. Completely agree with what you said. Using it to occupy time and put off other things was definitely a part of it.

Hope you find something new that you enjoy doing. I will keep following your journey.

 
Posted : 2nd June 2024 7:58 pm
(@rj4fv3lw8x)
Posts: 11
Topic starter
 

Day 2

Not long after waking up I recalled some of the highs and lows of the last few months.

Usually when I wake up one of the first things I do is check my daily freebies. I knew I couldn't, but it still felt odd like something was missing. I'm going to change that quick tomorrow and build in something new to the start of each daily routine.

Today has been a bit up and down but not because I've felt the urge to gamble - more because I've been thinking about what steps I'll be taking next. There are other things to address that I've been putting off. I've also been reflecting. A lot.

I've noticed things I wouldn't normally notice:

 - Adverts on social media (which I've been actively flagging to avoid reappearance). I'm actually considering taking a break from social media anyway.

 - Sound effects. Dings, bells etc. Anything that reminds me of online slots.

I found this really interesting.

I've also been thinking about how I might be able to use my experiences for the future and potentially even a career change.

Most importantly I haven't felt the urge to gamble. It's still early days but that's a welcome positive.

 
Posted : 2nd June 2024 8:15 pm
(@pa7temrxfy)
Posts: 3
 

I'm 10 days in now and realised how lost I had become. My head was completly filled with gambling online. 5 years on I started to loose the buzz and win or lose meant nothing. I felt nothing. I contacted Gamban and put restrictions in place. I am starting to put my life in order one day at a time.

 
Posted : 2nd June 2024 9:02 pm
Thebean
(@thebean)
Posts: 194
 

@rj4fv3lw8x Well done on your post.  I actually tried to reply last night but my session had timed out and the post was lost!

I identify very much with your experience.  Your mind being vacant while gambling is exactly what I experienced.  One guy on a podcast described it as a 'Warm River Flowing Through The Brain', I knew exactly what he meant as well.

While we spin the slots it numbs everything due to the floods of dopamine released in the brain.  I defo used it as escapism from stress.  Of course, all it did was cause more stress when the morning came.

You can change the settings on your social media to stop anything gambling related.  Look into 'add preferences', this was very important to me.  I found videos of the slots and the sights and sounds very triggering.  I feel much calmer now I don't have to see it.

The sound effects (For me the sound of the slot spin, or the roulette wheel ball falling on to the number) are all very triggering.  This is classical conditioning. It is why a dog salivates when it hears the tin of dog food being opened, even before it can smell the food.  The gambling companies know how to exploit this.

Just think how you feel when the you have hit two bonus symbols drop and you are waiting for the third as the slot spins.  The game slows down and the music/sound builds.  You get a blast of dopamine even if you miss it.  The gambling companies know this and hijack our brain.

Well done on the video editing to deal with any urges.  Also make sure you reward yourself for not gambling.  Remember, the gambling hijacked your brain but you can take it back!

 
Posted : 2nd June 2024 9:02 pm
(@rj4fv3lw8x)
Posts: 11
Topic starter
 

@pa7temrxfy Well done for making it to day 10. I think the one week mark is particularly key as you've made it through each day of the week.

I agree, it completely fills your head. I had also lost the buzz. Winning wasn't the same anymore. So why did we do it, if not to win? Shows the compulsion it creates. It becomes a mindless repetitive activity.

I'm also starting to put my life back into order. Keep it up! We got this.

 
Posted : 2nd June 2024 9:51 pm
(@rj4fv3lw8x)
Posts: 11
Topic starter
 

@thebean many thanks for your reply. I'm glad you were able to get back online and repost your thoughts. The feedback I'm getting is really helping me. I figure if I can get comfortable with speaking about it here, it will be easier when I start to tell those around me (and I will do that). Small steps for now.

I will call Gamcare sometime this week. Just to talk it all through. That feels like another positive step.

It's good to get feedback from you on some of the things I had highlighted in day 1. It definitely seems there are common triggers and behaviours that occur when we are gambling.

I do feel like there could be enhanced measures put in place on these sites, but that's another thing altogether and something I'm making notes on from my past experiences. It would be good to pool ideas on this and I appreciate it may already be addressed in other areas of this forum - I haven't taken a full look through yet.

Thanks for the pointer on ad preferences - I'll check this.

Looking forward to remaining postive on day 3.

 
Posted : 2nd June 2024 10:01 pm
(@rj4fv3lw8x)
Posts: 11
Topic starter
 

Day 3

Mostly tired today. I knew I would be though after going to bed with so much on my mind.

Today I’ve been trying to get my living finances in check for this month. Going through everything and working out what I’ve got vs what I need and how I will bridge that gap.

I’ve also been applying for roles that will motivate more than my current one does.

Being grateful for what I have and remembering that gambling only gambles what you have. Be grateful - don’t gamble it!

Pleased to say that on day 3 I haven’t had the urge to gamble. Hoping I sleep well.

Roll on day 4 and some new found happiness.

 
Posted : 3rd June 2024 10:08 pm
(@rj4fv3lw8x)
Posts: 11
Topic starter
 

Day 4

I didn’t get a chance to put up an update last night but didn’t want to miss a day so am adding this on the morn of day 5.

A quick simple update for day 4

No gambling & no thoughts of either.

 
Posted : 5th June 2024 8:38 am
(@rj4fv3lw8x)
Posts: 11
Topic starter
 

Day 10

Yep wow - day 10 is here!

I missed getting a proper update up for days 5 through 9 but that’s because I’ve been keeping myself busy. 
I’ve made it to day 10 with no gambling. Thoughts have entered my head a few times but it’s been more around reminiscing of events over the past year.

No dreams or more importantly, nightmares re gambling 👍🏻

Really pleased I’m here. Gamstop has been the key things I’ve done. 

Hope to still be reporting no gambling another 10 days from now.

 
Posted : 10th June 2024 8:34 am
(@rj4fv3lw8x)
Posts: 11
Topic starter
 

It feels too long since I last posted an update (day 10).

It's now over 6 weeks since I last gambled.

Have I thought about it? Yes. It many different ways. Thankfully I've taken no action. I've put all that energy into keeping myself busy - filling the time / void that gambling created. I'm doing normal things again and I'm learning to enjoy each and every moment without gambling. I feel more relaxed in general.

I got over the initial remorse and feel better in myself, about myself.

I've talked about gambling with close friends which has really helped and even discovered one friend has been secretly gambling and confided in me! So that's something positive.

I was originally planning to keep a daily log here but I'm ok that I haven't. I felt I should at first but as time's goes on I'm feeling more detracted from gamling and thoughts of.

Registering with Gamstop was magic for me. For me it has worked so far and right now I dont feel that I need to take additional steps. It's still early days of course but I feel confident for now.

I hope others out there are staying strong. You got this. There are so many others things you can do with your time that are much better for you. Easily I said I know, but I found that making small accomplishments has really helped me to feel good about myself without gambling. Learn something new.

 
Posted : 10th July 2024 11:03 pm
(@j5a6meyr4z)
Posts: 328
 

@rj4fv3lw8x Hi there. Just wanted to say well done on over 6 weeks g.f 👏👏👏👏. Gamstop is a godsend 👌. I used it many years ago and did not gamble for 5 years, however, I did not renew this. Lesson learned there!

Just on the daily recording on here. I understand what you mean. I have just recently clocked 100 days g.f and wondered whether or not to stop “daily” recording 🤔. I do think it’s quite a good thing though, as coming on here daily, can keep you in tune with just how easy it is to relapse when your mind stops focusing on your goals etc. This may not be the case for you of course. I think I am going to continue to record daily for at least a year but I will see how this goes, when I return to full-time employment in August.

Take care and keep up your great work. 👏🙏.

Pink Lady🩷🍎.

 
Posted : 11th July 2024 11:05 am
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