I had it all, wonderful husband, son, family, friends, home and career.
Then, eighteen years later I unfortunately found myself divorced and starting again. Being the eternal optimistic I focused on my future and four years later met and married my husband who twenty one years later is still my husband and best friend.
Then it happened again, another incident that would change my life. Three weeks after my wedding I had a severe accident which I took two years to recover even partially, however the day I returned to work I was made redundant. What a shock - eighteen years of working in electronics design engineering with this same company.
I was devastated – it caused financial problems and with my disability I was unemployable. I look back now I realise I had hit a depression and needed help. Without my career I had no identity – I had become what I did rather than who I really was.
I felt invisible and could see no light at the end of the tunnel. During my recovery I had been taken to the casino as a weekly treat to have lunch and then wander around on my crutches watching people mainly playing the pokies.
I would be astounded how people would sit and play for hours and lose all their money. I was so quick to judge – little did I know I would eventually join the ranks of being a gambler.
First I started playing twenty or thirty dollars to pass the time away, winning enough to continue playing. Over the next eighteen months the gambling increased till it became a major obsession and then a major problem.
I lied about where I had been, I juggled money, it became a living nightmare till I hit rock bottom and had to face reality. I will never forget the look on my husbands face when I told him. He was stunned and felt totally betrayed. We organised counselling from Relationships Australia and that was the beginning of my recovery.
It was never an easy solution and you have to be ready for help. It taught me that this can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime. I never ever believed it would happen to me. What I realise now is it seems to stem from a sense of hopelessness with no vision for a future.
Previously I had always seen a light at the end of the tunnel but during that period I was overwhelmed with negatives and saw no way out – just the pokies giving me temporary relief from my thoughts – but certainly that was not the answer.
So what keeps me on track - setting goals, keeping check on myself and being honest if I need help and make sure I get it. It is not easy but it is essential.
The phrase that keeps prodding me is one my husband said "When you gamble you are stealing from our future".