I first began playing the pokies at an unhealthy level in 2006. It happened following the breakdown of my marriage, the sudden loss of my father, having a mother with dementia becoming more dependent, a son suffering with depression, and doing full time shift work. I found the pokies were an escape for me; playing them shut out the painful existence that was my life. I never thought that I would get addicted to them, but I did.
Inevitably, when I thought that I had beaten them, something would trigger a memory, and I found myself back in the gaming room.
In 2012, I realised I was at a point where I needed help to manage what had become a financial crisis. With misleading advice from Financial Brokers, I had paid off three credit cards three times over, and consolidated debt while trying to get out of the mess. In the depths of a gambling addiction, you are not thinking clearly, and make poor decisions.
I found help through the Gambling Helpline; who referred me to Relationships Australia and I worked with both a counsellor and a Financial Counsellor. Their help and support was invaluable in assisting me to break the habit, this was at a time when I thought there was no way out.
I now have a good work/life balance. I have sold the unit I was buying and am now renting, and I have a new outlook on life. I also let go of the hurt that was causing me so much pain.
We are all vulnerable, and there will be times when life challenges us, but with counselling guidance, we can learn how to make better choices.