In March 2015, we moved into a new house without mountains of problems like the last house had, a few weeks later the DVLA finally gave me my Driving Licence back after 1.5 years and then I started volunteering for Headway. Life was getting back on track, I got my independence back and people started to notice my 'spark' coming back, so maybe I had turned a corner. I had actually taken 2 steps back.
I now had nothing to worry or think about. No more constant house problems, no worrying about when I would drive again, I had a routine with my volunteering and everything was getting sorted. Nothing took my attention or worried me anymore so I started to realise that everything was settling around me but I wasn't settled. I started to think more about the injury and my problems and I let them get to me which I hadn't done before. Starting to drive again made me obsess with remembering the accident, I have driven the route that I did on that day hoping that it would all come flooding back and when it didn't, that got me down.
All of this was going on in my head but I continued with the brave face, not saying anything and giving the 'I'm fine' and 'good good' responses. I didn't realise I was doing it but when my family ask how I am, I say 'good good'. Not sure why I was saying it twice, maybe I was trying to convince myself.
It's so easy to fool everyone but I needed to escape the car crash that was going on in my head. How do I get lost in something that will stop me from thinking? I always need praising for things that I do and I felt like I needed that all the time - instant reward and something to make me feel good about myself. I chose online bingo.
I've had the account for years and every so often, maybe once every couple of months I would put £5 on there and when it was gone, it was gone. I even won £75 on there once after depositing £5 and I withdrew it as I was up on my money - Happy days!
I remembered the excitement I used to get waiting for my numbers to be called and the feeling I got when I won, that seemed to be the best way to give me what I needed. Plus, in the chat room no-one had to know about me and my injury, I didn't have to talk about it or think about it.
The only problem with playing online bingo now is that I am impulsive and I no longer have financial responsibility. I was about to have the best time!
I played for about 8 weeks in total, I started off depositing £20-£30 at the weekend and if it went I would deposit £5-£10 mid week, if I had a few wins and then the money ran out I would deposit again thinking my lucky streak would come back. Some days I wouldn't win at all and some days I would win up to £50 which I just spent again, the aim really wasn't to make money.
I loved the excitement of seeing the numbers coming out and my bingo cards with 3TG....2TG.... then waiting for 1TG, then ultimately my name flashing up as 'House Winner'. I've just beaten a room of 40+ people so I can do it again the next time. Then, the next time I wouldn't even get close nor the time after so I would start chasing the win, all the time still getting excited watching my bingo cards slowly filling up with numbers.
In the last 4-5 weeks of playing, I deposited £500+. I don't know how I managed to do it without Terry realising, I just made excuses to why we didn't have as much money as he thought we had, because he has never dealt with finances it was easy done.
It all came out one week when our rent was due on the Sunday, Terry was getting paid on the Friday and most of that would have been for the rent because I'd spent so much on bingo in previous weeks so hadn't put much money aside. My Mum is our landlady and she would have been coming on the Sunday to collect the rent but before that, Terry got paid again. Money in the bank means bingo!
Terry asked if I had paid the rent yet and I just said no, Mum was coming to get it in a couple of days- she was coming in a couple of days but there wouldn't be any money as I was just about to spend it. I didn't care when I was depositing £20 every couple of hours that I was spending rent money, I didn't think about anyone finding out or how I would explain that we didn't have the rent, I was lost in my own little world and feeling good. The day to hand over the rent came and I panicked, I had to tell Terry and my Mum that I've got a gambling issue and spending money that we couldn't afford to.
Terry was a bit shocked and he had wondered why we had been skint and now he knew why, he understood and kept saying that it wasn't like me to do something like that, which it wasn't. Then he had a laugh about it and said I was obviously terrible at gambling, along with some other sarcastic comments. I'm very lucky to have such an understanding and supportive Husband. He said he would tell my Mum for me and explain to her why id done it. When he left the house to go and see her, I went straight back on the bingo as I had money left on there, the severity of what I had done still wasn't clear.
My Mum came round and she was shocked, annoyed and I think confused, even when I was sitting there with her and Terry I still wasn't 100% bothered about it or annoyed with myself, it was helping me to get what I needed and I don't do finances anymore so how could they be angry with me? That's what I thought.
I had booked to see the psychologist to discuss all this and we said we would give Mum the rent the following week, it was all out in the open and they knew. Then I panicked. I won't be able to play bingo now, I can't not play! I felt sick.
That night I secretly played with the £18 that I had left on there- I knew that would have to be the last money I spent on there. I had a couple of little wins and when I went to bed, I was left with £10. The next day I went to see my psychologist, she advised deleting the account and letting Terry deal with the finances so I wouldn't have any access to bingo or money. She also helped me come to terms and realise why I was using bingo.
When I got home, I was preparing myself for the last time I would use the bingo account and spending the last £10, this would be tough. Before I did that I emailed customer services to find out how I deleted my account, they advised that they could do it if I requested it and then they asked why I wanted to leave. I'll cut a long story very short- I mentioned that I was using bingo to escape my brain injury and before I knew it they had closed my account, apparently it's their duty of care and they were protecting me. They heard the words 'brain injury' and panicked. A couple of days later the gambling commission emailed me to say that because of my comment, I was being barred from online bingo meaning I wouldn't be able to access any sites to play bingo.
So instead of spending my last £10 and preparing myself for that being the last time I would use it, I had been shut down and barred from any other sites without warning. I was fuming! How would I get through a whole day without that thrill and escapism?
Talking with my psychologist, we have come up with some ways that will help me deal with the things that made me look for the escapism, things that I can do to fill in the blanks as best as possible and give me some closure. This is why I am writing this, collecting information and stories, thinking about my future and realising that you don't get the same feeling in real life as you do when you gamble. If my family ask how I am now I am meant to tell them how I really feel instead of putting on a brave face. Yes, they may not be able to help but they can listen and I won't feel so alone. I've been talking to Terry about my change of career and what I could do that I really enjoy and that would give me back a real sense of purpose, thinking of all the possibilities is exciting. Terry has now taken over the finances, he has a little book with it all written down and is organised with it, if money is missing from the bank now he knows about it- this has taken the stress and temptation away from me.
With all of these things they are giving me something to think about, giving me a goal, using my time better, taking away stress, making me accept and be open about things that have happened and if I tell people how I really feel, I won't need to escape, I won't need to use bingo.
Well, I couldn't use bingo even if I wanted to, I'm barred!!
comments powered by Disqus