Monday, 13 April 2015

Blow Up the Pokies, please?

The Whitlams haunting ballard “blow up the pokies” is playing randomly on my ipod. This song resonates with me always makes me so sad. Such a perfect description of the gambling addiction that has become too close to home.
Image from here
My best friend is married to my husband’s best friend – we set them up! (10yrs and 2 kids later, love it when it works!)

The funny thing about this is that her husband is a LOT like me and she is a LOT like my husband. Which is probably why we all get along the way we do. This understanding however can be slightly confronting at times. For example if my friend is upset with her hubby for something he has done/said I can frequently understand his side of the story, don’t get me wrong 99% of the time he IS in the wrong, which is hard because I also am 99% of the time in the wrong. Hearing her upset is basically knowing how my husband is feeling about my own issues- this is why I tend to be secretive.

Anyway, back to gambling. My friends other half is a gambler from way back. He does well for a while (as in keeps away, not a winning streak) and then falls off the wagon. I am also a gambler. I am however a sneaky gambler who thank god for our finances has not got a lot of time or access to venues but when the opportunity arises I lie my way into usually losing a couple of hundred bucks ( we aren’t that well off so that’s a lot of money for us). When I was home raising the kids I of course couldn’t take them to the pokies, we live out of town so we weren’t popping into town for dinner at the club. There was a period of time when I would duck to a club near the shopping centre I was working at on my lunch break, always limited by time but still able to lose my day’s pay in 30min.

Generally speaking these little splurges tended to happen when I was hypomanic and I would frequently win. For around 5yrs I was totally in control of it, I forced myself to abstain when opportunity arose. Sadly now that all the kids are in school and I have the odd day off from work during the week, I have made a habit out of going to the club after I see my mental health case worker – or any other time I go into town. This began when I was still really manic after my hospital stay and I had seen my case worker, noticed the club about 100meters away and with $20 cash in my pocket, what’s the harm? I don’t care if I lose it!

I swear you win more money when you are manic because that $20 turned into 3 hours worth of game play and I walked away (only cause I had to be somewhere mind you) with just under $300.

So of course I kept the $300 as “pokie money” and went again the next time I was in town, and the next until – I had just kept on winning so was able to hide this little habit with ease. I could have sworn I was queen of the pokies and had cracked the code.  Eventually all the money ran out and the Serequel kicked in, mania had subsided but the habit was ingrained. A bit like my issues with binging, I had a time, a place and this would happen there and then every time.

Just like I enable myself to binge, I would take cash out at the supermarket slowly over the week until I could finance my weekly gambling binge sneakily part of me is slightly glad I can’t withdraw money from an ATM in a club/pub as my husband would see it and wonder WTF and the part of me that was SO CLOSE TO A FEATURE and ran out of cash curses it.

The trouble is that it’s no longer a weekly thing it’s as often as I can get away with it thing. I’m on a committee in our village and they have monthly meetings at the local pub, which also has pokies, I tend to leave $100 there after each meeting.

I left work early saying I was feeling unwell and went to the club, I am casual so I have to factor the hourly wage into what I am losing as well.

image stolen from here
I will order fish and chips to take home from the takeaway in a nearby town that is on my way back from work and while I am waiting for it to cook I will go to the pub there and somehow when Im on  a short time limit like that all I do is lose more money more quickly. I am now in a depressive cycle and the gambling simply numbs me nicely, I don’t win, I don’t even expect to anymore, I just press the buttons – even when the music plays and the machine lights up I no longer feel that sense of excitement, I just press those buttons usually too quickly to even let the music finish. I have even taken to putting money into an account my husband doesn’t have internet access too and withdrawing from that AT the club. Deception and lies. Two things not to base a marriage on.
I hate myself for this, I also see the correlation between it and my binging – its as though the tight ship of control I had for so long with my anorexic episode when I was hypomanic got flat lined through the mania, hospital, meds and now in depression and I have given away all my control to the food and the pokies inanimate objects that won’t .

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