“I couldn’t figure out how to kill myself without killing my unborn baby”
Article by Leesa Smith
This incredible mother-of-six has kicked a debilitating gambling addiction and wants to inspire others who may feel like there is no way out of the dark allure of pokie machines.
Five years ago, Kate Seselja had hit absolute rock bottom.
The now 37-year-old, from Canberra, was three months pregnant with her sixth child, Zoe.
But instead of being at home with her five little ones, Kate sat gambling on a pokies machine all day and night in an RSL club and sobbing uncontrollably.
“I thought my family was better off without me because I had sought treatment [for gambling] several times,” Kate tells Kidspot. “I just thought cycling in and out of mayhem was as good as it gets.”
“But I couldn’t figure out how to kill myself and not Zoe. I was so angry and trapped in that moment.”
Having sat in the gaming room from 10am that day, the broken mum finally made her way home at midnight to Phil – her very relieved husband.
“He had kept calling me and begging me to come home,” Kate says.
“I really think Zoe saved me that night.”
“It’s like the crack cocaine of gambling”
Kate first experienced the “toxic hypnosis” of the pokies machines when she was just 18 and living with her parents in Sydney. She used to go hang out in gaming rooms of clubs with her boyfriend at the time.
All it took was one little dabble out of boredom to lure the young woman into 12 years of an unimaginable hell.
“That instant adrenalin. It’s like the crack cocaine of gambling,” she says. “It interacts with your brain in a very powerful way.”
That night, Kate spent $20 but won $1,000. And right there and then she was dangerously hooked.
“It makes you start thinking ‘I must be good at this – imagine what I can do with all of the winnings,'” she says.
Within weeks, Kate was no longer using the pokies as a way to pass the time by with her partner but was sneaking off in her lunchbreak and after work.
“It would quickly turn into guilt and you would feel like such an idiot when you walked out with no money,” she says.
But the guilt and the losses didn’t stop her.
“I was in a fog of existing but not intentionally living”
A year later things changed for the better when she split up with her boyfriend and met her now husband Phil.
The young couple got married and moved to Canberra where they had their first child, Ethan. This period was pretty tough as they were running their own earth moving business and building their own home.
“I could see we weren’t going to have enough money to finish the home and the pressure was out of control,” she recalls.
But for three years, Kate didn’t succumb to the allure of gambling.
Then one night she was out with her mothers’ group.
“I just said to myself ‘remember that time you won $1,000?’ and that was it – I was straight back into lying, fear, self-loathing and shame,” she says.
Despite battling her debilitating addiction, it didn’t stop her from wanting a large family as she had grown up in one herself.
“Between our first three and second three there were four years of infertility,” Kate says. “During this time I had several strokes – it was horrific – I can’t even remember whole years. I was in a fog of existing but not intentionally living.”
“If you keep gambling – I’ll leave you”
Even her husband’s desperate threats didn’t stop her.
“He would say ‘if you keep gambling – l’ll leave you’ but that became my driver rather than a deterrent because I thought I will never get out of this hole,” Kate says. “I wasn’t intentionally trying to implode our marriage but didn’t know how to exist in it.”
The enticing musical sounds of the pokies machines never left Kate’s scrambled head.
“My brain was fried – I would hear the sounds in my sleep and I would think that I could hear them when out shopping or listening to the radio.”
Kate estimates she blew half a million dollars during her 12-year addiction – secretly burning through $30,000 of the family’s savings in just one month.
“I used to believe that if I went in and did things differently I would have a different outcome. I would tell myself that if I went with enough money that would guarantee a big pay out,” she says.
“I know it sounds crazy but the mind f**k is so intense.”
The profound shift that saved her life
But after her darkest and lowest day five years ago, something changed.
The suicidal thoughts when she was pregnant and the fact her poor husband was nearly broke made Kate determined to get her and her family’s life on track.
She went back to counselling and things started to look up.
“I’m fantastic now. I rebuilt myself from the ground up over 12 months,” Kate says proudly. “I would take Zoe to the group sessions because I had to travel quite far so she had to be with me because I was breastfeeding.”
“While figuring out who I was – something just profoundly shifted.”
She says her other children knew that there was a problem but they didn’t know exactly what the issue was.
“It’s miracle that Phil and I are still together – there’s no explanation for it other than his love and the love for our kids – and the ability to forgive.”
Despite Kate sitting in a pokies parlour with a baby bump and visibly upset for more than 12 hours – she says she was not approached by one single staff member or patron to find out if she was OK.
“I couldn’t sit back and let others die in shame”
It’s this lack of concern that prompted the mother-of-six to become a public speaker about gambling and start her own gambling support service – The Hope Project.
“I’m an advocate for those stuck in the trauma of gambling as a beacon of hope but The Hope Project is about liberating people from all struggles not just gambling, our modern overwhelming world is claiming more and more people daily,” she explains.
“People talk to me and say ‘I’m struggling with drinking, porn, drugs, internet, shopping, food etc and I don’t know why?’.
“I know because I was there for such a long time. I help people with my resource AWAKE to try and make sustainable shifts both internally and externally to give them tools and strategies to either self correct or help seek effectively.”
This is a resource Kate would have greatly benefited from herself to help life her out of her gambling rut.
“I was searching for answers “Why am I ruining my life?’ I didn’t know where to turn – it was absolute torture,” she says.
“My experience has stirred me up to start a campaign. I couldn’t sit back and lets others die in shame. I want to help people develop strategies to exit that shame.”
If you or anyone you know suffers from depression, anxiety or gambling issues please contact:
Gambling Help Online on 1800 858 858 or Lifeline on 131114 https://www.lifeline.org.au/
Read original article from Kidspot.