Over the years of struggling with being addicted to Pokies, I had sort help a number of times. I had over the phone, face to face and even group help, with lots of advice, counselling, research, stats and theories put to me, about what was happening to me.
By the end of it all I had come to the conclusion that I was definitely not in control of my gambling, no matter what rules or strategies I thought I had in place before I went into a venue, everything went out the window as soon as I started feeding money into the beast.
So naturally I thought that since I had no control, what else could it be, I must be an addict.
I thought, I am going to have to manage this for the rest of my life and live with this label and stigma too. I didn’t want to think like that, but there seemed no other alternative. It made me feel defective, isolated and misunderstood.
I kept trying to live in this space but I felt unsure about how to proceed. I didn’t want to go on accepting that my fate was determined and that this was going to be a battle for life.
I felt fundamentally HOPE was being removed from me.
The first time I reached out was on a phone help line, I was told ‘Just don’t wear shoes! If you are not wearing shoes you will not be able to get into a venue so you wont be able to gamble!’
At that point I thought ‘IM F@#%$D!’ Is this my life? I can’t trust myself at all, if I’m wearing shoes?
Hope was also lost when two of my face to face councillors over the years almost counselled me out of my marriage, because they were divorced and they felt that my husband and my marriage was toxic. Things weren’t great, but I felt deep down, this wasn’t the answer either.
Services, thankfully have come a long way since then, and I’m so grateful, I gave counselling one last go after I almost took my life. The councillor helped me to start the process of rebuilding me, firstly through repairing and awakening my self esteem.
What I have since learned, firstly through my own transformational experience and then witnessing it in other people is that, all this stuff that we think we know about addiction is wrong.
People don’t want to identify with a label, a diagnosis and be judged by others as being ‘less than’ so they don’t. 100% of people that reach out to me, feel they need help but whilst they admit that they are currently not coping, the thought of this being a battle they will face for the rest of their life removes Hope.
Now here is where it gets interesting. If they don’t help seek, even if its bad advice, a bad service or talk to a friend and try and articulate their pain, then its unlikely, but not impossible, that they will ever overcome it on their own. Statements like ‘Well this is just me!’ or “I have an addictive personality!’ or ‘Its in the genes’ tends to follow.
This has been the centre of my work in meeting and encountering so many DIFFERENT people, both here and abroad that have different issues, Food, Sex, internet, Gambling, Shopping, Gaming, Porn, Drugs, Violence/rage and Depression. Three things unite them all and is the only common ground;
While there is no doubt that trauma a person is exposed to at any point in their life can drive addiction. Its our bodies unresouceful way of trying to deal with things a person is consciously and unconsciously trying to deal with, that have been stored and left unprocessed by the mind. I think its important to help the person not just come to terms with the difficult thing they have encountered but the beliefs about self that then surround this issue.
There is a secondary trauma however, that occurs when a person then makes compromises of self and their core values. That shift is important because I believe it is then, that moment, that can then keep a person in a cycle, not of addiction, but of self loathing, shame and fear, that propels the behaviour.
This trauma is sometimes the only trauma the person is exposed to and its so powerful and confusing because in looking for the ‘why’ or ‘how did I get to this?’ moment, its overlooked and misunderstood. People say ‘but there is no family history’ and ‘I had it all.’
This is becoming more and more common in this new landscape of addiction by design. This new era of normalised environments that are designed to entrap unsuspecting individuals seeking entertainment and pleasure, but fall victim to neurological manipulation that was neither welcomed or consented to.
Whether the trauma comes first or second is not important, its for the individual to understand and acknowledge, however what is crucial is discovering when the ‘fracture of self’ happened, and readjust personal beliefs and help them to remember that they are
It is the moment a person does something outside of the personal view or values that they hold as their own personal truths. This looks different in every person and takes many many different forms, from a single act of impulsivity to a protracted series of seemingly benign compromises. Either way a shift, a split, a fracture of ‘who am I and how did this happen?’ begins. This commonality happens across the board and all ages regardless of circumstances and is sometimes exacerbated by loved ones surrounding the individual by them asking ‘What is going on with you?’ or ‘What is wrong with you?’ This is a normal response right now because people don’t know any different, the natural response to someone who is doing something that hurts you or that confuses you is to be angry or turn away from them. It is my hope that with new education and understanding, people would have a different human framework to work from. Imagine all people young and old would be able to draw on skills learnt to figure out what is really going on as well as equipping the person with knowledge of how to identify the area of blindness they are experiencing and self correct. because and the way we are approaching the problem right now is wrong.
The problem is NOT the person. The things they are doing, saying or how they are acting may be wrong, but I believe it is the manifestation of pain in the individual, that they cannot currently deal with, articulate or comprehend.
I don’t believe that anything about a persons life is forgone conclusion, yet daily I encounter people talking to me about family history, when all I believe it shows is that pain has been unresoucefully dealt with or poorly modelled for generations and that is not laying blame on those who have gone before, it is looking at their lives with fresh eyes, compassionate eyes that they were as ill-equipped as this generation and they did the best they could with their own pain.
Our society is obsessed with two things, Who is in control and Who is to blame. This pathetic modelling from our “Leaders” is setting the worst kind of example for the rest of the country. How can we talk about collaboration when there is none modelled. After an election all politicians from across the country should come together and work for best outcomes for the whole country full stop! But what happens is everyone is in full time job protection mode, not only from the other side but from within too. How is this conducive to good outcomes.
I too copped some “helpful” reterict from someone I assumed was on the same side as me, I quipped to my college “this must mean I’m on the right track!”
I am here to help people breathe again, to be ok with being HUMAN, and to stop them buying into perpetual hopelessness, that labels and stigmas provide. To help a person have a basic understanding of what our needs as humans and the clear understanding of Existing VS Living. Equiped with this knowledge they could help seek in an effective way, not out of there must be something profoundly broken inside, to the truth that its just your body trying to wake you up from a nightmare you are trying to exist in.
No one can change the past, no one can promise a future, what can happen is to be helped to have a clearer understanding of who you are today and that provides a hope for a brighter tomorrow.
Our society is hurting right now, pain touches all ages and races and social groups yet instead of it uniting us and coming together to help one another, we have let it divide us further. We are not separate groups, we are not the sick and the well, we are a community that need to come together with compassion and fresh understanding of what is really going on and how we can help one another.