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Wake Me from this Nightmare - A Gambling Story

Updated on February 20, 2019
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Andrew is an Ivy League-educated, London-based lawyer. He is also drowning in debt due to a severe gambling addiction.

The Casino Diet

I stopped eating lunch recently under the guise that I was following a new fad diet promoted by the New York Times. And, I have lost some weight, which, given my current circumstances, is one positive aspect of my recent fall from grace.

The truth is, however, that I cut out lunch to spend more time playing online slots. And, now that my finances are in the toilet, skipping lunch should theoretically help me repay my mountain of debt more quickly. Baby steps.

I am a compulsive gambler. I guess I have always been a compulsive gambler. But my compulsion didn't take hold until six months ago, and it was ferocious. In the span of six months, I squandered my hard-earned savings and took out a lifetime's worth of unsecured debt in the name of playing video slot machines.

Thankfully, I am gainfully employed and well remunerated. So is my husband. I should theoretically be able to pay off my debts in 3-5 years while maintaining a somewhat decent existence. But, I will be starting over financially at 42. And, this is terrifying.

This guy was seriously my best friend

Before and after online slots

I used to fly First Class home for the holidays. First Class, not Business Class. I thought nothing of staying at the finest hotels in the world (I even ordered room service and used the minibar). I rarely took the London Tube to work, and I often dealt with the financial indiscretions of various family members. Life was good.

Now - I am literally broke.

My ability to exist beyond paying off debt rests entirely in the hands of my husband. And, while he has been beyond supportive and is a kind and generous person, I have lost my independence.

I will be starting over financially at 42. And, this is terrifying.

Relying on a mantra that is hard to believe

I keep trying to remind myself that life is still good. Right? Everything that I have read about the road to addiction recovery is around maintaining a positive attitude and, in the case of compulsive gambling, not dwelling on my debts.

I also have my health (though, I chain smoke these days) and a supportive husband and family. Life is good! Life is good! Life is good! You start to believe it the more you say it...

I start each morning, however, questioning whether or not life really is good. As a manic depressive with general anxiety disorder (GAD) and ADHD, it's not a great thing to question your very existence from the minute you wake-up. Depending on my mood, I either flee to the comfort of my Excel budget to reassure myself that "everything's gonna be alright" or question why I am even bothering.

The journey

Eventually, I land back in the "life is good!" camp and make my way through the day. That is, until I get spooked by the idea of going bankrupt, my husband leaving me, or losing my job.

In six months, I went from total security to utter insecurity. Free from stress to chronic insomnia. But, it's my new reality, and I am trying to deal with it.

And, so, I decided that it was time to write about my experience. Maybe it will help me. Writing is, after all, meant to be cathartic (and, who knows, maybe I can make some extra money). Even better, maybe I can help someone else?

I am unsure where this journey will take me.

Please join me.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Andrew Sullivan

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