About 10 years ago I started playing pokies with $5. It took about five years for me to realise that I had real problem. By this time I was gambling most of my wages. I was a single Mum with a very good job – I was playing the pokies and my children were missing out on things because I had used all the money at the pokies. I was lying to them and everyone else to cover up my problem. It made me feel very bad and I was very depressed and was not a good Mum.
I went to another counselling service but they didn’t want to talk to me about my gambling, just about all the other issues I had at the time. It took me another five years before I heard about the Statewide program, I thought wow that would be good but due to work commitments I never went to them and I didn’t realise they were in my area. Then one day I was waiting for a payday loan to be approved (which is what I had been doing on a regular basis to get by) and I saw the sign for the program. I thought, wow, here it is in front of me, I need help, because I knew I was on the roller coaster of payday loans.
To the outside world I was a successful Aboriginal woman on a very good salary who had her life in control. In actual fact my life was out of control, due to my pokie habit. I was scratching around for money to buy my train ticket each fortnight. I could also see the real possibility that I could lose my home and that would have been the worst possible thing that could happen to me. The shame of losing my home could well have led me to take my own life.
I went in and made an appointment. The therapist made me feel comfortable straight away and talked about my problem, which is what I wanted to talk about. The anxiety levels were really high when I started the therapy and she helped me understand what was happening with my feelings. She helped me recognise my triggers that made me want to go and play the pokies which had caused me so much misery when I had spent all my money.
I now think about pokies from time to time but the urge to go and play has gone. I am able to go to venues that have pokie machines without having an uncontrollable urge to play. I have found others things to occupy my time that I would normally have gone and played the pokies.
Walking into the therapy office was the best thing that I have done. The therapy has showed me there is life after pokies and I can do lots of other things that cost way less money and give me much more enjoyment.