My name is Daniel. I’m a former gambler and Peer Connection volunteer.
It was at the footy club that gambling started for me. Binge drinking and gambling in the pubs with blokes who were really serious about their footy. We would work and train hard during the week and then drink and gamble too much on the weekend.
Looking back now I definitely had problems with gambling and money back then. But I didn’t think about it like that. At the time that was just what everyone else did. You’d drink your 12 stubbies and spend a few hundred at the TAB.
Even back then I would sometimes chase losses. Another light bulb moment can definitely be gambling alone. At the time you don’t realise.
For me some bigger problems developed slowly over a longer period of time. But then I had a big life change where I gave up footy, got a divorce, met someone new, had a baby, moved to Melbourne. It was a pretty massive shift for me.
I got depressed and never really talked about it – usual tough bloke stuff. Shrug it off, get over it. Because I never dealt with my gambling prior, it just snowballed when the depression came along.
Footy was out of my life after 20 years and I didn’t really replace it with anything. The gambling just got worse and worse.
When I decided to stop I actually had a really good sleep that night. I didn’t tell anyone about it but in my mind I was going to stop. A week later we got refused a loan. It all came out after that. Then I lost my job.
I lost the lot in a week. My job, my car, my wife, time with my kids. I was in a pretty dark place.
When I told my closest mates it was a weight off my shoulders. My relationships with them are only stronger for opening up. I’ve learnt personal things about them too, because they too have opened up about their struggles.
Even though my marriage was in the toilet and I missed the kids, the weight off my shoulders for getting rid of the lies and getting some advice from gambling services was an immense relief.
Men in general can find it really hard to talk about their struggles. There is definitely a component of shame, like you’re a failure. I often hear about it from the guys, my callers at Peer Connection.
For me there are still thoughts about how it could’ve been different, what ifs, what if I’d done something earlier.
At the start all I wanted to hear about was how people who had been where I was had gotten their life back.
When you first get a new caller you can sort of hear if they are ready to change for good or not. I was the same. They sort of make excuses. But you never lie to an ex gambler because we’ve used them all before.
My passion now is I hope I can do for other young people what I didn’t have, sit them down and talk to them about gambling. I sometimes think that would have made a difference for me so I want to do that for other sporting groups.
Would I have sorted out the problems earlier if I’d got some advice back then? I’m not sure. But I like to think it would’ve definitely helped.