Mental Health

Look after it.

This is an extract from my short book about how I keep positive in life.

For me, I began a particular habit when I was eighteen and it plagued me for many years. That habit was gambling. Some people refer to ‘the art of gambling.’ Others call it the ‘silent addiction’ or even the ‘silent killer’ because it often goes unnoticed for a long time before it causes harm and becomes visible to those around you. For me, it was a steady player in my life for a long time but one day it suddenly grabbed me and took over my world.

I can almost pinpoint it. It was the day that I decided to log in to my computer and try online gambling for the first time. Having already been to a casino a few times and had the odd flutter on the horse races, I thought that I had control over my impulses. This, however, felt very different. It was dangerous and yet it reminded me of other computer games. The consequences didn’t feel genuine or likely. Each time I logged on and added a few quid from one of my credit cards, it just didn’t add up. It wasn’t until my monthly credit card bill arrived that I started to see just how much I had piled onto that online casino account. By then, of course, it was too late! I had already thrown thousands of pounds down the drain over many long nights of wishing myself to become a millionaire.

I suppose I really should give you a clearer picture of how this all happens. In my experience, I had loved visiting the casino with my best mates. We had always gone in with fifty quid and seen where the night took us. Sometimes it had ended early when we burned out quickly and on other occasions we had stayed long into the night, making a little cash here and there and buying a few drinks to make the whole experience more enjoyable, especially when we took a bit of a hit.

The online casino seemed a lot more promising and rewarding. I would put twenty dollars on my account and gently roll a few dollars at a time, mainly trying my luck on the roulette wheel while I built up a little, before then heading for a blackjack table and spending a few hours watching my balance go up and down. Every tap of the buttons felt simulated. In my head I was not using real money, it was just a computer world and I was having fun on a game that was more entertaining than any shoot-em-up or wrestling game.

Is Gambling really that bad?

It is risk taking after all – Do we need to take a few more risks?

Many speak about gambling as if it is a disease. To some, it can be, much the same as overworking leads to becoming a workaholic and overeating leads to obsessive binges on cake and crisps. The major down side of being addicted to gambling is that it hits your wallet and can quickly plummet you into a horrific debt.

I should know –

I became hooked on an online casino many years ago and totally stacked up a debt on my credit card.

After working a few extra jobs to pay it all off, I learned my lesson the hard way. However, it did not stop me having a flutter now and again. Whenever I am in London I pop into a casino and spend an amount I had already taken out of the bank and am prepared to lose. If I win, then it is a bonus indeed. Being able to manage expectations is crucial to this.

The Grand National

So many people have a go at guessing who will win the most important horse race of the year in Britain. The Grand National encourages you to have a bet and try your luck. Being prepared to take a risk once in a while, to me, seems like a healthy thing. Some risk their lives by trying dangerous pursuits like white water rafting or surfing. Anything that teaches you resilience and builds confidence is great as far as I am concerned, but I would prefer to chance a bet than risk breaking an arm.

Do we teach young people resilience?

With some schools not having races at sports day and discouraging competitive activities, it is ironic that the government promotes schools out doing others when it comes to league tables. Children are often taught to appreciate taking part in things but not allowed to feel the buzz related to winning or that ‘ouch’ factor that resonates when you gave it all you got but still lost. Kids need to learn to take a gamble – of course not financially. Trying to be the best, feeling that competitive urge, striding towards a goal and ultimately being able to accept that you cannot always get what you want… those are things that help maintain a healthy human, in my view.

 

Maybe gambling is a bad influence but it sure as heck feels good when you WIN!

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