I started this blog about four months ago, and, recently, have reflected on the possibility that it is really just one long exercise in self-justification. After all, I’ve made mistakes in life. One mistake that many would consider particularly inexplicable was how I managed to lose just over a quarter of a million pounds in a few short months:
I will not repeat my psychiatric history, which I have already outlined in the short post entitled: MY OWN STORY; suffice it to say, over the years, I have had the following diagnoses: unipolar depression, bipolar depression, anxiety disorder, OCD (related to self-harming -don’t ask), alcohol dependency, asperger’s syndrome (suspected but not officially diagnosed) and, for good measure, it was decided that borderline personality disorder be tossed into this already alarmingly toxic mix. OK, different psychiatrists have different opinions – it’s an inexact science. One thing we can all probably agree on, however, is that I wasn’t in overwhelmingly good psychological shape.
Let me cut to the chase. My father died about five years ago. The relationship I had with him, from my early teens, I suppose, was a tortured one. I watched him die, very unpleasantly, from cancer, which was made all the more painful for the ambivalence I had always felt towards him. After his death, my symptoms worsened, notwithstanding the fact he had left me over a quarter of a million pounds.
The money took about six months to come through. The day it entered my account, I remember, I felt flat and empty. My strongest emotion, certainly, was guilt.
Apart from renting a flat, I bought nothing material with the money. My depression was such that nothing I could have bought would have had the slightest elevating effect upon my mood.
In order to divert myself, I started playing online poker. This was a great distraction. It made me feel something. It took me to a different mental realm. Just me, the cards and the bets. Nothing else existed. Soon I was putting down a thousand pounds a hand. I went down 50,000. I had to win it back. Down another 50,000. Well, now I’ve got no choice: I MUST win it back. Down to my last 30,000. OK, I might not be able to win it all back. Just get back up to 100,000.
Finally, the stark message came up on the screen : YOU HAVE INSUFFICIENT CREDIT FOR THIS BET.
I remember, after I’d played my last bet and lost everything, I went and sat on the sofa, lit a cigarette, and felt a strange, yet profound, sense of release and relief – something, in fact, akin to elation.
It had been cathartic. Expensive, but cathartic.
The psychiatrist working with me at the time wrote to Ladbrokes (who I had lost the lion’s share of the money to on their online gambling site) as he felt they had failed in their duty of care to protect vulnerable people from being exploited by their site. However, after protracted correspondence they started to send me letters intimidating me out of my claim and refused to return a penny.
Losing the money also led me to losing the flat and all my possessions. I didn’t have the money to put them in storage, let alone a flat to accommodate them.
A couple of months of intense fear followed; the council warned me that, due to my, arguably, irresponsible behaviour, I might be officially deemed ‘intentionally homeless’, which would fully relieve them of any responsibility towards me whatsoever. I faced street homelessness.
In the end, however, I was placed into a hostel for people with psychiatric disturbances and behavioural problems. The support there was excellent and I was put in contact with other extremely skilled professionals.
After nearly two years in the hostel system, I finally, you will be relieved to hear, obtained a very nice flat, in which I now sit, pensively typing away at my keyboard.
Founder of childhoodtraumarecovery.com