Posted by: breathliftlive | 11/04/2011

Please just ask….

It’s funny how things change. We were at a friends for dinner over the weekend and they had invited another couple. For one reason or another, the topic of conversation was about when we were first pregnant. This new couple was telling us their story then it was our turn to share and I began our story and then paused…. I fell pregnant right when Tim was in the middle of his rehab stint. Not exactly the best timing as I’ve mentioned before, however, that’s our story and I wouldn’t change it. I wasn’t sure how to say to these people I’d only just met that my husband was in rehab for 9 months due to a gambling addiction. Everyone reacts in their own way, mostly good which is nice. Anyway, I’d paused trying to find the right words and Tim steps in and says it for me. It’s taken him such a long time to be ok with it all and I was quite surprised that he just announced it to these people. I was so proud of him. Afterall, this is part of our story. For better or worse, whether we like it or not, this is who we are and how we came to be.

I have heard so many times, comments from or about people who think that asking for help is a sign of weakness. If anything, asking for help shows complete bravery and courage. For you and/or your partner or family member to be able to come to a point where you realise “you know what, I can’t do this alone and I need help” is the biggest step forward you can take.

I used to think I could and should be the one to solve my own problems. In Tim’s case I sometimes thought he should solve his own, afterall, it was his mess. Once I began to see that he couldn’t do this on his own, I stepped in and did whatever I could. Then, once WE realised we couldn’t do it on OUR own, we asked for help and it was the best thing we did.

In most cases, counsellors will provide you with the skills to be able to work through the issues. If your partner or family member wants to go to a counsellor alone, let them. They’re not shutting you out. Just give them the chance to speak there mind to someone who doesn’t have a personal opinion on the situation. Be proud of the fact that they have spoken to someone at all because sometimes that’s half the battle. After a little while, ask to go with them. Explain that it’s important to you to understand their story and that you want to be able to stand by them and help in any way you can. Show them your love and support, even when it’s gotten to the point when you simply don’t want to anymore. Try.

It’s important for them to work out their triggers, or what starts the gambling ball rolling. What are they doing or saying or watching or thinking or feeling at the time they choose to gamble? Is it stress or confrontations or money problems or denial or a way of escaping or my favourite, the old “I’ll just test myself and put $20 in”…. I got that one a lot and take it from me, it was NEVER just $20!

Counsellors are there to help, not to judge. They won’t tell you what to do or how to fix it. They won’t tell you and your partner or family member that you’re bad people or that you should have done a better job or that they can’t help you and you’re on your own. They will work WITH you to build up the skills required to recognise triggers and over time, avoid them. They will help you work on skills of self talking – recognising when the urge is present and being able to talk through the moment until it passes. They will work with you on gathering a list of methods to help overcome this issue. They will help YOU as the partner or family member of the problem gambler deal with the past and work for the future. They will help you help each other with understanding one another, sharing, listening, communicating better. They will not judge you. You are not the only people going through this so just remember, other people have been here and made it, and so can we.

I am in no way suggesting that this is a simple or easy task. It’s bloody hard work and it will take a while. Keep reminding yourself there IS a light at the end of tunnel, no matter how long that tunnel may seem. Just hold hands and keep walking.

There are so many methods of getting help – websites, phone numbers, counsellors and organisations that are ready to listen. Here’s a couple of places that you might want to look into:

Lifeline – 13 11 14

Relationships Australia http://www.relationships.com.au/ or call 1300 364 277

Salvation Armyhttp://salvos.org.au/need-help/problem-gambling/ or call 1300 36 36 22

Hopestreet Urban Compassion (Sydney) – 02 9358 2388

Gambling Help Online http://www.gamblinghelponline.org.au/ or call 1800 858 858

Also, if you Google ‘gambling help’ you will come across a range of organisations in each state that can help. If you’d like me to assist you in locating a counsellor or organisation near you, please let me know – I’m more than happy to.

Please ask for help. It will be the hardest but best thing you and your family will ever do. It is ok. There is NOTHING wrong with asking for a little assistance. Just think it’s a hand UP not a hand OUT – there’s a difference.

I’d love to hear from you, send me an email to breathliftlive@hotmail.com

Kate x

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