"My anxiety had reached a peak"

Brenton explains how his addiction was the cause to his anxiety and depression, and how he L&S Minds support groups helped him overcome this.

Posted on 29th June 2017 by Brenton Ettienne

I believe my story might be helpful to others who have had similar experiences, similar challenges and similar problems – especially those who are going through recovery.
My stories about recovery from an addiction that has been detrimental to my progress and my health since 1987, up to the period I started recovering in 2015.
I came to this place in January 2015. I was in a betting shop in Peckham – my anxiety had reached peak, and my life was heading nowhere at 50 years old. I was really depressed about it, but I wouldn’t see the GP anymore because I don’t trust them with all their drugs. I tried to deal with it myself but I couldn’t handle it. Luckily, my friends helped me. They got me into these groups and told me it would give me a break from betting shop. And it did. I noticed the addiction for betting shops and casinos had gone. I do still have a bet, maybe once a month but I don’t spend my life in there anymore. I’ve lost that addiction.
I try to make it clear to people that gamblers are suffering as well; I have been diagnosed with anxiety due to my gambling addiction. And what makes us the same as other people in the Friends in Need group is that we all experience episodes of anxiety and depression, it’s just the triggers that are different. Their trigger may have been a failed marriage or loss of job, but mine was always gambling.
When I first met the group and explained why I was here, I found out that there were two other people in recovery for the same addiction. And they realised these groups help them to recover too and helps deal with their anxieties and depressions caused by gambling…or drink, or drugs, or any problems!
These meetings have helped distract me, and have put me off the bad influences like my friends. I still say hi, but don’t hang round with them in betting shops anymore.
I pick up habits very quickly, so I kind of got addicted to coming to these groups. It’s given me less time to go to betting shops, which means I have broken the bad habits and replaced them with good habits.
Since recovery I’m able to save more money and feel happier. My family and my dad know I’m recovering so they’re happy for me as well. I’m a lot happier because I’m sticking to these routines and experiencing less and less anxiety.
For me, they’re better than gamblers anonymous because I tried that and realised all they do is talk about gambling, gambling, gambling. In these groups I can talk about gambling for 5 minutes, but then they change the subject which is nice. It’s nice to be around people who don’t have the same addiction.
I’m friendly with these people. They walk me home and I walk them home and we hang out together and eat out together. It’s a better social network.
These groups have been very helpful – I’m glad I’m happy, and I’m glad my family are happy as well.
It’s encouraged me to attend other meetings. I actually learned to play the guitar from one of the other guys! And now I can play loads of songs, I even surprise myself that I can play without using the sheet.
I’m trying to get some of my gambling friends to come here but it’s very difficult. This place would be very good for their depression. Once you’re in the group and you start talking sometimes you realise it’s just gone – just by talking and listening to other people for an hour and a half. You’re totally distracted from it!
But the meetings don’t run all day, so we have to rely on our own strength when we get home…so I find other ways to distract myself.
It’s very good for my anxiety. And today I feel good…I feel great.
Thanks for the opportunity to tell my story. Someone else is going to read it that has had a similar experience, and hopefully this helps them.

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