IF I DIE TONIGHT

I am sitting on the edge of a balcony with both feet dangling out into the darkness. Eyes fixated on the smartphone screen. Waiting for a text that will determine whether I will jump to the asphalt pavement six floors below or crawl back to bed next to the sleeping beauty. Restless. My stomach is churning. The artery on my right temple is throbbing furiously. None of the Yoga relaxation tactics I have tried are working.

The night has an eerie silence. The neighbor’s dog disturbs the stillness with an occasional bark. 1:04 AM. The stars have not come out tonight. Maybe the universe is in sync with the gloom in my heart. A cold breeze sweeps across the balcony, gently lifting the curtain. From where I sit, I watch her sleeping. Snoring softly. A slight smile plastered across her face, totally oblivious of the decision I am about to make. Beautiful dreams baby.

My phone buzzes. I enter the unlock pattern as I say yet another prayer. Is this how my life ends?

See, I am a great looking guy, with a nice job and an amazing girlfriend. I don’t leave the toilet seat up or scratch my balls in public. I love dogs and kids, put on a fresh pair of socks every morning and remember my lady’s birthday. From the surface, I am the perfect man.

But there’s a problem. I have an addiction. Stronger than heroin or coke. I have been able to hide it for so long but this feels like the end of the road. I may not survive tonight.

You understand, right? No? Alright, let me start from the beginning.

I was born in Nakuru 26 years ago to a single mother who is a policewoman. I have one sibling. A sister who is eight years younger than me. Growing up without a male figure in the house meant I only had my mother to learn from and look up to. Mom was overprotective of her children. By default I was a momma’s boy, pampered and sheltered from the harsh realities of the world.

I was not even allowed to play with other kids. I remember this one time she bought me a ball that I could only play within our compound. As a result, I never made any friends. To this day I find it difficult to form and nurture friendships.

The weight of my mother’s influence on me became evident when I joined high school. She had always taken care of all my needs. Suddenly, I had to take care of myself. Reckless became my second name. Every other week I would call home to report on lost items or ask for more pocket money. Nevertheless, I cleared high school and joined a university in the city.

This was my turning point. I now had the freedom to do whatever I wanted without looking over my shoulder. I tasted alcohol and marijuana for the very first time. Drinking cheap whiskey and smoking weed became my favorite pastime activities followed by playing table pool. I can’t count the number of times I skived classes to play pool. It is a miracle how I managed to graduate with fairly good grades and land a job immediately after campus.

Trouble began when a friend introduced me to sports betting. He convinced me that it was the best investment platform even giving me examples of people who had won millions after only betting with a hundred shillings.

He took me through the registration process. We analyzed a few football matches then placed a bet. Although I lost my first bet I was not discouraged. After all, my mother could still support herself so my only commitment was repaying HELB loan.

I began gambling with small amounts like Ksh100 or 200. Over time, I increased my betting amounts to 1,000 bob hoping that will boost my chances of winning. I lost more bets than I won, and decided to place bets on fewer games with more money. For example, if I place a 2k bet and win 3-4k, I find myself betting again with a higher amount. Currently, I place 1-3 games on a single bet slip.

I have active accounts on all major betting sites. If I constantly lose on one site for a week I move on to the next one.

The problem escalated when I won Ksh30,000 and I thought it was time to increase the stakes. Although this may seem like a smart idea, it wasn’t. I placed a Ksh5,000 bet on a single game only to lose it. This was my first major loss. I decided to stake a higher amount (10,000 bob) in order to win back the money only to lose this one as well.

Since it was a weekday, I chose to wait for the weekend when the games were plenty. On Saturday 19 November 2016, Everton, my favorite team, was playing at home. I was certain they would win so I took the remaining 15k topped it with 5k from my savings and placed a bet on a home win. Unfortunately, the match ended with a draw. I was devastated. Hell bent on recovering the lost money, my betting spiraled out of control.

Betting has affected every aspect of my life, especially my productivity. My job requires that I work most weekends which also happens to be when most of the big matches are played. I often lie to my boss that I’m either unwell or dealing with a family emergency so that I can have ample time to analyze the games and place a bet. Sometimes, I go to work late because I stayed up to 1 am for results on the games I placed bets on.

My love life hasn’t been spared either. I am constantly quarreling with my girlfriend as she thinks the reason I am always on my phone is because I’m flirting with other girls when in fact I am getting notifications of scores. The worst part is that I cannot tell her the truth. She swore to leave me if I didn’t stop betting. As far as she knows I stopped. Many times I take out my frustrations on her after losing a game. It pains me that she always thinks it is her fault we are having issues.

The only time I take a break from gambling is when I’m dead broke. Payday comes and I am back. I have lost countless friends for borrowing only to be unable to pay them back.

I have tried to seek psychological help online on different occasions. However, because online sessions don’t have a personal touch, I find them highly ineffective. There is only one way to stop this for good, which brings me back to the present moment.

I have spent the last two nights at my girlfriend’s place. She thinks it is because I want to spend quality time with her. The truth is I lost my rent money. I tried to recover the money by withdrawing all my savings and placing another bet. I lost. I went ahead and borrowed 25k from my mother earlier today, lying that I needed the money for a project, and again, placed another bet on a major game playing tonight.

I am sick and tired of lying to the people I love. I am tired of the pain I keep causing them. Believe me, I have tried my best to stop but I can’t. The urge is too strong. I must win tonight. If I lose then I am done.

If I die tonight, pass my love to my three precious women. Tell the world my story. Warn them not to go down this path.  It is a dark, scary and bottomless pit

PS
This is a true story. Justus* asked me to tell his story so that he can get the help he needs before it’s too late. He is suicidal and desperately in need of someone to help him get over his gambling addiction.

I am tired of reading in the news that yet another young person has taken their life after losing a bet. If you are a psychiatrist or know someone who specializes in treating gambling addiction kindly, reach out to me via markmaina76@gmail.com so I can connect you to this brave gentleman.

Written By Mark Maish

31 Comments

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  1. 1
    Frida

    You have kept me all glued on my screen . I didn’t want to blink .so I couldn’t miss any sentence. So captivating! Thanks mark

    I’m hopeful he will get the help he needs. Gambling addiction is worse than heroine addiction. But…. he can do it.

    • 2
      pst.e.m.mailu.(Body Of Christ Ministry Church)- UMOJA2

      Addiction is the worst enemy of humanity.Yet, tis the reality befalling us, not here nor there. We all are no better than this young man whose life is a choreograph of our Societal tendencies and extremisms: murders,killings, ,rapes,defilement,theft, thuggery,corruption,org anized crimes, financial mismanagement, frauds,abuse of office be it political, social, economic, not even the Clergy is exception. The rot is far too demeaning as it is down to the marrow. The young man is a microscom of humanity in its entirety and it dire need for God vindictive intervention. Advice to our youth to take the old adage: “Not all that glitters is gold.”A sad story though. The young man can come for prayers. Make arrangement. Nb. NO PAYMENT OF ANY KINDS WHETHER FINANCIAL OR IN KIND. NONE WHATSOEVER
      .

  2. 4
    Carok

    most young people never realise betting is a disease…..there is nothing for free….you must work hard for it because it will cost you dearly…..i really feel for him.

    • 10
      Zippy

      Well said, praying for young man. As far as am concerned betting is a vice n ought to be shunned no matter what the “powers” behind it say to make it look legit.

      Thanks for the article, keep writing, we are reading.

  3. 11
    Peter Muchori

    Mark; Justus doesn’t need a psychiatrist he needs the Saviour of mankind JESUS! The thief (devil) comes to steal (you from a relationship with God), and kill (your body literally and drag your soul to hell) and destroy (your relationships, income through such bondages as betting, doping and drunkardness, your very soul is destroyed for eternity in the flames of hell) but Jesus came that we may have life and have it in full. (John 10:10). Anyone who sins is a slave to sin but if the Son of God sets you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:34, 36). If you confess with your mouth, “JESUS IS LORD,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, YOU WILL BE SAVED! (Rom 10:9). Jesus is your our Redeemer and sure hope for salvation, nothing can withstand the awesome power of our God for every chain and bondage is be broken by His power when we surrender to Him and the flees from us. I know that for a fact for He has set me free and i pray He will overshadow you with His love before you make a grave mistake that is irreversible like suicide. God bless you.

  4. 13
    Anne komen

    This is fast growing to be a national disaster. Betting is a bad gambling habit since it is easily accessed through smartphones. It is sad how it is destroying our youth.I will pray for Justus

  5. 14
    Sha

    I really wish all the youths in our country could read this and get to fully understand the long term repercussions of the ‘promoted’ betting practise. it is just like any other addiction. a worse one infact sonce the society nothing wrong with it. You need more money? then invest the little you have on a worthy cause and don’t through it away by gambling

  6. 15
    Mary

    Nice write- up, I did not miss a word…gambling is indeed very addictive, speaking from experience…but God delivers and when He does, it is for good. May God deliver this young man.

  7. 17
    Sammy

    I was once a victim of the same. I thank God I got out before it was too late. One sure thing about quiting gambling is engaging yourself (especially the mind) on other things such that gambling is the last thing you can think of when you have money.

  8. 21
    Silantoi Nakurro

    It is really sad to see young people getting drowned into the dark pits of betting. I wish most of the could read this. It is a slippery slope.
    I hope Justus gets help.
    This is a great piece btw. Thank you for bringing the issue to people’s attention. God bless.

  9. 23
    Alex Misango

    Wow… This is a great piece….. Believe me, he ain’t in this alone… This is a national disaster… Only our good Lord can and will deliver us.

  10. 24
    Erick Mukhovi

    its good yu’ve realised that betting isn’t good..thanx coz thru your story…am able to tell my friends as well as to how gambling is a deadly monster and addictive..I pray you find help out of this..

  11. 29
    Tonny

    I din’t blink because i did not want to miss a sentence. Good stuff. Point is home to many a reader. Keep writing mark. We are reading..

  12. 30
    Elvis

    Goodness gracious! This is me kabisaaaaa. I couldn’t stop betting, I have tried to always keep myself busy doing all the kinds of work that will keep my mind glued for over 7 hours and sold my smartphone, it has helped trust me. I have thrashed all my ATM Cards and disabled mobile banking. Told myself I could save 300 bob a day and put someone to make me do it, no matter what. I made a decision to never tell a lie, never borrow only when i dearly need it. It helps, mjaribu ivo muone.

  13. 31
    Switrox

    😱 great article.
    😢😢 Let’s first thank Hod he hadn’t taken away his life.
    He’s very brave to seek for help.
    There is still hope for him.
    Hell is not an option.
    May God be with him.

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