Andrea

My world fell apart one Christmas. My Mam died on Christmas morning and my Dad died one week later. Both deaths were unexpected. I also broke up with my boyfriend of eight years. I thought I had it all, a good job, money, wealthy boyfriend, lovely home, family, friends and a future. Then it felt like everything was gone. I began relying on alcohol to get me through the day until that stopped working. Then I started to self medicate taking anti-depressants and sleeping tables with the alcohol to knock me out for the day. The days were too long and the nights were too lonely. That was how I started on the road to homelessness.

All my money was being spent on drink. It became my first priority. Bills started piling up letters right, left and centre looking for money. I got way in over my head with my rent arrears. I got into so much debt. My family became worried and suggested that I hand back my flat and live with my sister. She thought she could sort me out and that this was the answer to all our problems. But it wasnt. I had started seeing another boyfriend who became mentally and verbally abusive after a short time. I moved back and forward between my sisters house and my boyfriends. My sister believed that I had gone from the frying pan into the fire with this guy and no longer felt able to help me. She had asked me not to move in with him and I didnt listen to her. I knew it all. When I realised my mistake, and asked her to take me back into her home, she told me no in a nice way.

Another sister let me stay on her couch until I got a place of my own. I couldnt believe I was homeless. I was in the Priory in Tallaght one day using their phone service looking for a flat, when I got talking to one of their facilitators and she told me about Daisyhouse. She gave me a little booklet and helped me fill in the application form. A few weeks later, I went for an interview and was accepted onto the Daisyhouse waiting list. Six weeks later I moved into one of their projects.

It was a small flatlet but it felt like winning the Lotto.

After all the to-ing and fro-ing between sisters and that headcase of an ex-boyfriend, it felt like paradise and it was mine. It came with the security of knowing that there was support for me. I felt safe. It didnt feel like just any old flat. When I was moving in, I wasnt worrying or panicking. There was someone there to help me and encourage me to start taking responsibility for my life. There were rules and I was not used to rules. I had been used to doing what I liked, when I liked, so I definitely did not like the rules. At the time I did not agree with them but soon I came to realise that they were for my own good. I needed them. Before long I had stopped drinking alcohol and self-medicating. I took my prescription drugs as I was supposed to. My rent, food and bills became my priorities.

Part of being in Daisyhouse was to look at my life and to build a better future for myself. Before coming to Daisyhouse I did not want to look forward. I did not feel I had a life or a future. I was lost. I felt alone but meeting with other women in Daisyhouse helped me to know that other people were also suffering. My weekly support meetings were very important in helping me to realise that there was a life out there for me and gave me the strength and encouragement to carry on. They helped me to get back on track when I felt I was slipping back into my old lifestyle. They helped me to look at the abusive relationship I was in and how it was damaging me. He ripped me emotionally from the inside out. I was helped to know that I was worth more than I thought of myself. I am glad to say that I got rid of that man. He was an insult to all good men.

Moving on to independence was frightening but knowing that the support was still there was good. It helped me to know that I would not be on my own. The first time I saw my new flat I could not believe it. Myself and other residents at Daisyhouse used to stand across the road from the building site eating our bag of chips, every Saturday and say to each other wouldnt it be great to get one of those.

I never thought I would. I was on the local authority list but there were two others nominated ahead of me. They got their places and moved on. I was left in Daisyhouse. I was delighted for them but devastated for myself. My hopes were not high at that stage but I kept my spirits high with encouragement from the staff at Daisyhouse. They always told me not to give up and that one day I would get the one out there that was meant for me.

Three weeks later, I was offered an apartment in the same complex. It was the last one and one of the nicest in the place. Big sitting room and lovely big balcony. I have been there three years and I have it fabulous. It was hard work, a lot of saving and planning but well worth it. It has been the start of a healthy new life. It has totally changed me. When I look around and know this is mine and have somewhere to call home and appreciate it, I am very happy.

I have a good job, a wonderful man who loves me and treats me with respect, my family are very proud of me and I am back at school two nights a week. I believe Daisyhouse saved my life. My circle is complete now.

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