On September 8, 2017 my life changed. Again. That was the day I found my new home thanks to the Women’s Housing Ltd. Before this life-changing event I had been living in groundhog day. Every month wondering how in hell I was going to pay my rent/gas/electricity/phone and then blunder my way through to the next round of bills and heart palpitations.

It had become apparent that I was highly unlikely to be employed by anyone because, well I still haven’t discerned the answer to why an eminently employable, presentable, knowledgeable and experienced woman with exceptional written and interpersonal skills couldn’t even get a response to an application for a job as a retail assistant. This despite an extensive and successful career in advertising and marketing, as a creative director and later as a freelancer with my own business.  This was a career I loved, not only because it meant I had the ability to stand or fall by my own work without having to tread the landmine territory of office politics, but maybe equally because I could be sitting at my computer at 7am in my pjs and be ‘at work’.

Well there was ‘a series of unfortunate events’ that ultimately put paid to this career. In the twelve months between 2000 and 2001 my life changed (not for the first or last time as we all know) when I lost my mother, my brother and my lover.

I had been caring for my mother from the time she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer at the age of 66, until her death just after her 67th birthday, but still managing to work between her treatments and specialist appointments.

That snowball got rolling then and just grew over the ensuing months and I have never been the same since those losses.

Suddenly I became something of a hoarder and the major depression I had lived with my whole life now completely defined me. Sometimes I was incapable of forming words let alone walking from the bedroom to the kitchen.

Anyway, many, many doctors’ appointments and innumerable prescriptions later I was finally able to function again. As I had lost all of my clients and contacts associated with my freelance business I had to start again and the only door open to me was retail assistant. Long story short, I loved it and began to rediscover myself.

Then my elderly father who lived in Brisbane and suffered with myelo fibrosis, reached the stage where he really needed someone to accompany him to his regular transfusions, make sure he was eating properly and generally keep an eye on him.

Moving to Brisbane meant my life changed I lost my sense of self again.

I cared for him for 3 years and when he died I could at last come home to Melbourne.

I was eventually able to find work back in retail until around two years ago when the business owner had a major stroke and the business closed.

Since then I have become that cliché, an invisible woman of a certain age. My inability to find work trapped me in a cycle of poverty where I couldn’t afford to pay the rent where I was living but I also couldn’t afford to move.

Then on 8 September, 2017 I was approved for an apartment by Women’s Housing Ltd and my life changed. I can pay my rent and my bills. I can buy decent food and even a bottle of wine if I feel like it.

You know they say, “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” and wow that’s so true. I had no idea how much stress I was living with until I was finally able to look back at it from the outside.

Now, again thanks to Women’s Housing Ltd, I’m doing a course to enable me to start my own micro business, in the process I’m reacquainting myself with some of my strengths and abilities.

I’m so grateful that my life continues to change and I’m excited to discover who I will be next.

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