Tom’s story in his own words
It started around 2011 2012 – probably a little bit earlier than that because obviously my addiction was live for a long time. It was at that stage my da that passed away. And that’s when addiction really just took over.
I realized at that stage that my addiction was too much. I lost the relationship that I was in for a long time due to alcohol and gambling. My mental health was really bad, I had a few suicide attempts. It led me to the stage where I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was drinking heavy, really heavy and I was in mam’s house and she couldn’t look at me drinking anymore. “You’re killing yourself,” she said. So mam got a barring order. That was really when I had nowhere to turn. Like I had to start looking at me life and looking at what was going on.
I was very, very lucky I only slept rough a few nights. I was a very, very lucky, man. I was very, very blessed when it came to being homeless. I was probably about 9-10 weeks all together in emergency in accommodation when I first linked in with Dublin Simon on a friend’s recommendation.
By that stage I’d probably done about four, maybe five different detox programmes. So I needed something different. I was staying somewhere else when I was told about the apartment shares coming up in Chester house. The way it was sold was that it was going to be your own room. It was going to be you independent. Everything was going to be looked after so I said “look Ill try it”. And I think I moved in there around the November of that year.
I was there for nearly three years in the Burrough. And it was great I shared it with two lovely lads. The fella I shared the room with was a little bit older than me and was in recovery a long time. I learned a lot from him. It was out of this world, Simon couldn’t do enough for you.
When I was getting ready to be housed they moved me down then to Dorset Street. Dublin Simon couldn’t have been anymore helpful. They were ringing me every day. You know, they were up once a week or twice a week, making contact with mam, they couldn’t do anymore for me. When you moved to the Dublin Simon service on Dorset Street, it was like they knew you all your life. Because they got to know you and did everything, helped you. But they gave me a little bit more independence back. It was just rebuilding me life skills for me and giving me stuff in my life that I wasn’t aware that I was able to do you know?
I was still finding it really hard, I had different suicide attempts and stuff, but Simon couldn’t do enough anytime I rang them to say I was struggling. They would get the counsellor involved, or anyone involved to kind of help me and build me back up. And there was no criticism, no judgement.
I got the keys to my own place on Friday the 13th of December 2020 and was due to move in on the 16th of January. I was after packing up the two vans of stuff, my bed, clothes and stuff and I was back in the apartment in Dorset St for a few minutes on my own when I got very emotional very, very upset. I was literally just about to do what people only dream about in this sector. When you become homeless all you do is dream about getting the keys to your place.
I had the keys since December. But I still didn’t believe that. I thought someone, somewhere was after making a mistake here you know, someone was giving the wrong key. I just didn’t believe it. Even up until that day. I was an emotional wreck, but in a good way. I did cry a lot leaving Dorset St that day, but it was good. I couldn’t believe it. I think I was a little bit apprehensive in leaving the support of Dublin Simon.
For the first six months or so, I didn’t feel like I deserved this and a lot of negative stuff started creeping in again, and slowly but surely by working with the Simon I regained focus again.
I’ll be forever grateful for them, for the help and the support and the knowledge they gave me. To believe in myself again. I think it’s the main thing. Anybody that’s worked or has been privileged to be in a Simon property. You get so many chances. They believe in what can we do? What’s going wrong? What I always found was they always used to say: that happened. The slip happened. Let’s see why it happened, let’s move forward now. They always invested in you. it wasn’t finger wagging. It was let’s see why it happened. What did you do? What did you let go? And then moving forward into a better kind of environment.
In 2021 I linked in with the addiction studies course out in Ballymun – addiction studies level 5 and I completed that at the start of March. I done it and achieved a distinction.