Ross graduated from University in the 1980s. He had taken some time out in the US before he completed his final exams. As he said “I was enticed back by Mary Robinson’s presidential campaign, I thought it would shake things ups a bit.”
His degree was in history but he was more interested in computers, so he drifted into a career in IT, working for state organisations as well as some big multinational companies based in Ireland. He travelled a lot with his job and as a result his long-term relationship with his girlfriend fizzled out.
His mother died in the 1990s and his only sister and her young family died in a car accident in 2008. Ross became very depressed and started to miss work. One day he found himself standing by a railway bridge contemplating jumping over. His friend who worked in the medical profession tried to help him and found him a place where he could recover from his depression. Ross started to regularly see a therapist and things were looking up for him, he returned to work and was fine for a couple of years.
But then his depression returned and he had no explanation for why this had happened. “Maybe it was because I had drifted away from counselling” he said, “I knew I had a mild form of bipolar, but I thought I was coping ok”. There were days that he did not get out of bed, “I was running out of funds so I lost my flat and started living in a B&B. I started back working in an IT company but just before Christmas 2016, the company shut down making more than 30 people unemployed. I could feel the depression building up. I was running out of money and ended up giving up the B&B and sleeping on my friends’ couches, but after a while I had to find something else, so I went to Focus Ireland who referred me on to other services. I have spent nights in various places, but mostly I have been in St Bricin’s which is run by The Salvation Army Ireland with Dublin Simon.
It’s like a big dormitory in the old military hospital, at first I thought I’d like my own room but there is less bullying in one big room and it’s like a little community. We all get along well together. I volunteer every day in the local library and I am doing a course to upgrade my Microsoft engineering certification. I have routine every day that’s what keeps me on track. I get the bus from St Bricin’s to Merchant’s Quay and have a cup of tea there, then I go to my volunteering job and stay there till the phone lines for the hostels open at about 4 o’clock, and I ring to see if I can get any place to sleep that night. If I don’t get anywhere I have stayed in Starbucks all night. There is so much uncertainty you never know if there is going to be a bed for you.
I have noticed that there are a lot of homeless people in the library where I volunteer. You travel light – carrying everything with you- clothes and food. I have stayed in more than 8 different hostels since January. The Salvation Army Staff are very kind to me; they are trying to get me a place longer-term”