From yesterday’s Irish Times – a decade on in the recession – however, I was much more upbeat about my future. I have turned the corner, I am proud of my achievements, and the future is looking very rosy!
Jillian Godsil lost her home in the recession and was one of the the first women to go bankrupt under Ireland’s new bankruptcy regulations.
“Until 2008, life was very good. I was happily married, or so I thought, running my own PR and marketing company, living in a big house we’d bought in 1996.
“Then two things went wrong. I discovered to my horror that I wasn’t happily married, and we started separation proceedings. The second thing was that my ex had got into property. The house had been worth €1.6 million at one stage, and it seemed to make sense to release some equity. So we had huge debts that we couldn’t pay.
“It happened so quickly. My husband went back to the UK and declared bankruptcy. I made a video to try to sell the house on YouTube. The video was quirky and it went viral. I got a cash offer of €500,00 in 2011, and I put that to the bank, but they refused to sell and went on to repossess the house. It sold for €165,000 in 2013. I kept telling my story and I became the poster girl for austerity. But I suppose I took my eye off the ball a bit workwise. I eventually had to close the business and go on the dole.
“I kept thinking I would turn the corner, but it was the longest corner ever. I went bankrupt in Ireland, and when I discovered that meant I could never run for public office, I decided to take a case against the State, which led to a change in the law. I went back to college and did a master’s, but still couldn’t find work.
“By early 2014, I was like a zombie. I was suffering from depression. I didn’t want to commit suicide, but I came very close to it. I felt empty. All roads seemed blocked to me. The lowest point, though, came when I exited bankruptcy last year, in the summer of 2017. I was one of 800 people discharged that day. But we had to move out of our rented cottage, and I wasn’t able to find alternative accommodation. I was couch surfing; it was middle-class homelessness. I wrote about it in The Irish Times, and a friend read the piece, and offered me a cottage he owned to rent.
“I changed the law, I did my master’s, but I feel like the universe turned on its axis that day, and since then, things have got better. Now I have a new career working in marketing for the blockchain industry. I had 10 years where I felt, ‘why can’t I get out of the mud? I have worked everywhere, I have a great network of contacts, and I couldn’t get off my knees’. Finally, things are looking up.”