15 December 2016

Fay, Sydney

Photograph by Peter Holcroft

I grew up in Wentworthville, near Parramatta. My parents had a business and it was very busy, because Coles and Woolworths weren’t open at that stage. My parents worked very hard, seven
days a week. 

When I turned 17 I started to do nursing, training at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Then I did midwifery at King George V. When I was training to be a registered nurse I topped the state in ophthalmology. I worked on and off for 10 years in nursing homes and the Royal Hospital for Women, then I looked after my mother. 

I tried to finish my midwifery at the Parramatta hospital, but that’s when I got sick. I went through a dark phase, didn’t think I was good enough. I loved my nursing but I was in and out of hospital myself and it took me a long time to get over that.

My mother died during one of the times I was in hospital. My mother, brother and father all died on Sundays. Someone once said to me that I should “avoid Sundays if I were you”.

With the help of a nurse, I got through my dark phase and was able to get back into society. I’ll never be the same again, though, I’m still scared. That’s why I can’t get full-time work elsewhere, but thanks to The Big Issue I can work.

I would like to give three cheers to my neighbour Jim for telling me about the magazine last April, and to everyone at The Big Issue for accepting me. They opened their arms wide and I’m so thankful. It’s helped fill my time and has allowed me to express myself in the Streetsheet section of the magazine.

I have experienced the joys of living by meeting people while earning money on the side – I don’t sell many yet, but I’m happy where I am and I look forward to seeing my customers come by. 

I sell at Harris and George Street near UTS. I really like my regular customers – I like chatting to them but I don’t keep them too long because they are on their way to work. I’ve got some very good customers, like Jennie and Mary.

I live in a Housing Commission place now, which has been a great help because before that it was very difficult to make ends meet. I’ve got a cat called Fluffy who’s grossly overweight – somebody else is feeding him, I’ve gotta find out who!

I like reading novels and the paper, and I love entertaining; I love to cook. Also knitting and sewing, and I like reading the stars and my Bible. I don’t keep up with hobbies as much as I would like because I still get slightly depressed, but not as bad.

I got really bad through that darkness, and it has taken me years to get over it. Now I am coming out into the light.

This article was first published in Ed#523 of The Big Issue.

Interview by Sam Clark