Karen's story

St Albans Karen Berry 230813

Emmaus has had a huge impact on my life, as it’s given me the opportunity to really be myself for what feels like the first time ever. It’s a been a really big step, as I came here after suffering a nervous breakdown.

 I’d been bottling up a secret for a long time, and it finally became too much to handle. I am gay, you see. No big deal you might say, but being gay, and hiding it, led to a lot of troubles in my life: eating disorders; an unhappy marriage, financial problems, you name it.

 Eventually it all became too much. My breakdown was the turning point. It gave me the courage to talk about my sexuality and make changes in my life, including moving to Emmaus. I can’t describe how good it feels to be settled. For the first time in my life, I am completely me.

I’ve always been artistic and now I can really use those skills at Emmaus. I am upcycling furniture, revamping and decorating anything from spice racks to wardrobes and I have completely transformed my own room. I’ve hung paintings and chosen special bits of furniture and I’ve even set up a space where I can do glasswork and painting.

I love living at Emmaus, as I’m close to my family and I’m getting to see my mum regularly, we are closer than we’ve ever been. Living here gives me the support I need at the moment, but I also have the opportunity to help other people. It means that I’m not dwelling on my own troubles, but thinking positively about a way forward.