'I'm struggling to cope. We're living hand-to-mouth,' says Dee

My long-term relationship ended last November very unexpectedly after eight years. My partner decided that the grass was greener on the other side. I was in shock and didn't see it coming. It was awful. I had to leave the family home with our five-year-old daughter because we were in his house and everything was in his name. I wasn't entitled to anything because we weren't married. At the moment, the partnership bill is being looked at but it's not quick enough for me and my daughter. I have to start again from nothing. We left with just our clothes and my daughter's toys.

I'd moved up from Cork to be with him. I gave up my home and my job in Cork. I wouldn't have done that if I had expected the situation to turn out the way it did. I continued to work when I moved up to Dublin. I was up here three years before I fell pregnant. It was a planned pregnancy and I didn't work for a year-and-a-half after having my daughter and I went back working part-time after that, which is what I'm doing now. I'm the type of woman who has always worked hard for everything, which is why this situation is so hard for me to deal with. It's been so difficult to ask for help and depend on the social-welfare system to get by. I cry a lot.

The apartment I'm renting is very sparsely furnished and I can't afford to make it a proper home. Someone mentioned Gumtree to me and I said I'd give it a go. Friends have been fabulous, giving me bed linen, pots and pans and family in Cork have helped as much as they can.

I still need a sofa and a couple of chairs, as well as pictures and plants that would make it more homely and comfortable. The St Vincent de Paul were amazing to me at Christmas because I wouldn't have been able to do Santa without them. They gave my little one a great Christmas.

I'll give Dublin another six months and if I can't get fully back on my feet then I'll have to move back to Cork where I'll at least have my family for support.

Thankfully I have my daughter to focus on and that has kept me sane. She's a brilliant little girl and has dealt with it very well. She's very confused, of course, and doesn't really understand why she had to leave her home but she knows that she'll see her daddy. He only lives around the corner and meets her once a week. She still suffers from nightmares and wets the bed on occasion because of the upheaval but in the long term we're both there for her and I'm trying so hard to make it as easy as possible.

I'm only working eight hours a week while she's at school. There's full-time work out there but the cost of childcare would take half of my wage and I'd lose my rent allowance. I'm caught between a rock and a hard place but I'm hoping that I can get back to full-time employment as soon as possible and give my little girl the chance of a decent future. Then maybe I can think about the direction of my own life, but for now that seems like a long way off.

It's still very, very hard and I'm struggling to cope. I'm in total shock at what has happened to us. We are living hand-to-mouth really.