A year ago, I faced humongous tragedy. After two years of living and working in Sweden with my partner, he lost his battle with depression and committed suicide and I was left, through extreme duress, to make a lot of tough decisions. But, when the love and support so overwhelmingly came pouring in from friends, family, and strangers in Newfoundland, I made the decision to move home and start my life over again back on the Rock.

It has been the hardest year of my life, full of grief, pain, stress, and many adjustments. It has not been a smooth transition. Due to a variety of circumstances, restarting my business and restarting my life has cost more money and taken more time than I ever could have anticipated, and on top of that, facing the sadness and loneliness of leaving a life behind and finding my place again in a province I left long ago hit me hard. Despite this, I tried my best to keep a smile on my face because the people here lifted me up and I felt both a responsibility to them for that as well as feeling energized by all the support.

 How can one feel hope and motivation all the while feeling squeezed, pinched, and drowned — drowning in anxiety and fear?

But, I can say with certainty that this budget has added another level of struggle to this journey of mine. On a financial level, as someone who recently tragically lost her security, was already facing restarting a business and household, and dealing with the cost of living here in Newfoundland, this budget is devastating news.

On an emotional level, this budget doesn’t provide much hope. Hope for a happy healthy life here in this province that I very recently came home to. Hope to enjoy the beauty it has to offer. Hope to contribute to the community and to the economy. And how can we? How can one feel hope and motivation all the while feeling squeezed, pinched, and drowned — drowning in anxiety and fear?

I will keep fighting, and will stay here in Newfoundland because of my commitments and because I want to believe this can get better. But, I know I am not the only one feeling this effect. Mental health is already a huge issue here in this province that affects every one of us, especially the vulnerable.

So, I ask: Aside from our bank statements, how will this bad-news budget impact our own outlooks? How will it affect our hope and motivation? How will it impact our will to keep making Newfoundland a better to place to live? And what long-term effects will these attitudes have on our economy and our already burdened health care system? How can we even measure this? People need hope, even –especially — when times are tough. This budget gives us none.

Sharleen Simmons / St. John’s

If you would like to share your story about how the provincial government’s austerity budget will affect you and/or your family, send your letter to [email protected]

Read The Independent’s ongoing coverage of austerity and the 2016 budget: