'I felt so ashamed of the debts that I just couldn't face anyone'
Adrianne Peltz speaks out about her bankruptcy to Claire McNeilly
A well-known Northern Ireland media commentator has spoken of her shame at being declared bankrupt.
Adrianne Peltz found herself in serious financial difficulties after the breakdown of her relationship with the father of her only child uncovered hitherto unknown - and substantial - debts.
The 31-year-old also revealed how the financial burden plunged her into a depression that she thought she would never overcome.
Now, however, she has taken the brave step of speaking out, in the hope that others won't find themselves in similar straits.
In an exclusive interview, Adrianne, who lives in Bangor, described the moment her world came crashing down around her.
"There was a knock on the door and it was an extremely serious, very official looking man," she said.
"My first instinct was that someone had died, but it turned out that he was from the court.
"He explained that there was an order for me to be made bankrupt."
By that time, Adrianne had debts totalling £20,000.
The single mum had been living hand to mouth, making ends meet by taking out high-interest loans - and ignoring letters from the bank and the bills that were piling up.
"It all got on top of me," the popular freelance pundit said.
"I was paying off my student fees and numerous credit cards, as well as full-time childcare, and I ended up taking payday loans to pay off other payday loans.
"I kept putting off dealing with demand letters; I didn't think it would lead to this. I was petrified.
"I felt so alone as well. I didn't want to scare my family by telling them. I felt exposed and vulnerable."
Adrianne, a former president of NUS-USI (National Union of Students - Union of Students in Ireland) said the stress of "constant demands coming through the letterbox" almost pushed her over the edge.
"In the end I took advice and I realised the only thing I could realistically do was to go bankrupt. I went through with it three weeks ago and still feel sick thinking about it."
Problems began for Adrianne, who studied Business management at the South Eastern Regional College in Bangor, after her relationship with her partner broke down - just before her daughter's second birthday - eight years ago.
The couple had left their native South Africa in 2005 to start a new life here. Their relationship soured, however, and he returned to Durban.
"I trusted him, so it was a horrific shock when I saw how much debt he'd amassed when he walked out and left me to pick up the pieces."
The situation worsened when her mother Vanessa (56), who now lives with Adrianne, nearly died.
"Mum has pancreatitis but 18 months ago she got a blood infection and ended up needing blood transfusions until they got it under control," she said.
"Thinking about how close I came to losing her scares me and when something like that happens you realise what's really important in life."