Now then let me start this post by explaining that we all have mental health. It’s basically how you feel and your thought patterns which then affects your behaviour. Some people have good mental health days, some have bad mental health days and some people have mental illness.
I have never been formally diagnosed with a mental illness or been on a longstanding treatment plan but that doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced some difficulties in the past and this was a large reason for wanting to go into a career helping others facing similar situations. However, there can be some slight complications in that it sometimes it can hit a little too close to home.
That classic question of “Why did you choose to become a mental health nurse?” is usually met with my standard reply of “I just know how important the field is” or “I wanted a degree in an interesting topic like mental health but wanted a practical application for a job when I finish” or “I’m wasn’t clever enough to continue studying psychology” lol.
What I don’t tell them is the first-hand experience I’ve had of myself and those around me of the effects and struggles of various mental health issues. From alcohol dependency to depression to social anxiety to self-harm to suicidal thoughts and intent. I’ve lost people due to mental health difficulties that I didn’t know they struggled with until years after and those memories are still painful to think of.
I’m very lucky to be in a position where I think I’m on the recovering end of being socially anxious but am still affected by it in daily life and think I always will be. When you spend years of your life being terrified of others judgment to the point where you used to become mute in certain situations and the coping strategies which entail you hurting yourself, these extremes are always in the back of your mind. It’s always going to be tough seeing people in similar situations especially if they are around my age.
I’m currently a second-year mental health student and I’ve only experienced a few tough situations while on placement around the topic of suicide and self-harm but it impacted me a lot more than I thought it would. I’m planning on getting some form of support or therapy or counselling around this issue to work through it at some point. It is one of those things I think I will have to “get used to” or at least build up a resilience to so I don’t end up crying in a costa on my break or almost fainting while observing a restraint because of the adrenaline kicking in. I always knew this career would be tough but that’s why i wanted to be a part of it because someones gotta help.
So as a little update since I originally wrote this, I am currently on antidepressants after being hit by a significantly low period over Christmas and slightly scaring myself by slipping back into old thought patterns but not acting on them. I recognised I was struggling and got some help for it. I’m very lucky to have a good support system but it does get difficult when all of sudden everyone’s back at uni and you’re left not sure what to do with yourself when you’re at home. I’m back now for semester two with an attempt at a good mindset, a decent social life and trying to take care of myself while also keeping on top of uni work. It’s mad how things can change over the space of a few months.
To end this I’m gonna give you that classic advice that most people give when someone is experiencing any health problem, physical or mental. Talk to someone about it; whether its a friend or family or partner or your GP. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a strength. There’s always going to be someone out there who cares and wants to listen or who is qualified to give you advice and help.
(This is including myself but I’m still a student nurse and not training to be a therapist right now soz guys no free sessions off me)
Please look after yourselves and those around you.