Dear My Primary School Teachers (TW- Domestic violence

Remember in circle time when we were asked to put in a bag what worried/ scared us? We had lots of “spiders”, “heights”, “secondary school”. I put ” my mum’s boyfriend”. I was told that all parents argue and that I’d be fine.

Remember when I stayed behind after 3.00pm with my sister saying I was too scared to go home? I was told it will be okay, parents just argue, nothings wrong.

Remember when all of you would tell me how great my mum looked for loosing weight? When I told you she wasn’t eating I was told that can’t be true.

For the majority of my primary school life we lived with an horrifically abusive man. And looking back on it, it doesn’t even seem like my life.

When I said I was scared to go home it’s because I didn’t know whether my mum was going to be shouted at, spat at, or strangled that night.

I didn’t know if we were going to have to leave to go to my grandparents or whether my dad was going to have to pick us up.

Twice a new school was arranged for us so we could move in with our dad, but our mum didn’t want to let us go and twice this was cancelled.

I wish teachers had done something. That you had reported it, followed it up, believed us.

I now know that me and my sister should not have been left in this position, but the people who knew something and could have changed that didn’t.

Teachers now, please please please, listen to a student if they say something like this. Report it to your safeguarding lead, and follow it up if you feel like nothing is being done.

Don’t let these children and young people fall through the cracks. Because witnessing domestic violence is abuse.

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Changes

The title from my blog is based on a song that I sung from Beauty and the Beast when I left school. It was very poignant for me as leaving school was one of the biggest changes for me. Changes are an emotional thing, changes are such a difficult thing for many (including me) but they can also be exciting.

The last few months have been full of changes.

In November I left Uni, I had gotten quite ill and I wasn’t able to save myself from slipping further without leaving uni and getting help. So I left, it was a hard decision but it was important. I don’t think ever been as ill as when left . It’s taken some time but I can honestly say I’m in a much better place than I was before and dealing with things much better.

At the end of November my grandfather died. This was the first grandparent that I’d ever lost and I really didn’t know how to deal with it. I didn’t think I’d get through it but I have. It was a change I wasn’t really prepared for but I made it.

I started a new job and left that job. This was a big decision for me but I didn’t leave uni to then go into a stressful job where I couldn’t look after myself.

Most recent change is to do with TTC ,somewhere that I have been a part of for almost three years.

The wonderful Joss has left. And she may not know it but I probably wouldn’t have got through most of these changes in my life without her.

Joss has taught me that it’s okay to look after myself and give myself a break. She supported me when my grandfather died. She supported me when I left uni. She taught me to believe in myself. She made me realise that I was strong enough to deal with these changes.

So thank you Joss for helping me get through changes. And thank you for teaching me that it’s okay to look after myself.

Changes for me are still a scary thing. But I know I will always get through them like I have so far.

Life is about change. Sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s beautiful. But most of the time, it’s both.”

Abbie xx

#HelloMyNameIsDepression/Anxiety

#MyNameIs a healthcare professional with mental health issues. #MyNameIs mental illness.

My new campaign is all about healthcare professionals who experience mental health issues. To kick off the campaign I have asked other health care professionals to write about their experiences as guest posts.

 

“#MyNameIsDepression/Anxiety

I am a Medical student

I live in Uk

I started having troubles with depression back in school at the age of 16, and whilst i struggled through it through the help of CAMHS, i felt in a much better place at the start of my degree, thinking it was all behind me.

I have found that as the stress of the working environment, the weight of responsibility and the thought of graduation and its implications looms ever closer, I am struggling ever more with anxiety.

I think the ever growing pressures on the NHS, and the idea of going into that work environment, plus the current increase in workload, and the weight of expectations of myself mean that i have days go by where i feel helpless to actually do anything, rather than get on with something.

I feel that our university does actually give us good support, many of our staff see us regularly and are approachable and have offered before to talk to us about any problems we have.

We also have a counsellor we can access through a university system, and it isn’t too restrictive to get in touch either. I think the more we talk about it, and acknowledge that nearly anyone and everyone has these issues, the easier it becomes to talk to friends about it, explain to people why you aren’t on top form or have to miss a meeting etc. without then feeling embarrassed, or not wanting to seek help because of embarrassment.

Saying you are going to see a counsellor should be of no more significance than saying you have to miss your meeting because you are seeing your GP.

 It shouldn’t come with any other questions either. I think people are getting better in this regard, as a cultural shift takes place, and I think we just need to keep working towards that, along with increased access to helpful resources like the ones I mentioned we are lucky to have. I used to worry as a teenager that having mood difficulties, even at their most innocuous all to the way to extreme, meant i could never become a doctor, and I wish at the time someone had told me that was simply not true.

I hope we are building a society that teaches children their mental health should never be a barrier to their goals

I hope you all enjoyed this insightful post. If anyone reading this needs support, below are some helplines and websites. Thank you for reading and a massive thank you to contributors of this series.

Look after yourself,

Love Abz

Signposting (UK)

 

The Mix (up to 25)-020 7009 2500

 

Samaritans-116123

 

Papyrus-0800 068 41 41

#HelloMyNameIsBipolar

#HelloMyNameIs a healthcare professional with mental health issues. #MyNameIs mental illness.

My new campaign is all about healthcare professionals who experience mental health issues. To kick off the campaign I have asked other health care professionals to write about their experiences as guest posts.

“#MyNameIsBipolar

I am a Childrens Mental Health Nurse

My favourite animals are Cats and Pandas

I live in Hampshire

Do you think there was enough support when studying your qualification for those who were experiencing mental health issues?

I don’t know about other people but my university were very supportive of me when I had to take a few weeks off as a result of my mental health. I was offered to retake an exam if I didn’t get the grade predicted and I was under no pressure to come back before I was ready to. Occupational health signed me off nights as they impact my mental health so much, and I also had the option to seek support from student services but chose not to as I had support from mental health services outside of uni.
Did studying your course affect your mental health, if so, how?

Yes but through no fault of the university. I am a huge perfectionist and put enormous amounts of pressure on myself, which definitely did have a negative effect on my mental health.

Do you/did you feel comfortable talking to your colleagues/lecturers/mentors about your mental health?

I do now! I didn’t used to but I’ve learnt over the last few years how important it is, so now I’m really open.

Have you felt that being a healthcare professional has stopped you from seeking help for your mental health issue?

Yes. Although I am open with people around me, the fear of running into any of my current or past patients has definitely stopped me engaging in treatment before and also means I have to attend a service out of area.

What more needs to be done (if anything) for healthcare students/professionals suffering with mental health issues?

There needs to be a better culture of being open, especially in mental health services. We are often our own worst enemy as a profession and we need to be better at sharing and listening.

Any advice for current students/qualified professionals who are struggling?

Be honest. People can’t help you if they don’t know, and in my experience things have been so much easier for me once I’ve shared because it means I’ve been able to get the support I’ve needed.

I hope you all enjoyed this insightful post. If anyone reading this needs support below are some helplines and websites. Thank you for reading and a massive thank you to contributors of this series.

Look after yourself,

Love Abz

Signposting (UK)

The Mix (up to 25)-020 7009 2500

Samaritans-116123

Papyrus-0800 068 41 41

My Love of Singing

Really wanted to write something tonight, I needed a creative outlet, so here we go.

From as young as I can remember I have always loved singing. I never really had much confidence with it but I adored it.

When I was about 15 I started having singing lessons at school and they were the highlight of my week.

It was a time where my mental health was struggling and for me singing was my therapy.

My singing teacher is also on of the most amazing people ever, and would be there to listen as well as teach me. She stills here for me now.

She would always know what song to teach me to sing, depending on what mood I was in.

It was when I was 16 that I started to be confident enough to perform and found my love of it. It was only assemblies and school concerts but I still loved it.

Although I’d get anxious about speaking on the phone or walking to school, I could sing on a stage and it would be completely different, I would drift away to somewhere else.

Since I left school, however, I don’t sing very often. If I do, it’s often when I’m by myself. I just don’t have the confidence to share it with anyone else anymore . Only exception to this was when sang at my dad’s wedding which I really enjoyed. I do find sad that I don’t sing much anymore , but I’m hoping I’ll get there one day.

I thought I would share with you a few of my favourite songs to sing.

My House- Matilda

This was one of the first pieces of musical theatre that I ever sang. I never thought I was capable of singing musical theatre, I was always in awe of others singing it. This song boosted my confidence, and I just think it’s such a beautiful song.

Closest thing to crazy- Katie Melua

This was the first song that I was ever taught to sing. It was for a competition at school (I actually won my category!). I just love this song. There’s a video on YouTube of me singing it if you search hard enough!

Stars and the moon- Songs for a new world

This is another piece of musical theatre. To me this felt like a proper piece of musical theatre. I love the different emotions that you can show in this song. I remember being taught it and thinking I would never actually be able to sing it. But I could!

A change in me- Beauty and the Beast (Musical)

Go and listen to this song, it is beautiful. It is also the inspiration for the name of my blog. This song means a lot to me. I sung it to some of my teachers as a goodbye when I left school. It is my all time favourite song to sing providing I don’t cry!

Please go and have a listen to all of these songs, I’d love to see if you all like them as much as I do.

Love

And x

HAPPY THINGS #TimeToTalk

Time to Talk day was the 7th February. On this day I was at the University of the West of England running a stall with dedicated staff and volunteers from Time to change.

On our stall we had a jar that members of the public could fill with things that make them happy. In this Blog post I am going to share them.

1. Coffee

2. Becky (my best pal)

3.Walking my dog Shelby

4.Dot’s dog Shelby

5. Being happy

6. Coffee

7. Grandchild “Jack”

8. Friends and family

9. Spending time with my family

10. White chocolate tiffin

11. Bird song

12. Cycling

13. My dog

14. Good Food

15. My Children and Husband

16. Family

17. Lads

18. Support

19.Music

20. Nature

21. Computer Games

22. Cycling

23. Dancing in tights

24. Snow

25. Wildlife

26. Talking

27.Family

28. Movement

29. Making Art

30. Dancing to the radio with my 9 year old son

31. Cycling to work on a sunny day

32. My husband. My rock. My biggest fan. My one. ❤

33. Cycling to work on a sunny day

34. My family and friends

35. Mummy time

36. Wine

37. Cinema

38. Chocolate

39. My wonderful friends

40. Being active

41. Going on walks

42. FOOD (Pasta, Pizza, Most CARBS!) ❤

43. When it’s sunny between the rain

44. Music

45. The colour yellow

46. Emily and Harry <3<3

47.Pizza

48.My brothers and sisters

49.Seeing my nan and gramps

50. Listening to music

51. Wine

52. Musicals

53. Stars

Thank you to all who contributed to this list. I really enjoyed reading all the things that make people happy.

Love,

Abz x

Tips to Support a Young Person With Self-harm

*This post is about supporting someone who’s self-harmed. There will be no descriptions of self-harm and should be fairly trigger free. However, if you are sensitive around talking about the topic I suggest maybe not reading it.*

As it has been over 3 years since I self-harmed I wanted to write a post on tips to support a young person who is self-harming, this could be your child, student, or someone you care for, it might even be your friend.  I am writing this from personal experience as someone who self-harmed for 6 years and as someone who has supported young people who have self-harmed. The things that helped me may or may not help others, but I just want share what worked and didn’t work for me. I am not a mental health professional. 

Tips if a Young Person discloses they’ve been self-harming. 

1.Don’t Panic, Do Listen.                                                                                                                     If a young person tells you they’ve been self-harming, don’t act shocked or surprised. Even though you may feel these things, don’t let it show in this instance. Listen to what they want to say.

If you are not the parent/carer and instead are a teacher, nurse, etc. and have responsibility to report it then let the young person know ASAP that this is what you have to do and follow your organisations protocol for this. Although this is something you should inform them of, try not to interrupt them.

This could be the first time they’ve confided in someone about how they are feeling so really do listen.

2.Get Help                                                                                                                                                If someone has come to you after they have just self-harmed and you feel they may need immediate medical help then try and get them that straight away.

On the other hand, if they are not at immediate risk, you may still feel like you can’t deal with this by yourself at the time, and that’s fine. Go and get help from someone else to support you in dealing with this issue. It is just as important to protect your own mental health when supporting someone else.

3.Be There (Again)                                                                                                                               If you can. Something I always appreciated from the teachers who supported me was the fact that I knew that they were always there for me. Having someone consistent who I knew was “up-to-date” in my situation was always really helpful. But always put yourself first. I had a team of teachers supporting me at the time so the weight of issue was shared between all of them.

4.Signpost                                                                                                                                                 Chances are, if you’re reading this you aren’t a mental health professional. So signposting is key, especially because you’re not always going to be there for them. This helps protect you but also helps protect them. Although I never used these suggestions that often, it was helpful if I was ever in crisis.

There is a list of signposting at the end of this post.

Tips if you find out a Young Person has been Self-Harming 

1.Ask them how they are                                                                                                                     Try not to go straight in with “I see you’ve been self-harming” or “why are you doing that?”. Start off with just asking them how they are. Ask them how they’ve been and what they’ve been up to. Try to ask open questions, that way they can’t close off the conversation with a “yes” or a “no” answer. But at the same time try not to push them as this could deter them from ever wanting to open up.

If they do open up to you then follow the tips above.

2. Offer support                                                                                                                                     Even if they don’t open up to you, be there for them. Try and offer support and be open that you are there for them. That way they might be more inclined to speak to you when they are ready.

Have an open door policy if you can. This way they can just come to you if they need you.

3. Keep an Eye                                                                                                                                        Just keep an eye on them if you can. Obviously if you get really worried then try and get help and report it if needed.

4. Report it                                                                                                                                                If you need to, then report it through your organisations protocol. This will help protect the young person. If you can please tell them you are going to do this, as it will be worse for the young person if they don’t know that this is going to happen.

Tips if a Young Person presents at A&E with Self-Harm

1. Don’t Compare                                                                                                                                   If a young person comes to A&E due to self-harm, then please try not to judge. The young person will already be quite distressed, so telling them that they don’t deserve to be there and that others have it worse doesn’t help. Don’t tell them that the people with a physical crisis are more important than them. And don’t tell them that it’s all in their head.

2. Don’t Guilt-trip                                                                                                                                   Similar to the above, don’t guilt trip them. Don’t tell them they’ve done something “silly”. Don’t tell them that they are being selfish. It’s hard enough as it is, guilt tripping them will make it worse, and there’s no need for it.

Take home messages

1.Be Human                                                                                                                                             Although I have given you these tips, the biggest thing for me is just being human. You just need to listen, and be kind. If you feel comfortable then draw on your experiences, if this is going to be helpful. This is something I always appreciated from others.

2. Look after you                                                                                                                                   In relation to the point above, always make sure you are okay to deal with what you’re going to deal with. Look after yourself, build a support network, and don’t take it all on yourself.

3. Signpost!                                                                                                                                             In order to look after yourself have organisations that you can signpost this young person to. It’s really important as you’re not always going to be able to be there. It protects you and them.                                                                 

 

How to speak to someone who used to Self-Harm.                                                                    On a slight side note, I wanted to just write a little bit on how to speak to someone who used to self-harm. Personally for me, I really appreciate people just asking me if they see my scars, obviously in a polite way, but I really don’t mind it. I’m used to children asking me now and my response is always that I was ill, and that’s fine. I’d rather someone asked than just stared at my arms.

But on the other hand, some people might not want to talk about it and that’s fine. Just don’t stare and don’t be rude about it. If you think they might be having a relapse just let them know you are there for them.

I really hope this is helpful, and I’m sending lots of love to those of you who are struggling right now or supporting someone who is.

Love,

Abz xx

For more information on Self-Harm visit the following 

https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/feelings-and-symptoms/self-harm/

https://www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/your-feelings/self-harm/self-harm/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/self-harm/

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/self-harm/#.XEhwTFz7TIU

Signposting 

Calm Harm – App

Samaritans- 116 123

The Mix-0808 808 4994

Childline- 0800 1111

NHS-111

If in immediate risk present to A&E or call 999

 

 

#HelloMyNameIsBipolar

 

#MyNameIs a healthcare professional with mental health issues. #MyNameIs mental illness.

My new campaign is all about healthcare professionals who experience mental health issues. To kick off the campaign I have asked other health care professionals to write about their experiences as guest posts.

 

#Myname is Bipolar Disorder

I am a student children’s nurse

My Favourite animal is a cat

I live in England

I am currently a second-year student at university and along with the daily struggle of assignments and placement, I struggle a lot with my mental health.

Studying affects my mental health greatly, the constant stress of the assignments while working full time on placement and trying to juggle a social life sometimes proves impossible, but I always get through it, and am always proud of myself for doing so.

Motivation is something that gets me through the most of it, because I can’t imagine myself doing another career and that’s mostly the kick that I need to get me through the ups and downs and everything in between.

My tutor and my lecturers are also a massive motivation for me. I am extremely lucky in that my tutor is one of the most supportive people I have at university and she is always someone that I will go to first if I’m not feeling well or if I am having any issues. I’m really comfortable talking to her and she always will put me at ease and into perspective and make me see things might not actually be as bad as I think they are, which is almost impossible when my brain is erratic and going 100mph.

The mentors I’ve had while on placement have also been extremely helpful to do all they can to help me pass the placement, especially if I have time off they’re very understanding.

The course does affect my mental health, however this makes me more determined to complete the course, so I can have a career doing what I’m passionate about, because I don’t want to do anything else. I find it really difficult working full time on my placements, doing my assignments and still trying to have a social life. Tiredness and lack of sleep are also massive triggers for my bipolar and can leave me feeling very unwell. I have to manage my time effectively and tailor my shifts accordingly to what I can do, to keep me feeling as well as I can, and placement are always accommodating when this is the case.

For me personally, being a student nurse does not stop me seeking health for my mental illness, however sometimes I can be in denial about how I’m feeling and not notice it, because I feel like so much is expected of you. Most of the time though it makes me more inclined to seek help,

 

because I know if I’m not feeling my best then how am I supposed to look after someone else?

 I know if I get help sooner when I recognise a change in my mental health, then the sooner this can be managed, and it gives me reassurance that things might not actually be as bad as they seem and that I am strong enough to get through it.

Mental health is becoming more prominent and more talked about in society and there is now slightly more help available, especially in university. I feel like I am receiving all the help and support I need from everyone around me to succeed in the course, which is a good, positive motivation.

The advice I would give to any future healthcare professionals with a mental health condition is to not be afraid to ask for help. It’s so easy to brush it under the carpet because you think you need to adhere to being the perfect nurse, however it’s much more important to look after yourself so you can do your job to the best of your ability and care for the people that need it.

“It’s not a failure to ask for help or take time out, and you can then effectively manage your illness, to be able to do what you love.”

I hope you all enjoyed this insightful post. If anyone reading this needs support below are some helplines and websites. Thank you for reading and a massive thank you to contributors of this series.

Look after yourself,

Love Abz

 

Signposting (UK)

The Mix (up to 25)-020 7009 2500

Samaritans-116123

Papyrus-0800 068 41 41

 

 

#MyNameIsBorderlinePersonalityDisorder

#MyNameIs a healthcare professional with mental health issues. #MyNameIs mental illness.

My new campaign is all about healthcare professionals who experience mental health issues. To kick off the campaign I have asked other health care professionals to write about their experiences as guest posts.

“#MyNameIsBorderlinePersonalityDisorder

I am a Student Doctor.

My favourite animals are rabbits.

I live in England.

I believe most people would have the impression that living with a mental health condition is made more bearable by being a healthcare professional, after all you should have a good understanding of mental health and this makes it easier to cope, right?

In my experience, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

 Being a student doctor, or in fact a student of any healthcare profession, is wildly different to being a ‘normal student’. The timetable is far more intense: I have teaching or hospital placement, all day, every day, and this can impact so many areas of your wellbeing, even for someone without a pre-existing mental health condition!

I have lived with Borderline Personality Disorder since I was around 14, although this wasn’t my formal diagnosis until 18. I am now 21 years old.

Over the years I have identified what helps keep me well, and what can send me into a mental health crisis, and the challenge of being a student doctor is lots of the structure I find helpful to keep my BPD in check, just isn’t possible.

For example,

I rely on making sure I get enough sleep each night, eating 3 meals a day, and allowing myself time-out to relax when I need it.

These might sound like simple activities that everyone can do, but the reality is with structured teaching up to 12 hours a day, commuting to and from placement hospitals many miles away and not having a moment to pop to the bathroom (let alone an hour for lunch!), means that in practice, basic self-care often gets left by the wayside.

Beyond the practicalities, the psychological strain that being a student doctor places on you can’t be overlooked. There is no question that I adore my degree and I cannot wait to qualify as a doctor; however, watching patients and their loved ones suffer and sometimes finding that there is nothing more than can be done for them is like nothing else.

I wish I could say that being in a healthcare profession would mean that when you reach out for support, you are met with kindness, understanding and the absence of judgement. And whilst this is occasionally the case, the progress that has been made in many professions around reducing mental health stigma has not been reflected fully within the medical community.

It is an assumption that we should be able to ‘just cope’, despite the fact that we are actually more vulnerable to mental ill health than the general population, that prevents individuals from reaching out when they need help. It is the fear that after all you have done to get to the point you are at in your training or career, someone will decide you aren’t cut out for it simply because of your mental health difficulties. Whilst clearly there has to be guidelines due to the nature of healthcare based roles, there is a distinct difference between identifying possible issues around Fitness to Practise and supporting those with disabling mental health conditions with reasonable adjustments, and using the presence of any mental ill health as grounds to undermine a person’s ability.

Unfortunately, the times I have tried to access support within my medical school, I have been met with ignorance and repeated suggestions that I should take a Leave of Absence, despite my continued efforts and above satisfactory academic achievement. However, support and guidance on a wider university level, for example a specialist mentor from the disability service to help with the difficulties I have around concentration, organisation and communication, has been invaluable.

To any other struggling medical students, I would say this:

your health must always be your priority.

The pressure and competition are immense; the fear that you will fall behind or are somehow inadequate is very real and I understand that entirely. But before anything else, you need (and deserve!) to be well. Not just for you, but for all your patients today and every day for the rest of your career. Finally, believe in yourself and surround yourself with people who believe in you. Because, sadly, there will undoubtedly be individuals ready to doubt you and question your capacity in your role, and the way I have found the strength to continue through my training despite this is with the encouragement from friends and family who remind me every day all I have overcome to be the student doctor I am today!”

 

 

I hope you all enjoyed this insightful post. If anyone reading this needs support below are some helplines and websites. Thank you for reading and a massive thank you to contributors of this series.

Look after yourself,

Love Abz

 

Signposting (UK)

The Mix (up to 25)-020 7009 2500

Samaritans-116123

Papyrus-0800 068 41 41

 

#MyNameIsDepressionAndAnxiety

#MyNameIs a healthcare professional with mental health issues. #MyNameIs mental illness.

I am working on a new campaign around healthcare professionals who have mental health issues. To kick off the campaign a group of healthcare professionals have helped create a series of blog posts for me called the “#HelloMyNameIs Mental Illness” series.

Below is the first post in the series, I hope you enjoy it.

“ #MyNameIs Depression and Anxiety.

I am a Mental health Nurse.

My Favourite Animal is a Giraffe

I live in England

It was my dream to become a mental health nurse and be able to support others, just like others had supported me. I started struggling with my mental health when I was 15 and the past 6 years have been a complete roller-coaster. I have been through some of the darkest and worst times which I thought I wouldn’t be able to get through. At times I felt like I wanted to give up fighting, as I felt like it was a never ending battle. However, it’s not all that bad. I have learnt so much about myself, shown myself that I can be stronger than I ever knew, and I have found hope.

Aged 18 I started university, studying mental health nursing, and I can honestly say it was the best thing that has ever happened to me. It gave me a purpose, a reason to keep going every day and enabled me to look forward to the future. I’m not going to lie and say it was plain sailing because that is simply not true, and along the way there were some difficult time; but I got through them and came out the other side.

I disclosed my mental health difficulties straight away to my tutor, and I am so glad that I did. The perks of doing mental health nursing was that all my lecturers were mental health nurses, and I couldn’t have felt more supported. My tutor was amazing over the 3 years, checking-in with me regularly and being supportive when I was having a ‘wobble’ and I cannot be more thankful because I wouldn’t have got through those 3 years without her support.

However, disclosing my mental health difficulties meant that I had to face the dreaded occupational health. I’m not going to lie, it was awful. Being referred to a doctor what has the power to decide whether I was well enough to do the course and could have potentially made the decision that I was unable to continue with uni. The day of the appointment came and I managed to blag my way through it and give the ‘right’ answers.

“No I haven’t self-harmed recently”

“My mood is about a 6/7 out of 10”

“Sleeping and eating is fine”

Blaa blaa blaa same old same old.

Throughout my 3 years at uni I can’t fault the amount of support I got, and I am so grateful for that. My tutor was amazing. I had weekly mentoring (which helps you keep on top of your academic work and minimise the impact of your mental health difficulties on your studying), and my unis well-being service were really good and I had someone who I saw weekly and could email for support between sessions. I know people hear horror stories about the lack of support at university, but for me I felt more supported during my 3 years at uni than I did prior to that.

During my 3 years we spent half the time in university and half time on placement. The workload and stress could therefore be very high at times, and having 6 different placements over the course did mean a lot of change and a lot of anxiety; and I probably did struggle more with that than people who didn’t struggle with their mental health, however, I got through it because I was really well supported.

In terms of disclosing my mental health difficulties with my mentors on placement- this varied over the course; due to both how comfortable I felt with that mentor, the placement area, and how I was doing at the time. I had a couple of very difficult experiences where my mentors were less than supportive when I did disclose, however, I also had really positive experiences to where my mentors were really supportive.

During my 4th placement (second year) I had quite a wobble, where I felt really low and anxious and was self-harming a lot and just wasn’t really coping. Between me and my tutor we made the decision that I needed to take some time out of placement (although it wasn’t really a choice because if I hadn’t agreed the decision would have been taken away from me). I ended up having 5 weeks off placement, during which time my meds were changed, which felt like the end of the world. However, during this time uni were really supportive and I was able to return and complete my placement and made up the hours that I missed.

Although at the time I didn’t wasn’t to have to take time out , looking back I know it was definitely the right decision and I wasn’t at the time well enough to look after other people and needed that time to look after myself.

Finishing my final year was very overwhelming. Someone had said to me that the 3 years of uni were like climbing a mountain and that completing each placement or assignment was like reaching the base camps on the way up; and now I had reaching the top. Reflecting on what a dark place I had once been in, thinking that the only way out was to hurt myself and end my life because I couldn’t carry on- and now my dream of becoming a mental health nurse had come true.

I was lucky enough to be offered a job on a ward where I had been on placement, so already knew the ward and the team, which made the transition easier. When on placement on this ward I didn’t disclose my mental health difficulties because at the time I was doing relatively okay, therefore I didn’t feel I needed to, however, since qualifying I have told my manager, supervisor, and some of my colleagues, and I couldn’t feel more supported. The thought of losing my support network at uni always scared me, however, I feel so lucky to be able to say I feel equally supported in work, and know that if I need someone they’ll be there.

I have now been qualified for 6 months, am working full time in a job that I absolutely love, in the most supportive and best team I could wish for. Things aren’t perfect and I think depression and anxiety will always be a part of my life and always in the background even when I’m doing okay. I still have my ups and downs and some days feel a real struggle. However right now, I am probably the most well and content that I have been since I started initially struggling 6 years ago, haven’t self harmed in over a year and am able to say I am proud of myself for how far I have come.

When things are difficult, remember that

‘This too shall pass’

Although when you’re struggling it feels like the worst thing in the world,

‘you grow through what you go through’.

You don’t have to keep your mental health a secret and there is support out there – and if I was to give one piece of advice, it would be to reach out and use it, because in order to look after other people you need to look after yourself x”

I hope you all enjoyed this insightful post. If anyone reading this needs support below are some helplines and websites. Thank you for reading and a massive thank you to contributors of this series.

Look after yourself,

Love Abz

Signposting (UK)

Samaritans – 116 123 The Mix (up to age 25)-0808 808 4994 CALM-0800 58 58 58 Papyrus- 0800 068 41 41