So here I am, finally signing myself onto the nursing register.
It’s been an eventful three years since I began studying to become a mental health nurse; at the beginning it felt like it would be light years until this moment, but all of a sudden I find myself ready to begin my career as a qualified nurse.
I chose to study mental health nursing as I have struggled with my own mental health for many years, experiencing episodes of depression and an eating disorder that took hold in my early teens and lasted into my twenties. I left treatment for my eating disorder for the final time before I started university and have continued to progress in my recovery since then.
I’ve had some incredible experiences over the last three years: I made friends studying and through placements, I won an award at university, and I won a national award that allowed me to travel to the Philippines for a month long placement. However, not only have I finished my course with a bachelors degree and a wealth of new knowledge, I’ve gained a diagnosis of bipolar disorder on the way.
To say this has been challenging is an understatement, although it did not come entirely as a surprise. My world came crashing down and got pieced together simultaneously in the moment I was told my diagnosis. The difficulties I’d experienced with my mental health for years all suddenly made sense, but thinking about how I would navigate the future from this point on raised a lot of questions. Will this prevent me from progressing in my career? Will my friends and family still treat me the same? Will I have to take medication for the rest of my life? I have found that the answers so far are no (I’m due to start my dream job in September), yes (I have an incredibly supportive partner and group of friends), and probably (I know now more than ever that taking my medication regularly is one of the most important ways I can keep myself well). I anticipate that there will be many more questions across the rest of my life, however I hope that I keep picking up the skills and knowledge to be able to answer them.
I chose this career path because I started my journey with mental health services at 13 years old and had an inpatient admission at 15. I genuinely believe that the nurses that cared for me during that time and over the last 14 years saved my life and helped hold me together when I felt like my world was falling apart. I want to be able to do that. It’s taken me a long time to get here: I failed GCSE’s during my inpatient stay and had to repeat them as an adult, I had to take a year out of my access course due to a relapse with anorexia, but I finally made it.
And it is so worth all that hard work to know that I can begin this journey now.