Before you read this blog post. I need you to know that firstly it has been a bit of a therapy to write. Secondly its taken one PJ lounging session, a coffee shop session and a few on-the-go/on-my-iPhone sessions to write.
Mental Health and Wellbeing are two things that are important to me. Firstly, on a personal level I’ve experienced real highs and lows over my 26 years and 6 months on this earth. Secondly, like the majority of this world the well being of loved ones is something that I really do try to look after as much as I can as a relative or friend. Finally, as a nurse. Supporting a patients Mental Health and Wellbeing is an important part of my job. It is paramount for a healthy body, to really promote a healthy mind and soul.
I think being frank and honest about Mental Health is something that the world is improving on, however I do not believe we are quite there yet.
I used to experience unexplained anxiety and panic attacks as a teenager. It was terrifying. These moments used to take hold of me, stop me in my tracks and would be all-consuming. What used to scare me was that there was no evident trigger. I was referred by my GP for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which is a talking therapy. CBT aided me in managing my thoughts and problems by adjusting the way I think and approach everything. It was fantastic, I really connected with the lady I was seeing and it settled my anxiety for a very long time.
Recently however, in peaks and troughs, I am beginning to notice I am becoming symptomatic, once again, of these anxiety-ridden dips in my everyday life. What concerns me is that fact I am symptomatic. For me that includes a high heart rate (tachycardia), at times an upset stomach/nausea and an overwhelming feeling of terror.
Today, these feelings began once again and I experienced my first panic attack in almost a decade. I was terrified. The panic attack came on and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I physically could not calm my breathing down, nor could I take a deep breath. Due hyperventilating, my lips started to feel numb and I was beginning to get pins and needles in my peripheries. My chest was tight.
I felt helpless.
What I found ridiculous was amongst the dark cloud of terror, despair and panic; a part of me was wanting to shake myself as I am nurse. For some reason, I felt somewhere deep inside a little embarrassed about this episode as “I should know better”. I have often nursed patients with anxiety. One of my patients who was recently on our caseload suffered from extreme anxious episodes and I was good at helping her feel calm and relaxed. What was wrong with me, why could I not transfer these skills for myself?
After this panic attack I spent over an hour just laying in the bath, silent. Amongst the bubbles I lay there not knowing why it happened or if it would creep up on me again. My family and my fiancé were incredibly supportive the entire Sunday giving me exactly what I needed – food, hugs and reassurance that I wasn’t going crazy.
If I am being totally honest, I’m not too sure exactly where this post is going as I don’t even know myself fully what has triggered off such a persistent feeling of anxiety. Admittedly, a big part of this is my job and I am fully aware of that.
I am newly qualified as a nurse who is trying to develop knowledge and skills in a patients home.
I find it hard because when in charge, I am that patients first port of call and if I can’t help, it is sometimes difficult with under-staffing to get them the help they need in a timely manner.
I am finding it hard because as I knock on that patients door or open their door via a key safe, I have no idea what I am walking into. I have walked into Sepsis when I was meant to be walking in just to dress a small toe wound, I’ve walked into a severe exacerbation of Cystic Fibrosis when I was meant to be walking in for just an injection. My job means that on arrival, I act quickly and correctly. Believe me, it is a lot of pressure for someone who six months ago was a student nurse.
Personally, I find my Mental Health acts like a snowball most of the time. If I have lots of small stresses, I manage to cope but do feel anxious. However, if I have a larger stress, as other small stresses mount, the snowball grows.
I think this is what is happening to me right now.
Away from the doom and gloom, my employers are aware and are being incredibly supportive. I am currently sitting in a Coffee Shop awaiting my GP appointment to discuss with her what she believes may be a positive step in dealing with everything.
The only advice I could give if there is anyone else reading this splurge of thoughts; is to speak up. Tell everyone. Tell your family, friends. Tell your employer, your GP. The reason I say this is if the person you need to support you cannot relate and does not support you, a safety blanket will save you. People may not understand and may think you need to “toughen up” but the majority will do anything in their power to get you through it.
Make adjustments to life. Find an outlet and use that as your break from feeling overwhelmed!
Lastly. It’ll be okay. It has to be. Nothing is bigger than you, especially not your mind.
Look after your mind, and let your mind look after you. Your a team, not enemies.