Today I was doing some separate work on mental health as a sideline to my usual job. When I was first asked to help with this I was unsure how I could help, not having had any mental health nursing experience. As I joined the work stream however, I realised you can draw on life experience as well as work experience but sometimes we forget that. As it was an open forum, I shared my work experience but also my family members who had mental health issues in the past – namely my Mum, which was from my very early childhood age of 5 years old or so until a few years ago when I lost all contact with her for my own sanity. Sometimes even the people who you should love most of all, are the ones who do not deserve to be part of your life and I learned through counselling that you only need to carry as much baggage as you can manage on your journey.
At one time I might have been too nervous or thought it unprofessional to share mental health issues from my own family with a group of people that I do not know. As it was an open forum and the facilitator encouraged free speech, it was comfortable and quite cleansing to be able to be brutally honest. I finalised my introduction by saying I have an interest in mental health. I have also nursed a lot of patients with mental health issues along my 33 year career and so as I reflected on it I am more qualified than I at first gave myself credit for. I have always had sensitivity to other people, I am known as someone who is approachable, friendly, and give out hugs to those who need them. I like to think I am aware of peoples emotions, pick up on the non verbals and take time out to make sure people are really O.K. It is about recognising what people don’t say, rather than what they do.
I have been painfully aware of the impact this pandemic is having on colleagues, friends, family, the bereaved, the general public. We are all drained with the constant bombardment of when it will end, what the new world will look like, what will be the consequences, how will we recover. As I have said before living and breathing this pandemic is completely exhausting, you never truly switch off. I know colleagues and everyone have been drawn to tears over the course of this, its completely normal to be angry, scared, and the whole range of emotions in between. Its O.K to have a wobble moment, to let that emotion out, its not a weakness, its necessary to be able to reflect, recognise it, and come out the other side. I have periods where I call myself flat lined – it says it like it is, like the print out on a cardiac monitor, you are running on empty, and its time to take a break and do something that is just for you, take some space, or contact a friend. My door for one, is always open.