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I never wanted to be a nurse but helping a suicidal patient changed my mind - News - Nurses Arena Forum

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I never wanted to be a nurse but helping a suicidal patient changed my mind by katty : May 04, 2018, 08:08:34 PM
I failed twice to get a nursing degree, but I’ve seen how my experience of mental health problems can help others

orking as a nurse was not something I ever saw myself doing while I was growing up. The possibilities seemed endless and I dreamed of being everything from an archaeologist to a vet. However, at the age of 15 I received a life-changing diagnosis and the world I knew fell apart. Overnight my life changed from that of a normal teenager to one punctuated with unrelenting rounds of in-patient psychiatric treatment and a near-fatal battle with anorexia.

My own journey, and the healthcare professionals who had influenced it – both good and not so good – had a profound effect on me and I began to consider nursing as a career. I wondered if I would be able to use my experience to help others in similar positions, and felt a strong desire to give something back.

Two failed attempts at university to gain my nursing degree left me disillusioned and I was unsure whether to heed the parting words of a previous tutor that “maybe I should begin to consider an alternative career choice”. The spark had been ignited and I couldn’t stay away from healthcare.

I took a job as a clinical support worker in the emergency department of a major trauma centre. After six months, I was beginning to doubt it was for me. Were the long hours, verbal abuse I faced on a daily basis and endless pressures worth it? Were those people that had doubted me right?

An encounter with a patient changed all that.

During a night shift while working in our assessment unit, I noticed a man in one of the cubicles. The lights were off and he was pacing back and forth, talking to himself, sometimes loudly and angrily.

I saw several of my colleagues peering into the dark cubicle, almost as if looking at a caged animal, yet no one entered. I did, though, despite a colleague suggesting that it might not be safe. I introduced myself. He was scared, broken and suicidal. Luckily the department was not overwhelmed with patients that night and I was able to spend several hours with him over the course of my shift listening to all that he needed to say.

He thanked me as I went off duty – he told me how hard he’d tried to get support over the preceding few weeks, fearing he was going mad, only for each time his cries for help to be dismissed or ignored. He said I had been the only person to take the time to listen.

That struck a chord. To me it had felt like a simple interaction. But to him it had meant so much more. My experience with mental ill-health had enabled me to understand that what that man needed was someone to give him time to begin to unravel his thoughts and fears, and to not be afraid of what he might say.

I had no answers for him nor could I make him feel any better, and while I am under no illusion that the emergency department is the appropriate environment for those struggling with mental health problems, people come seeking hope and comfort and we owe it to them to provide that. So much of medicine is focused on targets, treatments and cures – but, for some, making sure their voice is heard and knowing that they matter is the best medicine of all.

Over a year on and I have just entered my second year on the pilot of the nursing associate course. My journey has become my strength – I have built understanding of my ability to connect on a deeper level with patients than perhaps some of my colleagues can; certainly at times I find myself the only person able to build rapport with a patient. I understand the deep torment going on inside their heads.

I am proud of how far I have come and now, in my daily practice, I seek to instil hope in every patient battling with their mental health, to make sure they know they are not alone. Time is precious in the NHS but giving a few extra minutes to someone who feels at their lowest ebb can make all the difference. I hope to go on to build a career in nursing – I was the child who imagined doing virtually everything else; now I can’t see myself wanting to do anything different
Source:UK Guardian

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