In the last eight weeks I have done many things for the first time. I have practised CPR, used moving and handling equipment and attempted (and struggled) to manually take blood pressure. I have attended 18 lectures, 11 seminars and 2 practicals. I have set up a Nursing Society with a group of wonderful people, who I am so proud to be student leaders with. I have met more new people at once than I think I ever have in eight weeks.
It would be a lie to say I have loved every second of it. Week 1 was a blur of new people, new information and a new environment. After week 2, I was convinced I was going to drop out. I felt like I wouldn’t be able to cope with the course. I struggled communicating with so many new people. I was overwhelmed by the information my brain was struggling to process.
Now, I recognise that any transition is bound to be tough for anyone. I am autistic, which makes it even tougher. I get overwhelmed easily. I find dealing with change immensely difficult. And so it’s no surprise I felt burned out after week 2. My mental health was still not great, after a summer of many events which left me feeling exhausted and lowered my self-esteem even more.
Eight weeks later and I am so grateful I stuck through it. I knew I wouldn’t be happy if I quit, and so I threw myself into uni life to see what would happen if I tried.
So, although I haven’t loved every second of it, I am grateful for every second of it, and wouldn’t change it for the world.
I have made new friends. I have settled into the new routine. It’s amazing how fast ‘new’ can become ‘normal’. I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone, and it’s made me feel good. I am so excited to run the Nursing Society, where we are building a community of student nurses. We have run several events already – a nursing cafe, a revision/quiz session, and a board games social. We have many more planned for the near future.
In some ways I feel like a different person to the person who began this course eight weeks ago. I definitely believe in myself a lot more. I love being able to work each day on achieving my dream of being a nurse, whilst also continuing my role as a Governor for HPFT (my local mental health and learning disability trust), and as an Expert by Experience in the CAMHS Young People’s Council. I feel so lucky that I get to live and breathe my passion everyday (soz for the cheesiness).
My brain does feel slightly frazzled from the amount of new information constantly being thrown at me in lectures and seminars. I feel like I’ve never learnt so much new content at once. Luckily, I love it. (well, most of it…foundations of health and wellbeing with all our anatomy and physiology is not something I enjoy in the slightest).
I think the most important thing for me is to continue to manage my mental health well so I can continue to get the most out of this course. I worry it might come back to bite me, as it has done many times in the past. My mental health still affects me daily, but right now is the best it’s been in years.
Becoming a student nurse has fuelled my recovery in ways I never thought possible. Each morning I have a purpose and a drive to carry on.
I am so excited to continue this wonderful, chaotic privilege of a journey that is being a student mental health nurse.
How have you found the start of this academic year?
All my love,