To mark International Nurses Day we would like to share this really thoughtful and inspiring piece by University of Lincoln Nursing student, Lyndsey Howard.
“Studying at university can be difficult and having a mental health condition does not make it any easier, especially within nursing. Somehow, as a student mental health nursing, I thought that it would all be okay; I thought I wouldn’t have to worry about my mental health anymore… Oh, how wrong I was. I’m where I want to be, I’m studying the degree I want to do, I’m on the road to success… So why do I feel so low?
Experiencing mental health problems as a student nurse is somewhat, terrifying, yet humbling. Gaining the knowledge and experience to treat people, whilst being involved in treatment yourself feels like you’re a failure and a burden, combined with an experiment. Yet, it gives you insight and first-hand experience of good practice, based upon empathy and compassion – everything you are taught as a nursing student, and more. Lived experience is something that cannot be taught. It’s the whirlwind of emotions that takes over your very existence. It’s the look that people give you when they see your scars or hear your story; it’s the very reason why breaking the stigma of mental health is so crucial and the pure motivation for my passion. It’s one of the many reasons I became a student mental health nurse.
Managing your own mental health is something everyone must do, whether you have a mental health condition, or not. It’s those first day nerves that causes butterflies in your stomach, to the sad feeling we feel when we fail or don’t achieve as we thought we should. It’s looking after our own wellbeing and having the confidence and determination to live the life that we want. It’s just one of those things, like cholesterol or blood pressure. We all must look after our own physical and mental health, to be able to survive a nursing degree. Because it’s hard, you know? There will be times when you want to drop out, when it feels like enough is enough, but there will also be times when you’ve made such a difference to someone’s life, that you remember exactly why you wanted to be a nurse in the first place.
Being a student nurse has been one of the hardest journeys I’ve ever experienced, and I’m only in the first year! It’s becoming a lifestyle, a way of living if you may. It’s everything you want to be and it’s everything you want to learn, and much, much more. It’s noticing the small things within people and caring enough to make a difference. It means realising what is truly important in life and carrying that as your philosophy – your moto for life. It’s the way you smile at someone, the way you make them feel, the way you can empathise with their struggles and the way you can adapt yourself to help them live a better life.
The most important thing that I’ve learnt so far is that failure is okay; if you don’t fail, you don’t learn. Expectations are there to guide us, not define us. If we don’t succeed, try again. Learning is a journey of failures. You failed? So, what? Dust yourself off and try again. Who says you can’t achieve next time? Only that little voice inside your head criticising your every move, your every thought. What lies ahead of that void is entirely up to you. Our hopes and dreams carve the way for our ambitions to be fulfilled within this amazing career, and life, which lies ahead of us. It all starts now.”