The idea of being a mental health nurse has been floating around my head for a while now. When I was about 13 I wanted to be a psychiatrist. Nothing ever came of this as my career goals changed and I didn’t get the grades to do medicine.
I first thought about it when I was about 20. I was working in a GP surgery as a receptionist and one of my colleagues mentioned he was considering doing it. I looked into it and it really interested me. I’ve always been interested in mental illnesses and would often spend hours researching different ones when I was at school. Despite this, nothing came of it as I was dealing with my own mental health and didn’t have £3000 to go to college to do an access course as you could only get an advanced learners loan if you were 24 or over. Luckily, they changed the age to 19 and I have just completed my access course with enough credits to get into my firm (and only) choice, which is Birmingham City University.
My second reason for doing it is because of my own mental health issues. I’ve been there; from inpatient to community, from primary to secondary services, from autism to eating disorders, from personality disorders to mood disorders. I’ve had psychosis and believed the world was against me. I’ve had anger issues and would hit people for no apparent reason. I’m not gonna say I’ve done it all because I haven’t. There’s so many things I haven’t, and would never want to experience. Having a mental illness is scary and I really want to just help people who are going through some of the experiences I’ve been through.
Thirdly, we have my care coordinator. The lovely CPN who I have seen for 2 years and am soon to be discharged from. She has helped me so much and I’ve become a much calmer and stable person, partly because of her. She really inspired me and showed me that mental health nurses can make a difference. I’ve come into contact with some other nurses who are really good at their job and showed me that they do actually care. I used to believe that they were in it for the paycheck. How could you care about someone else whose life is nothing to do with yours? I’ve equally met nurses who would be better suited to other lines of work. Nurses with no people skills, who take things personally when you’re in a crisis and kick off and who say to you, ‘I’m not going to ask you how you are, I’m just going to fill in this questionnaire’ (yes, this has happened to me).
So these are the main reasons I want to become a mental health nurse. I’ve seen how other nurses work; what works and what doesn’t. I’m not saying I’m going to be perfect because no one is perfect and I have no care experience. Also, what works for me isn’t necessarily going to work for someone else. It’s going to be a challenge but it’s one I look forward to and I can’t wait to start my training in September.