Basic Nursing Skills

16, May 2013 by admin

I’m currently nearing the end of my mental health nurse training and the thought of qualifying and starting work on a ward or similar environment fills me with many emotions. I feel a sense of pride and excitement about practising as a nurse however I also feel scared about no longer being able to hide behind the role of being a student and having a mentor to take some accountability for me. I look forward to the day I graduate as it will be the proudest day of my life so far and that sense of achievement will give my self-esteem the boost its need for me to practice confidently. I have challenged myself and my own mental health during the training and I have come out a better person for the experiences I have gained.

Nursing is my dream role and I hope that I can overcome my shyness enough to be able to give everything I can to helping those I work with. My patients are my motivation in life. They themselves are inspirational. Some of the traumas they have suffered or daily struggles they go through are unbelievable. The majority of the people I have come across see themselves as weak; in reality they are the strongest of society.

I will always defend my patients and anyone suffering with mental illness. They are the most stigmatised and stereotyped members of society even by some of those who they should be able to trust such as their family and those who support them and they are often the least able to stand up for themselves. Sadly, I have experienced negative attitudes towards those suffering with mental illness within mental health services, this is totally unacceptable and I want to have the confidence to counteract this discrimination. I am starting to believe that the most empathic and passionate mental health nurses are those that have struggled at some point with their own mental health or have cared for someone close to them with mental illness.

I am very passionate about correcting the false beliefs of those around me and hope that this will create more realistic opinions on mental health. I have been touched by the amount of support I have witnessed from sufferers in day centres and on social media to other sufferers, the empathy they can give them regardless of their own struggles is inspirational.

At times during my training I have been disgusted by the lack of empathy practiced by students and nurses, I have seen such lack of passion that I can totally sympathise with the patient when they complain they feel they are not being listened to. I have seen a lot of complaints about mental health services which appear to have been completely justified when a lot of practitioners lack skills in basic communication and respect. I hope we can learn from our mistakes and progress the best way for our patients. Mental health services are changing rapidly and although some of the processes are still archaic hopefully these and the unchangeable practitioners will eventually be phased out.

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19, April 2013 by admin

I’ve been thinking a lot about wanting to write another blog post for a long time however, having the time to sit down and sort out my muddled thoughts hasn’t occurred. I am two thirds of the way through my training at the moment and although I am passionate about the subject, it has become very gruelling for me. I am finding the reality of actually qualifying and being a nurse very daunting and the pressure of the responsibility that will be thrust upon me is something I am not looking forward to. I know this can be dealt with by working hard throughout the next year to prepare myself as best I can for going into work, however, this only adds more pressure. I am excited about starting my new life and my career but I know I have a long way to go before I am academically, emotionally and mentally ready.
I have been coping well with my social anxiety of late; I am used to the changing of faces every few months with different placements and I feel able to cope with these situations on the whole even if anxiety is still present. Since I felt I had made progress with my recovery I decided I wanted to make progress with my personal development. I have issues from childhood such as the abuse I have suffered which have been having negative effects on my thinking and behaviour. I believe as a result of being abused I have very low self-esteem which has led to the development of my social anxiety. I have been working on trying to develop my self-esteem by reading self-help books. I have also read a few sexual abuse survivor books to help me cope with the tormenting thoughts I suffer and the polluting effect these have on my relationships.
My relationship with T has been suffering of late, although he recognises any changes in me and allows me room to breathe from everyday life when I need it such as this week. I have been getting very anxious and low in mood about our relationship because of my unrealistic perfectionism. There have been some issues at work with male colleagues. I have worked bank in care since the early days of my training and since the beginning I have been the subject of some male attention, I have always felt very unable to cope with this attention especially if they are particularly forward. At times, when it was somewhat harmless flirting (which doesn’t exist) I was flattered by the compliments and attention however, as times has gone on they have become more and more forceful in their approach leading to situations where I feel completely vulnerable and they have been physically inappropriate with me. This has brought up feelings of hopelessness within me because I feel that I am leaving myself open to abuse yet again and it rouses old feelings from when I have suffered abuse in the past. I don’t know why I feel so incapable of dealing with these situations but it has led me to find work elsewhere and have numerous anxious discussions with my partner about my feelings of guilt for allowing this to happen. I feel completely powerless and disappointed with myself for letting myself get hurt again. I feel angry with these colleagues for preying on my weaknesses but ultimately that is what the majority of people would do. It also makes me worry about my ability to maintain professional boundaries in my career, this is something I need to be able to deal with appropriately if it happens with a patient and I need to find mechanisms and strength inside myself to do this.
Not only have the people been having a negative impact on me at work but also the hours I am working have been affecting me. I have been physically and mentally exhausted of late with the bank work and the University classes. I rarely catch up with family and my time with my partner is limited and spoilt by tiredness. I am aware that this is what is necessary to get me through University however; it is very difficult to keep pushing forward when I know how far I have to go.
I am looking forward to getting back to the gym, I know this stretches my time even further but it has a positive impact on my mental health and my tiredness. I want to be able to get my external appearance to its best while I work on my self-esteem and self-worth and also become more disciplined and achieve small goals.
I was feeling so low for the past few weeks; my partner has put a lot of effort into spending time with me when he can to support me. I haven’t been able to talk to anyone but him about how I feel however; I did reach out and ask for help this week. I think I need to deal with my issues with a counsellor to get some clarity on how I feel about them and how to let go of the past and allow myself a positive future and to stop punishing myself for what was done to me. I also think I need support to guide me through the rest of my training and to make sure I am mentally healthy as the classes can often have negative impacts on my mood and thinking. Learning about mental health when you have mental health problems can be very triggering and this is another area for development for the next year. I need to be less sensitive and to not relate things to myself because it isn’t helpful for me or the clients.
I believe a big factor in how I feel at the moment is my age, I am still very young and quite naïve; I am still growing and developing as a person. My opinions are still being moulded by experiences and my perspective on the world around me is slowly changing with time. I want to carry my idealistic view of the world with me throughout life but I also want to be more realistic about people to protect myself from them. I want to strive for perfection but not limit myself with these rigid boundaries. Most of all I want to be a competent and understanding nurse, a loyal and honest wife and a genuine person.

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Another Abuse Sufferer

1, February 2013 by admin

I’ve decided to write this post about the sexual abuse I have suffered. I have pondered on writing about this for some time and have not yet been brave enough to dwell on my memories of the past and put it into any sequential order. I hope anyone deciding to read this will be mindful of any experiences they may have had and if it could be harmful for them to read on. The first time I actually dealt with the abuse I suffered was last year when I had a brief course of counselling. Before this, it had tainted my life with sadness, resentment and anger.

I first suffered abuse as a child, before I knew the difference between right and wrong. My innocence was stolen from me at a young age by someone I was supposed to be able to trust and love. I did nothing to stop what was going on for some time, not from what I remember as fear but because I felt loved and connected to that person. Eventually, I had an overwhelming feeling that something was not right and told one of my parents what had been happening in the best way I could describe as a child. The abuse did stop from here but it was never spoken of again, even after many years of this parent watching me punish myself for what they, in my eyes facilitated. As an adult I realise how little support I had from those that were aware of it or suspicious of it at the time, this worries me greatly for the safety of other children. I can understand that adults would be worried about the consequences of the abuse and even that they would not know what to do but to do nothing is unforgivable in my eyes. This horrible secret has been covered up by my family for my entire life and still is. To me, this carries on the burden that I am to my family because they must live in constant fear that I will shatter their perfect image.

I was 13 when the next abuse started. It has taken me a long time to believe that I was abused, that it was them taking advantage of my vulnerability. Not that I had seduced them as I feel I have been made to believe. Yet again, this abuse was swept under the carpet. My abuser made me believe that we were in love, that he was the only person who would ever love me and want me and that we would be together forever. I allowed him to manipulate me because I falsely believe I was beyond my years and thought of myself as an adult. Looking back now, I can see how childish I was and how he fed off of this. I was easy to control and gullible to his words because I wanted to believe them in my desperation be loved and accepted because of the lack of love I felt I received from my parents.

I am still coming to terms with how I feel about my abuse. I know it has a negative impact on my life, I know I dwell on it but I feel unable to move forward from what has happened. I spent my teenage years feeling used, dirty, worthless, hopeless and unlovable. Now I have someone who makes all of these feelings feel untrue and yet I still can’t put the abuse in a box in my mind. I have what I think are flashbacks to my first abuse and recurrent nightmares. I also have intrusive sexual thoughts which affect my self-esteem and quite honestly repulse me; they pollute my sex life and my relationships with family members. I feel as though these people are still controlling my life, my thoughts and my behaviour and I don’t know how to break free. I know I am allowing them to do this, still. But the answer is not clear to me. I believe at the moment that counselling is probably the solution but I don’t always feel ready to face another person and talk openly about these feelings and thoughts which torment me. My social anxiety makes me feel like the counsellor will judge me.

This abuse has led to some of the behaviours I am very ashamed of in my life from my teenage years, alcohol and substance abuse and promiscuity. On the positive side it hasn’t affected my ability to trust others, although maybe this would have been helpful at times. I no longer feel haunted by my abuse day to day as I did as an adolescent; I have perspective and hope that I can overcome all of it. I now feel ready to release post, some months after I originally wrote it. I believe the key to overcoming the trauma of abuse is to accept that you are not to blame, I haven’t quite got to believing it yet but I will get there. I also have better perspective on the failings of the people around me who were aware of what was going on and as I am now an adult I can see how unacceptable it is. When we are young we believe that adults know how to deal with every situation however now I realise we continue to learn until we die. I am not a believer of ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ however, I feel proud and lucky that I have managed to get to where I am today after all the problems I have faced in my life and I hope these will have made me become a better person and eventually mother.

I know this post has many clichés in it, but that’s my life!

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The Simple Things

10, January 2013 by admin

Walking through town is an event for me; I keep my head down and walk quickly, trying to navigate my way through the people traffic. I hope not to see anyone I might recognise because I might have to acknowledge them and I might have to speak to them. I can feel the muscles in my face tighten, thoughts flash through my mind about what people think of my expression. Do they think I’m moody or ugly?  Are they looking at me? I think about my anxiety all the time. In conversation I wonder if they notice I’m anxious, am I making enough eye contact. Endlessly obsessing about myself and what others may think. Will I ever get to a time where I won’t care? Where I can walk down the street with my head high, talk openly about my opinions and my-self without feeling judged, approach others and introduce myself, make a lasting impression. I guess we will have to wait and see.

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Dare to Say Recovery.

21, December 2012 by admin

I have been aware that I haven’t been posting for a little while; this is because I have been too worried about compromising the progress I have been making by immersing myself in anxiety and mental health again. I can become so focused upon my anxiety and how it affects my life when I am ill that I get depressed and lose hope of recovery. My anxiety is noticeably better in the last month and I’m not exactly sure what’s had this positive impact but I know I’m glad for it. It’s important for me now to begin to write again and focus on how I have improved rather than the negativity anxiety still has on my life. I have been noting each step of improvement along the way from holding conversations and making telephone calls to being more assertive and improving my posture and eye contact. I am aware that these things seem insignificant to others but to me they mark the difference in being well and unwell. These are my continual markers of self-improvement.  Anxiety is led by the feared outcome and when you just take a deep breath, acknowledge the anxiety and do it anyway it diminishes the fear little by little. But getting to a place where you have the energy and perceived ability to do that is a journey in itself. My life hasn’t changed, my perspective has changed. To have a little relief from the giant foot of anxiety that sits on my chest has given me the motivation to keep fighting for the person I know I can be. I am grateful for each day that it has a little less hold of me, each day that I can breath. Perhaps one day it will no longer be waiting in the darkness for me to fall.

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Anxiety Rating Scale

9, November 2012 by admin

Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale Test

I read a post from the Twitter user @MADDsuspicions blog and decided to follow suit. This is my experience of social anxiety using the Liebowitz scale.

1.Using a telephone in public – I usually avoid this, I have become a little better lately but I hate being overheard and I have a technique by which I can speak to T on the phone (who is the only person I feel comfortable) with others around me but I am very blank, will not reveal any emotion or details so, to be honest it’s quite pointless. I often avoid calling companies and will certainly avoid calling family unless absolutely necessary.

2.Participating in a small group activity – this comes up a lot at university which is still quite painful but has got a little better, in my 1st year I would dread it and have severe anxiety about not being accepted into a group. I am still anxious depending on how well I know the group, sometimes I will offer my opinion if I know them well enough.

3. Eating in public isn’t too much of an issue, I always worry I have stuff on my face so that is exacerbated a little but in general it is more situations when food is out and people help themselves, this makes me highly anxious. I hate going to restaurants when the waiters ask if everything is ok during your meal, this upsets me a lot. I usually leave it to T to deal with these situations but I am trying to face my fears head on to diminish them.

4. Drinking with others – I have coffee with T and my father in-law sometimes which is always an anxiety provoking event for me, I can’t concentrate on conversation if there is too much going on around me and I find ‘catching up’ draining although I enjoy it. I dread being left alone with anyone and I ruminate on what I said or did afterwards. As for alcohol, I have written a post on this before and it often leads to further anxiety as I self-medicate. I can count occasions on one hand when I have been for drinks with others, not involving T.

5. Talking to people in authority- I have massive anxieties around people in authority. I am often unable to see them as human and struggle to converse on a personal level at all.

6. Acting, performing or speaking in front of an audience – I have had to do this for uni on several occasions, I try to avoid it because it is extremely anxiety provoking before and after however, having a script can sometimes alleviate this a little. Acting is probably the worst situation for me.

7. Going to a party – I don’t have any friends to invite me to a party; at family parties I often remain quiet in larger groups. I love spending time with my family even if it causes anxiety so I do try not to avoid these occasions.

8. Working while being observed – this happens a lot which is quite stressful, I prefer to not be watched, it makes me edgy and more self-conscious.

9. Writing while being observed – doesn’t happen too often but would make me paranoid.

10. Calling someone you don’t know very well – relates to the first question, as I said it is worse with family I think because I hate small talk or not having a focus to a conversation.

11. Talking face to face with someone you don’t know very well – I find this very anxiety provoking and worse depending on the situation however, I practice this quite a lot through work placements and general life so I am becoming better at hiding anxiety with practice. I would usually avoid if unnecessary though which is bad. I have been using opportunities to practice speaking to strangers lately to tackle my fear.

12. Meeting strangers – same as above really. Recently went to a birthday do with T where I didn’t know anyone which lead to a lot of alcohol being drank and a few near panic attacks, but I got through. Also, co-hosted a family get together recently which I struggled with, couldn’t introduce people to each other and felt anxious all day.

13. Urinating in a public bathroom – I find it difficult if there are others in the room and it is quiet or if I have to queue I can’t look at anyone. Also, I have in the past held my full bladder until the end of class even though I was in pain because I was too anxious to get up in the middle and draw attention to myself.

14. Entering a room when others are already seated – related to my answer to the last question somewhat. Very severe anxiety and try to avoid.

15. Being the centre of attention – I hate being the centre of attention, I blush profusely and sweat. I have struggled with answering questions in class. I lose my train of thought and can’t put together a sentence in a logical way unless I rehearse it, if I rehearse it too much I can’t say it.

16. Speaking up at a meeting – only when necessary and as above.

17. Taking a test on your ability, skill or knowledge – I love being tested if it isn’t oral.

18. Expressing disagreement or disapproval to someone you don’t know very well – I would often avoid this and probably shrug it off by laughing or remaining quiet, this is quite frustrating because I am actually quite opinionated and would love to challenge others.

19. Looking someone you don’t know very well straight in the eyes – this is something I struggle with, with everyone, I find this massively anxiety provoking. I realise you should look people in the eyes but I find it uncomfortable and spend masses of time focusing on whether I am doing it enough or not. It often consumes my mind during conversation. If I catch someone’s eye by mistake this causes me great embarrassment.

20. Giving a prepared oral talk to a group – as I said earlier this is better than having no preparation but I would be incredibly anxious. On the other hand, people expect others to be nervous giving a speech so it can mean I don’t worry too much about displaying anxiety symptoms as it is a normal situation.

21. Trying to make someone’s acquaintance for a romantic/sexual relationship – people flirt with me a bit which I find highly embarrassing. I am in a long term relationship which was founded on a drunken meeting at first; otherwise we wouldn’t be together because I wouldn’t have had the confidence.

22. Returning goods to a store for a refund – I always avoid if possible or send T. Naughty me.

23. Giving a party – I have done this on a few occasions which is always an anxious time, it has always been family related and aided by T. Will people turn up? Introducing people is a social nightmare. Large groups are not too cool. But anxiety aside I love being with people. I think I’m a socialite stuck in a SAD girl’s body sometimes.

24. Resisting a high pressure sales person – ahhhhh I hate this, especially chuggers (sorry). I often have headphones on and I don’t look up much so they tend to leave me alone but I am absolutely horrified if they talk to me. In the case of shops, I avoid any which have sales people generally; sofa shops and phone shops.

My answers on the scale are rated at very severe anxiety at this point in time but I am aware that at the time I was going through a particularly bad period of anxiety and negative thoughts.

So this is a little insight into the everyday situations I come across and how I perceive and cope with them. For me, it is very day to day at the moment depending on my mood. My main aim is to expose myself as much as possible to challenge my anxious thoughts and eventually fully recover and ensure I am the best nurse I can be for my patients. So, the journey continues…

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30, October 2012 by admin

The scariest thing about mental health is how fragile it is. I am acutely aware that at any point in my life I could lose my coping mechanisms or that life events may affect my mental health. At times with clients I realise that one day, it could be me talking to the mental health nurse, it could be the nurse intruding on my personal experiences, asking questions they have asked so many times before just to fill blanks on forms. This is when I hope I’m cared for by a nurse with the caring attitude I have, the nurse I aspire to be. Is this likely? I appreciate that people I meet in the service aren’t weak; they’re strong for just getting through another day of suffering and I’m thankful for every day I have that I am well enough to live as I do.

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Mr T

24, October 2012 by admin

Nowadays I feel extremely lucky to have the life I have. It’s not perfect, it’s not easy but it’s the best I’ve ever had. I recognise that T is the person I needed to change. Without him, I don’t know where I would be. He shows me unrelenting patience, selflessness and support. He is my entire world, whether this is healthy or not in anyone else’s eyes it’s got me far away from where I was. We rely on each other and slowly I am building my independence from him and tackling my anxiety brick by brick with him by my side. He is the only person who can see the real me, the only person that my anxiety doesn’t affect. He gives me the reassurance that the real me is worth seeing, worthy of love and kindness. The inspiration I need to keep fighting anxiety to show others the person underneath. He saved my life, I’m sure of it. He has given me stability and put me on the path to recovery. If he was reading this I know he would say, I was always capable but the truth is he made me believe it. By showing me his unconditional belief in me he has given me the belief in myself I needed.

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Hats Off to Day Resource Centres

20, October 2012 by admin

During my training I have completed work placements in a variation of settings such as prisons, acute wards, community settings, specialist units and day resource centres. I have found the most welcoming people in the day resource centre. I found it heart-warming that so many individuals with their own mental health needs and problems come together to support one another. They could all empathise and show sympathy for others when they were feeling low and relate to each other, even across diagnoses. They all shared similar experiences of feeling outcast by society, discriminated against and of being vulnerable people. The most significant issue I found was that even though a high percentage of the people have been exploited, abused, bullied and hurt by others throughout their lives they were capable of trusting others in this community they had built for themselves. It is just a shame that they have had to go through so many terrible things just because they have been vulnerable in the past. It’s a shame that most of these people feel authorities are unjust and do not listen to them because they have mental health problems. It’s a shame the majority of them feel they have to suffer in silence because those around them don’t or won’t understand what it’s like to suffer from an enduring mental illness.

It is touching the amount of support and compassion they show one another, even though there a people of varying functionality and illness they all seem to help each other along. They are mindful of each other and look out for others when they are becoming unwell. They shield one another from the real world in some ways and I have wondered whether this is a good thing but then, I think there would be a few less people on the planet without the centre so, that’s my opinion formed. I just hope that those above me realise the good work centres like these do for people and don’t underestimate the importance of giving them structure to their day and a place where they fit in. It would be such a shame to lose a great service. To be honest I have had times of jealousy when I have wished I could access a centre and build a social network such as these people have. I think it would do me a lot of good actually, but I shall have to find other means of making friends.

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10 quirky traits of Social Anxiety Disorder

19, October 2012 by admin

1. Not being able to recognise people as I don’t look at faces enough or look up in the street, which in my opinion has given me a heightened sense of recognising voices.

2. Jumbling words; mixing the first letters of words in a sentence.

3. It’s contagious! Others mirror my behaviour.

4. Not being able to lie in case you have the embarrassment of being found out.

5. I am anxious about posting on blog sites, Twitter or Facebook.

6. Not visiting the hair dresser/dentist/doctors unless it is totally unavoidable.

7. Not being able to use public toilets.

8. Not drinking caffeinated coffee because it makes me incredibly anxious.

9. I am too scared to wave at people, for example waving thank you to people in cars.

10. When I see a salesperson in the street I am terrified.

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