How to not be sad.

I've attempted this post so many times, and I cannot seem to form any sort of coherent post. So, if this is a little all over the place, I do apologise.

When I applied to do a Nursing course, I never really anticipated how much things in my life would change. Maybe I'm having one of those eureka moments... maybe I'm just feeling nostalgic. I'm in my second year now and I feel like everything has changed in such a short amount of time. Now I'll just cut the crap, because I actually have no idea what I'm talking about.

Before I started as a Nursing student, I was an anxious person and as cliche as it is to say, I had been through a lot. I didn't like to bother people, and there was not a chance in hell that I would spark up a conversation with anyone I did not know. I know... fantastic qualities for a Nurse, am I right? I cannot remember anything about my first day of university, apart from clammy palms and feeling like my heart was about to burst out of my chest.

See, when you're a student Nurse, you need confidence. You need to be able to stand up for not only yourself, but your patients. That doesn't mean that you have to run in on your first day, thinking you know everything. On the first day of my first work placement, I went home crying. I said to my Mum, "I'm not cut out for this", and at the time I meant it. The day itself was a blur and it was something completely new to me. I dreaded going back. Every time I thought about it, I could feel the anxiety pooling in my lungs, making it hard to breathe. After a month, the realisation that I knew the routine of the ward, settled it. I realised that I was learning a lot, and that I voiced my opinion more. I was able to spark a conversation with my patient, and I learnt a lot from their life experiences. That was my first life lesson learnt right there. Confidence comes with time. I have taught myself to take things hour by hour. I re-assure myself daily, that I will never learn everything. There will always be new medications or new conditions or new people trying to make you look thick! Cut yourself some slack.

As I went through my first year and experienced new things, I began to find my love for elderly care. At this stage in my training, I truly believe that it is something that I will do when I qualify. I found my love for working on a busy ward, and having lots of jobs to do. That's not to say that everything was great. I went through stages of loneliness, feeling like I could not talk to my family or friends about certain things. They would not understand why I was upset about a patient passing away... a patient I'd only know for five days. I felt so tired that it made me feel sick. I was doing 12.5 hour shifts and then travelling to and from placement. I'd leave in the dark and get home in the dark, and that was hard for me. My moods became co-dependent on daylight, and I had to go out for a walk during my 30 minute lunch break on bad days just to get some fresh air. I found it difficult to juggle my finances, too. I did not have a job at this time, as I wanted to focus on my work, and I was relying on my parents. I loved my placement and did not want to leave, but being unpaid took a toll on me.

Working on a busy ward really boosted my confidence levels. When you have such a high turn over of patients and you're able to meet lots of new people, it really makes you become at ease with your insecurities. Suddenly, it wasn't about me. It was about the patient and getting them better. I was not bother about looking like a fool, if it was going to bring a smile to their faces. Being in hospital sucks, and having someone there to hold your hand really helps.

I'm now in my second year and on my third long placement, and I'm having a blip. A "blip" is something I refer to when I feel any of the following: self doubt, sadness, loneliness, sick, irritated, tired or just plain skint... need I say more? It's something that every human being will feel... but I feel like as a nursing student, I've never heard the words "how do you feel?" We're so busy looking after others, that we forget to acknowledge our own mental health. On my last placement, I came down really hard on myself. I would see a sick patient, then look at my own life and think "what have you got to complain about". Of course, people have worse off, but that does not change how we feel. We can't help it if we feel lonely or sad or tired. If we ignore our feelings and continue to push ourselves too much, it will impact on the care that we provide.

So, coming full circle. "How to not be sad" is the most ridiculous title I've ever came up with. Because if I knew the answer, I would not be writing a badly written blog post. If you're thinking about going into Nursing or you're just having a blip yourself, it's important to not be so hard on yourself. Wallow in self pity when you get home from an unpaid night shift. Take a bath when you should be writing an essay. Force yourself to go for a quick walk on your measly 30 minute lunch break. Show yourself a little love. Sadness is something that will burden those that look the happiest. That's just life.



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