July 23, 2015

As part of my job, I would encounter mental illness every time I went to work. I loved my job as a mental health nurse as I got to work with very vulnerable people and aid them in starting their recovery journey. I'd had my own mental health issues in the past and had spent the last 4 years on antidepressant medication to help with my low moods. I remained on antidepressants throughout my pregnancy to help stabilise my moods alongside my turbulent hormone levels. I wasn't fazed by it as I thought, as a mental health nurse, I could handle it. 
 

As a mental health nurse I thought that I was somehow immune to mental health problems

When my daughter was only 3 days old I was admitted to a mother and baby unit due to concerns about my mental wellbeing. I was constantly crying and had suicidal thoughts.  I was diagnosed with something called Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - otherwise known as developmental trauma disorder. It apparently stems from certain events which occurred in my childhood and adolescence which shapes the way I react to things. I have extreme difficultly regulating my emotions and can go from one extreme to another in a matter of seconds. Alongside this, I began to experience a voice inside my head. After a few weeks of my diagnosis I realised that I knew who the voice was; this voice says negative comments to me and also regularly tells me to harm myself.
 
I find the whole situation strange and alien. I accepted the fact I've experienced mental illness in the past but the fact I've been an inpatient in a psychiatric ward still staggers me. There was a large part of me that felt that because of the nature of my job, I was somehow immune to mental health problems. As an inpatient I felt embarrassed when I explained to staff members that I was a nurse and specialised in mental health. It used to annoy me when staff would ask me what I would do or say if I were talking to a patient - I found that hard to take. It was like a confirmation of my failure to stay well and be the mother I wanted to be. I also felt so ashamed of myself because I was in hospital and needed the very help I had once provided to others. 
 

Words cannot describe how grateful I am for everything they've done for me

Experiencing mental illness really does tell you who your real friends are. I was very lucky that I had an incredibly supportive partner and family. My family and friends would visit me regularly in hospital without me even asking. Five and a half months down the line they remain close by, and words cannot describe how grateful I am for everything they've done for me, my partner and my beautiful little girl. 
 

What do you think of Emily's story?

Comment below or sign our pledge wall to show your support and find out how talking tackles mental health discrimination.

Share your story

Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.