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.