Mental Health, Mental Health Nursing, Mental Health Treatment

On being a Mental Health Nurse ❤️

Having a diagnosis of bipolar affective disorder and being a mental health nurse comes with challenges. Without bipolar it does anyway.

I went into nursing because of my constant exposure to mental illness in my family, in me and some of my friends. I wanted, and want, to make a difference. To put my experience into helping others.

This has come with many challenges. Some of which I wasn’t really prepared for…

Many, if not most, service users (will refer to as people from herein) have a traumatic history. During our routine assessments and therapeutic work we come into contact with these life stories daily. Many have been sexually, physically, financially, emotionally abused or neglected as children and/or adults and are vulnerable. I’m sure a lot of us can unfortunately tell ours too 😓.

Psychologically it’s painful. Mental health nursing by its very nature means trying our best in forming a close trusting relationship with people with ‘unconditional positive regard’. No matter who they are, what their history is or how they speak with you or do to you, you treat everyone the same. All these histories are not a usual part of life for the average joe bloggs on the street to hear. We bear this in our hearts everyday.

Some people have committed the most immoral acts such as rape, murder, violent acts. Some are paedophiles. On a regular basis, as a nurse, you are verbally abused. Screamed at, accused of being an asshole, not caring etc. Sometimes physically attacked. Most of the time you can understand this is not the norm for this person but because they’re unwell they see you as the enemy and understandably so. Especially when the mental health act has been enforced. But all the while you’re trying to help, trying to help ‘recovery’, showing you care.

These factors are obviously risks, whether to others or, more often, to themselves and it takes a lot of responsibility to assess and manage this. It’s huge.

Often we are faced with self harm and suicide. Dressing wounds, managing overdoses, cutting ligatures. Sometimes finding people who have sadly completed suicide. Standing up in court even though you know you have tried to help the best you can.

When you have your own mental illness (obviously stable if practising), it’s a conscious effort to not over identify. I want to say to them I’m here because I know how it feels and I want to help but you can’t and sometimes you’re shouted at and seen as the bad person and sometimes it feels that connection, that true understanding, might help.

We cry on the way home or at home. We can’t show it too much at the time because we have to remain professional. It’s not easy to put things to the back of our minds. I often think about people after they leave services, how they’re getting on and hoping they’re ok. I can remember each and every person I’ve worked with.

We’re usually short staffed and this means we can’t do what we want to do. We really want to talk to people all day long, take them places, help them reconnect, cope, whatever it is that we both conclude would be helpful. But we can’t as much as we like. Our hands are tied.

As a nurse and a service user, I see both sides and it’s so frustrating but I will continue to do my best and fight for excellent care.

17 thoughts on “On being a Mental Health Nurse ❤️”

    1. Lots to reply to your comment here so I’m gonna break it down as I’ll ramble 😂:

      1. Thank you SO much for your kind words!! Are you my GP in disguise? She’s literally said the same as you regarding my ability to nurse and self doubt. She regularly gives me a talking to 😂. I think she knows me better than I know me.
      2. I actually have all the same praise and views on you as you’ve said about me! I mean that absolutely sincerely. It’s easy to reply in compliment to others when they compliment you but I mean it. I’m very glad you are a nurse. I know if I saw you working it would make me smile and nod 😍
      3. My ‘About’ page 😱🤔 – I’ve tried for hours to open comments (and generally learn how to construct this wordpress site). I have given up with that now. Sometimes this constructing business drives me potty.
      4. £3k on food 😂 I think I’m safe to find this funny as we’re fellow bipolar people?! Please tell me more about this! In one day? What did you buy? Did you eat it? Were you hungry? 😂 and where on earth did you store it? On that note….
      5. I was about to tell you some funny tales of mine then remembered I’ve a draft post already to finish on that subject. Hopefully you’ll find it amusing… off to try and finish 🙂

      Hope you’ve had a good day xx


      1. Hello sweetie I haven’t ignored your comment I just need to reply tomorrow when I have my laptop as we have much to chat about x

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I was thinking and getting a part time volunteering job to make a first step back to work- what do you think?


      3. Yes I think I might enjoy it x I was also thinking of doing a part time counsellor course with the Open University. Just something to do and boost my confidence x did you want to take my name for Facebook?

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I went to comment on your “About” but the comments are closed, so instead I will write to you here. Firstly I think you’re writing is brilliant and very articulate. You come across as someone who has a lot of belief in others, but much belief in yourself. Please have a lot of belief in yourself because you seem a rare and amazingly kind person. I think that your own experience of mental illness has helped you to connect and understand your patients better. I can see you working on the unit and patients seeing you are a beckon of hope instead of a pest to throw pills down their throat. The story of a patient buying a zoo is so funny! When I was in a hyper state I spent £3,000 on food :’) Please keep on sharing your stories, I enjoyed your blog. NOW BACK TO YOUR ROUNDS BAND 5. lots of love Amy x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you are so wonderful. I am almost finished with my BSN and will get my RN license in a few months. I often ask myself how I will ever be a good nurse if I struggle so much with mental illness. I love that you don’t let your fears or your diagnoses stop you from doing the meaningful work that you love. Way to be!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! It took me 6 years to complete the 3 year course… I do get scared but decide for once in my life I’d just try and accept it if it didn’t work out. Got a lots of support and reflection, supervisor and support a must. There are challenges such as not overidentifying and keeping professional.. also knowing to take time out if needed and that’s ok. You’d be surprised how many mental health professionals are on meds!

      Liked by 1 person

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