So today is international nurses day! In honour of it, I wanted to #thankanurse, but seeing as twitter limits me to 140 characters, I thought I’d better do it here.
I want to say thank you to the Nursing Assistant that looked after me while I was waiting to get stitches for the first time, and told me about her own struggles with mental health when she was a teenager. I want to thank the nurses that made cups of tea for me while I waited to get stitched. And I want to thank all the nurses in my local Minor Injuries Unit for always treating me with kindness and compassion, and for taking the time to ask me how I was feeling, what made me do it, and for trying to understand.
I want to thank the nurses that treated me when I overdosed. That saw the hospital food I’d left untouched and came back with an armful of jelly and crackers and an entire packet of biscuits, that listened to me cry when I got an interview invite for nursing, that unhooked my drip and took me for a walk off the ward, that came and said goodbye to me and wish me well, one by one, as they left at the end of their shift.
I want to thank my CPN, for being patient and big sisterly, for being the first person to help address my anxiety. Thank you to the two duty nurses who listened, who made me feel validated and important, who were proactive and made helpful plans to give me more support, without resorting to hospital.
I want to thank the nurse that asked me questions about me, my family, my degree in the middle of the night that first night I spent on a psychiatric ward. I was terrified and I couldn’t sleep, and she made me feel a little less scared. I want to thank the NA that sat with me in A&E while I fell asleep on the floor, for taking all the sharps I had hidden back on the ward out of their hiding places before I got back.
I want to thank the nurses that stayed up speaking to me the night I was transferred to my local ward, for letting me shower even though it was late and for arranging to get my things transferred from the other hospital. I want to thank all the nurses that found me covered in blood, or with a ligature around my neck, or picked me off the floor in tears. I want to thank the nurses that listened when I told them things I hadn’t told anyone before, that gave me sound advice, that gave me a bollocking when I needed it. I want to thank the nurses that carried me to bed when I fell asleep on the sofa, that broke the rules and gave me hugs when I needed them, that wiped the tears from my eyes when I cried. I want to say thank you to the nurses that made me laugh, that put up with me singing and talking incessantly, that sat with my while I sobbed. I want to thank the nurses that spent stupid amounts of time trying to get me to take my medication, that frogmarched me down the ward to the clinical room to take it,that educated me about my illness. I want to thank the nurses that took me for walks, that bought me a creme egg and 4 litres of coke. I want to thank the nurses that taught me ‘nurse things’ like taking blood pressure, that let me set up meds and make the supper and take obs.
I want to thank the nurse that worked a 12hr shift without a break, and still came to say goodbye before she went home with a smile on her face, or who come and asked my how I was even if she was working on another ward. I want to thank her for being gentle and calm, for always making me smile, for not getting frustrated when I couldn’t talk. I want to thank her for spending hours at a time talking to me, and for drawing on the whiteboard above my bed “keep smiling :-)”. I want to thank the nurse that helped me prepare for my nursing interviews, that helped me keep going, that bent the rules for me, that rationalised things, that rang me in France and made me take my medication while she waited on the other end of the phone. I want to thank her for making me tea in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep, for making me laugh, for making me sign medication and suicide contracts that are now stuck up on my wall. I want to thank the ward sister for fighting my corner, for being real and honest and upfront, and for being really bloody dedicated. I want to thank the nurse that spoke to me when I rang the crisis line one night, because I still remember what she said and I am becoming aware of when I am running myself into the ground. I want to thank the NA that dragged me out of bed in the morning, that was always bright and cheery, that noticed that I drew a flower before I scribbled all over the page in black, that waves and shows me what clothes she’s bought when she bumps into me at work. I want to thank the NA that laughed at me while I chucked pillows round the room, and for telling me “you are weird, that’s why you’re; here” because she made me laugh too. I want to thank the nurse that tried to get through to me the night I ran away, that told me I’d get there, that told me I was going to turn things around. I want to thank the nurse that always showed empathy, that told me I wasn’t fucking anything up, that told me I made her laugh and that I needed to stop being so hard on myself. I want to thank the nurse that was grumpy and irritable but made me howl with laughter with her one liners and practiced tough love and told me I was her favourite thing about nursing.
And I want to say thank you to all the nurses on my local mental health ward for all their encouragement and support over the past few years. For seeing me at rock bottom and helping me back up and for bringing me back down when my head was in the clouds. For pushing me to challenge myself, my thoughts, my illness. For their endless patience, kindness, compassion. For being dedicated and passionate. For believing in me and never giving up. For inspiring me to go on to do the same thing.
Most- if not all- of the nurses I’ve met, have given me something special; a piece of advice, a warm hug, a kind gesture. All of them have helped some way with my recovery. Without them, I’m pretty damn sure I wouldn’t be where I am today.