“The way someone treats you isn’t meant to be taken lightly. How they treat you, is how they view you.”
It’s been a chaotic few weeks to say the least. I’m grateful for having had the chance to get away for my reading week and take some time to focus on something other than school.
I guess I would say the past couple weeks have been filled with a lot of anxiety and recurrences of my depression. Coming back into school to find out half my courses are cancelled because of a provincial wide strike was a bit much. I pay to learn and I pay to gain experience but yet half my courses including my clinical have been shut down until an agreement has been reached between the two parties. It’s a pretty crappy feeling to not be able to do something you love. It’s even worse when you come across articles pointing out the strike will be ‘protracted’ and previous strike have been 3 weeks +.
I guess I shouldn’t complain too much because I have at least my science courses to focus on and i’m grateful for what the Faculty has done in moving our classes to off campus locations across the city. I also can still attend my community placement which is also always a treat. I think the more I work with kids, the more I enjoy what I do.
Aside from that I can finally say I have recovered from strep throat. I’m usually not one to go see a doctor but even that was rough, who would think a sore throat could cause THAT much misery over three days. It got to the point I realized ibuprofen, lozenges, and my throat spray were not doing anything that I decided I needed to make a visit to the doctor. After sitting in a lecture and half way through googling the nearest walk-in clinic because I had chills and was literally in the most pain i’d ever experienced. I have a lot of respect for people that get it often, it was terrible.
But obviously bad news comes in threes….lucky me. Last week also saw my first car accident happen. Physically I was okay but emotionally I was shaken (or ‘shook’ as the youngin’s say). It was an experience and it still gives me anxiety if I think to hard about it but it’d definitely a learning experience and luckily the car can be fixed and my health is okay. I would say i’ll be more on edge driving now and I choose to walk more to do things rather than drive, but in time my confidence will grow again for driving but for now it’ll be one step at a time.
Aside from that, life is moving forward and i’m just trying to focus on making it through this term. The past couple weeks i’ve found myself in a rut where i’m not feeling motivated but then stress myself out because I don’t feel motivated. A vicious cycle. I guess it’s exciting to think I may actually have a long Christmas break this year (permitted everything goes smoothly) finishing around mid-December. Hopefully will also hear some positive news in regards to the results of my Master’s dissertation in the coming weeks. Hopefully the new year will see me heading to London to collect my degree and see some good friends :).
“Ability to learn is not fixed, that it can change with your effort”
Growing up I was always seen as the “weaker” student compared to my fellow peers. Whether it be starting off in French immersion school and being told I couldn’t handle it or starting off grade one having to be taught to read privately or even moving to grade 5 and not being able to keep up with my peers in math or writing. I was told with my grades I would never move on to university by my own parents.
However, upon watching this Ted Talk I realize how much the power of grit has impacted my own life. Whether it be the story of grade 1 me who not only learned to read, but learned to read at such a pace that I advanced beyond that of my peers to the extent on a standardized test only 4% of students would have surpassed me. Let alone move to grade 5 where with working with my teacher privately I surpassed everyone’s expectations and learned to write in cursive and improve my mathematical abilities. It was also that same teacher that recognized my potential and pushed me to do better knowing that I needed a bit of a push to get started.
It was the comparison have having friends that were all gifted or in advanced placement that pushed me to do and be better to not be the one that was always behind. Even in comparison to my sister who spends hours studying, reading and perfecting her notes even today in a top law school, I was always seen as the “lazy” one because I never tried as hard or put in as much effort to get the same grades. Whether it be in music, physical education, or even school work I was determined to beat the expectations that were placed upon me by others. I would spend hours listening to lecture or practicing to be better than those around me and I was determined to try my best. While I don’t put in the effort most students do, I have developed strategies that work for me whether it just be attending lectures and listening or skimming over the text book a few times or even re-listening to lectures on my own time. I was and always have been determined to not settle for less and to get into not only some of the best schools but also some of the best programs. To some extent though I am lazy, I never had to try as hard as some of those around me to understand concepts or study for hours on end. I was also known as the stubborn kid by many teachers growing up who only put in her effort for things I wanted to do or to beat expectations.
I still remember sitting on the floor one day in my room back in gr.9 and flipping through books of university wondering how I would ever get in with a 71% average. To eventually graduating from a tough high school with and 87% average. Although I was often seen to struggle through high school with kids so smart it would blow your mind, i’m incredibly grateful for the determination, skill building, challenges it set for me because it prepared me well to compete in a university setting. Who would have thought I would spend 3 years on the Dean’s Honor list, with the one year me not making it was due to my major struggle with depression in my third year. Let alone go on to doing her Master’s at a top 20 school and competing with some of the best and brightest doctors and lawyers.
However, looking at things as a whole I never let failure stop me from achieving whatever it is I wanted to do. Anytime I experienced failure, I got back up and went to work in order to kick ass. I’ve had many setbacks in life whether it be emotionally, personally, or even academically but the one thing I can look at as a whole was my determination and oftentimes hard work set me apart from my peers. I was never viewed as the smartest kid growing up but you could ask any of my teachers and they would tell you I was often the most preserving and determined student. It’s amazing to think what grit can do to kids and setting a bright future for themselves.
Take a few minutes to watch this insightful talk 🙂
“Weakness is treating someone as though they belong to you. Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves.” — Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing
“We cannot control everything that happens to us in life, but we can choose how we respond. When we respond with an attitude of ‘Why is this happening to me?’ and adopt a victim mentality, we suffer. When we choose to respond with an attitude of ‘Why is this happening for me and what can I learn?’ then we feel a lot more empowered, which impacts our mental state positively.
The biggest misconception about happiness is that we can outsource it — that something external is going to make us happy. Happiness is NOT a constant state. As humans we experience and grow through a variety of emotions. The expectation that we should be happy all the time will leave anyone with an expectation hangover. What we can be is grateful.”
—Christine Hassler, empowerment coach and author of Expectation Hangover: Overcoming Disappointment in Work, Love, and Life
I think this is an insightful perspective into the impact Bell Let’s Talk day has on the mental health movement. I have to admit it is one of my favourite days on social media, it’s incredibly inspiring to see so many people open up for the first time and share their experiences or words of positive encouragement for those going through mental illness. However, it’s also incredibly sad and frustrating at the same time to see so many people suffering in silence and unable to find the resources they need to lead a meaningful life.
Mental health treatment is expensive. Trust me, I know. I was fortunate to have the support of my family in paying for a psychologist (not covered by OHIP), which would set me back about 110 dollars for every one hour appointment. At one point I was going 3 to 4 days a week for almost 4 months at my lowest point 3 years ago. Waiting for a psychiatrist (covered by OHIP) took almost 2 months to get an initial appointment and even so most of the time they just give you medication and direct you to other resources such as cognitive-behavioural therapy or other forms of talk therapy. For most people many of these resources are simply unaccessible and unaffordable. Even on campuses across Canada, there’s often long wait lists to get into counselling on campus. I was told to explore options off campus to gain faster access and because I was covered by insurance outside of the school, meaning I could try my luck and get covered somewhere else but it was unlikely.
Your brain is apart of your body. I don’t understand why people face so much discrimination to get a “check up” on their brain. We get yearly physicals for the rest of our body, why should someone feel ashamed to talk about what’s going on in their head. I mean any pain someone feels is subjective, so why is it any different on thought process. When we feel “sick” whether it be the flu, a cold, or even a migraine, many of us stay home to “rest” and feel better and don’t face any shame in doing so. But as soon as someone says I stayed home because my anxiety was too high, that’s when people’s perspective starts to change.
It’s great to see a national conversation and even international to some extent, but it is simply not enough to talk about it for one day. We should be talking about it every day until it’s normalized. But more importantly we need to hold accountability to our words. We say we want to remove the stigma and make care accessible, but yet people seem to stop talking about it as soon as the day is done. We need to do more than just talk, we need to take action. Whether it be advocating at your school to encourage more funding into mental health or encouraging and lobbying our politicians to integrate more funding into mental health resources. Mental health should play a bigger role in the renewals of the provincial health accords both in terms of primary health care but also in health education. Many mental illnesses begin in childhood, if we can find ways to remove barriers when children are young, train teachers and other child educators to recognize signs early on, we can save many people from going down a long road of recovery and give them the resources early on to cope later on in life.
The conversation shouldn’t stop today. We should be holding people with power accountable for their words of wanting to make changes to our mental health care system. PM Justin Trudeau wants to be part of the movement remove the stigma surrounding mental illness, so let’s hold him accountable in creating dialogue with our provinces and territories in allowing people to access the care and supports they need to feel right again.
Don’t stop the conversation.
Today is #BellLetsTalk day. It’s supposed to reduce stigma around mental health by getting Canadians to talk about. It also helps raise money for mental health initiatives and programs. Aside from the fact that mental health awareness gets coopted by a massive corporation for one day, I have other qualms about throwing my support behind the movement.
Bell Let’s Talk assumes that one of the major keys to fighting mental illness is simply by talking about it. By sharing my experience on social media, I’m supposed to be on my way to feeling better. By tweeting “Let’s talk, today and every day!” I’m supporting others dealing with depression, anxiety, and other issues in a way that’s helpful and meaningful.
But mental illness doesn’t work like that. And it certainly doesn’t work like that in Canada.
Last year, I went through a tough time. I spent days in bed crying. It was hard to feel motivated to bathe, feed myself, let alone venture outside. I wanted to disappear.
I was really lucky that my manager and workplace understood and gave me time off to deal with what I was going through. But many working Canadians aren’t that lucky. People who are paid hourly lose pay for missing work. Even salaried employees can be reprimanded, demoted and fired for having to deal with mental health issues. Each year on #BellLetsTalk day, a number of former Bell employees come forward with their own stories of how Bell doesn’t actually care about their mental well-being.
Eventually, I started therapy. It was expensive, but because I had a job and some savings, I was able to afford it. I also have health benefits, but it covers psychiatry not psychotherapy. Psychiatry tends to be more expensive, so $500 of insurance only gets you around two or three sessions. Plus, do you know how long the waitlist is to see a psychiatrist in Canada?
Once a week, I’d leave work early to make it to my therapy appointment. Again, my manager was amazing and never made it a big deal. I feel so lucky. I was never docked pay or asked to produce a doctor’s note. Many Canadians aren’t afforded the same luxury.
Months after starting therapy, I found that no matter what I was doing to help myself, I still couldn’t shake off feelings of sadness, panic and anxiety. It was difficult to imagine a future, let alone plan a week ahead. I felt anxious whenever I had to see people or be in social situations. I couldn’t focus on work or anything. No matter how much I exercised, I couldn’t feel confident or the jolt of endorphins that used to come to me so easily.
So I went to my doctor. I’m pretty lucky that despite moving to a new city, I was able to secure a family doctor by recommendation. Most Canadians don’t have access to a regular, family doctor and rely on walk-in clinics, which require waiting around for hours, missing work and other responsibilities.
My doctor prescribed me an antidepressant. I knew that giving it a try would be the best course of action, but it was still difficult for me to accept this reality. I kept wondering what was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just feel like my old self again? I felt like a failure.
After thinking about it for a week, I filled the prescription. My pills are expensive, but my health insurance covers nearly the entire cost. I’m lucky that as a full-time employee, my workplace provides health insurance coverage. I can’t imagine having to pay for these medications otherwise. No wonder so many Canadians are never able to get the help they need.
At first, I felt just about every negative side-effect my doctor had told me about – drowsiness during the day and insomnia at night, heart palpitations, dry mouth, nausea and dizziness. But after about two weeks, those feelings went away, and now I can say with certainty that my medication has really helped me. I’m lucky to have found something that worked so quickly.
I still go to therapy and I don’t expect to be on antidepressants forever. But If I do, that’s ok, too. Mental health, however, is so much more than just talking about it. It’s more than a hashtag and getting Canadians to open up about it for a day.
It can be an extremely lonely experience. It can feel frustrating and seemingly inexplicable. I’ve found it helpful to talk to my friends about it, but I’ve also found comfort in online movements like #TalkingAboutIt, which is used 365 days of the year – not just one – and support groups like the Bunz Mental Health Zone on Facebook.
But to truly make a difference on the mental health of all Canadians, we need to be doing so much more. We need the government to step it up and make mental healthcare, including therapy and medications, available and accessible to everyone.
We need workplaces to get on board and really listen to and care about their employees. We need mental health days to be seen as just as important as regular old sick days. We need to start talking about it, normalizing it and letting kids know that it’s okay to feel sad, angry, anxious and depressed – and then provide actual help.
A few months into my therapy, I said to my therapist, “I can’t believe it took me so long to come here. Therapy should be as normal as going to the doctor or dentist for annual checkups. It’s like a check-up for my brain.”
I want other Canadians to be able to get the help they need – and not just talk about it for a day.
Reposted from: https://nowtoronto.com/
You’re probably thinking, why do you even care since you’re Canadian. I care because I am an educated woman, a minority, and a global citizen.
I get it, Trump winning was not a surprise, I knew it was coming as soon as the debates began to start. Everyone keeps talking about how it was “unanticipated” that Trump would win. That because his campaign was misogynistic and sexist it would lead to his downfall. But when you followed the media and the voices of the people you could see the dissatisfaction at the bureaucratic level and the need to get rid of the “typical” lifetime politician. We live in an age where mainstream media controls what we see in the sense that there is more negative news broadcasted than positive. It’s framed how society views things in that the media did a solid job at painting a bleak picture of why the economy was doing so poorly, why unemployment, natural disaster, and terrorism was on the rise.
There’s no justification in calling a woman “disgusting” for requesting to a break in order to allow her to pump breast milk for her young child. There’s no reason to publicly humiliate a woman by calling her a “big, fat pig” and there is absolutely no rationale to insinuate just because you have the power and fame you’re entitled to grab a woman by the p***y. That with his new Cabinet many women may lose access to getting preventative reproductive care, whether it be access to birth control, pap smears, and abortion.
It’s completely frightening. How do I look at a young girl with big dreams to change the world and tell her that she will be reduced to just her looks and body parts rather than her intelligence. That in order to achieve power, money, and rank, you have to be submissive to the big man up top if you want to get anywhere. That a man who has the top role in one of the most powerful countries in the world and a large social media following can influence a large following particularly with views on women, the LGBTQ community, people of colour, and evidence-based science.
We need to do more to empower women across the globe and Trump’s influence can seek to impede or even worse reverse the social progress made in helping women succeed. In developing countries, women are often forced to play the role of “stay at home” mom, often locked in centuries of misogynistic power crusades impeding them from obtaining education and income. Even worse is the fact that because many of these women are not able to contribute “financially” to their household, let alone society it further cripples the development and economies of developing nations and keeps them locked in a vicious cycle of poverty.
Even more so we need to empower minorities, especially people of colour to seek greater opportunities. Often these are some of the most disadvantaged groups in our society, whether it be in access to healthy foods/activities, safe housing and community conditions, adequate healthcare, stable employment, and importantly educational opportunities. These are the people least likely to get out of the cycle of poverty and have the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to society.
One cannot look at how Trump has discriminated against black individuals or encouraged hatred of immigrants and fear of Muslims without understanding that his policies would almost certainly be discriminatory. With blatant racism protruding through his campaign (ex. Building a wall) how do we go about creating an inclusive society when his opinions and influence create a divided mindset. It’s not just in America, it’s happening in Canada and Europe as well. It’s not an issue about “immigrants” stealing our jobs, after all both our societies thrive on the need for immigrants to help be contributing members to the economy. We can’t blame these individuals who often come from more “stable/prosperous” positions in their respective countries and blame them for when things go wrong. To immigrate to a country such as the USA or Canada is not easy, you have to be able to “offer” something that cannot be done by regular citizens or have the financial resources to support yourself and your family as well as other factors such as level of education and linguistic abilities.
As a society, maintaining the economy is a group effort, we all have a part to play and it is our civic responsibility to seek change and accountability, hence the right to vote. Our voices hold enormous power as a group but yet people seem to show little enthusiasm in becoming engaged with matters that pertain to them. It was not the “immigrants” that caused the recession in 2008, it was the failure of government to create protocol and monitor the major banks who often when after the most vulnerable in society in offering them the resources to “procure their dream homes” (aka The American Dream).
I don’t think Obama and Biden got enough credit for the work they helped partake in. Thanks to their roles, millions of Americans have access to health insurance which not only saved many from bankruptcy but also saved lived. Thanks to Obama, foreign relations were at an all time high helping to stabilize the world economy. Furthermore, because of Obama Banned gifts from lobbyists were not permitted to incentivize anyone in the Executive Branch with gifts helping to hinder direct influence on policy making. Even more amazing, he led an Administration that went 8 full years without causing a major scandal. By the end of his first year, the economy created and sustained 2.1 million jobs for Americans. Signed the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act, which helped millions of Americans avoid preventable foreclosures and provided $2.2 billion to combat homelessness and stabilize the housing market. Played a lead role in getting the G-20 Summit to commit to a $1.1 trillion deal to combat the global financial crisis and helping to maintain a stable world economy.
For more on his governments successes (there’s over 400 notable accomplishments) check out this site: http://pleasecutthecrap.
Thank you to Michelle Obama to making it her mission to empower young women to get the education they deserve in not only the USA but across the globe with the Let Girl’s Learn initiative. Thank you to Malia and Sasha Obama for being role models for young women across the world, a task the both of you did not ask for when your father sought to become president.
Obama succeeded by taking a rigorous, evidence-based approach to government. So thank you Obama and Biden for your service to your country and to the world. Thank you for being the epitome of dignity and class. As a Canadian I wish you both well on your future endeavours and hope your desire to create social change never ceases.
I don’t know what the next 4 years will bring, but I hope for the sake of us all we don’t go backwards in creating social change not only in the USA but also on a global scale. As a Canadian we have the ability to help influence our relationship with our American neighbours and we need to make sure we protect our interests as partners.
Today I arose from a deep slumber (perks of being sick) to the frantic texts of someone I care about, let alone to seeing them cry when I FaceTimed them.
It turns out they got a C+ on their one exam, when on their others they received a B and B+ respectively. While a C+ isn’t the greatest mark, it’s not the worst mark either. Upon trying to come up with a way to console them I decided the best way to go about it was to be honest and realistic. I’m not going to coddle someone and tell them life is all peaches and roses or even that life is always going to go how you expect it to, because in truth life has many unexpected bumps and blips and you can’t control that.
Marks don’t define who you are. Some of the most successful people in this world did not go to school or even if they did they did not complete their education, take for example Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg. Steve Jobs, Elton John and even Thomas Jefferson. These are all notable people who made significant contributions to our society who performed somewhat poorly in school but used their intelligence, passions, and tenacious ambitions to crush it in the real world and will leave a lasting legacy.
In the real world, your grades don’t matter, as a nursing student I know this. You also can’t change what has happened in the past, especially when it comes to exams, papers, assignments, or even presentations. What you can change is your mind set and how you look at failure. School can be quite hard and takes a lot of time and effort. However, that doesn’t mean that an individual isn’t ambitious and full of talent. We all choose to apply ourselves differently and to different things and in an ideal world that is how we would be measured. Not by the letters on a piece of paper from our time in school. In university, it’s all about grades. In the real world, it’s about experience, balls and drive. Because once you get past the first job, no one is ever going to ask you about your final GPA or how you did on that exam you bombed back in third year.
As a lawyer you are not going to win 100% of your cases, as a doctor you are not going to save every single one of your patients, and as a nurse you are going to miss signs and symptoms that could have potentially saved a patient from dying. But you know what? We are all human at the end of the day, mistakes happen, failure happens, and uncontrollable events arise. What we can work on is reflection, a concept i’m so glad has been emphasized early on in nursing school. We need to reflect on our experience, on our failures, and understanding what we did wrong or why something did not go to plan. It makes me angry to think that society has put such a negative stigma on things like bad grades or even failure in general. We shouldn’t be afraid to fail because success is really the ability to pick yourself back up from setbacks and how to we learn to improve things.
We can cry about menial things like not doing as well as you had hoped on an exam or a paper, but it doesn’t change anything. One exam is not going to decide your whole fate. As I pointed out earlier, marks DO NOT define you or what you know. They are often used as a gauge to see where you lie in comparison to your peers, but it doesn’t factor in some people can be better test takers or can simply read a textbook and not understand concepts deeply.We know now that there are is a variety of intelligences and grades only measure a select few, and do so poorly. A exam or paper does not measure a person’s emotional intelligence, nor does it measure their leadership ability, it does not necessarily measure their ability to think outside of the box and solve problems. It does nothing to evaluate a person’s ability to predict the needs of society, patients, or consumers. It does nothing to illuminate the ability of an individual to work with others and find middle ground in standoffs or conflicts. All of these things are vitally important to an individual’s success in the real world and in life in general and ironically almost none of them are measured by grades.
I’ve experienced failure many times, my first paper in my Master’s was 100% of my mark, I received a 48%. Was I crushed? Hell yeah, I was devastated, but the more I cried over it the stupider I realized it made me look. What I needed to do was understand why I got the mark I received, understand where I went wrong, and learn for future reference what I needed to improve upon. Turns out, I didn’t actually fail in the end upon talking with my supervisors about it and reviewing my paper to understand where and what I did wrong, but it gave me the grounding and fuel I needed to be successful on future papers in which I got a number of Merits and Distinctions. But what I took out of this situation was that a) in the moment I couldn’t change anything I could only change things going forward b) my mark did not define who I was as a person or speak against my intelligence (I was already in one of the top schools in the world) and c) failure is a part of life and in order to be successful you can’t take it personally and d) if you’re afraid to fail you are never going to grow as a person. I can honestly say i’ve learned more from my failures than I have from my successes and i’m so grateful i’ve had the opportunity to fall on my face because that allowed me to pick myself back up, learn, and move forward and into an even better spot.
What we can change and have control over is how we push forward and use our failure to better ourselves and learn! Life is all about learning and improving, there’s no point in sitting and crying over spilt milk. Use your failures and stumbles to become better, faster, and stronger and use it as fuel to reach what it is you want. What matters most is the ability to pursue your goals and dreams and having a sense of purpose. Learn from your mistakes as the cliche goes.
Yesterday I moaned and complained about having to go to my Community Service Learning class (albeit it’s once a month) because I felt it was completely redundant and useless. No other nursing school starts placement in the community until second year, so why did we have to sit through this? Shouldn’t this just be inherent knowledge? I mean it’s pretty obvious we’re all caring, intuitive, and kind individuals going into a profession that is often taken for granted.
The truth is, no one in nursing school, healthcare aide programs, or even medical school teaches you the skills of compassion or empathy. How can they? I spent the whole class wondering why we were talking about this or the need to embrace diversity in the healthcare setting, seem’s like common sense, no? The answer to that is a big solid no, and I spent a long drive reflecting on some of the things i’ve come across whether on social media, in class, working with older adults, and even in a book i’m reading called ‘A Nurse’s Story’ by Tilda Shalof (I suggest this book to all!!! I have never laughed, cried, felt so overwhelmed by the job, and appreciated nurse’s as much as a should have prior to reading this).
There’s no memorization from a textbook on what to say to a patient who is dying, a script to cover how to hold the hand of a patient going through a violating and painful procedure on their own, or even a manual on how to console a family who just lost their loved one. There’s no instruction book on what to say to a patient who can’t bathe them self or when you’re cleaning them up after they defecated or threw up all over the place because they can’t control their bowel movements. How do you deal with a patient who is going through dementia and becomes aggressive with you or starts shouting or trying to place an IV into the restless, frightened and tired child who was kept up all night from being ill? Putting in the IV is textbook, anyone could do it with skill and practice but there’s no textbook on how to interact or console the young child. I don’t find learning the skills to be hard, I mean all we have to do is practice. Anatomy all I need to do is memorize and review. I find the hardest part of nursing to be learning to interact and converse with a patient. How during my own OSCE sitting with a standardized patient going through the early stages of dementia, all I could think about was “what the heck do I talk to you about, I don’t know anything about you and how to comfort you????”, rather than how do I conduct a Mental Status Exam or collect the patient’s blood pressure, O2 saturation, and TPR (temperature, pulse, and respirations).
On another aspect, I came across a picture on Facebook a few days ago of a scantily clad young woman passed out at a party that had defecated herself, while her fellow partygoers mocked her and uploaded pictures to social media. It was incredibly in-dignifying, sad, and messy seeing the young woman in such a vulnerable state. What was even more sickening were the comments of people judging her and making fun of her, it made me angry to see people be so inconsiderate, soulless and cruel. We’re humans, we all make mistakes and this woman while likely made a poor judgement call should never have had her mistake uploaded for the world to see. One thing that did strike me were the comments of fellow healthcare aide’s and professionals because like them my first reaction would have been to find materials to help clean her up, whether it be finding something to dispose of her “waste”, some wipes to helps clean her up, and a fresh set of clothes, as well as checking in on her vitals to make sure she was okay. Regardless of how “disgusting” it is to see human waste coming out of her body, she’s a young woman who deserves the right to her dignity and protection of her privacy. But again, it wasn’t until today that I really appreciated having a lecture on diversity and empathy because I realize those are things that cannot be taught whether it be in a classroom or textbook.
To be honest, it’s scary working in such close quarters with a patients and learning to interact with them, but it’s also incredibly rewarding at the same time when you finally find that grounding. I’m starting to feel more confident in my abilities and willingness to learn to skills and continue to become an empathetic, kind, and compassionate healthcare professional but I also know it’s going to be a work in progress. It’s not easy though to not judge someone or feel like you don’t owe someone something, after all we are all human at the end of the day. As our society becomes more diverse, it’s going to be interesting learning to interact with patients of all ages, sizes, occupations, creeds, and ethnicities. Regardless of whether I agree or not with someone who does not share the same values as me (ex. “White Supremacy”), they are still entitled to a duty of care and respect even if it means putting aside my own thoughts and feelings.
Looking back at my own “practical experiences”, my first shift working at a Senior Care agency with an older gentleman going through the terrible and irreversible condition of dementia was my first eye opening experience. I was told the individual would be pleasant although a bit stubborn, little did I understand how in an instant dementia could change a person’s demeanour in the blink of an eye. I walked in, introduced myself, and sat down to eat lunch with the man, and the first thing the man did was shout at me telling me how much he hated it being in assisted care and wanted to go back to bed. Trying to convince the man to stay in a calm manner, he began to use his wheelchair to return to his room where much to my dismay went to sleep calling me “mean” because I was trying to encourage him to take a few bits of his pudding to get some food into his body. To some this seems like it’s not a big deal, but to any healthcare provider, it’s hard to stay compassionate or kind in situations like this but we do it because we care regardless of whether or not the individual takes a liking to us.
It’s funny because I remember my first day at Western back in 2011 and being asked who wanted to be a doctor that over 300 out of the 340 kids raised their hands and out of this 200 wanted to work with kids. I realize to obtain my goal i’m going to have to work incredibly hard to compete with some of the best and brightest and I realize even when I get there my work will be incredibly hard, depressing, but also rewarding. Like I said in the beginning of my nursing school journey, I would be interested to see where four years will take me in terms of where my interests lie, and it’s already been one term and i’ve started to find my niche. I thought I would never make it to this point going through the personal struggles and self-doubt I encountered late last year, but 2017 has brought a new found confidence and stride in me and I am ready to face the challenges that sit in front of me. I’m doing all of this for me in the hopes that someday I can make a difference in the life’s of people going through what is often a vulnerable, frightening, and tumultuous period in their life.
I’m not sure i’m cut out to work with an older population. I really struggle to find the ability to connect with patients and find common ground. Along with being a labour and delivery nurse, I always thought for some reason geriatrics would be an area that would interest me, after all that is where most of the patient demographic will sit when I finally enter the world as an RN. But after spending weeks working with young kids whether it be in a community hockey program, helping out with a hockey tournament, or even interacting with the children of fellow friends, I have found a new interest in paediatrics and it makes me so excited at the possibility of getting placements in this area in future years. After years of convincing myself I didn’t like kids, I have a new found interest, curiosity, and passion with working with them. I remember growing up being fascinated at working at SickKids Hospital and entering those doors everyday as a doctor saving lives and eventually telling myself I wasn’t good enough to work in healthcare. But now, I found a renewed passion in it and I must say I can’t wait to see what the future holds, but I hope to work my way to getting into a NICU or PICU and helping the sickest of the sick hopefully be able to go home and grow up to be amazing individuals with all the potential in the world.
But in all honesty i’m incredibly proud to be part of a cohort of people looking to take care of others and for the most part striving to make a difference even though many people often take us for granted. Without these individuals putting aside their judgements and personal problems we would never have a healthcare system like the one we have now and for that I am incredibly proud of the people who put in many hours to take care of us and our loved ones as well as the hours of study and practice to become competent professionals.
To be honest, it’s crazy to think about how far my mental health journey has taken me over the past 4 years that i’ve been able to share my experiences. It hasn’t been an easy 4 years and I realize this is going to be a life-long journey in how I learn to manage, adapt, and cope with my depression and anxiety.
It’s not easy being a student on top of everything. The amount of stress that is placed on me at times is incredible when it comes time to balance work, nursing school, finishing my master’s, community service, and raising my young dog. Sometimes I feel inadequate with how much I have to do, how little energy I sometimes find myself having, and how unmotivated I can be during my lowest periods. Considering everything I went through at the end of last year, I am incredibly grateful for the supports I have received whether it be from my professors, academic advisors, my friends, and most of all my family. It hasn’t been easy and I realize at times it can be incredibly hard on me emotionally to open up, which is why I often turn to writing to express my thoughts and feelings. I choose to be open because I realize everything I go through is not necessarily unique to me, while my own perception of my experience is unique, there are likely hundreds of other people out there experiencing similar situations with different perceptions.
I had the ability to talk to a notable friend today about their own struggles with mental illness and body image issues and felt empathetic towards her struggles. While I have not had much experience with eating disorders, I have had experience with both depression and anxiety. There were a number of points last semester where I would find myself awake in the middle of the night crying hysterically, hyperventilating feeling like I couldn’t breathe, and having my chest hurt like my heart was about to explode. Those sessions would then lead me to missing important classes because I could not control my anxiety and would have little sleep or energy to be able to function at times. It was absolutely terrifying at times feeling like you were experiencing a heart attack like sensation. While I have recently been prescribed anti-anxiety medication, I know medication is not the sole answer. For me I find having someone close to talk to eases my anxiety as well as recently learning to meditate. However, I have had a number of people share their own “treatments” and notably exercise has helped a large number of people reduce their anxious thoughts and feelings.
Despite whether people agree with what I do or not, I am honoured to be someone that a number of people have turned to over the years, whether it’s to have someone available to talk to or to ask for help in finding resources to support their own recovery and journey into seeking help. I do hope on some level that my own personal experiences can help other people either a) learn to cope or find resources b) raise awareness for people suffering with mental illness or even c) open the discussion toward removing the stigma surrounding these very much real conditions.
Taking the first step is a huge milestone for many people. I remember being terrified at the idea of having to open up to my parents about my struggles, the amount of shame I felt in feeling like a failure asking for help and being unable to cope. But opening up to my parents was probably the bravest thing i’ve had to do. In the end it paid off because I was fortunate to be able to get the help I needed from healthcare professionals but it also allowed me to be open about my own journey and help a few people start their own. I am also incredibly proud of the amount of progress many of those have made and I hope on some level I was able to help them find the strength to reach their full potential. I think one of the many reasons I wanted to become a nurse strives from my want to see people be healthy and happy regardless of how well I know them. To some it could be incredibly weird for me to reach out the them but for me I actually want to make a difference and if I can help someone even in the tiniest way possible, then that’s what I want to do. No one should ever have to feel ashamed or alone dealing with whatever their going through and I vow to always lend out any support I can give to those that may need it despite how well I know them and I will continue to carry forth this mentality as I get further into my nursing career.
Lastly, I’ve been quite fortunate to find my own niche in the mental health community in raising awareness and helping to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness. Through my blog, Twitter, and Facebook, I have had the opportunity to reach thousands of people in sharing my own experiences. It’s incredible meeting and being connected to such resilient and humble people, many of who you would never have guessed on the outside have also struggled or are battling things such as depression, bi-polar, anxiety, or even schizophrenia.
I know I have many goals for myself going forward but one of my Twitter followers reminded me of a important initiative that I think many more people should consider taking apart of. As a nursing student I am required to update my CPR-C every year and First Aid every three years, however much of the training undertaken in the standard first aid doesn’t touch upon mental health. Approximately one in three Canadians will experience some sort of mental health problem in their lifetime and research has shown the earlier the problem is acknowledged the better the outcome. Therefore, the mental health first aid course provides some of the necessary first tools to recognize, address, and support those who may be struggling. For those interested in taking the course in Canada here is the link for more info:
Definitely something to consider with the likelihood many of us will know someone struggling with mental illness or problems. I have had many people tell me great things about the course and I am incredibly excited to hopefully take part in the near future and be able to incorporate it into my nursing practice as time goes on.