Friday, 3 February 2012

The Rhino, The Quicksand and The Badger.

AHHAAA fuck you Librarians, you aren't getting £350 out of me! I forgot to return my 7 library books for like 6 months and I suddenly got a final notice demanding 350 squids off me. I certainly don't have enough money to pay that shit. Anyway I returned the books today and it has been reduced to £70, still not good but Imma gon' get a doctors note as I have a deficient brain which can't produce enough of my happy hormone called seratonin.

I decided to write about my experiences as a nursing student and my history of depression and as it's something which is still such a taboo subject to talk about and it really shouldn't be. Ever heard of the expression - 'Dying of embarassment'? Well obviously you will have done. In this case, people are killing themselves out of embarrassment of their behaviour and emotions. Depression is one of the most common illnesses in society today and yet the general public seem to know barely anything about it. I learnt about Depression in Psychology at A-Level but I never gave it a second thought once I left the classroom. I was just aware that if you had certain amount of pressures and 'stressors' in your life, which was too much for you individually then there was a risk you could feel depressed. I didn't realise the extent to which it could affect your life and others around you. As a Nursing Student I was going to learn more about it on my course but unfortunately I also learnt the hard way too.

 I was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Recurrent Depression in May 2010. As far as I am aware, I have experienced symptoms of depression since I was 16 but always put it down to being a hormonal teenager up until about December 2009 when it increased in severity. Before I was diagnosed I was very sceptical about those with Depression, I knew nothing about it really. I thought they were people being overly dramatic about their problems and I never felt very sympathetic towards them beforehand. NHS statistics show that about six million people in the UK suffer from an anxiety disorder and/or depression. There was nothing significantly wrong with my life which is what confused me the most when I realised what was going on. I didn't understand why I was feeling like I was when I had nothing to be sad about. I now know that depression is a very complex illness and it is never straight forward. It can be caused by numerous amounts of things whether it be a chemical imbalance in your brain or a build up of stress or even by a severe illness such as food poisoning.
My memory is pretty hazy about when my depression increased in severity. I was in my first year of university living in student accommodation with two girls at the same university as me. We hadn't known each other before we had moved in together and to an extent I wish I had been closer to them. I've always liked my own space at home, a place to get away and do what I want. Even when I lived with my parents I would stay in my room for hours on end just entertaining myself in front of the computer, playing games or surfing the Internet. There would be times where I could spend over 12 hours without moving (unless to go to the toilet, that would be gross.) but that was just normal for me, though it does seem preeetty unhealthy. My dad nicknamed me 'The Badger' as I would only leave my sett to retrieve food etc. So basically as I had moved out of my parents house, it became much easier to 'badger' and do what I wanted, eat what I wanted and generally be a lazy get.

 It was in December 2009 when I was so lucky to get Herpes Stomatitis aka Cold sores of the mouth. I'd never had them before and reacted horrifically. I had them all over my lips, inside my mouth, under my tongue and down my throat. As my friends so kindly put, I looked like a walking STD. I couldn't eat for a week as it was so painful and I retreated back to my parents' house for some TLC. Looking on the bright side, I lost weight just before Christmas. SCORE! Then the following February in half term, I got Campylobacter - food poisoning. Another fantastic couple of weeks of my life. I managed about 4 days on my own before I phoned my mum crying because I was too weak to open a bottle of lemonade which would have been my only source of calories. I kept fainting every time I was walking back up the stairs from the toilet and decided to just crawl up them in future. So that was really fun, and I lost half a stone in just under two weeks. Though that was probably me being dehydrated and considering the amount I usually eat, suddenly eating nothing for a week was rather uncomfortable. In fact, I probably got the food poisoning from a Chinese take away I had ordered. Anyway, so those two illnesses in close proximity were enough to make me feel rather shit.

 Then in March, I started a placement in a hospital for my course on Adult Respiratory. The ward was full of people dying of various chest infections, cystic fibrosis and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) most commonly caused by smoking, though not always. It was a shock to me. On my first placement I was pretty much just observing and following different nurses around everyday. Whereas this one was my first time to really get involved and nearly every patient was on oxygen therapy.

 It was tiring, physically and emotionally for me. I was doing Long Days (12 and a half hour shifts, 3 days of the week) but on top of that I was waking up at 5.30 as I had to walk 30minutes every morning and evening to get there and back. It was the most awkward place to get to from where I lived, no buses or metros directly there and as a student I thought getting a taxi was too expensive. 
This ward was the first time I ever saw a dead person, people I had been looking after and the first time I had ever done 'Last Offices' - this is where you have to prepare the body for the mortuary. At 18 years old, it all seemed a lot to take in. It's no wonder a quarter of all nursing students drop out. 

That placement tired me out, on the days I was working I didn't have any time to myself other than those horrible cold, dark walks to and back from the hospital. When I got home I just needed to sleep, except thoughts of the ward would be running through my head all night. I would dread going to bed because I knew that I'd be having to get up at 5.30 and I did find it incredibly difficult. Any of my days off were spent sleeping in and trying to relax, my desk chair wasn't really comfortable so I would lie in bed all day with my laptop 'badgering'. I found it harder and harder to control my diet, I felt the need to indulge myself all the time and found myself comfort eating all the time. Eating whole packets of chicken nuggets in one go, ordering pizzas and take aways all the time. Rarely cooking for myself and I was neglecting my appearance too. I wasn't leaving my room so I never felt the need to get dressed or put on some make up. I found it difficult to motivate myself to even have a shower. It was shortly after this placement when this behaviour continued and I was staying in bed from evening to evening that I realised I needed to do something about it.
This is when I decided to tell my mum how I had been feeling. I hadn't told anyone before then.

This will be continued at a later date. Please feel free to post comments and questions.

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