Healthcare Network Blood, sweat and tears.
I knew from my clinical experience that I could recover.
I can now see that depression crept up on me slowly and silently. Despite 30 years’ experience as a registered mental health nurse I didn’t recognise, acknowledge or even notice the range of symptoms I had been experiencing, or how they had been affecting me. It was only when I finally cried at work that I realised something was wrong.
At the time I was working as an executive director in a London mental health NHS trust. There had not been any obvious feeling of being extremely sad, just a slow downhill trundle and loss of enjoyment in life. My symptoms included being overly self-critical and a loss of interest in things I usually enjoy. I was tired but not sleeping, procrastinating and felt I was a failure.
I was very surprised by the rapid decline in my mental health and how it affected every area of my life so quickly. In the space of just 10 days, I went from working as a director to being almost mute, constantly crying, unable to care for myself and wanting to kill myself.
I was referred to the local crisis response team and assessed as needing admission to hospital for my own safety.
I couldn’t understand how this was happening to me. I had worked on a crisis response team, and as a community psychiatric nurse for eight years. I was an expert in mental health – particularly depression and being suicidal. At least I thought I was, until I myself fell into that hideous, deep, groggy, terrifying pit. I
As a clinician I have been taught not to use the phrase “nervous breakdown”, as it is not a clinical diagnosis and is seen as outdated. But this is the most accurate description of what I experienced on the day of my admission. I was shattered inside, I had nothing left to give. I was completely broken.
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