Like many of my Nursing and Midwifery colleagues, off the back of two years working full-time in a pandemic, I finished 2021 exhausted. So, over the middle months of last summer, I took a five-week break. But, come March, I still felt tired and irritable. I was sleeping poorly, and unable to finish tasks around the house. Everything was an effort, and nothing seemed to shift the cloud that hung over me. The day had lost its shine, the nights were long — fitful. I’d wake more tired than when I went to bed the night before.
Despite that, I dragged myself into the morning, and like many others — soldiered on.
I went back to work (albeit part-time), and though I could work from home, the drive for it had gone. I wasn’t running, but limping, on autopilot and empty. No back-up engine, no fuel in reserve to get me the distance I need to travel. By April I was in trouble.
Beneath the pittance of energy I could muster each day, I also carried the weight of having lost my eldest and closest sister, just six months before.
Her death, sudden and devastating, left me wandering in a daze, unable to make sense of why she had been taken.
As a mental health nurse, it was hard to admit that I had reached such a complete low — that I was burnt out and grieving. Rather than see where I was as the result of what I’d been through, my view was that I hadn’t taken care enough to prevent myself from falling. In the business of supporting and telling others how to monitor their own mental health and wellbeing, it was hard to acknowledge that my own had slipped from my grasp. I felt fragile and ashamed. Then — almost simultaneously — I made an appointment for counselling and discovered the local sea swim group.