Coping Day to Day · OCD · Personal · Therapy Advice/Experiences

Explanations, University & Hospital

So. Long time no post.

Over the last 10 months, my life has taken a direction that has been unexpected, to say the least. In short, I have had to drop out of university due to my mental and physical health and I am now currently attending an eating disorder unit at a local hospital.

For a number of months following dropping out of university (this occurred in January), I felt like my whole world had fallen apart. I had assumed the next three years of my life were planned all out, that I would graduate as a registered mental health nurse in 2020 and would then start a career as a staff nurse in that field. Well damn, I’d mucked all that up. I had to move back home because I was a risk to myself, I couldn’t feed myself properly and the only people who would get me out the house were my CPN and support worker. To say that life hadn’t panned out like I expected it to, would be an understatement. The guilt and shame I felt as I scrolled endlessly through Instagram, looking at my old school cohort posting pictures of ‘university life’ and their progress on clinical placements was overwhelming. How could I have let it all go so wrong? What the hell was I doing with my life?

As time has gone on, however, it has allowed me to come to terms with where I am at the moment and has actually given me time to think about things. A lot of things. Although I would have had the opportunity to go back to university and re-start the mental health nursing course when I was ready, I have decided not to and have formally withdrawn my name from the course entirely. The time I had spent studying the course before I had to leave had highlighted that trying to maintain my own mental health, whilst also being responsible for, and trying to help maintain others’ mental health in a professional environment is too much for me. My poor state of mental health was greatly affecting my ability to provide support to those in services and that’s not what I want or what they deserve. Although I will always love and continue to raise awareness and campaign about mental health, I feel that extending that into my professional life is not the best path for me to take at this time.

So, what are my plans now? To be honest, I don’t really know. This year so far has been a whirlwind and I’m just trying to get myself more stable. I’m hoping to do some volunteering to help reintroduce myself to some work in more of a slower, progressive fashion. I’m trying to tell myself that actually, maybe I just needed this time out. Sure, maybe I’m not taking the ‘normal’ path of university that we’re pushed towards by sixth forms and colleges, but that’s okay. At least that’s what I’m trying so hard to convince myself of. I shied away from posting here because I wasn’t able to collect or articulate my thoughts for a long time and honestly, I was also ashamed of myself. Our minds can be a tricky old place to exist in, but I’m working on it.

I hope over the next few months, I’ll be able to start posting again and to maybe help others who find themselves in a similar position. I’m learning life isn’t always linear, but I think that’s what helps shape us into resilient and unique individuals.

I promise to post soon, thank you for being patient with me over these past 5 years (I know, I can’t believe it’s been that long either). I’m feeling the most uncertain about life right now than I’ve ever been before, but I’m learning to be okay with that. Let’s see what the next few months bring…

-Ellen

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15 thoughts on “Explanations, University & Hospital

  1. It’s nice to hear from you, and I’m sorry you’ve been in a rough patch! I can certainty relate to the uncertainty as I took longer in school and also have no idea what I want to do as a career or even a temporary job. Yet, I see others with “everything figured out” (quotes because who knows what’s actually going on). I’m glad you put your health first.

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    1. It’s lovely to hear from you too Morgan. I do find comfort in the fact that I’m not alone with this. Heck, sometimes life can offer up the most exciting things when we don’t quite know where to go. I have that it’ll work out for us both.

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  2. Ellen, your strength shines through. I am sure the last 10 mos. have been more than difficult. My daughter faces the same situation. I know no words will help, but know that my heart goes out to you. Keep HOPE close. 💜

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  3. “Although I will always love and continue to raise awareness and campaign about mental health, I feel that extending that into my professional life is not the best path for me to take at this time.”

    This is such an important thing to recognise and people very often don’t. There’s a great book called It’s All In Your Head by Rae Earl (who wrote My Mad Fat Diary) where she talks about “putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others.” It’s so true. And not just in mental health services but in any duty-of-care situation. Many people with a heap of unresolved issues around support they didn’t get when they were young think it’s a brillo idea for them to go off and work or volunteer with children and young people without trying to get their own houses in order first.

    “I’m feeling the most uncertain about life right now than I’ve ever been before, but I’m learning to be okay with that.”

    That’s a life’s work, believe me. And you’ve started your learning a lot earlier than I did.

    Lots of love xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’ll definitely have to check out that book. Sounds like it’ll be a helpful read. That’s how I feel too, I’m just not able to provide the optimum support for people as a professional right now. Thank you so much for your lovely comment x

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  4. Sending you good thoughts and wishes. I can so relate to your experience. I had planned to go to school at 18 and finish in 4 years just like everyone else. My reality ended up being that I began school at 24 and it took 7 years to finish. But I did finish. I had so many moments like yours, moments of feeling ashamed when I compared myself to others, moments where I felt directionless. But truly, when we choose to take care of ourselves rather than trying to fit the social norms, we are doing something to be proud of, not ashamed of. The key to living life is persistence, never giving up no matter what we face, even if we can only take it one minute at a time. You can do this!

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  5. Hi Ellen! It is indeed a joy to hear from you, despite your difficult circumstances. I believe you are doing the right thing, which is focusing on your own health. Without that you are never in a position to help others. My world took a very unexpected turn as well, at a very different time in my life: I was 37 (I’m now 56), and had been in treatment for 10 years but my OCD had only improved about 50% . During that 10 years of treatment I put up a hard fight to keep my life together, but in the end I could not because I seem to have “treatment resistant OCD”. I am still in treatment… So this is my 28th year! Anyway in 1999, my wife of 18 years asked me for divorce. She just couldn’t play “caregiver“ any more, and I don’t blame her. So at that point everything fell apart. I lost my marriage, and the stress of that caused my OCD to become very severe. I proceeded to lose my job (19 years as a software developer ) in 2001, and I lost my dream home that year as well. I struggled for five years and was then given a new mission in life: my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2006 and I gradually became her full-time caregiver (I still am), so I never got back to work in the computer field. I continue to struggle with my OCD and my mom is 93 now… So I have no idea what will be next for me when my mother leaves this life.

    You just never know where life is going to take you Ellen. But you are strong and extremely intelligent.) Just keep trying to do the right things, one day at a time. Happier times will return! They always do. It is indeed wonderful to hear from you! I hope you continue to write in your blog “when the spirit moves you“! You WILL be OK! Blessings-Paul.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. PS: 🙂
      I understand that you have feelings of embarrassment, guilt, and shame. I struggle with that to this day. Remember (I need to do this as well) that OCD is a medical condition. We have a chronic disease that currently has no cure. THIS IS NOT OUR FAULT. It (apparently) is a genetic thing. It’s no different than being born with type one diabetes or Down syndrome. It’s the “mental health stigma“ (a cultural thing) that pushes us towards feeling embarrassed, ashamed, and guilty. We have to keep telling ourselves: THIS IS NOT OUR FAULT. So there is no need for the guilt thing! 🙂 🙂
      Paul

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    2. Bless you Paul, thank you for this. It’s so very kind of you to write this for me. I shall keep fighting and hope for brighter days. As you say, they will come and that’s what I hold onto x

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  6. Hi Ellen, I’m sorry to hear of all the challenges you’ve been facing. I’ve wondered where you’ve been! Please continue to take care of yourself – that’s the most important thing- and I just know in my heart that everything will work out for you. It might take you longer than expected to figure out your purpose and direction, but what’s the rush? I will keep you in my thoughts in the days ahead.

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  7. Hi Ellen, It is good to catch up with what is going on with you and I am sorry that it has been as challenging as you’ve experienced. I appreciate your honesty and bravery in sharing what is happening. I echo what Janet said, taking care of you is the most important thing. Blake actually just started school – a year later than he was “supposed to.” We just settled him there this past week. How it will go is anyone’s guess, but his path will go however it goes and it will get him where he is to be – as will yours. Sending all the best – Angie

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