Vanessa’s Journey into Mental Health Nursing

I have wanted to become a mental health nurse ever since I was 18, I am 28 now. The reason behind it, is because when I was 18, I was admitted to a psychiatric unit, which was a very scary time for me, being unwell and not having my family with me 24/7. I was put on medication and discharged a few months later, without support in the community. 

This then became a recurring thing for me – being admitted to hospital through the crisis team. I got to see how the nurses worked, saw how good (most) of them treated their patients and I basically got to see most of the good and bad of nursing. I.e when someone had to be restrained. 

I had a couple of years of stability and knew I wanted to try and get into Mental Health Nursing, so I did an access course and applied. I was rejected initially from Hull University, but I did not give up. Sometimes I would have a good interview and other time’s I was unable to even get my words out. I never got in any of the times and I thought it was never going to happen. 

Then in 2018, I had just come out of hospital again and I thought I would apply for Psychology at Hull (I thought I did not stand a chance of getting into nursing). I sent my application and got an offer for Psychology, but I was not happy. So, I emailed the university and asked if I could apply for Mental Health Nursing, they said yes! And a few weeks later I got an interview. 

I came out of my interview feeling good, like I was going to get a place (well I hoped so). The next day, we were meant to find out whether we had got in or not, I got up early and was waiting for news, but nothing. So, I emailed admissions and they told me to ring up and they would let me know the outcome. I think I screamed down the phone when I found out I had got a place. I was so happy; it was such a surreal moment. A few months later however, I decided to defer due to my health.

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August 2020 and I am due to start in a few weeks and although I do not know if I have clearance from occupational health yet, I am feeling hopeful. I cannot wait to start training for my dream career and I just wanted to send this for others out there who may be struggling. Do not give up, good things come to those who wait, and everything happens for a reason. 

Mental health has taken 10 years of my life and it will not take another 10. 

Vanessa Cartledge.

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