Let’s talk about second year blues

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If you’d asked me in the summer months about second year blues, I would have told you that it was a little bit of a ‘myth’ and that if you kept yourself organised you would be fine. I even wrote a post containing tips to survive second year . My first module of year 2 was Research Methods and is often described as the worst module of the whole degree at my university by previous cohorts. I fell in love with the subject and wondered what everyone had been making all the fuss about. I achieved 95% in the assignment and genuinely thought I was set for the year…I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Autumn came and the second year blues hit me like a train. I lost all motivation to complete work and began leaving assignments until close to the deadline date, something I don’t do because I get stressed easily and not being organised is a trigger for me. My assignments were not up to my usual standard because of this and still I sat confused and upset when the results were released and I hadn’t achieved anything like the results I was used to. Instead of spurring me on to complete work early like I usually do, a rubbish result (or so I thought at the time) knocked me for six and I continued with no motivation wondering what the point was. I completed another assignment and submitted, knowing it wasn’t my best work but believing it was good enough to stay within my targets. Results were released and I was ready to quit university altogether that afternoon,  it was my worst result to date and the feedback felt brutal. I spent that weekend in what felt like a hole, at the end of my tether with this whole experience and genuinely thinking about leaving. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve had more negative days than positive days in year 2, I can probably count the number of truly positive days on one hand if I’m being brutally honest.

Second year blues are real and should be discussed more. It’s not enough to preach on and on about positivity, staying positive etc, because it really isn’t as simple as that. It’s hard to remain positive when every single day at university feels like a knock to your confidence, when you leave placement everyday wondering if you will ever really know enough to be a nurse and when every result makes you question whether you’re even intelligent enough to be doing this degree. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve cried in the car park after a placement shift before setting off to go home, just from doubting myself and a decision I’d made that day or because I didn’t know something that I really feel I should by now.

My first placement of second year was amazing, I spent 6 weeks with the best team and felt like I knew what I was doing even though it was out of my comfort zone. I thrived in an area that is extremely specialised and that I was terrified of before I started. When I began my second placement of year 2, it all unravelled. I like being out of my comfort zone, but this was a whole other level. I knew nothing. And that’s not me being dramatic, I genuinely knew nothing. I was an adult branch student nurse, walking into neonatal having never really held a baby before, let alone cared for one for a 12.5 hour shift. Everything was so different to adult branch, it was like starting the degree again with no previous experience at all. I enjoyed the placement and my mentors were fantastic, but I spent the four weeks thinking I wasn’t showing my full potential because it was so different to what I’m used to and it completely threw me. I started my third placement of year 2 having lost all the confidence I’d gained from my critical care placement and not even knowing if I wanted to be a nurse anymore.

Year 2 has just felt like one knock after another and I will be glad to see the back of it. I have 8 weeks left of placement before year 3 starts and I’m excited to get back onto the ward and gain some confidence back ready for year 3. In all honesty, I still don’t feel 100% myself and if it wasn’t for certain people this year I don’t think I would still be at university now because I couldn’t have coped without them.

If you feel like you’re struggling at any point, reach out to someone. It doesn’t need to be a lecturer, it can be a friend or someone in your cohort. Even find someone on social media who you can confide in, don’t bottle it up like I did. I felt embarrassed to admit that I was struggling and keeping quiet for so long probably hasn’t helped the way I’ve felt for the past 4/5 months. I don’t think the ‘positivity brigade’ help at all, as much as they may think they are doing good, it’s hard to go on social media and see positive things all the time and no one talking about how hard things can actually be. I’m not saying people need to be negative nellies all the time either, but it’s about time we all started to show the real aspects of our experiences within this degree. Not just the highlight reel of achievements.

Love,

T x

*Book Review* Notes on a nervous planet

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img_2948A few weeks ago I reached a breaking point. I was done with social media, done with looking at other people and questioning why I wasn’t like them. I tweeted about it and amongst the replies, @EnigmaGirl81 told me I needed to read this book. I had seen previous books of @matthaig1 but hadn’t read any so this was my first experience of his writing. I ordered the book the next day and waited for it to arrive. Amazon delivered it quickly and I sat down to read it.

 

The book is described as being a ‘personal and vital look at how to feel happy, human and whole in the twenty-first century’. It was written based on Matt Haigs’ experiences with anxiety and panic attacks, linking what he felt to the world around him. Matt includes many honest recollections of his own experiences’ and coping strategies, which I’m sure many people can relate their own anxieties to. 

There are a number of sections but it was the section on social media that really resonated with me. I have spent hours and hours scrolling through Twitter and Instagram, comparing myself to other student nurses, to other girls and wondering why I couldn’t look like them. I’m 30 years old and having self-esteem issues because I don’t look like the streams of girls looking perfect on Instagram, so how do 15,16,17-year-old girls feel?! I’m more than aware that the pictures are sometimes filtered and edited but that doesn’t stop me comparing myself to those girls and wishing I looked more like Kim Kardashian and less like me.

In the book, there is a chapter where Matt Haig asked his Twitter followers – ‘Is social media good or bad for your mental wellbeing?’ and one tweet, in particular, I really related to. 

@deansmith7 I can find myself comparing my behind-the-scenes footage (loneliness, anxiety etc) to people’s highlights reel (socialising, success etc). I know it’s not a true reflection of their lives but it can still get to me. 

People choose what they want to post online, so it’s natural to only choose the good moments. Posting the pictures where you look your best. discarding of the 50 other ones you took before you were in just the right angle for the perfect selfie. Talking about the good days and achievements, leaving out the rubbish days or ‘failures’. 

Life appears to have become a daily struggle to validate ourselves through the likes and comments from other people. 

I would recommend this book to anyone, a perfect manual on how to navigate the modern world and to keep your own head. Funny, honest and real – Matt Haig is a fantastic author with a unique writing style. 

There are so many quotes in the book that I could include, but here are a few of my favourites:

  • We are all connected to each other but we often feel shut out.
  • In a world of a million distractions you are still left with only one mind.
  • In an overloaded world we need to have a filter. We need to simplify things. We need to disconnect sometimes.
  • Accepting where you are in life makes it so much easier to be happy for other people without feeling terrible about yourself.

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This is my favourite page 👌

 

 

 

 

You can purchase Notes on a Nervous Planet here.

Love,

T x

 

 

Self care

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You may hear this term and think what is self care? To me self care is about looking after yourself and making sure you regularly take time to do things that you enjoy. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught in a placement/uni and sleep cycle with very little else. It’s important to take time for yourself to recharge and refresh. How can we look after our patients if we don’t look after ourselves first? Here are the things I do for self care 😊

  1. I try to have one day a week where I have no plans and can just relax, catching up on tv or reading a book. This is not always easy around uni/placement/work but I usually have at least an afternoon off.
  2. Taking a long soak in a hot bath with a face mask on. I like to do this as it relaxes me and helps me to destress.
  3. I like to have at least 6 hours sleep on a night as I feel rubbish throughout the next day if I don’t. If I can have more than I do as it gives my body that extra bit of rest!
  4. You are not being selfish if you recognise that you need a day to yourself or you just can’t reply to that text/email right now. There is nothing wrong with taking time out to care for your mental wellbeing, sometimes you need the time away to concentrate on you. Don’t feel guilty if you need to rearrange plans or you turn your phone off for an hour.
  5. Step away from social media. This can sometimes be easier said than done, but even if you just ‘mute’ negative people it can have a positive effect on your social media time and your outlook.
  6. Calling a friend for a quick chat. It really helps to know that support network is there. Talking about things other than uni/placement helps to take my mind off any worries I have as well.
  7. Making plans for the months ahead. I always feel better if I have something to look forward to that isn’t uni/placement. D7B5D714-7624-4A8F-B55F-9F8CB9C4AF06I have a Harry Potter Studios tour, live WWE wrestling show and a live autopsy booked in already for this year 😊.
  8. I enjoy exercise (even though lately I haven’t done enough of it!), it really helps to brighten my mood and makes me feel more energetic afterwards. It is also a good destresser.
  9. Music. I love listening to music and Spotify has been a lifesaver. From cheesy 80s dance to pop punk, there is something on there for every mood.
  10. Gin. Gin is always the best part of self care. Cheers!

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Love,

T x