for better mental health

Nursing through the pandemic broke me

Monday, 24 August 2020 Winnie

Winnie is a nurse whose mental health has been affected by working with covid-19 patients through the pandemic.

Every healthcare professional can predict what a typical shift in the NHS would be like; stressful, time pressured but rewarding. However, no one could have predicted that the coronavirus pandemic would be apocalyptic.

I never valued my mental health and well-being in the workplace until this virus descended on us.’

As an NHS frontline worker, witnessing the catastrophic nature of covid-19 dealt my mental health a hard blow. I never valued my mental health and well-being in the workplace until this virus descended on us. I watched in horror as this monster affected my colleagues one after the other, keeping them from doing what they loved which was helping people. Sadly, in some cases my colleagues, whom I also considered my friends, lost their battle with covid-19.

Hearing phrases like “help me, nurse" “I miss my family" absolutely broke me.

In all of this, I still had to work. I had to keep going regardless of the stress and pain that I was going through. Why? Because it was the job. Day after day, I witnessed patients with covid-19 gasping for air. Hearing phrases like “help me, nurse" “I miss my family" absolutely broke me. My colleagues and I had to not only be their nurses/carers but also fill in for their family by providing them with positivity and hope that we at most times did not even have due to the unknown nature of the virus.

As a nurse who cared for people, I could not care for my loved ones. That was heart breaking.

The icing on the cake? Going home each and every day after a heart-breaking shift to an empty home because I lived alone and I could not visit my family. Not having any face-to-face contact with my family, not being able to touch them because I was protecting them from myself and this virus was very exhausting and lonely. I had to be the protector of my colleagues, patients, family and friends. Even when three members of my family had the virus and were very sick, I had to continue protecting them and myself by staying away. As a nurse who cared for people, I could not care for my loved ones. That was heart breaking. I prayed for the nightmare to end. I was broken.

Covid-19 has destroyed and remoulded me into someone I am still trying to figure out. It has completely changed my outlook on life and it has broken a part of me which I am still working hard to heal, with the help of my colleagues and loved ones. To preserve our optimum mental health, my team and I work very closely with each other, and through this pandemic, we have learnt to regularly check in on each other’s mental state, have daily debriefs and informal chats to ensure that we provide our patients with the best care available. Healthcare professionals should learn to share more about their struggles, as I have learned that talking about my experiences is slowly healing my damaged pieces.

I am personally hoping for a world where I can see no person suffer from covid-19

Whilst the world tentatively moves on from this  pandemic, we as healthcare professionals are hoping for a better work/life balance, ability to hug, freely meet and interact with friends and family again, making each moment count and appreciating and making the most of each day regardless of the looming possibility of a second wave of covid-19. I am personally hoping for a world where I can see no person suffer from covid-19. I would love to go on a holiday, watch a movie in the cinema, and get married next year without any  restrictions. Ultimately, I would love to heal from all the hurt and for this to be over.

Read about Information and support

For more information on coping with the coronavirus crisis see our Coronavirus info page

If you’re a frontline worker visit Our Frontline for 24-hour support.

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