I just had my first big failure

…and it really, REALLY sucked. Trigger warning: depression, self-harm, anxiety, suicidal thoughts.

Age: 23
Stage: Year one student nurse, second trimester, month 6/36
Weight: Started at Weight Watchers again, let’s all just focus on that.
Employment: Waiting for my DBS to come through so I can work some more.
Ya’ll should check out: Inge Prader’s still-life homages to Gustav Klimt’s golden paintings (one attached, check it out! http://www.prader.at/viewall.php)
Listening to: “Bottom of the Ocean” Blink 182

Okay, so I confess. Academically I’ve had it pretty easy. I was on the gifted and talented register, called precocious since before I can remember, and already have a First Class Honours degree as well as a Masters. I try hard, but I recognise my own privilege. My lowest grade at GSCE was a B, and a C at A-Level.

So when last week I received my grades back for an essay on the same day as having failed part of my physical exam, it was like the floor fell open. I found myself reloading and reloading the page, as if there must be a mistake, everyone else had got a grade, why hadn’t I? Well, dear reader, I hadn’t got a grade because I failed. Spectacularly failed, 35%. The pass mark is 40%. My tutor kindly suggested that I wouldn’t have to change that much to pass. I politely but firmly emailed him back and told him that I didn’t want to pass; I wanted to succeed.

I responded in a way that I’m not proud of. I slipped back into a night of crying and cutting myself like I haven’t done for years. I slipped back into being depressed and alone and aching. I slipped into misery like a rich woman slips into a mink coat. And I wallowed, Jesus Christ I wallowed. In between shouting at myself and sobbing, I questioned everything. Maybe I can’t be a nurse? I contaminated my sterile field during the exam. I realised right away and started from scratch, but shit, I still failed. The woman marking me was so lovely about it, and even when I started welling up told me that the rest of what I did (including blood pressure, which I was sure I’d fudged) was great, and I had a “very pleasant manner with patients”.

I’m sure it all seems like a very melodramatic reaction. I know that, I know that a fully grown woman should not have to be comforted with blades. For what it’s worth, I’m not proud of it, and I fully intend to work through any future issues without relapsing again (I had been 13 months with no self-harm until this point, which for me is pretty incredible). Like my mother says, it’s just one day to the next and then suddenly you realise it’s been over a year and you start crying in the middle of Oxfam.

What now? I don’t know. I know I love nursing, and I know I can’t imagine myself being fulfilled doing anything else. I know there’s a lot of myself I need to heal before I can be the nurse I want to be. I know my support network is phenomenal, and that there’s a solid safety-net below this tightrope I’m walking. I guess it’s just one day to the next right now.

If you have ever felt the way I describe, please know you can reach out, there are HUNDREDS of mental health services available, some of which are online. Please don’t feel that you’re alone ❤ 

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