When I tell folks what I do for a living they seem to always ask why mental health? Why not “regular” nursing? Like mental health nursing is a bad thing to have studied.
My answer is always, I like to help those with less obvious issues. I can see a broken leg and fix it with a plaster cast, I cant fix schizophrenia with a plaster cast. People then appear to understand. But they don’t.
As that statement is only partly true.
The real reason I studied mental health nursing is I wanted to support those in the mental health system, as I am in the mental health system too. I chose mental health nursing because I can relate, I know (to a degree) how some people feel when they say certain things, I can see there struggle and understand.
I suffer with an anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and been told, but not formally diagnoses, that I am on the autistic spectrum. And I am currently in what I like to call a “anxiety blip”. I’m trying to sell my house and recently started a new job and the combo has thrown me.
I don’t do change well.
Change to me is horrendously anxiety producing; its totally confusing to my mind and not my regular comforting safe place I have built to support me.
There are multiple schools of thought on how to face/challenge anxiety, some will work for you some wont. And you need to find what does and these techniques help.
When I feel anxious or concerned for some reason or no reason at times, I want to challenge it.
I tell myself “right miss, pull up your sleeves and take it on like its the biggest bully in the school and you’re about to whoop its arse!”
It says “no you cant go Asda today it’s to anxiety provoking” I say “pfft, i’m going” and yes I feel like utter poo and most definitely look it and might need a buddy to come with me at first but I will challenge you.
It cripples me with fear at times with the thought of going into the kitchen to prepare food and eat it, I question why, there appears to be no reason so I challenge it.
The best way I have come to understand me is I’ve accepted me.
I accept some days will be worse than others, I accepts that my brain doesn’t appear to understand somethings other people do, I’ve come to accept that there will be days where I need more support than normal to challenge it and I don’t feel bad about myself for that.
And for me this works.
I don’t eat….
When I am anxious I don’t eat and I barely drink. Now as a nurse and a general human being I understand the risk of not eating and drinking but at times the logical person inside is over ruled by the anxiety. I can go for hours and at time days without eating a proper meal when I am unwell.
And I see this also in the people I support; its as if there is a unseen barrier just stopping you from getting up and making food.
It is understood that those suffering with mental health problems are at higher risk of neglecting there physical health. And at times I can see why. If you cant make food you will just eat whats available or easy to obtain.
And I don’t know of any take-away salad bars yet, do you?
Fortunately, so far I am aware of my mental health declining and I can prepare. I can prepare food which is re-heatable, easily obtainable and no hassle to make.
Last week knowing I wasn’t feeling to well I decided to make gluten free vegan fridge lasagna. Now normally I would make it gluten free and vegetarian but I have been trying veganism since before Christmas and its been going okish so I made this one vegan.
Fridge lasagna was an idea I came up with few years back to use all the left over stuff in my fridge, never 2 are to alike and there bloody yummy! I make them quite regularly so I know even when i’m not feeling 100% I can knock one out quickly and it will last for a few days so I haven’t got to worry about making food each day.
For the one I made last week I used Asda’s free from lasagna sheets and free from white lasagna sauce, Violife vegan cheese, some pasata and tomarto puree from Aldi and fridge stuff. Which included a courgette, half an aubergine, a onion, half a tin of chickpeas, a tin of mixed beans, some baby corn and a few frozen spouts left over from Christmas.
I cook the vegetables for a bit first before mixing them with the pasata, tomarto puree and seasoning then start to layer. Asda’s free from lasagna sheets do not need to be cooked first so you can just start to build on the veggie mix. Vegetables, pasta then white sauce and repeat till you’ve filled your tray. Then I topped it off with Violife vegan cheese, which initially smell a little funny have to admit and alone didn’t taste the best, but I am new to the vegan cheese market, once I grated it on top and it tasted perfectly fine with the lasagna.
I made quiet a big one but it will last a couple of days if you keep it in the fridge. To re-heat I placed some on a microwaveable plate and heated for 4 mins test then a further few minuets depending on your microwave. Make sure it is piping hot before eating.
Once again trying to stick to my vegan diet I tried free from korma from Asda. It was just the sauce so I added some mushrooms. Now I was feeling a bit better that day hence the effort to make and cook fresh mushrooms but you can buy lots of different types of vegetable that are frozen or pre-cooked just needing a ping in the microwave. And I always have frozen veggies in my freezer as an essential item.
I peeled and chopped my mushrooms, yes I peel mushrooms, and cooked them in the tiniest amount of Pure soya spread, then added them to the korma sauce, cooked until hot then poured over some rice. I used boil in a bag rice that day, however, the day after I used a 2 minuet rice bag in the microwave as the effort of cooking was not in me that day even if it was just watching a pot and re-heated the korma in the microwave too.
Microwavable rice is always a good store cupboard essential. It can be used for many dishes and there is no effort to it.
Asda’s free from korma sauce was delicious, however, on cooking it seemed a little watery and lacking in thickness. I like my curries thick and fully of flavour. Now the Asda korma wasn’t lacking in flavour one bit but it was in texture. So I added a smidgen of flour paste (a tea spoon of free from flour and water mix into a paste) and some Alpro single cream. Oh boy was it tasty! thick and tasty!
4 ingredients a little bit of effort and you have a super tasty meal for 2 days.
The taste of gluten free Italy….
Now I haven’t made this recently or vegan yet but It is one of my quick and easy meals where I don’t have to think I can just cook.
It’s a gluten free lactose free carbonara. Its made using Quorn bacon strips or as we call them facon, free from pasta, Arla lactofree soft cheese and whatever you wish. Maybe mushrooms or sweetcorn or I like avocado.
Its simple to make and super tasty.
Boil the pasta, whilst that’s cooking spray a tiny bit of cooking spray onto a frying pan and cook the facon, which takes a minuet or so each side. Chop up the facon, once the pastas cooked, drain and add the facon and a scoop of cheese, season and cook until the cheese has turned into a sauce like consistency and is hot of course. Now I add the avocado right at the last minuet as I like the mix of hot pasta and cold avocado but If you were adding vegetable you would need to cook them first then add when you add the facon.
And that’s it. 2 pans about 10 minuets and one big old bowl of loveliness. And I will definitely be trying this very soon vegan style!
I hope me sharing my story has aloud you a peep inside the mind of someone with a mental health issue and that it shows you that the minimalist of tasks others take for granted can be the greatest of achievement for many people. Mental health is not embarrassing and should not be shamed. If you need to talk to someone please do.
Here are some numbers and website you can find help, support or just someone to talk to:
- Samaritians – 116 123 in the UK and ROI
- MIND – 0300 123 3393 or text 86463
- Saneline – 0300 304 7000
- Time to change – has lots of phone numbers and infomation
Stay strong, if you cant be safe….