I have, in this last year, started a job which I had dreamed of doing and suits my personality perfectly. But, as with everything, there is a catch – my job is what I call ‘mental health heavy’. By this I mean I am dealing with mental ill-health almost daily, and in children.
This can range from conversations about depression to dealing with children who are attempting to take their lives. Having been one of these children, I have a deep passion in me to help these kids, but it’s detrimental to my own mental health and quite often sling-shots me into obsessing over what I have and still struggle with.
3 months into the job and after quite a significant event in which a child attempted suicide, I completely broke, more so than I ever had before. I could not stop thinking about my experiences when I was that age and how, even after all this time, I still struggle myself with intrusive, often suicidal thoughts.
I didn’t leave the house for 3 weeks, I didn’t shower in the same length of time, I didn’t eat and time asleep was few and far between. Eventually, and luckily, my partner took action, contacted my GP who in turn contacted my local crisis intervention team and within 2 days of that appointment I was admitted to an acute psychiatric unit to get stabilised on medication and in a place where I could actually function in the real world.
I think my sensitivity with this subject comes from pure dread of these kids having the same experiences I had throughout my childhood and now into adulthood. I arrive at work every morning expecting to hear that a child has taken their own life, or that they are in hospital.
I also think that kids are so exposed to mental health chat on social media that often, self-harming and/or being suicidal is seen as some kind of sick trend that the kids wear as though it is a badge of honour. This kind of behaviour is often for attention, which indicates there is something else going on, and quite often it is my job to do my best to find out what that is.
My biggest fear for these kids is that they will complete suicide accidentally, not realising the effects of repeatedly self-harming or overdosing.
This job has unearthed the sheer volume of children and young people who struggle with mental ill-health, many of which can get no help from CAMHS until they are extremely high risk. Alongside this horror that has been unveiled, it affects me in ways I never though possible and a job I have always wanted to do has become something that makes me mentally unwell almost constantly.
Right job, wrong time? Who knows.
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