Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Raven and I am a 24-year-old Registered Nurse living in New Brunswick. I am in love with hazelnut coffee, I have three brothers and I am often afraid of the dark. I love travelling, meeting new people and learning new languages. I am a mental health advocate, a 90s grunge enthusiast and an animal lover.
What is your connection to mental illness?
First things first, I dealt with periods of depression and self injuring behaviour when I was a teenager. There were points where I did not see the point of living anymore and I’ll never forget that feeling. Since then, I’ve been to counsellors and psychologists, and I’ve gone to group therapies. Before, I might have been embarrassed or hesitant to share that with people- but how are we going to fight the stigma if we’re not honest about our journeys?
Currently, I am working as Registered Nurse on an acute psychiatric inpatient unit. I work with people with a variety of mental health challenges including major depression, general anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, acute suicidal ideation, and borderline personality disorder to name a few. Every person has their own unique needs and challenges and it is part of our job to help them to a place to better deal with those challenges.
What is the highlight of your job and what do you find most challenging?
The highlight of my job is knowing that at the end of the day I may have made a difference in someone’s life. The most challenging part is when you feel helpless to help someone else. Nursing can be a very thankless job and that in itself can be challenging due to the intimate level of communication we have with our patients.
What do you wish more people knew about mental illness?
I wish that more people knew that people with mental illnesses are just as capable of living a mentally-healthy life as people who don't live with mental health issues. So many times, we as a society, write people off completely due to the stigma that surrounds mental health. These people are just as capable as anyone to live a full and meaningful life, even if it looks a little different than what we’ve been conditioned to perceive as a "normal" life.
Do you have any advice for someone who may be struggling with their mental health?
If you’re reading this and you, or someone you know, is struggling, reach out. I think that reaching out can often be one of the hardest parts of having a mental illness, but its also the most important step in receiving help. However, there are so many ways to reach out: call a friend, call or text your local helpline, reach out to your healthcare provider. The sooner you can ask for help, the sooner you can make sense of your situation and realize, “Hey, I’m not alone!”.
What are common misconceptions about being a psychiatric nurse on an inpatient unit?
Ha! There are so many. Just watch any movie set in a psychiatric hospital. You have the picture painted for you that these people are just “crazy” and nothing more. "Dark", "dirty", and "scary" are some words that come to mind when we watch these movies. The most common question I get asked when people find out where I work is, “So, like, crazy people?”. And then I’m asked, “Isn’t it scary?” My answer is always this: they are people coming to us for help, and yes, I’m sure it’s terrifying for the patients to come to a strange place, filled with strange people during some of the most vulnerable times of their lives.