How I ended up here

We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are -Anais Nin

Have you ever had that horrible thought that your crazy and no one’s telling you? That everyone knows something you don’t? Like your the only one  looking in from the outside? Is it me or the world that’s going crazy?

 quality over quantity and creativity over consumerism could change the state of our world

The irony in that question is that this post is about why I gave up my career as a mental health nurse before it even truly began.

The latest disorder I read about that has come to the attention of the media was ‘biggerexia’ – in short its when men become completely obsessed and addicted to working out and building a bigger physique that results in the abuse of steroids, strokes, heart attacks and suicide.

I’ve worked with eating disorders triggered by lack of parental love or the callous comment of a partner, I’ve worked with suicide attempts and depression brought on by the loss of a job and I’ve even worked with a client who had threatened to kill someone because he couldn’t bare the thought of life outside institutionalisation.

Working for the NHS and having a list of policies, regulations and legalities to abide by in our ‘civilised’ country meant I had just about enough time to give out the drugs and tick a box next to every person I had clarified was alive and within the vicinity before returning to the computer to record, in great detail, everything that had been said or done (aka covering your arse) and making sure government bodies could state whether ‘targets’ were being met or not. It felt as if my hands were tied behind my back leaving me unable to help those that needed me and being kicked by those above. The last straw was when we had to sign a piece of paper to confirm we had read the latest policy on empathy. A policy on empathy? That well and truly summed things up for me.

If you cannot work with love but only with distaste , it is better that you should leave your work – Kahlil Gibran

 Mental health nurses work incredibly hard and I understand there have to be certain boundaries in place but, as a nation,  have we become so fixated with the text book that we no longer have time to look up and see the reality in front of us? It was soul destroying for me to dish out drugs and tick boxes day in, day out. It was now clear to me that my hopes and intentions when I started my degree were not going to be fulfilled through the role as a mental health nurse. To me it was so strikingly obvious that the illness’s we see are the tips of the  icebergs of our modern western society.

I didn’t believe that drugs and scientific cures were going to be the answer to much larger underlying problems. In my eyes these modern mental health issues were a direct result of our current world and society. Biggerexia, personality disorders, obesity, ADHD, are names given to the side effects of our current society. A society that consists of greed, consumption, values aesthetic beauty above all else, a society that defines itself by the cars they drive and the street they live on, a society where a hard days work is sat in front of a computer whilst wearing a tie behind four walls. A society that teaches children algebra and computer science over environmental conservation, the importance of nutrition, how to build self esteem and life skills, creativity, travel and how to engage and express yourself, what it means to take care of yourself and how to be a responsible adult in charge of your own destiny. Why can anyone have a baby or own a dog but you have to own a licence to have a T.V?

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We hang off the words of the big guns, we think the government is looking after us, they know best. But they were those children too once, they went through the same system and they ticked the relevant boxes. Their promises to you are boxes ticked to ensure they get that big fat pay check. Because when we are made to feel safe we don’t feel the need to challenge or think for ourselves. The need for growth and change slowly diminishes. They convince you that a life without a house, a car, a pension and life insurance is a scary and dangerous place to be. You don’t have to dig too far under the surface to see what Is really going on. Guess who sponsors The Academy of Nutrition and dietetics? Holland and Barrett? Wrong. Coca-Cola AND Pepsi! Still trust their daily recommendations? Is a pig farmer going to tell you how bad bacon is for you? I doubt it. If you want a real laugh then find out who sponsors The American Society for Nutrition!

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Once you dig a little deeper you realise you can’t just take everything your told as gospel, no matter how well the person saying it is dressed, what lingo they use and despite they’re job title or education. Think outside of the box and most importantly think for yourself! You’ll start to see things a little clearer.

Who you are is shouting so loudly that I can’t hear what your saying-Ralph Waldo Emerson

If we went back just 70 years, obesity and heart disease was as good as non existent. ADHD has increased alongside the expansion of built up areas and now 1 in 4 will experience a mental health problem in the course of a year. (Mental Health Foundation)

I continue to give up more and more of the ‘modern world’ that  I feel contributes towards the destruction and negative state of our society. I think the more naturally we live, the more balanced we will become, the more we will feel as we should. Life can be simpler. As long as we fight nature we are not going to feel the way we should. A holistic way of life that values natural wholefoods, nature, a slower pace, quality over quantity and creativity over consumerism could change the state of our world.

We eat refined and processed foods, work ourselves to exhaustion and feed our minds with toxic trash then feel cheated when we develop diseases of both the body and mind. We feed all of our money into the system that caused this situation in the first place with the false hope that the latest drug will help us. Ditch everything on the outside, the noise, everyone telling you what you should do, think, eat and start thinking yourself. If your really clever, and this is the hardest part, try listening to yourself.  Harder still, is to go out amongst the noise while still doing things your way and remaining confident in what you believe.

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage – Anais Nin

I gave up mental health nursing, but I didn’t give up fighting for the cause. Instead I redirected my battle and chose a different method of attack. Instead of drugs I focus on nutrition, instead of symptoms I consider lifestyle, instead of politics and religion I listen to my gut and rely only on myself, instead of voting I use my money to support the lifestyle I wish to flourish such as local and independent and instead of hospitals and institutions I continue to promote breaking away from societal expectations and restraints. I continue to study, research and work with the same intentions and hopes I had the day I graduated and although the task is now larger and harder it actually feels possible.  And with that, I can sleep a little better at night.

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Inspiring reads

The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell

Wild: An Elemental Journey by Jay Griffiths

How to be free by Tom Hodgkinson

The title picture is ‘Keep your coins. I want change’ by Banksy. This post is based on my own personal research, experience and opinions. Please feel free to comment, criticise and share your thoughts

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