They say to become who we really want to be we shouldn’t worry about how to get there, but instead just focus on being the person we want to be and it will happen.
I wasn’t always convinced this was the right way to go about things, after all aren’t we always being told that we can’t hope to achieve anything worthwhile without lots of sacrifice and hard work? Just pretending to be something doesn’t sound like a huge amount of effort.
But now I’m 4 days away from enrolling at London South Bank University to start a degree course, which will result in me becoming a mental health nurse - and I’m starting to believe that there maybe some truth in what “they” say.
My journey to get here began about 15 months ago when my beloved brother attempted to take his own life. It was a very difficult time for us all as a family, discovering someone you love is struggling with mental health issues every day and you never suspected is hard. It’s even harder trying to then explain this illness to others - people often don’t fully appreciated that it is just that: an illness.
My brother wasn’t physically ill, he had no broken bones and an operation or course of antibiotics was not going to make it go away. For me, this period of time was life changing. In the 12 months before this happened, I had lost two grandparents and an auntie and was quickly realising that life is indeed very short, even if we live until we’re old.
I have always been interested in the workings of the mind and always believed that we don’t all think alike. But it wasn’t until one day when I was discussing one of my brother’s counselling sessions with him and it suddenly became crystal clear that this was what I wanted to do. This was my field: where I belonged.
After this realisation, I then had to ask myself how I could bring mental health into my day to day workings as an accountant. I began searching for accountancy jobs in charities specific to drug and alcohol addiction and also for volunteering positions. Scrolling through one website I came across a position for a mental health nurse and everything seemed to fall into place.
I had worked in finance for about 15 years and the longer I stayed, the less likely it seemed that I would ever do anything else - with a few clicks of the mouse this all changed.
Everywhere I looked it seemed a door would open that allowed me to believe I could make this dream a reality. I registered to attend an LSBU open day and discovered they had a nursing annexe just 15 minutes up the road from where I was living. I enrolled on a distance learning Access course and I haven’t looked back. Even the redundancy I received at the beginning of this year was a blessing in disguise, giving me no excuse not to complete my coursework and ultimately making the decision for me to leave a full-time, well-paid job to become a student!
So it would seem “they” do know what they’re talking about. Although the part about sacrifice and hard work does still apply, it doesn’t feel like hard work when you’re striving towards something you believe in with all your heart.
I suppose this may explain why I made a terrible accountant…
Jayne Kendall is just starting her 1st year on the mental health nursing branch at London South Bank University