The other day my doctor congratulated me on having the courage to pursue an entirely different career to the one in which I trained. That was a big deal to me. Just over a year ago I was not in a great place. I was struggling through my final year of uni and trying to work through in my head just exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I knew that, although, for the most part, I loved what I was doing, there was something about it which just wasn't quite right. I had never experienced the kind of thoughts and feelings which had surfaced at various points throughout my degree, and I decided that it was my choice of career which was taking its toll on my mental health. I was surviving, not thriving.
I finally found another career path which excited me and spurred me on to complete my degree. Things immediately seemed to be going my way - I passed my degree and achieved the 2:2 which was going to give me a fighting chance when it came to applying for a masters, I was offered a job which I very much enjoy (and which has made me realise just how negative my previous work environment had been), visited a publishing house for a day, had an interview at my choice of university, got an offer from that university, received a scholarship offer from that university (do you get the picture yet?) All of these positive things made me feel about 95% sure that this was the right decision, but there was still that little thought in the back of my mind. But when my doctor sat there and told me that he sees so many people who are incredibly unhappy in their jobs and that, though it takes courage, making that decision is so incredibly important, I finally felt 100% certain that it was right. That affirmation that, yes, my mental wellbeing is a good enough reason to change my mind - it's my choice and only I can make the one that's right for me.
I wanted to share these thoughts because it's mental health awareness week. I know that my story pales in comparison to many others, but every struggle, no matter how small, needs to be talked about. I didn't speak to many people about the days when I didn't want to get out of bed, or my chest was so tight it felt as though someone was standing on me. I didn't know what it was or how to deal with it. But those who I did tell helped me to understand it and get through it, and that's why it is so incredibly important to talk. Mental health matters.