Real Stories: Bullying contributed to my enduring mental health problems

I remember the toil and tenacity it took to get through college. The placements, the college work, but most of all, I remember the feeling when the post arrived (I’m so old we had to wait for the postman for results!) and discovered I was now a qualified (again so old that Registered hadn’t even been thought of) veterinary nurse. I was so proud of my red badge representing years of ‘what do you want to be’ conversations, being told by careers officers it was extremely difficult to get into, portfolios and tears. I’d done it.

 

I remember going into work to start as a qualified VN. It was my training practice, but it wasn’t long before things changed. I had gone from being mentored to being picked on. To start with I thought I was imagining things, but I was being belittled and accused of doing things I had not and could not have had a hand in. Day in. Day out.

 

I became ill and signed off. I had nausea and vomiting. I lost weight and couldn’t eat. After a lot of primary investigations by my GP, including endoscopy, he drew the only conclusion possible. It was stress and depression caused by bullying at my work. I had to bring it up at work and I was accused of just causing problems for the HVN. Luckily it went higher and an investigation was held. My complaint was upheld and one of the vets bullying me got an official warning.

 

I left that job shortly after as I was seen as a trouble maker and the atmosphere changed. I got a new job, but the legacy of the bullying still lives with me today. Instead of being confident in my abilities (which I am told I should be), I always question if I am right, if I can do it, if I am a reasonable nurse.

 

The bullying was one of the direct contributing factors to developing Borderline Personality Disorder. I was hospitalised and a psychiatrist diagnosed me with this about 3 years later. This comprises of periods of self-doubt, poor self-image, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety and other factors. I am very select with whom I share my diagnosis and I have been hospitalised on several occasions for suicidality.

 

I have periods when life gets to me, or something happens in practice that tips me. I have used Vetlife and to have a non-judgmental person at the end of an email, who understands the veterinary pressures, is such a valuable resource.

 

Yes, I have BPD, yes I’m on medication and no, I don’t go around telling people as like it or not there is still stigma attached. (I was on a forum once where someone had admitted to the HVN they had depression and the HVN was asking how to ban them access to the DD cupboard!) And yes, I’m a bloody good nurse, even if I don’t always believe it!