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    Hi,
    I began my nursing degree in September 2016 and I started my first placement this week. I have had anorexia nervosa for 6 years and I'm still under the care of the community mental health services. I have to hold back staring uni because I did not reach the minimum required BMI of 18 to start the course. I just made it this year but I have no intention of maintaining this weight. I have been feeling really low throughout my first term and over Christmas, there were various times where I felt there was no point in living. I'm actively trying to lose weight, I'm abusing my meds and self-harming now.My tutors are aware of my past but not the recent problems. This would probably mean that I would have to take a leave of absence and I'm afraid that it will just ruin my career. At the same time, I so stuck mentally! Should I be honest with with my tutors?
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    I am not a nursing student, however I do have mental health issues.

    Short answer is yes. Please be honest with your uni about your mental health difficulties. Do you receive any support from them or from the NHS? I doubt it will ruin your career if you take a year of absence from the course, because at the end of the day, you and your health, mental and physical, matter the most. :hugs:
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    You need to think of it this way - they don't have occupational health requirements for no reason and they won't exclude you based on mental health difficulties unless it is making your work a risk to you or you a risk to your patients. The second one is definitely relevant to being a nurse - how are you going to do delicate tasks if your hands are shaking from low blood sugar? if you're malnourished your brain won't work so well and your decision making/memory will be affected etc. How would you feel if something went wrong because you were practicing when you shouldn't have been?

    There's also the consideration of what happens if you don't say anything and your supervisor finds out anyway - will there be repercussions for you - you can't think that you could lose a significant amount of weight and no one notice (particularly if your eating behaviour on shift isn't normal).

    I've been diagnosed with anorexia and honestly during recovery I felt the same as you, I thought I would never ever get used to having all this fat and it would never feel any better - but I have and it does. It won't happen overnight or even over a couple of months, it takes time. And a BMI of 18 probably won't be enough to fully recover, particularly for your brain, having a BMI of over 20 is advised and people who achieve a BMI of 22+ have much lower rates of relapse - and I can tell you from experience that my brain just relaxed SO much with a bit of extra food/weight. Give yourself a chance.
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    I'm not an expert in this area but aren't universities meant to be quite supportive places? A lot of them have counsellors etc?
    If your course and your career are important to you, its probably best to be honest and maybe they can then help you get the help you need to make it through the best way possible, whether that means a break in study or not.
    If you are going to be a nurse you need to learn to take care of people and an important part of that is taking care of yourself. "You can't serve from an empty vessel" as the saying goes.
    I wish you all the best in your recovery.
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    (Original post by AnonStudentNurse)
    Hi,
    I began my nursing degree in September 2016 and I started my first placement this week. I have had anorexia nervosa for 6 years and I'm still under the care of the community mental health services. I have to hold back staring uni because I did not reach the minimum required BMI of 18 to start the course. I just made it this year but I have no intention of maintaining this weight. I have been feeling really low throughout my first term and over Christmas, there were various times where I felt there was no point in living. I'm actively trying to lose weight, I'm abusing my meds and self-harming now.My tutors are aware of my past but not the recent problems. This would probably mean that I would have to take a leave of absence and I'm afraid that it will just ruin my career. At the same time, I so stuck mentally! Should I be honest with with my tutors?
    Hi

    I am not a nursing student however I am a Social Work student and I am subject to much of the same occupational health requirements as my nursing colleagues. I'm not sure if you have completed any placements yet - however I am sure that you will be completing some of these shortly. My advice is this 0 you need to make Occupational Health aware of your current difficulties. You may also wish to talk to your tutors. If you are not registered with Occupational Health, then speak to your tutors.

    The reasons why I suggest this is as follows -

    1) The HCPC requires social workers to report any health conditions that may affect their work to their employer/Occ Health dept. I am sure that the RCN have a similar requirement. This is not only there to protect yourself, but to protect the patients that you will be working with. It sounds like you are having a difficult time at the moment. It is hard enough trying to manage our own stuff, alongside everyone else's stuff too - and whether we like it or not, it can effect our job performance, and you want to make sure you give your best.

    2) A BMI of 18 is very low, as I am sure you are aware. Abusing your medication and self injury is not a great place to be in. Placement, the course and the career of being a nurse is stressful, which can add on to everything else that is currently stressing us out and make us feel much worse. I'm sure you aware of that rule they drum into us in first aid which is look after yourself first? The same is true here. You can't help others at the moment if your health (physical or mental) is poor - we need to look after ourselves. Remember - you need to be ready to go regardless of how you feel if the situation arises. Worst case scenario someone needs CPR but you are feeling too weak physically due to your low weight you are putting them at risk.

    3) It sounds like you need some help with your recovery. It really does. You may need some time off for that, or if you are going to stay on the course, you really do need everyone on your side.

    If you do take some time off, I am confident that it will not stop you being a nurse in the future. I have mental health difficulties myself (Bipolar and in the past, EUPD) and I have taken leave of absences during my education. I started the first year then took a year off after 2 months. When I restarted I had 2 hospital admissions during my first year, 5 weeks off placement in my 2nd year, and now I am in my final year and I had a few days off when I was feeling low. Every time I have been welcomed back with open arms. On the one condition - I MUST KEEP TALKING TO THEM. If you struggle on, I promise one thing - that will be more detrimental to your future career than getting help now.

    I hope that helped a bit - good luck with your course and future career as a nurse. I am sure that you will make a great one
 
 
 
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