Chanelle’s experience and the impact of lockdowns
Here is a first-person account of how the Covid-19 pandemic impacted on a nurse’s professional and private life:
“I became a qualified nurse in 2019 and began working on the paediatric wards. During the first and second waves of the pandemic, I was redeployed to Adult Critical Care. That time was a rollercoaster with huge highs and lows. It was new to everyone, and I was struggling but didn’t realise I was struggling. I lived alone and found it really difficult not being able to see my loved ones.
The second lockdown was even worse – the patients kept coming and coming and coming. I disconnected from death. There were so many people dying around me, that that’s how I dealt with it.”
“In 2021, when people closer to me started dying, like my sister’s best friend’s nan, I felt detached and thought ‘it’s just another death’. It shocked my friends and family to hear me talk like that, but they couldn’t understand what I’d seen. This worried me as I thought I sounded like a sociopath and that I had no feelings. But then I‘d watch a silly film on Channel 5 and be crying my eyes out.
Death felt normal to me. I just got on and dealt with it. I became irritable and after an argument with my Stepdad I decided to seek help. He didn’t have to see what I saw. The situation made me go deep inside my head.
I tried the talking therapies that the NHS provided but I felt I needed someone to talk back to me who understood my situation.”
Discovering the Psychological Support Service
“Then I saw an ad on the intranet for the new Psychological Support Service and I wanted to tap into it. I’d always just put up and shut up but at this point I had to admit I was suffering.
I asked for a session and met with a psychologist face-to-face. She understood what I’d been through and didn’t have the shocked look on her face that so many other people did. I needed that level of understanding. I had 3 sessions and felt I could talk freely with her. The sessions gave me space to open up and be honest.
I told her that I felt like a sociopath, and she replied and gave me perspective. It massively changed the way I saw things, I never wanted to talk about my feelings before. But after speaking with her I began speaking to colleagues and it was refreshing to see that everyone was experiencing the same things as me.”
I never wanted to talk about my feelings before. But after speaking with her I began speaking to colleagues and it was refreshing to see that everyone was experiencing the same things as me.Chanelle, Staff Nurse, The Royal London Hospital
The new psychological support service
Thanks to those who gave to our Covid-19 Emergency Appeal, we awarded £1million to establish the #TeamBartsHealth Psychological Support Service for Barts Health NHS Trust staff. Each of the five hospitals in the Trust – St Bartholomew’s, The Royal London, Mile End, Newham and Whipps Cross now have access to a dedicated psychologist.
The service was set up with the aim of building resilience and ensuring staff feel cared for and listened to, which leads to improved patient experience. So far, over 6500 staff have been seen by the service.