The ‘Out of Office’ is on!

Saturday morning- in 3 days time, I will be just getting off the ferry at Lerwick. Rucksack on my back and my mum by my side. It seems surreal after years of talk, we are nearly there.

I work as a nurse, and I recently started a secondment in an outpatient area. It was a big change for me, my whole career I had only ever wanted to do one type of nursing, and I was doing it, and yet it had broken me.

Nurse Owen

Last year I had to take some time off work, I had started having panic attacks and it was affecting my ability to practise safely. I thought maybe I needed a new job, and this is what I got. Its a promotion technically, in a different area. I thought it might increase my confidence, plus the hours are Monday to Friday rather than shift work, I hoped it might make me less tired, give me some time to think. The first few weeks were tough, I felt useless and not welcomed by some of the team, but I’m slowly finding my feet and being given responsibility, and actually, it is doing what I wanted it to do. I feel more relaxed, away from the acute area and the long days, I’ve been given some head space, and now I’m going on this journey, it feels like things are falling into place.

I’ve always been interested in books on journeys. As a young girl I used to love getting up on a Sunday morning to spend time with my dad. He worked in retail, and he had to work every other Sunday. The days he was off were obviously great, but I also loved the days he was working and I’d get up early to drink tea and draw with him before work. One of those Sunday mornings he gave me a book, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, I was about 8 or 9. To this day it is one of my favourite books, that influenced my outlook on life completely even though I was a young girl.

As an adult, I continue to read about journeys. Eat, Pray, Love, Wild, A Sense of Direction, Into the Wild, The Alchemist, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Jog On, The Pursuit of Happiness, A Grand Old Time, The Little Breton Bistro, Sixty Degrees North- the list goes on and on. If the hero/ heroine of the book is going on a journey, I want to read their story, fiction or autobiographical, I don’t mind. I love the personal growth they experience, the lessons they learn on the way. It therefore comes as no surprise to me that after years of various unsuccessful blogs, I have found great happiness trying to discover my own journey. (FYI, For me a successful blog is one that gives you joy to write, and that allows you to connect with those that have similar interests. I’m not fussed about how many followers or becoming an influencer!)

So, from starting this blog, at a time when I was off work and could barely leave the house because of my anxiety, to this point, I already recognise a change.

Bovisand Beach, Devon

For one, I am back at work and secondly, I can safely leave the house without trembling. But also, I can feel I am more confident. Writing about your own mental health issues is always hard, but I’m a strong believer in speaking up when you have the strength. Be strong for others so that they know they are not alone.

If you are suffering with your own mental health then please speak up and ask for help, it will change your life I promise.

In addition, to organise this trip has taken assertiveness, courage, and I’ve been forced to look at things in my life that I have never confronted before.

Assertiveness to tell my mum we’re going, to take charge, to book things so we can’t back out ‘for another time.’ Courage to speak to strangers about me and my family, to make connections. All those secrets hidden by my family, now put out in the open. This courage worked, approaching people I don’t know, who have now told me things about my ancestors I never knew, and who have put me in touch with relatives I didn’t know existed. It means my mum and I are now going for tea with my second cousin twice removed and her family. Also my only living grandparent is regularly emailing me with his life story.That would not be happening if I hadn’t put myself out there. As for confronting things, well, slowly but surely I’m getting there.

I’m excited for our trip and what it will bring. The ‘Out of Office’ is on and today is all about packing.

The landscape and the wildlife of Shetland will be amazing, but the joy of our vacation will come from so much more than that I’m sure.

“But eyes are blind. You have to look with the heart.”

The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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