The Raw and Real Struggles of Being a Nurse: Please Hang in There, I Promise You, You’ve Got This

Written by: @practicenurse_eva

A Little About Me

Hi everyone, my name is Eva, or you might know me as @practicenurse_eva on Instagram. Before I jump right into being my most vulnerable self, and share my struggles (but coming out stronger on the other side), I thought it would be best to share a little bit about me.

I am 24 years old and originally from Northern Ireland. I am currently working and living in England. After completing my GCSE’s and A-Levels at 18, I moved to Liverpool, England to study Children’s Nursing.

My degree was three years, and I ended up staying in England after I qualified as a nurse. It was here where I went straight into Paediatric Intensive Care as a new grad.

I always thought I would be a PICU nurse for many years, but due to COVID and how stressful it was, things changed. I ended up needing a change to have a better work-life balance and to find a passion in nursing again. Which brings us to now, March 2022, where I am 8 months into my new job as a Practice Nurse.

Work Struggles

Now, let’s get into how I got through one of the most stressful times of my life and difficulties as a nurse.

About a year ago I struggled almost all the time working in Paediatric Intensive Care. I loved PICU Nursing, it was my first dream job, and my passion, but I learned along the way that it was a very stressful environment to work in.

Before Covid-19 the PICU was stressful, and as you can imagine after Covid-19, it was even worse. We were pressured, understaffed, emotionally drained, and working crazy shift patterns. I realised as time went on, I was no longer happy and my cup wasn’t full. I was burnt out and emotionally switched off. My stress was coming out in forms of migraines and psoriasis flare ups.

I knew eventually I would have to leave. After some time spent searching, I held onto the glimmer of hope that I would find a new passion in nursing and it would all work out.

During this period of internal struggle, I’d give myself a pep talks on my drive to work. I’d force myself into a positive mindset and just hope it was a good shift.

I am a naturally positive person and can find light in any situation, but I consistently went home feeling drained. Feeling exhausted the day after my shifts, struggling to get into shift patterns,  I felt the impacts on my physical and mental health.

There were several tough shifts as a PICU nurse. I nursed very sick patients, and was often present with them and their families as they took their last breath.

After changing jobs and taking time to reflect, I’ve realized that I was emotionally switched off. I had little lives in my hands. My colleagues and I would use the phrase “if you don’t laugh you’ll cry”. It was tough for everyone.

A Change of Direction

Sometimes I can’t believe working in the PICU was my job. It’s hard to fathom how these families went through such difficult, indescribable times of their life. It was hard to comprehend how these things could happen to young children.

PICU was my first dream job, and I thought I’d be there for years as I’ve mentioned. But in reality, Covid-19 made me rethink everything.

I cared for adults with Covid-19 whilst being paediatric trained. I’ve experienced a lot of things at work that the average 21-23-year-old hasn’t. I know I definitely have some form or trauma from working through COVID, and I know a lot of other health-care professionals do too. Simply the thought of full PPE and an isolation cubical with a sick patient panicked me.

At the time I don’t think I realised how much I was struggling, because I tried so hard to remain positive and work through it. Looking back, I’m pretty proud of what I was capable of handling.

You’re Not Alone

It’s so easy to feel alone when you’re struggling. I’m here to tell you the real and raw sides of nursing, but also how I came out the other end feeling happier than ever.

If you’re feeling stuck, drained, or unsure where to go next, I promise you, you’ll get through it. I promise you’re not alone.

Fast forward to over a year later. I’m now at my happiest in a job that I love. No more pep talks needed, no more difficult shifts, and no more crying in the car on the way home.

I changed my job because my cup wasn’t full.

Please don’t let the expectations and judgement from society prevent you from chasing a new, bigger, and more suited dream for you. I pushed past the judgement, and I trusted this new chapter. I believed in myself, and I’m here to tell you that you can too.

Finding my new passion and dream came at the perfect timing. All of these internal and external struggles made me I realise that I wanted to become a practice nurse. Here I am in my job as a Practice Nurse, at my happiest.

Everything happens for a reason, trust divine timing. If you’re struggling like I was, hang in there. Promise, you’ve got this!

I hope that sharing my vulnerable self and my struggle has helped.  I hope you can trust me in following your own intuition, and that I’ve given you a glimmer of hope when you’ve needed it most.


Eva x

Instagram: @practicenurse_eva



Edited by: Claire Lang, BSN-RN

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