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Being a mental health nurse with a mental illness: an autoethnography
Brandon University, Faculty of Health Studies
Includes bibliographical references (pages 103-115). "Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Psychiatric Nursing."
In this research, I explore my own experience of being a mental health nurse with a mental illness. A review of the nursing literature reveals that little has been written about this topic. I have chosen autoethnography as a research method for this study, as it offers the opportunity to provide both a subjective account, in which the self is very visible in the research, and an examination of the interrelationship among self, other, context, and culture. Narratives are intermingled with analysis, in which I draw together my own experience and relevant literature and theory. This study is grounded in social constructionist theory, with a view that our understanding and perception of reality is based on social knowledge and influences. Analyzing the narratives I generated, four themes became the focus for this research: stigma, disclosure, meanings and identities, and returning to work. My narratives related to stigma are used to illustrate dominant cultural beliefs and the existence of power differentials between the stigmatizer and stigmatized. While expectations of silence around mental illness are noted in the literature, I have opted to disclose my illness, and in this research I have explored potential benefits and downfalls of this exposure. Meanings related to illness are closely tied to the identities one constructs, and my identities as nurse and patient and well and ill self are explored. I also consider the biomedical model as a source meaning that is relevant to nursing culture. Finally, I consider my experiences of returning to work, with particular emphasis on perceptions of risk and labeling of deviance. There is no neat and tidy conclusion to this work; rather, it serves as an invitation to the reader to join me on a journey of exploration and questioning.
Psychiatric nurses--PsychologyMental illness--Public opinion
Brandon UniversityFaculty of Health Studies