BU Mature Nursing Student Proves Life Begins at Forty-Five

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Sixty-three year old Bournemouth University (BU) nursing graduate Irene Burnett-Thomas, has captured her experiences and journey towards beating depression, detailing how she turned her life around by studying at BU in her new book.

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Cover of “Turning the Blues Around – One woman’s story of kicking depression to nurse the mentally ill”

Turning the Blues Around – One woman's story of kicking depression to nurse the mentally ill

In a frank and honest account of years blighted by depression Irene, author of “Turning the Blues Around – One woman’s story of kicking depression to nurse the mentally ill”, reflects on overcoming adversity to carve out a successful career in nursing.

With around ten percent of the UK population suffering depression at any one time, Irene’s heartfelt story encapsulates the emotional torment caused by the UK’s most prevalent mental health issue in her recently published book.

Giving an honest depiction of her experiences from a happy youth to a desolate, suffering adult, Irene takes the reader on a journey through her struggle with depression, giving an in depth insight into her changing emotional states, the treatment she received, the psychiatric hospitals she attended and the coping mechanisms she adopted to help her through the darkest periods of her life.

Although Irene’s early adulthood was dominated by depression, the book reminisces on Irene’s positive childhood upbringing and education, expected to lead her into a successful and optimistic future. “I see my life as extremely happy as a child and teen- it was a colourful start, then a black cloud descended, looming unbearably during my early adult years. It was only colourful again when I came to Dorset and became a nurse”. She continues to highlight that becoming a nurse was ‘the making of my life’, made possible by her sheer drive and determination.

Irene threads in her longstanding attraction to nursing throughout the book, replicating the underlying desires she had throughout her life to move into the field. Whilst nursing was an approved career for women during her early adult years, it was not seen as an apposite choice for high academic achievers such as she. However, regardless of the pressure of conformity, nursing remained in Irene’s mind throughout.

Detailing the various tumultuous episodes of depression governing Irene during her early adulthood, the book serves as an inspiration for new beginnings. She recounts; “Life was a test of endurance. I felt as if I had been truly pushed to my limits.” After years of suffering, Irene finally triumphed over the illness that had held her captive for so long, liberating her from her mental confinements and prompting the start of a successful career.

After discovering that competition was high for university places on nursing courses, especially for mature students, Irene was eventually offered a place at Bournemouth University. Irene comments; “Looking back, I see that my years at Watford Grammar School and Bournemouth University have been the best and some of the happiest of my life”. Here she learnt the skills and expertise to bolster her previous volunteering experience and became a Registered Nurse (Mental Health) at the age of forty-eight.

Whilst covering a difficult story, Irene narrates her life with a tone of positivity. The uplifting outcome of the book offers hope to other depression sufferers from the perspective of both someone who has had first hand experience of the illness, as well as a professional in the field of mental health. The final chapter includes suggestions for managing stress, avoiding depressive states and advice to friends and family of sufferers for how best to care for them.

The book can be ordered at bookshops or online at http://www.amazon.co.uk. Publisher Athena, price £7.99

Notes to Editors:
1.    BU nursing courses support mature students with a range of courses for those who want to retrain in a new area.
2.    BU is the UK’s Number One New University (first place among all institutions that became universities since 1992) according to The Guardian University Guide 2009 & 2010. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/education)
3.    In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) BU is the fourth most improved university in the UK for the quality of its research (according to Times Higher Education).

BU Press Office:
Tel: (01202) 961033
e-mail: press(at)bournemouth(dot)ac(dot)uk

http://www.bournemouth.ac.uk/news

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Caroline Millar
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