Lost for words: Pharmacist blogger shares her story

Opinion

Lost for words: Pharmacist blogger shares her story

As a prolific blogger, PCN pharmacist and author Laura Buckley is not used to being lost for words but here she examines why she has been finding it so hard to articulate her thoughts – and why she now feels able to hit the keyboard again

I’ve attempted to write some blogs over the past few months but each was sadder than the last and a total waste of time to read. Mentally I was in a bad place.

All that changed when I attended a live book launch and watched a fantastic woman, Caitlin Moran, talk about the subjects we don’t talk about. She spoke without censorship, without fear of judgement and, really, just empowered me to start writing again.

I was so filled with writing fever after her show that, following a few drinks out in Leeds, I found myself at 2am typing what was going to be my comeback blog. It was going to be an explanation of why I’d been absent (aside from the chaos of a pandemic, new role and a prescribing course to boot). The blog was epic – if I do say so myself – and I was amazingly proud of how honest I’d been about my experiences in the past 12 months.

That was until, hungover on the train home the next day, I read it back and it came across like the sob story of the century. The ‘woe is me’ vibes were leaping off the page so hard, I could almost smell the desperation.

What I wanted the blog to say was that I had found things hard. I was last year in a situation with little support but big dreams of using my role to make a difference. I found myself eager to eat up all the clinical knowledge but there was no one to guide me on how to use the information I’d pulled from my own research.

When it became obvious that support and an open-door policy was very much a closed-door policy, I became adrift in uncertainty, terrified that this was my fault and convinced I was a truly sh*t pharmacist. I turned all this outward anxiety into an inward self-fanning fire of blame. It was my fault I was in a pandemic. My fault I wasn’t supported. My fault for thinking I was good enough to do a job I was so poorly prepared for.

Pastures new

Happily pastures new brought fresh challenges, with vaccinations and new introductions to a much bigger team and the forging of new alliances. But inside, I was still very much that sh*t pharmacist, unworthy of support and lacking in clinical knowledge.

I disregarded all the amazing work I’d already done with patients, ignored colleagues and friends who were sick of telling me that I am good enough and instead continued to repeat the inner mantra, “you’re not good enough, you’re not good enough”.

I put myself through a year of emotional turmoil and only by talking to friends and colleagues and admitting to myself the shame I was making myself feel, did I realise just how badly I was treating myself. I was punishing myself for the faults of circumstance and others. And from the messages I’ve received over the past few months, I realise I’m not alone in this and need to take some responsibility and share my experiences.

Because being in pharmacy is hard. Being a pharmacist is hard. Being a female pharmacist is hard. Being a female pharmacist in general practice is hard. Couple all this with parenting responsibilities and a global pandemic, and nobody is safe from the effects of stress.

Speaking from experience, blaming yourself is not the best way to go about it – but as women we do this, don’t we? We pull all the angst inside and keep going, lest we are deemed a failure.

No shame in struggle

I was so scared of failure that I cocooned myself in a blanket of worry, fearing that being completely and utterly honest about how hard I was finding things would open me up to judgement I wasn’t ready to face. I couldn’t bring myself to admit I was struggling.

But you know what? There’s no shame in struggle – we’ve all struggled with something. I’ve realised that remaining cocooned for the rest of time to protect myself from the world would mean I’d never really live. So I’m climbing out of the cocoon and I think I’m ready to start writing again. Who am I kidding? The grin on my face as I finish this last paragraph tells me that I’m SO ready to start writing again!

• This is an edited version of Laura’s blog, which can be found at mumdoesdrugs.com

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