Birds of a feather

  1. So, I'm in psych nursing now and rather enjoying my work right now. Very different than anything I've ever done before. But there is one thing on my mind a lot that..........well, read on.

    Some of my coworkers are a little frightening.

    I've always heard that psych nurses eventually become the patient on their own units. Wow, the time I've spent on this unit has validated that for me. Between one nurse who is admittedly bi-polar and works three jobs to cover the credit card debt she piled up during manic shopping sprees and some other things, there is no denying how applicable that myth is.

    I called it a myth on purpose, yes. Maybe I'm just not seeing things clearly or I'm biased due to always having listened to others spread the stereotype around. I don't know what the problem is but I still think it's a myth.

    Or maybe calling it a myth is just my wishful thinking. My coworkers make me think it might be. I do plan on being in this specialty until I retire. Am I doomed to become like them?

    I can't help but think back to that movie, "The Breakfast Club" where the teens are discussing how we all grow up to become our parents no matter how hard we try not to. I feel like that working on this unit.

    So what "myths" about specialties have you validated or discredited?
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  2. 30 Comments

  3. by   brownbook
    Of course not all psych nurses are mentally unstable. But I do believe (the myth?), that some nurses with mild to moderate mental illnesses are more interested in pursuing psych nursing.

    In general I believe the myth that a lot of nurses in any unit are a little obsessive compulsive.

    Made me aware that I wasn't really born to be a nurse. I'm the opposite of obsessive compulsive

    My husband was a psychiatric social worker, the CRAZY stories he told me about psychiatrist are unbelievable.

    My husband was just a plain social worker. Got his LCSW and kind of accidentally got into working psych facilities and out patient mental health. He doesn't have any obvious mental disorders..
  4. by   pixierose
    "Doomed to become like them." Nice.

    Your post smacks of the mental health stigma so many of us face every day.

    How about, instead of being so down on that bipolar nurse working 3 jobs, give her kudos on actually paying down that debt. That can't be easy.

    It also can't be easy admitting she's bipolar. Case in point: here is her coworker right here, right now airing her dirty business and fearing she'll be doomed just like her.

    This is why I would never, ever ever announce my diagnosis at work. Or to close friends at work. And up until recently, I worked in psych.

    Are you sure you can handle psych? You seem a little scared of us mentally unstable people.
  5. by   Kitiger
    Quote from pixierose
    "Doomed to become like them." Nice.

    Your post smacks of the mental health stigma so many of us face every day.

    How about, instead of being so down on that bipolar nurse working 3 jobs, give her kudos on actually paying down that debt. That can't be easy.

    It also can't be easy admitting she's bipolar. Case in point: here is her coworker right here, right now airing her dirty business and fearing she'll be doomed just like her.

    This is why I would never, ever ever announce my diagnosis at work. Or to close friends at work. And up until recently, I worked in psych.

    Are you sure you can handle psych? You seem a little scared of us mentally unstable people.
    I need people like you who can clearly show me my preconceived notions - things that I had not seen. You teach me to walk in another's shoes.

    Thank you.
  6. by   caliotter3
    One of my nursing instructors, a psych nurse by experience, displayed clear psychiatric problems if you crossed her path the wrong way. How she survived a career in a well respected university I will never understand. But then, people with personality disorders can be quite adept at showing the right face to the right people at the right time.
  7. by   AutumnApple
    Quote from pixierose
    "Doomed to become like them." Nice.

    Your post smacks of the mental health stigma so many of us face every day.

    How about, instead of being so down on that bipolar nurse working 3 jobs, give her kudos on actually paying down that debt. That can't be easy.

    It also can't be easy admitting she's bipolar. Case in point: here is her coworker right here, right now airing her dirty business and fearing she'll be doomed just like her.

    This is why I would never, ever ever announce my diagnosis at work. Or to close friends at work. And up until recently, I worked in psych.

    Are you sure you can handle psych? You seem a little scared of us mentally unstable people.
    Hmph, I guess without knowing me intimately, this topic could come off as judgmental towards mental illness. I didn't think it did but, perception is reality.

    I'm not down on the bipolar nurse. I'm done on where the illness took her.

    I've talked much on this site about some bad bends in the road I've traveled so, no, I don't see myself *over here* and those with mental illness *over there*. The only stigma going on here is: That could be me.

    Hence, albeit in a bit of a round about way, I asked "Do you believe in the myth that psych nurses eventually end up being much like their patients?".

    Yes, it's a reflection on whether I can handle Psych nursing or not. It's not being "a little scared" of the, as you put it, mentally unstable. It's being a little scared that the environment might affect me as it seems to have affected more than a few of my coworkers.

    I was actually going to work one day wondering "Are you being a little too bold working here?". I was wondering if I was perhaps not a bit like........someone in recovery from alcohol/drug abuse working in a bar or something to that effect.

    So, that's the rational behind my post. Just wanted to open up the convo about some of the myths in nursing and how we avoid them becoming a "self willed prophecy". I just chose to do it in the way I did in my post, but apparently it might have come off wrong. So I've put it out better here hopefully.
  8. by   AutumnApple
    Quote from caliotter3
    One of my nursing instructors, a psych nurse by experience, displayed clear psychiatric problems if you crossed her path the wrong way. How she survived a career in a well respected university I will never understand. But then, people with personality disorders can be quite adept at showing the right face to the right people at the right time.
    And I think there's a bit of that going on where I'm at.

    Reminds me of my early days in nursing, when I put in the "Happy perfect nurse" face yet, things were falling apart at home. I'm not doing it as of yet, but a few coworkers have talked to me about things and...........I hear echos of that in their stories.

    I prefer to stay here, but kind of just feeling my way around and wondering if I didn't consider the implications of working on a psych unit well enough.
  9. by   cleback
    I hear all DNEs eventually get diabetes.
  10. by   Crush
    Is that sort of like cardiac nurse will have cardiac issues later or as someone else said, will a diabetic nurse educator become a diabetic? I don't listen or pay attention to stereotypes.

    All I care about on the job is if my co-workers have my back, work as a team, display competency and ensure quality of care.

    I wonder what kind of myth will behold me later? Geez, I am a float nurse.

    Ok, sarcasm aside. To the OP, no I don't think psych nurses become like their patients at all. I have met many wonderful nurses where I am proud to work. Those who retired from psych nursing or have switched to other floors are as stable and good to work with as any other nurse. Myths are just that.......a myth. Glad the bipolar nurse has enough morals to work to pay back her debts, shows up for her shifts and is at terms with her bipolar and feels comfortable talking about something she or he is going through.
  11. by   Sour Lemon
    Quote from AutumnApple
    So, I'm in psych nursing now and rather enjoying my work right now. Very different than anything I've ever done before. But there is one thing on my mind a lot that..........well, read on.

    Some of my coworkers are a little frightening.

    I've always heard that psych nurses eventually become the patient on their own units. Wow, the time I've spent on this unit has validated that for me. Between one nurse who is admittedly bi-polar and works three jobs to cover the credit card debt she piled up during manic shopping sprees and some other things, there is no denying how applicable that myth is.

    I called it a myth on purpose, yes. Maybe I'm just not seeing things clearly or I'm biased due to always having listened to others spread the stereotype around. I don't know what the problem is but I still think it's a myth.

    Or maybe calling it a myth is just my wishful thinking. My coworkers make me think it might be. I do plan on being in this specialty until I retire. Am I doomed to become like them?

    I can't help but think back to that movie, "The Breakfast Club" where the teens are discussing how we all grow up to become our parents no matter how hard we try not to. I feel like that working on this unit.

    So what "myths" about specialties have you validated or discredited?
    I've always heard that psych is where old nurses go to retire or die. That's part of what attracted me to the specialty, but they keep floating me back to the medical units so I get no "sleep". Blah.
    Your original post does sound pretty offensive, but hopefully mine is too and will take some of the heat off you.
    You're welcome.
  12. by   AutumnApple
    Quote from Sour Lemon
    I've always heard that psych is where old nurses go to retire or die. That's part of what attracted me to the specialty, but they keep floating me back to the medical units so I get no "sleep". Blah.
    Your original post does sound pretty offensive, but hopefully mine is too and will take some of the heat off you.
    You're welcome.
    Lol.

    I think I need some more adjustment time to working nights. I wrote that during the night and, IDK. Maybe I'm getting a little sour myself, no pun intended.
  13. by   DowntheRiver
    I am a cancer survivor (Hodgkin's) and I work in Oncology. I genuinely feel this gives me an edge in my care for these patients. I am much gentler with accessing ports after having a port, and much more sympathetic to pain resulting from treatments and neuropathy after having been through that experience. There is only one other nurse on my unit of 10 that is a cancer survivor.
  14. by   Oldmahubbard
    My opinion only : Your co-workers are frightening because they are fairly typical, screwed up nurses. Not because they work in psych.

    Yes, the profession is highly screwed up, and I do appreciate those of you who are not. I know there is very intense stress at times, which brings it out.

    The ideals we are taught in school are possibly part of the issue. The under-staffing is definitely part of the issue.

    No other profession is even remotely like this.

    I had to get out, and I got out at a time when NPs were lucky to get 10k more a year than an RN with 1/3 the education.

    And yes, I have dealt with severe personality disordered nurses, and even preceptors that got ahead.

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