I've only been working a few years and am already experiencing signs of burnout/fatigue. There is possibly another word for it that I've recently discovered on here - moral distress (google).
I work on an acute-care floor where the patients cannot do anything for themselves. The management is terrible and extremely uninvolved. I am scared to get into specifics, but i'll just say this: the turnover rate is amazingly high. There are issues with disrespect between the nurses and also across disciplines between nurses and techs. I'm on the nightshift, so it's hard to say if my symptoms are attributed to that, the work environment or a combination of both. I feel it's the latter.
*Physical exhaustion/fatigue mixed, ironically, with insomnia.
I am constantly tired and lacking energy, yet cannot seem to sleep more than 3-4 hours in a row. I've worked many a 12 hour shifts off 3 hours of sleep, and being on night shifts makes it seem impossible to ever catch up. I lay in bed literally for hours and hours unable to fall asleep and "turn off" my brain and my thoughts, which always, no matter how hard I fight it, go back to work scenarios that fill me with bad feelings that make my stomach turn. Even when I enter the half awake/half asleep phase - I catch myself thinking nonsensical thoughts about work and it wakes me right back up.
This is so difficult to admit, but if I don't I'll never know if anyone else experiences this. I find my attitude towards patients increasingly negative. I am often times angry inside at them for requesting something from me that I find unnecessary and feel more like a servant than a caregiver. My interactions are brief and impersonal and I get antsy when a lengthy conversation is initiated, all the while thinking about the 7 other patients I have yet to see and the hours of documentation I have yet to do related to being short-staffed. This is scary for me because I am an extremely empathetic person - the thought of a patient outside of work can instantly bring me to tears, thinking of their sickness.
*Troubles with personal/romantic relationships
I find that I am increasingly distant from my boyfriend, who I've lived with for a long time. Often times the things I see at work between the disrespect among coworkers and the degree of sickness my patients have make it impossible for me to open up to him. In other words - the things I see at work are so hard for anyone NOT in the nursing field to relate to that they would find it unimaginable - so I don't even bother getting into it. Instead, I keep it inside, bottled up. I become numb to it myself, like I'm just drifting through life not feeling much. I am even less physically able to be with him - often times freezing up right before we have sex.
*Easily irritable (Basically, a constant state of the worst PMS imaginable).
Anything and everything irritates me and my anger is unproportionate to the "offense". I have zero tolerance for people now (new, I was never like this before). Someone messing up my order at a deli could throw me off for an entire morning. I'm usually a passive aggressive person, but I've found myself so irritable lately that I'm unnecessarily rude.
I feel sad - which for me manifests as lazy. I don't want to do anything. I'd rather watch television and tune out than go to the gym and be active and interact with people. I don't even get together with friends that often anymore. It's too much effort.
So there you have it, my brutally honest story of the beginning of my nursing career. It's obvious I am experiencing ALL of those things (burnout, compassion fatigue, and moral distress). Please tell me someone out there relates on this level and help me figure out what steps to take.