Psych Class - Too Close to Home

  1. I am in the second semester of my ADN program, and one of the courses this semester is a psych/mental health class. I was initially very excited about this class, as I have thought since beginning the program that I wanted to be a psych nurse someday. I have been interested in psychiatry and mental health for years, largely due to the fact I have a mental illness myself.

    I was diagnosed with my illness about 12 years ago, and after some truly tough years, I am now in a very stable place. I have always been very open about my diagnosis, because I feel letting people around me see that I'm no different than them helps to break some of the stigma still surrounding it, at least in a small way.

    The problem: today was my first psych class, and we watched a documentary of interviews with people describing their hospitalization experiences. Unexpectedly, it made me feel very upset. Some of the emotions were too raw, and the experiences too close to my own, and I became very distressed. At one point, they talked about suicide attempts/ideation, and I ended up having to leave the room for a "bathroom break".

    Has anyone experienced this, and what did you do? Am I being too soft and emotional? I never expected these emotions after so long. Is my dream of being a psych nurse gone? I'm so disappointed in myself for reacting this way.
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    Joined: Mar '17; Posts: 10; Likes: 15

    5 Comments

  3. by   idkmybffjill
    I don't think you have anything to be disappointed in yourself about. It sounds like you had a human reaction to something that reminded you of a upsetting and perhaps traumatic time in your life. That's not being "too" soft or emotional. It's being human.

    I also don't think this necessarily ends any chance of you going into psych nursing. For one, you might not react the same way when interacting with a patient as you did to a video in class. Two, it could just mean that you should seek out a therapist now to talk through this. Maybe there's something you need to be able to process so you are better able to cope/move on from the experience. If anything, this reactions in class gives you time to sort through your emotions now rather than finding out during clinicals or after you graduate. You get a head start.
  4. by   opalbee
    You're not alone in this- I'm in a similar position.

    When I was 15, I got severe anxiety and depression. I mean, it was so bad that I cried multiple times a day, and the thoughts that terrified me were so vivid that I would wake up ALL NIGHT during my sleep, and I would wake up for several seconds just to panic about my thoughts, before passing out again from sheer exhaustion... And then waking up an hour later for the same thing to happen. I was terrified 24/7 and I was disassociating and it felt like I was in a constant nightmare.

    I'm not going to go into too much detail, but let's just say that 7 years ago, I did not think I would be a functioning adult, and at the time, I certainly didn't think my mental illness would allow me to do nursing. For years I had to avoid certain material, which was almost impossible. TV shows that my family would watch "triggered" me, as did certain comments or ads for news stories that appeared on my phone and various webpages.

    Fortunately, I started getting used to my fears and my thoughts. It's not that I dislike them any less, but I understand that the mind can trick you into believing things that aren't true. I've come such a long way, I can't even believe it... There are times when I stop and think "hey, I'm actually okay right now" and it's such a comforting realization.

    Again-- I never thought I would be a nurse. Working in healthcare would have terrified me and I would have thought that there was absolutely NO possible way that it would happen. I'm not completely okay- when discussions about death and dying or mental disorders or suicidal ideation come up in my studies or work environment, I feel it "creep in" to my soul. But I know I can't let that take control of me anymore because I want to do more with my life and I need to get myself together. And quite frankly, it's gotten to be too tiring to be scared and sad all the time.

    The best technique to develop is mindfulness. There are certain things I tell myself, rules that I know exceed my fears and exist regardless of how I might think. I know that I have a mental illness that makes me think abnormal things. I know that my mind isn't completely destined to work this way. And I know that if the world is falling apart around me, that I can still stand and rationally attempt to figure out how to handle the situation, or if I can't, then it's out of my control and I will let life happen the way it will. It's like meditation, as well. I'm not sitting on the ground, criss-cross applesauce with incense burning and singing "om", but I am freezing my mind when I feel negative mentalities start to creep in and I instead focus on fostering comforting or pleasant thoughts and feelings.

    I also surround myself with happy things. Like glitter and pictures of my pets.
  5. by   ItsThatJenGirl
    Quote from idkmybffjill
    I don't think you have anything to be disappointed in yourself about. It sounds like you had a human reaction to something that reminded you of a upsetting and perhaps traumatic time in your life. That's not being "too" soft or emotional. It's being human.

    I also don't think this necessarily ends any chance of you going into psych nursing. For one, you might not react the same way when interacting with a patient as you did to a video in class. Two, it could just mean that you should seek out a therapist now to talk through this. Maybe there's something you need to be able to process so you are better able to cope/move on from the experience. If anything, this reactions in class gives you time to sort through your emotions now rather than finding out during clinicals or after you graduate. You get a head start.
    This really is great advice.
  6. by   emmjayy
    At the beginning of our psych class, the instructor told us we would be talking about difficult topics like rape, PTSD, abuse, depression, eating disorders, hospitalization, suicide, etc. She made it very clear that it was okay for us to get up and take a break during videos, lectures, or discussions that were upsetting and that we were welcome to talk to her about it afterwards (she has her own therapy practice). I left the room during the PTSD video she showed us because it was about a soldier and my partner had PTSD upon his return from AFG. That alone hit too close to home and no one questioned me about it, treated me weirdly, or thought less of me for leaving. The same happened when we had a guest speaker who was sold into the sex industry in my city and who graphically described the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse she suffered. Again, I left and felt no shame in leaving. Hitting your limit and dealing with it appropriately does not make you less of a nurse and in fact shows that you know your limits and are able to take care of yourself.... a GOOD thing.
  7. by   scuba nurse
    Yes, this happened to me. But it was the best thing that ever happened. I too had a few psych issues that I thought were resolved when I did my psych rotation, but it became clear that they weren't. My professor was a counselor herself in private practice, and she is the one who noticed it in me, and helped me out and I actually became a patient of hers. (this was 30 years ago). I am so much better for having had that happen when it did, it made me a stronger person and I think a better nurse because now I can recognize things in others I might have missed before. If you need help, get it, even if you think you do not, you might want to go to counseling to help you thru this.
    Good luck!

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