I am a good nurse, just in a bad rut that I so badly want to get out of

  1. 1
    Hello all!

    So I've dealt with anxiety and job problems all my life and one of the only things that I did complete and do well in my life was nursing school. It was due to me having a great support group etc..
    Now fast-forward 10 years. I've been a nurse for 10 years. I can't believe it. I should be an NP working in my own practice or in Africa rending healthcare. Instead I am labeled a job-hopper by people and have a horrible time keeping jobs. I have depression and anxiety.
    I initially kept my nursing jobs like 1.5 years. I had two nervous breakdowns over the years and now my jobs barely last. The only nursing jobs I can get now are travel assignments and while I'm a good floor nurse, I don't last long. I do orientation fine and usually after the first shift on my own, I no longer can keep going for whatever reason. I'm on medication but because of money issues I don't see my pdoc as much as I should. If I worked, I'd have more than enough money for everything. Why is the knowledge that *I* am the only breadwinner for myself not enough for me to stay with a job???
    When I'm home, I think of a million things I have to do during a shift, and the things that could possibly go wrong, and I freak. This prevents me from working well I think. Some people then tell me to get out of nursing. The thing is the only thing I'm good at (when I'm in the act) is nursing. Also, I'm pretty sure, I'd not be able to do McDonalds either; the issue is not nursing, the issue is anxiety and panic.
    Anyone have similar experiences? *I* alone put myself through hell all the time. Yes people have problems but I know that I sabotage myself all the time and make life much more difficult than it needs to me. Why do I do that myself? I have a book on DBT and try to do some of that and meditation/relaxation, but it only helps me when I'm not at work. When I have to go to work, I start building this anxiety and it kills me by stopping me from going to work.
    I so want to be like many people, able to work like other people that work because they have to. I have to too but right now my parents help me out. But I feel horrible that they at their age are helping out their mentally unstable child when they should be feeling proud of me. They were proud of me when I graduated nursing school and passed NCLEX. But my job failures over the years have thwarted whatever continued pride they might have. I want them to be proud of me as they are getting older.
    I'm sorry if this post is disjointed in advance.

    Me
    poppycat likes this.
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  4. 18 Comments so far...

  5. 2
    I totally relate. I just lost a new job tonight after 6 weeks because I can't get myself together. I'm a good nurse but all the life stresses and external factors consume me to the point where I can't function and can't even bring myself to be responsible and just show up to work. It's like a vicious cycle
    poppycat and zacarias like this.
  6. 8
    OP, you are not alone. Far from it. I could have written your post, for our experiences parallel each other's even though my diagnosis is bipolar 1 with anxiety. I've never lasted at a job more than 2 1/2 years, and the two longest-lasting jobs ended in my having a breakdown. I am also the sole breadwinner for my husband and myself, yet I've taken huge risks by impulsively quitting jobs because I couldn't handle the stress.

    I know what you mean about being a good nurse. That doesn't necessarily translate to being a good employee, which in nursing usually means submitting to being overworked, dealing with bad management, not getting breaks, and generally being treated like a pack animal. Working in such conditions naturally contributes to stress and burnout---even in nurses who don't suffer from mental illness---and for people like us, it can be disastrous.

    Obviously, working as a nurse is a trigger for your depression and anxiety. It can be overcome, but medications aren't enough. I know your finances are tight, so you may want to consider checking out your local public health clinic; they usually have low-cost mental health services that charge fees based on income. The major disadvantage here is that you may not see the same psychiatrist or therapist every time, but it's a lot better than nothing.

    You can also see if your own pdoc will work with you by temporarily reducing his fees until you're back on your feet. Mine carried me for eight months while I was uninsured, for which I will always bless him. The worst thing that can happen is a "No", but you'll never know unless you ask.

    In the meantime, you may want to think about a lower-stress nursing job such as doing admissions for a SNF or working part-time as a flu clinic nurse. Neither is particularly exciting nor well-paid, but they can put food on your table while you sort out your options. I had to leave clinical nursing entirely when I realized that I could no longer handle it either physically or mentally; now I'm a state surveyor of LTC facilities, which brings a lot of stress with it as well, but it's different stress---I'm not holding anyone's life in my hands while coping with the inevitable ups and downs of my illness.

    Once again, you are not alone. Many nurses have walked in your shoes, and we know it's hell. I hope a few more will weigh in here, as there are a number of us who suffer from depression and anxiety and can share some wisdom.

    (((((HUGS)))))
  7. 2
    HeartRN and Viva,

    Thank you so much fo your comments. It is heartening to know that I'm not alone. However, it is scary to think that I may have to gie up hospital nursing someday. It is really the only nursing that I've ever done and while it is stressful, I used to be able to handle it. I always prided myself in my thirst for knowledge, being expert in pathophysiology, and being a resource that other nurses turned to. Getting out of hospital nursing would mean I wouldn't be in the "cutting edge" of nursing and I think that would make more depressed. I'm not sure.
    I appreciate you guys so much and keep your heads up.
    poppycat and VivaLasViejas like this.
  8. 2
    Viva,

    I see you're from the PNW. I was born and raised on the Eastside of Lake Washington in the Seattle area. I love it there. My parents are up there still and so many times I've considered going home to them for a while. I am just concerned that my nursing career will further be in danger if I take time off and go up to them. Of course if my sanity can be saved by doing that, it might be a good option going up to their house.
    poppycat and VivaLasViejas like this.
  9. 5
    When you say "I should be..." it makes me wonder if you're setting impossible expectations for yourself. Hospital floor nursing is brutal; I loved the actual nursing but the extraneous crap made it unsustainable (short-staffing, no breaks, back-breaking workloads). It also sounds like you say a lot of negative things to yourself much of the time and undermine your own self-confidence. I really do think you need to find a job that's doable for the time-being (give yourself a break from the stress) and explore a variety of ways to help with your stress and anxiety. Please find a good therapist, get some physical exercise, find supportive friends. Check out books by Albert Ellis, like "How to Stubbornly Refuse to Disturb Yourself About Anything, Yes, Anything". (Ellis was a crusty psychologist who was very good at helping people not sabotage themselves.) Don't give up. I'm rooting for you.
    UnaNayeli, poppycat, LadyFree28, and 2 others like this.
  10. 0
    Tricia, thank you for your kind post. You're right in that I do expect way too much from myself and I put myself down a lot. This is something I learned from both my Mom and Dad. They always put themselves down. It's amazing and sad that I learned that behavior from them. Of course I learned a lot of great things from them, don't get me wrong, like how to be a thoughtful listener, and to truly care about other people.
    What do you do in nursing now? I will check out Albert Ellis' books. I know who he is but I haven't read his books; I'll get in on my Kindle.
  11. 1
    I'm in a rut, too, but thankfully, 2 docs say not depression or any other mental health issues. It is rest/sleep for me. I am working 4-6 12 hr nocs/wk. So run down, but nowhere else in town hiring full time. Just trying to wait it out for days, or maybe they will get enough hired for nights, so wee can go back to 3 shifts a wk. They say they are trying........hang in there, I'm praying for you!(((hugs)))
    zacarias likes this.
  12. 1
    Pray it helps! I deal with the same thing
    zacarias likes this.
  13. 3
    Quote from zacarias
    Tricia, thank you for your kind post. You're right in that I do expect way too much from myself and I put myself down a lot. ****This is something I learned from both my Mom and Dad. They always put themselves down. It's amazing and sad that I learned that behavior from them****. Of course I learned a lot of great things from them, don't get me wrong, like how to be a thoughtful listener, and to truly care about other people.
    What do you do in nursing now? I will check out Albert Ellis' books. I know who he is but I haven't read his books; I'll get in on my Kindle.
    OP, I starred this statement because you have great insight to a root cause to your anxiety, as well as a start on being gentle with yourself.

    Please seek out professional help with combatting your anxiety relating to work; if possible, reach to local associations that do specialize in CBT; you will be surprised how many groups are for free and can possibly give resources in finding a pdoc that has a sliding scale.

    Also look into contacting pharmaceutical companies or discount coupons to adequately afford your medicine-I used a coupon from a discount site; reduced my 300 dollar medicine to 11 dollars, which gave me a HUGE sigh of relief.

    Is there anything or anywhere you have worked that you can use as a way to continue into nursing? Perhaps wound care or home health doing visits part time? How about per diem? Per diem positions can help-where you can schedule yourself and adequately prepare for your shifts. I found working flexible as per diem or part time as a way to help me be available for my appointments and be able to have my career and keep myself centered.

    Best wishes. (((HUGS)))
    poppycat, zacarias, and VivaLasViejas like this.


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