Nurses with Bipolar Disorder - page 2

by HappyJaxRN 10,119 Views | 24 Comments

Hello- I was reading some old posts from some people that were about 2 years old and wanted a fresh thread on this. Any nurses out there with Bipolar (BP) Disorder? How have you managed it? What kinds of things have happened... Read More


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    Thank you for helping me
    linzjane88 and pedicurn like this.
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    I am an RN with bipolar disorder. I am lucky that I have it managed pretty well. I quit my job to travel (NOT travel RN -- just regular travel!) 6 mos ago and am back, and am looking for a new job. I have 5 yrs' experience on a med/surg floor, I was charge RN, I precepted new RNs and students, served on committees, and the like.

    I am now looking for a job in critical care, I feel that's where I need to go next. The problem is that all I have found is that critical care floors take you for nights only. And it's really hard to get off of nights.

    Can anyone provide any tips as to how to get hired into an ICU for example on day shift? Or how to get hired into critical care units with minimizing night shifts? Thanks a lot.

    *Hi all, I posted under another thread about a year ago and I have more questions. Not sure if I should post here or where I posted last year. I hope I didn't mess up anything.
    dance4life likes this.
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    I have bipolar II and have also struggled with my career - I have worked in many areas of nursing including ER, community, palliative - anyway I am going through stuff at my current job in the CCU and my manager is not supportive at all - she had suggested I resign - but with support from occupational health and the union we are going to figure out some way to find something less stressful for me - I have been considering mother/child as it seems to be a happier place to work. Anyway we shall see - thoughts and wishes for the rest of you nurses suffering as I am...
    VivaLasViejas likes this.
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    Hello, and WELCOME to Allnurses!!

    I think you're on the right track as far as looking for a job with less stress, although I'm not sure mother/baby is it. It's a great place to work until a baby goes bad, or a baby-daddy comes in threatening everybody with a gun to allow him to see the mom, who has a restraining order against him for DV.

    As for finding the right job.....I just completed my second year at my current company, which is the second-longest I've ever stuck with one job, and I'm not going anywhere unless they make me go. Before I was diagnosed with BP last February, I changed jobs every time I got fed up with the petty BS and the politics, or I'd underperform and get warned, then quit because I felt like they were "picking on me". I walked away from some pretty good jobs too. The trouble was, I set myself up for failure each and every time because I didn't know something was wrong with the way my brain works.

    Now that I've had some therapy and am medicated, I'm holding onto this job with a death grip. There just aren't a lot of opportunities for over-50 nurses, especially ones with my history of job-hopping. Luckily, I actually enjoy the position (and my boss/co-workers know I'm bipolar and are aware of my limitations), so I've made a point of learning how to cope with the parts I don't like, instead of walking away.

    It also helps to go with my strengths, rather than try to force myself to be good at everything. I don't "do" crowds very well and can't handle a lot of noise and interruptions, so I skip the big gatherings we have at my assisted living facility and instead use that time to get work done that I usually can't do during the course of an average week. My boss accommodates my illness in a number of ways, like encouraging me to break up big projects into Viva-sized portions ("remember, we eat the elephant one bite at a time" he says) so that I don't push too long or too hard and make mistakes. He will also give me the occasional "mental health" day (or two) when he sees that I'm struggling, and doesn't make me take PTO for it.

    That's how I've been able to stay with the job, even when times are tough like they are now---we just had our state survey and it did NOT go well. This time, I want to stay and help fix things, because some of them are my fault and it's time for me to accept responsibility for where I've messed up. I feel that this is my best opportunity ever to make things right, and to live my best life with this disorder.
    Last edit by VivaLasViejas on Oct 22, '12 : Reason: couple of added thoughts.
    Marshall1, dance4life, and unreal like this.
  5. 1
    Quote from VivaLasViejas
    Hello, and WELCOME to Allnurses!!

    I think you're on the right track as far as looking for a job with less stress, although I'm not sure mother/baby is it. It's a great place to work until a baby goes bad, or a baby-daddy comes in threatening everybody with a gun to allow him to see the mom, who has a restraining order against him for DV.

    As for finding the right job.....I just completed my second year at my current company, which is the second-longest I've ever stuck with one job, and I'm not going anywhere unless they make me go. Before I was diagnosed with BP last February, I changed jobs every time I got fed up with the petty BS and the politics, or I'd underperform and get warned, then quit because I felt like they were "picking on me". I walked away from some pretty good jobs too. The trouble was, I set myself up for failure each and every time because I didn't know something was wrong with the way my brain works.

    Now that I've had some therapy and am medicated, I'm holding onto this job with a death grip. There just aren't a lot of opportunities for over-50 nurses, especially ones with my history of job-hopping. Luckily, I actually enjoy the position (and my boss/co-workers know I'm bipolar and are aware of my limitations), so I've made a point of learning how to cope with the parts I don't like, instead of walking away.

    It also helps to go with my strengths, rather than try to force myself to be good at everything. I don't "do" crowds very well and can't handle a lot of noise and interruptions, so I skip the big gatherings we have at my assisted living facility and instead use that time to get work done that I usually can't do during the course of an average week. My boss accommodates my illness in a number of ways, like encouraging me to break up big projects into Viva-sized portions ("remember, we eat the elephant one bite at a time" he says) so that I don't push too long or too hard and make mistakes. He will also give me the occasional "mental health" day (or two) when he sees that I'm struggling, and doesn't make me take PTO for it.

    That's how I've been able to stay with the job, even when times are tough like they are now---we just had our state survey and it did NOT go well. This time, I want to stay and help fix things, because some of them are my fault and it's time for me to accept responsibility for where I've messed up. I feel that this is my best opportunity ever to make things right, and to live my best life with this disorder.

    Thank you for your post!
    VivaLasViejas likes this.
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    Hi all
    Just checking back again about working nights while having bipolar disorder. I want to take the next step and get trained into the ICU, ER, or even the OR but I know that in the hospitals I've looked at, they don't hire you for day shifts for these jobs.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for someone who really needs to have a consistent work schedule and preferably the fewest night shifts as possible -- someone who wants to get trained into the ICU and other positions where they train on nights only?

    Thanks
  7. 0
    Working nights is probably one of the worst things people with our illness can do to sabotage our stability. And going back and forth between nights and days practically guarantees a mood shift, which as you know can spell disaster.

    Best I can tell you is, if you MUST train on nights, make sure to stay on the same schedule on your days off and talk to your doctor about how to take your meds; you may have to change your HS meds to mornings while you're on graveyard shift. The key is sticking to a routine and being uncompromising about your sleep hygiene......buy blackout curtains, turn your phone off, and do not allow anyone to disturb you unless the house is on fire. I used to use a fan as 'white noise'; it's amazing how much noise you can shut out by running a fan on its medium setting.

    Still, the quicker you can get off nights, the better. I used to love working night shift, but it stopped loving me about four years into my career and although I didn't know then that I was bipolar, my moods were like mercury and I spent a good deal of time apologizing to my family and co-workers for my behaviors. I was much more stable when I went to days; now, a single night shift takes two days to recover from and if I wasn't manic before, I will be after doing a couple of them in a row. A couple of months ago, I was asked if I could take a graveyard shift since we didn't have a med aide that night, and I had to say No---both my psych and my family have forbidden it. LOL.

    Wishing you the best, whatever you decide to do.
  8. 0
    duh---duplicate post.
    Last edit by VivaLasViejas on Dec 11, '12 : Reason: duplicate post
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    After reading these it gives me a clue as to why I go through what I go through sometimes. I was diagnosed midcareer.

    Unfortunately, choosing what shift I am going to work in this economy is so difficult. I can't even find a permanent job to save the life of me and sometimes I get stuck working the stressful ones. When I am assigned to a place that is low-key they aren't hiring. I am a Traveler so of course I end up in the most difficult and vial places on the planet. Especially, when their really isn't any choice for work. Moving around all the time doesn't help either.

    This most recent assignment was going pretty well in the beginning and I was ask to extend way too early. Honestly, should of could of would of been done with the assignment last week and moved on to something new and better maybe. It is my first time working a flex shift, which low and behold I am working nights and days. Now I find myself all over the place with my mind. Something a person myself probably cannot handle. My agency doesn't know I have this, it isn't like they check what I do with my medical insurance. I don't think they don't understand why I tell them after a few problems that I am not going to last the rest of the contract.

    Next time I should be weary about working nights or even flex shifts, this is probably why I don't ever last long in jobs like this. INTERESTING...
    Last edit by dance4life on Jul 9, '13 : Reason: add more
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    You have my sympathies. The shortage of nursing positions makes it extremely difficult for nurses with any kind of medical condition to find something suitable to our needs, thus we wind up compromising our health by taking jobs that de-stabilize us.

    I wish I had some answers for you. I seem to have found mine, at least for now, by taking a part-time job at the nursing home where I worked several years ago. I've remained friends with almost everyone there, including management, so the facility knew what they were getting when they hired me back---an aging RN with bad knees and bipolar disorder---and they're OK with that.

    I hope you're able to find a place like this, even though you still want to keep your illness under wraps. I wouldn't have disclosed mine either had it not already been a well-known fact at my current job. I was gun-shy after being treated very badly at my last job; I had a terrible mixed episode in April that almost landed me in the hospital and required three weeks of medical leave. But when I attempted to return with reasonable accommodations requested by my psychiatrist, I was let go because they "couldn't" make those accommodations. They didn't even try. I still wonder how they got around the ADA with that one, but it's all water under the bridge now and I'm better off out of there.

    Best I can tell you is to keep trying for a more stable job, stay on your treatment regimen and see your doctor regularly if you have one, and remember that if you don't have your mental health, you've got nothing. (((((HUGS)))))


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