Nurses with Bipolar Disorder - page 2

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... Read More

  1. Visit  VivaLasViejas profile page
    3
    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.
  2. Visit  unreal profile page
    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.
  3. Visit  bbedit profile page
    0
    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
  4. Visit  VivaLasViejas profile page
    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.
  5. Visit  VivaLasViejas profile page
    0
    duh---duplicate post.
    Last edit by VivaLasViejas on Dec 11, '12 : Reason: duplicate post
  6. Visit  dance4life profile page
    0
    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
  7. Visit  VivaLasViejas profile page
    0
    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)))))
  8. Visit  Marshall1 profile page
    1
    I struggle with mental health issues and as others have posted, it's not so easy for those of us who do to have a "normal" job when we are trying desperately to not fall apart at the seams but have bills to meet. I have been offered a FT M-F position (non-hospital based) and a part time home health position (20-25 hrs/wk). My spouse is pushing for the FT M-F 8-5 as he is concerned the part time position won't be enough since it's per visit pay instead of hourly. My thought was I could always pick up another job PRN at a LTC facility I've been interested in for sometime because frankly, I don't know if I can handle the M-F position - I haven't started yet and am already winding up. The other position would allow me more breathing room I think, to help people but not be overwhelmed. I can't continue to see the doctor I have recently started going to if I take the M-F position. It is impossible for those who do not suffer with a TRUE mental health issue to understand that getting up, going to work and coming home are much easier said than done some days. I love working w/the elderly and the HH position & LTC position would let me do this..others feel this is depressing but for me anyway, it isn't because I feel like I am making a difference w/o tipping my brain scale into a panic mode. You are not alone in how you are feeling - that's for sure.
    VivaLasViejas likes this.
  9. Visit  VivaLasViejas profile page
    1
    I'm sort of in the same boat with you, Marshall1. The LTC facility that just hired me back on a PRN basis after 3 years away is already sending me to company headquarters for a three-day MDS training this week, allegedly so I can fill in for the care managers when they go out on vacation. But, there's always been four of them, and they've always covered each other when one of them is out, so why would I be needed to plug numbers into a computer a couple of times a year?

    What I think it is, is that two of them are nearing retirement. And LTC companies don't go to this much trouble, or this much expense (hotel, mileage, meals plus wages for all three days) to train someone---who's been there a whole 2 weeks---to be an MDS coordinator when I'm only supposed to be a floor nurse. So I have a sneaking suspicion I'm not being trained as a fill-in, but as a replacement.

    I have very mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I'm breathing really hard on 55 and my aging body won't tolerate floor nursing for very long; I probably won't have a choice about going back to a desk job if I'm to stay in nursing another 10-15 years. On the other hand, I'm extremely skittish about working full-time, given the volatile nature of my bipolar disorder and the disastrous flame-out at my last job.

    There are a lot more positives and negatives to this as well. I'm definitely flattered that I'm the one up for promotion if and when somebody leaves the RNCM position, although I'm rather surprised they passed over the gal who's been both an RNCM and the DNS. Other positives include the security that comes with full-time work---health insurance (!!), no weekends or holidays except when it's my turn to be the on-call supervisor every six weeks, not being on-call 24/7/365, good pay (although I can't complain about what I'm making per hour now). And, I wouldn't be the top dawg, there'd be several people above me on the food chain to share the responsibilities with. Nor would I be in charge of 85 residents; the caseload in ICF is between 22-26, and in SNF it's more like 15-18..

    Then there are the negatives, mainly the 40-hour week and the supervision part. I don't want to be locked into the M-F, 8-5 routine; I have regular doctor appointments as well as PRN sessions which are necessary to my mental health, and I need more than two days to relax after the long week. I also HATE being the bad guy when a staff member screws up---I've never been any good at discipline, I'm far too easy on people and let things go that I probably shouldn't.

    However.......my DNS is also a good friend who knows me well---BP and all. She's told me that the facility has plans for me because I know the industry through and through, but she doesn't want to push me into something I'm not comfortable doing due to my illness. Trouble is, I would be comfortable with the RNCM position, not only because I've done it before but because I'd be doing it in a place I've known and loved for years. What could go wrong---right? I've talked with my husband about this possibility, and he's OK with it as long as I don't get run to death like I did in my ALF job. I haven't discussed it with anyone else yet, partly because this is ALL speculation right now and I could still be limping around the floor when I'm 60.....but also because I have a pretty good idea of what the rest of the family will think. And I can't leave out my psychiatrist, who literally made me raise my right hand and swear on the DSM-IV that I would never take a management position of any kind without talking it over with him first.

    He's not going to like the idea one bit, simply because he had to pick up pieces of me off the floor three months ago after having begged me to get out of the ALF job for months prior to that. And I have to take his opinion into consideration, not just because I'm paying him sizable amounts of money to advise me, but because I'm lucky enough to have a doctor who cares about me as a friend would, and who respects me professionally every bit as much as I do him.

    It's an interesting dilemma, but again, nothing's been said about anyone retiring and it really could be that they want a fifth RNCM on an as-needed basis. And honestly, I don't really know WHAT I want right now......best to just do a good job as a floor nurse, accept the education/training they want to give me, and see what happens.
    Marshall1 likes this.
  10. Visit  Marshall1 profile page
    1
    I decided to take the part time home health position. I'm 6 months out from completing my Masters, am still not as stable as healthy as I need to be/want to be. My spouse and I sat down and looked at the numbers and working part time will work for us. We can be comfortable, I can continue w/doctors appt's - which would have to stop w/a M-F deal and I won't feel so overwhelmed. I also plan to go around to the LTC facilities local and apply for PRN positions. I love working w/the elderly and if I can get my foot in the door who knows where it may lead after I graduate in Dec.
    I worry so much - too much - about what other people think, & question myself constantly about making the right decision & am I looking a gifted horse in the mouth with not taking a FT job - especially with being 46, the economy & living in a smaller community where jobs are scare. But as you've said Viva, without our health it really doesn't matter what job we have if we can't function well enough to go to it. I feel like I'm suppose to apologize - to who I'm not sure - for having depression/anxiety issues, for not be THAT super nurse or being further up the chain at this point - but the fact is, these are the cards I've been dealt & I'm done trying to make them into something they are not - & me into someone I am not & cannot be no matter how much I wish things to be different. So I'm going to work with what I got, where I'm at & continue to strive for balance & those around me can adjust or not. I can't worry about that anymore or compare myself to others anymore - that only makes things worse.
    VivaLasViejas likes this.
  11. Visit  VivaLasViejas profile page
    0
    You don't have to apologize for having a mental illness any more than I do. It's the way God made us, and He doesn't make mistakes. What we have to do is live the best lives we can, and if it means not conforming to society's view of "normal," well, tough tookies! :-)
  12. Visit  dance4life profile page
    1
    Well, I asked for just days by giving my agency and the Managers a letter. It worked for this contract.

    I guess they like me because . I didn't think that would work.

    Next time when I take a travel assignment I will just see if I can do days versus nights. Definitely NOT doing Flex.
    VivaLasViejas likes this.


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