I'm sure it was shocking to learn of this nurse's issues, especially in view of the fact that she had to be 5150'd rather than going inpatient voluntarily. I remember when it happened to a nurse at the hospital where I used to work; one day she was working on the floor, going about her business, then two days later she was strapped to a bed in one of our psych rooms, screaming obscenities and thrashing around while staff tried to get an IV in. How absolutely humiliating........I'd have never shown my face on that floor again after having my co-workers see me like that. But she did; once she went through an intensive inpatient stay at another hospital and took a leave of absence, she was well enough to work again. So, she's a 5150 success story.
The thing is, none of us would've ever thought we'd see her in such a state, because she "presented well". She could be moody, to be sure, and sometimes she was downright nasty to the less experienced nurses. But mentally ill, on the edge of a nervous breakdown? Never would've guessed it.
A lot of nurses with mental health issues, and indeed people you meet on the street, present well. Our illnesses percolate just below the surface while we maintain a "normal" appearance and demeanor. We are high-functioning, capable, personable, and we carry out our responsibilities just like everyone else does........but always at a cost. It is tremendously stressful trying to fit in and pretending that we don't have to work twice as hard as others do just to get through the minutiae of everyday life. But at least for a while, it's worth all the blood, sweat, and tears to be able to blend in with the crowd.
I'll never forget the reaction of the first person outside of family that I told about my diagnosis last year. She was so surprised, she literally almost fell off her chair. "You? Bipolar??
But you're always so calm and cool.......are you SURE they diagnosed you correctly?" She couldn't believe it. But she didn't know how hard I'd had to fight my demons in order to hide them from the world, nor did she recognize how close I'd been to losing it completely. If I'd gone on much longer, I might have suffered the same fate as my onetime co-worker; luckily I never had to find out, as I got help before disaster struck.
However you slice it, a 5150 is never
a good thing to have on your record, and I feel for this nurse because she's going to be OK one of these days, and yet will likely pay for this for the rest of her days. I hadn't heard that about the 'no-fly' rule........sheesh, is the TSA overreacting or what? But she's going to have a fight ahead of her to keep her nursing license, and that's a shame. She has my sympathies.