Bipolar Nurse Hoping to Open Awareness of Mental Illness - page 5

Hello everyone, I am new to the site and have chosen to join simply because of a previous post about mental illness and incredibly insulting comments that followed. I am posting a thread about this... Read More

  1. by   LadyFree28
    Congrats captain-serenity!!!
  2. by   VivaLasViejas
    Quote from captain_serenity
    Hello everyone. It has been quite some time that I have been on here. I have some good news though. I am officially enrolled into Carrington College for the LVN program! I start October 28th and it will be for 12 months. I am very excited and I also just recently got into a recovery program and have been 6 days sober. I know it is detrimental to my condition to drink, so yep, I'm off to bigger and better things and leaning on to God as I understand Him for wisdom, strength and courage and hope. I finally get it. I start my step one tomorrow. Thanks.
    Congratulations!!! I'm so happy to see this post from you. "Keep coming back, it works!"
  3. by   Sailnskinurse
    Hi I am new to this but I am hoping for some advice. I am interviewing to go back to work as a RN.

    Unfortunately, I learned of my first BP episode at work. I irrationally left my place of work after being called into HR for irrational behavior, was indirectly set to the hospital via mental hygiene law...I managed to talk myself out of CPEP...ended up inpatient shortly thereafter and within a few weeks...I was inpatient for 3 months...after a year of outpatient treatment, I am starting to interview.

    The dreaded question...what happened at your last job. Since I was irrationally oblivious to my situation, I never followed up with work. Now its too late.

    I do not know how to address this professionally and effectively. Any suggestions on how to address this to not write myself out of the job prior to fair consideration?
  4. by   VivaLasViejas
    You can always say that a family emergency came up and you were needed immediately to care for a sick/injured loved one. You don't have to tell them that the sick person was YOU. In fact, you don't owe anyone an explanation at all, and I wouldn't advise you to make up a detailed story because you're apt to forget the details!

    Once you make it to the interview, you may need to be a little craftier if/when you are asked why you left your job without notice. That's when you say something along the lines of how swiftly the crisis hit and you weren't thinking about anything but your loved one at the time. Be sure to tell them that you've learned from the experience and it will not be repeated.

    Now for the fun part.

    If you can possibly manage it, DO NOT disclose your illness to anyone once you're hired. Employers will do whatever they legally can to avoid making accommodations to workers with disabilities, and if your bipolar is as serious as it sounds, you probably have some degree of disability from it.

    In theory, that gives you the right to ask for those accommodations; in practice, the employer will more than likely make up reasons why they can't offer them, and then they'll figure out a way to get rid of you. It happened to me this past spring, and there was nothing I could do about it.....even my psychiatrist said my chances of winning a court battle were no better than 50-50 because there are loopholes in the Americans with Disabilities Act that a smart company can use to get out of complying with it.

    As a fellow bipolar nurse, I would suggest that you look for something less stressful than your last job. As you know, stress can aggravate pre-existing BP, and if it's bad enough, it can tip a person who was sitting on the fence right over into full-blown mania and/or depression. That's what happened to me a couple of years ago. Now I work in a low-stress, part-time job doing admissions and quality assurance for a local SNF; I don't make anything even close to a living from it, but it's all I can handle now. If you're careful, stick with your meds and treatment plan, and don't overreach in the career area, you'll probably do just fine. I wish you luck.
  5. by   Sailnskinurse
    Thank you! The interview is Tuesday :/ ...I fear what they may hear if they contact my previous supervisor... any experience there?
  6. by   Sailnskinurse
    Its for a state MH facility... hoping for the best consideration...
  7. by   VivaLasViejas
    Quote from Sailnskinurse
    Thank you! The interview is Tuesday :/ ...I fear what they may hear if they contact my previous supervisor... any experience there?
    Yes. Many people believe that a former supervisor cannot tell a prospective employer anything negative about an applicant, and that is simply a myth. While they can't legally lie about you, they can say that you are on a do-not-rehire status, and they may very well say that you left without notice.

    You will probably not be told exactly what your former employer says about you. All you can do is demonstrate what you learned from the situation and hope for the best.

    BTW, some of my friends tell me that mental health is one of the more forgiving areas of nursing......lots of psych nurses out there who are also psych patients. It seems to me that your experiences could be very valuable to others, as long as you don't over-identify with them. Good luck!
  8. by   Sailnskinurse
    I am uncertain if I will be good at separation...I can be very passionate and tend to over-extend...

    but the psyc patients got me through my inpatient stays (being able to relate was soooo important to me)...and my last stint of nursing, and my favorite was surgery specific QI, but I was only there for three months, so I have yet to convince many employers that I have QI "Experience"...LTC questions my skills coming out of OR/QI...
  9. by   VivaLasViejas
    I'm surprised to hear that. A lot of LTCs will hire anybody with a license and a pulse, and you have much more to offer than that. They are usually willing to train, as the turnover is high in many facilities. And the need is growing: soon there will be a huge market for geriatric nurses as we Baby Boomers age. Don't dismiss LTC just yet; it could very well be your ticket back into nursing.
  10. by   captain_serenity
    Hello everyone,
    It has been quite sometime that I have been on here, my last post was right after I passed the entrance exam for nursing school.

    I did not go.

    A series of unfortunate events occurred after I passed the exam. I am going to be real with all of you. I never disclosed why I was discharged from the military back in 2001. I have Bipolar I disorder and that is why I was let go. Fast forward to 2013 summertime, I have always been in close contact with my VA treatment doctors. I told my doctor that the only problem I had with my medication was how it was hard to lose weight and easy to gain it. For the past 10 years I have been on Depakote and Abilify. Well, doc changed that cos of my complaints of my weight to Topamax which was a stimulant and resulted in me going off the deep end in a matter of weeks.
    When my manic phase peaked I ended up assaulting a female police officer and resisted arrest by force. Ironically, I was military police in the Air Force back in the day...weird. So the big problem is, now I have a felony charge on my record. Currently I am in veterans court and as long as I follow orders/dont violate probation I will hopefully get it dropped to a misdemeanor. I am really worried though. Can I still go into nursing school with a misdemeanor charge? I dont want to go through the process of getting my CNA again,it expires next year, but I cant handle residents due to my charge so I have to let it expire and retake the course...grrr only to find out that I shouldn't waste my time if I cant get into nursing school.
    I hate that I had to put my career on hold, but what happened, happened and there's nothing I can do about it. All I can do is pray for the best. I still want to be a LVN though, what happened to me was not a result of me NOT taking my meds, it was because my medication got switched for a selfish reason and my body didnt like the medicine. I feel so bad for what happened. I am trying not to let it bother me but it still does....
  11. by   VivaLasViejas
    (((((captain serenity)))))

    So sorry to hear of your misfortune. It does sound like you've got your stuff back together, but are left with this albatross around your neck. I would suggest you post this question in the Nursing Licensure With a Criminal History forum for best results, there are people around that forum who know more about this sort of thing than we do.

    But the best piece of advice I can give you is to talk to your State Board of Nursing to find out exactly what you're up against. Any sort of physical violence toward another person, even a misdemeanor, is apt to make it difficult to obtain approval to get into a nursing program, let alone licensure. Not impossible, but difficult. I don't know what bearing your bipolar disorder and medication issues might have on the process.....these certainly are mitigating factors, but the fact remains that you have a criminal record and the law is going to hold you responsible, even if it's at a misdemeanor level.

    In my honest opinion, I think you would do well to defer your dreams for a little while. You need to get stable and stay that way for a couple of years before you consider going to nursing school with all its severe stresses, and you need to be able to prove to your BON and the legal system that this incident was a one-off thing, and that you can be a safe practitioner.

    Whatever you do, though, DON'T fix what isn't broken---if your meds are working, resist the temptation to switch them out for something else. I made that mistake a few years back when I asked my doctor to switch me from Paxil to Wellbutrin since the Paxil had stopped working. Let me tell you, that stuff sent me right over the edge and into a manic/psychotic episode the likes of which I've never had again, thank God. (This was just before I myself was diagnosed with bipolar.) I didn't do anything physical, but I did have some pretty ugly homicidal ideation. So I can certainly understand how things can go so wrong when we get on the wrong meds.

    Wishing you the best. I'd wondered what happened to you. Thank you for updating us.
  12. by   captain_serenity
    I am afraid to post one cos of my diagnosis. I am reallly embarrassed about it. I fear that they will make judgments about me and leave nasty comments.
  13. by   VivaLasViejas
    Quote from captain_serenity
    I am afraid to post one cos of my diagnosis. I am reallly embarrassed about it. I fear that they will make judgments about me and leave nasty comments.
    Your illness is part of your life, but it doesn't define you. Neither do the mistakes you made. The forum I suggested is full of posts made by people who have done things they regret; I don't feel there's much if any judgment over there.

    And please don't be afraid people will condemn you for your diagnosis.....I have been openly bipolar here for over 2 years and have not received a single bad comment about it. Not one. There are a number of nurses here who have helped raise awareness of mental illness, and they've paved the way for other nurses to learn about the real people behind the diagnoses. As a result, there are very few posts anymore that condemn or judge on that basis.

    You needn't be ashamed of your illness. You didn't want it, didn't ask for it, and it's not your fault. Yes, you got carried away during a manic episode and did something you regret, but it's over and it won't ruin your life forever. One day you'll look back and realize that this was a learning experience and not the end of your dreams. Take care.