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 in an attempt to create more awareness about mental illness.I am hoping this thread will be positive and productive, so I have chosen my words very carefully. I am hoping that if you choose to reply you will be respectful to me and others. I would like people to think about the stigma people endure.
I myself have been diagnosed with Bipolar I. As a 23 year old RN with a BSN, I have had to work hard to be successful. Getting a job working on a NeuroTrauma unit. I missed 2 weeks of my senior year of nursing school, finally getting the diagnosis of Bipolar I along with confirming a diagnosis of ADD, still graduating with my class. I didn't even think to take a break. I obtained my RN License in October of the same year.
To bring up the particular post I mentioned, I couldn't help but notice that not one person in that thread mentioned how having a disorder makes you more compassionate, more open to anyone having trouble, and simply more sensitive. On the Neuro Trauma unit I had a patient who had witnessed a murder after a terrible decision to accept illegal drugs into her suburban home. Simply put it was a drug deal gone wrong. Her friend was shot, she was stabbed, pretended to be dead and had to run a mile and a half for a neighbors help. She was put on Protected Medical History given a fake name all while having multiple stab wounds and a chest tube. She was terrified. Her boyfriend even refused to let her stay with him because he believed she would be a danger to his children. I could just sense the pain and shame this woman felt. As a young nurse I refused to label her as a drug addict, knowing other nurses had already assigned that label. It didn't change the fact I had a job to care for this woman to the best of my ability. At the end of her stay, she told me "You made me feel safe" giving me a huge hug with tears in her eyes. I have never been more thankful or happy to have chosen nursing as a profession. I also think that moment truly speaks for itself in terms of having a bipolar nurse. I cannot believe that people think people with mental illnesses have no business being in the medical field. That they are a danger to their patients. I have had patients ask for me even when I wasn't even assigned to them. Asking to talk to me simply because they felt comfortable and at ease because of my care, good humor and willingness to listen.
I am extremely proud to call myself a nurse and the comments made about nurses with bipolar disorder were incredibly hurtful and truly insensitive. I just want people to know that Bipolar people can successful, take Catherine Zeta-Jones for example and Demi Lovato, beautiful and well respected people with serious talented. There are too many people who do not fully understand mental illness or what it's like to have one. So many people asking can I have a career with this disorder. The answer is yes, of course taking personal abilities into account but it should never ever prevent someone from believing they can't do something because of a condition impossible to change.
I ask that you give this some thought and if anyone has ideas about how to create more awareness I would certainly be open to suggestions and help.
All the best,
Hanna RN BSN