Calling In Sick: Dealing With Mental Illness At Work, Part 2 - page 2

by VivaLasViejas 5,627 Views | 29 Comments Guide

If you are a nurse who suffers from a serious mental illness such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, you probably have had difficulties in obtaining, and then keeping a job. Many of us have spotty work histories filled with... Read More


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    I disclosed that I had a history of depression which I treated with therapy and meds, but stated that at this point I was not in therapy and had weaned myself off all meds -- which is true as far as it goes. I feel that this covers me for disclosing past conditions as well as covering me should I have a relapse in the future that renders me unable to work.

    Right now I am doing really well and I love working. But if that all falls down I DO want something on my record that says, "Yes, I said I had this in my past, you can't accuse me of deceiving you."

    Just trying to CYA as best I can...
    Last edit by KnitWitch on Oct 16, '13 : Reason: Typing is hard...
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    I'm really glad you wrote this. I am on a few meds, and really don't think its any of anyone's business besides mine and my Doctors. I know employers ask for this stuff now, my last one did. I wasn't on some of the ones I am on now back then, but I remember being annoyed that they had to request it. Now I know what questions to ask when this happens again.
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    I have never called the EAP, I would probably be afraid to. I have a lot of gaps in my employment & a lot of employers. I go on interview after interview & they always ask why. It's SOOO hard to answer. I know that is one of the reasons I am currently unemployed. I'm so stressed & it's throwing me into a bad depression. Do I even want to try to get my RN when I'm still the same person? When the same things will happen. When the economy still sucks. I'm so confused at this point. But no employer has ever asked about my health history or meds. I have had to tell them about my epilepsy because I can't work nights but that's it. But I will never come forward & tell them I'm bipolar.
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    Can't say as I blame you there, Valerie. It's hard enough having the illness without dealing with peoples' ignorance and prejudice. But you absolutely MUST get stabilized before you go out there and try to convince an employer to hire you. I swear, interviewers can smell fear and desperation, and they will exploit that to the max. Unfortunately, when we are UNstable, we're usually the last ones to know it, while others can spot it a mile away.

    I have the feeling that this may be contributing to your difficulties in finding employment. Your pain and feelings of being overwhelmed are almost palpable, and if I can sense it from my computer desk where I can neither see you nor hear your voice, you can be sure other people are picking up on it. To be competitive in this nurse-eat-nurse world, you have to deal from a position of strength, and you're just not there right now. It's OK, it's not your fault!

    Do whatever you have to do in order to get yourself back on track, whether it's meds, therapy, even hospitalization or intensive outpatient treatment. And it's not just so you can go back to work---it's so you can be healthier and happier and more stable. Believe me, I understand and empathize with you, for it wasn't too long ago that I was looking into the same abyss.....God only knows where I'd be if I weren't taking heavy-duty meds and drawing on my support system for strength.

    We're here if you need us. (((((HUGS))))) to you.
    liebling5, Sailnskinurse, Marshall1, and 2 others like this.
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    Thank you Viva, it really means a lot. I'm soo stressed out right now. I need a job & I'm torn between going back to my last one (teen drug rehab) or to try PDN, AGAIN. I don't know what to do. I need an income & fast.
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    I know what you mean.....money issues were the only reason I tried going back to work too soon after three weeks' medical leave in April of this year. My psychiatrist didn't think I was ready, nor did my superiors, and in retrospect, I really didn't think I was either. Doc released me to work only because I demanded it for financial reasons.

    Big mistake. Big. HUGE. I lasted exactly six hours before I was sent home, completely undone.....I was so stressed that I couldn't stop crying. Three days later I was terminated because the company's lawyers found a way around the ADA and the corporate office pounced all over it. Take-home lesson is, if there is ANY WAY AT ALL that you can make do for a little while longer, do it!

    Believe me, there is no point in getting a job and then being unable to handle it. I did that very thing because I was desperate, and now I'm barely hanging on to my career even though I am stable at present, and have been for several months. In fact, I consider myself semi-retired, as I work only the weekends and the occasional weekday auditing MARs/TARs, and I don't do direct patient care. (Although I did get to take an IV refresher course today, and then immediately got the chance to practice my renewed skills on a resident who needed fluids. Felt good to hold an angiocath in my hand again! )
    liebling5, Sailnskinurse, Marshall1, and 1 other like this.
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    I can make due for a little while but I need something to do. Me staying at home every day, having nothing to do is making it worse. I need mental stimulation, work. If I could just find a job or do SOMETHING I would be halfway ok.
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    Not on topic of mental health, but privacy in general. It is so sad that anything that happens that should be private always seems to spread around.

    Even in nursing school I remember I had to miss a few days because my father passed away. I emailed 1 person about it. When I came back the whole program knew... So sad but it is the world we live in.
    Sailnskinurse and VivaLasViejas like this.
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    I did but it was EAP through my spouse's employer - it's free, the draw back is the visits are limited so if it's something that is going to need more than a few sessions to deal with EAP isn't, in my opinion, the way to go because you basically end up having to find someone else and start all over.
    poppycat and VivaLasViejas like this.
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    We. with anxiety and depression, end up often in a situation where we have additional stress because we need to get back to work so we end up taking a job that we know we aren't going to stay in for one reason or another, so that adds to the job hopping, then the stress of applying/interviewing/ and on and on when some days just to get up, use the bathroom, brush teeth and change clothes is enough. I feel for you...it is never a good idea to accept a job out of desperation but often times that ends up being the case - it has been for me - I start my "desperate, have to work am behind in the mortgage" job next week.


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