I've been a nurse for two years now. I work in a community hospital on the orthopedics floor, night shift. My job has been incredibly stressful and unpleasant for months now with staffing issues and the overflow of med/surg patients onto our floor who have proven to be far more challenging then the elective-surgery-medically-cleared patients that I had gotten so comfortable with. I have been contemplating changing jobs for some time and was gearing up to do just that within the next few months until it happened. Depression. I've had a diagnosis of major depressive disorder for 9 years now and have been doing incredibly well. Most people have no idea that there's anything wrong with me and are surprised to find out. Anyway, going to work has become increasingly difficult lately. I usually start feeling low the day that know I have to go into work. As I prepare to go to work, I feel like crawling into a hole and hoping for an apocalypse. When I get to work I'm cranky and very quiet. I just..don't want to be there. But, usually after I see my patients and start doing my work, I come around. I start smiling, joking and everything is ok. The last few weeks the gloomy mood has lasted longer and longer into my shift. The other night I went into work and the entire night was pure misery. I really didn't want to talk to anyone, do anything, and I especially did not feel like smiling. Of course that brought about a lot of, "what's wrong?" "are you ok?" "you're awfully quiet" and "how are you?" from my co-workers, which I dodged with "yup, fine, nothing". I found myself fighting back tears as I walked down the halls. Each time my patients' call lights went off I dodged them, hoping someone else would take care of it. Terrible huh? I felt like a terrible nurse that night. I just didn't have the energy to do anything. I really just did the minimal amount of work to get by. I didn't want to turn my patients. I didn't want to label tubing. I didn't want to hold anyone's hand and tell them I was there for them. I just wanted someone to take care of me. So I realized, I shouldn't be there and it wasn't fair to my patients. On top of that, I worried about facing repercussions for my shoddy work. Worse than that would be if something went wrong with my patients and I didn't notice or didn't react appropriately. I went in this morning and picked up the paperwork to begin medical leave for depression. It felt very humbling. I honestly felt like a failure. But I feel that it's the right thing to and hopefully with some time away from work I can focus on doctors appointments, exercise, journaling and anything and everything I can do to get well. The main point that I wanted to get to with this post, is that when I received the paperwork, the employee health nurse asked me if I had spoken to my floor manager yet. I said, "no, but I was wondering, when I do, do you think I should tell them why I'm taking leave?" and he said, "it's really up to you, but you don't have to." I spent some time reviewing posts on this site by nurses who were in similar situations to my own. The majority seem to say, hell no. Don't tell them anything, they're judge you, maybe not now, and maybe not to your face, but eventually it will bite you back. Ever since my diagnosis of depression, I have always been a firm advocate of promoting talk about mental illness. Talking about it is what educates people about it, and normalizes it. I've told so many people over the years about my journey through depression and treatment, and recovery. I couldn't tell you how many people have come to me for advice and support during difficult times because they felt "safe" talking to me, because they had heard me talk about it before and knew that I wouldn't judge them. So here I was, facing possible retribution from my co-workers and employers. Do I tell or not? This could affect my entire career. My very own future. Ultimately, I decided to tell. It took guts, but I just had to stick up for what I truly believe in. I said to my manager, " I don't think it's a big surprise around there that I struggle with mental illness and I'm having a very hard time with it. I need to take some time to get well." She sounded sympathetic and genuinely concerned, but who knows what she really thought, or what she'll say. I suppose it just doesn't matter to me anymore. I am who I am, take it or leave it. I'm willing to face whatever comes of it. I'm hoping that her sympathy was real and that others will respond the same. Because that would be the right thing for them to do. And I still have hope that some day those of us with mental illness won't have to dance around these issues. We can just be sick people, like any other sick people. I have several doctors appointments next week, so wish me luck on my rebound. I've beat it before and I will again. I'm hoping I can return to work rejuvenated and stronger than ever.