Getting into nursing school with a mental illness? Is it going to be possible?

  1. 2 Hi There!. I registered for this board a while ago but haven't really posted quite yet. I am now at the point where I have a very important question and nursing school is a very big reality now. Here's my question

    Ever since I was little, I have wanted a career in nursing. I was diagnosed with leukemia when I was 4 and that is where it stems from. My long term goal is to eventually become an RN but for now and what I feel is best for me is to start out a little slower, so I applied at a school near where I live to become a CNA. My focus is to become a CNA, then become an LPN and then finally go for my RN. I couldn't be more excited because on Halloween, I received a letter in the mail letting me know I passed my TABE test and that I meet the necessary scores to get into the CNA program!. I just couldn't stop smiling all night!. I had to gather some more information, get a physical, get references, etc.... so going furthur right away wasn't an option because I had to wait for all those things, but yesterday I finally had my phsyical and that was the last thing I needed before I could go back in and officially apply to get into the classes. I'm just waiting for my TB test to be read tomorrow and my blood work to come back to check my immunity to chicken pox (which I had when I was 5 so that should come back fine) and then I will be able to go in and get my appointment for my "nursing school interview" (which is one thing they require on their part I guess). Although when I had my physical yesterday, something I didn't think of came up and now it has me a little worried and that is where my question comes in.

    I am currently under the care of a psychiatrist. I have been diagnosed with anxiety and OCD and am on two medications. One of the medications is actually an anti-psychotic but it is the only medication that gives me such good results. My doctor has calmed my fears so many times because she will say that I'm not or am I even close to being psychotic, it's just the medication that works for me. I am also on an anti-depressant which works pretty good for me as well. My fear is that when I go in for my nursing interview, they will see this information and not accept me due to my mental illnesses. My primary doctor who I saw yesterday put my mind to ease saying that that should in no way be or cause any problem.....but I'm still so worried. I was so excited and so ready for this and now I'm worried that these things will be the reason I can't become a nurse.

    If you can share you opinions or anything in regards to this post, it would be greatly appreciated!. Thank you so much!.
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  3. Visit  lntm2925 profile page

    About lntm2925

    Joined Jun '09; Posts: 6; Likes: 5.

    34 Comments so far...

  4. Visit  wish_me_luck profile page
    4
    Yes, you can go to nursing school and be a nurse with mental illness. I don't know what state you are in, some states have a question on application that asks about it. I answered honestly (I live in VA; I have BPD and alcohol abuse) and got put in a monitoring program. But, I am still a nurse. Please feel free to peruse this forum and recovery forum. There's many posts about mental illness and being a nurse.

    We (us nurses with mental illness on AN) are trying to bring awareness and acceptance of mental health issues. Feel free to join us. We need to band together.

    Good luck!
    poppycat, bella_, Esme12, and 1 other like this.
  5. Visit  nurse4sale profile page
    0
    I don't understand, Intm, did you have to disclose all your personal information? I know the BIG thing nursing schools want to know is if you had, or have a criminal background. I don't think you being depressed and having ocd will prevent you from getting into nursing school. My big question is can you handle being a nurse when there is so much stress and anxiety that goes with being a nurse? Have you thought about that? I personally know a lot of nurses who were never depressed and after being on the job for many years ended up taking antidepressants and a lot of us are susceptible to burn-out.
  6. Visit  lntm2925 profile page
    2
    wish_me_luck thank you so much for your reply!. That makes me feel a lot better!. I think I will stay here for a long time!. It's good to know that there's a place I can go to that has such understanding people that are going through exactly what I'm going through (and I live in NY )

    nurse4sale thank you so much for your reply!. I'm not exactly sure what I will have to do or say at the interview or how much "personal information" I will need to provide them with. I def don't have or had a criminal background so that is a very good thing. I have heard that nursing can be a very stressful job but I really feel that I can do this. It's been my dream since I was a child. It's just that I have so many bad memories of my cancer treatment and a really rough childhood with my mom that my psychiatrist feels that I'm not properly dealing with them and that's causing me to have my OCD and anxiety. The one thing I'm not though is depressed. I couldn't be happier with how my life is going right now. I have a great boyfriend, 4 great kids (2 of mine and 2 are my boyfriends), a great home, an EXCELLENT job who is supporting me throughout this whole nursing dream....I just get scared is the best way to put it. My OCD is not the typical OCD (handwashing, counting, etc....). With my specific type of OCD, I deal with intrusive thoughts. The best way to put it (although you probably know what intrusive thoughts are lol) are they are very bad thoughts that you can't control.....and then the anxiety starts because I'm scared that I'm either going insane or scared that I'm going to act on them even though I know I never would. And of course with OCD, once you have one bad thought, they just keep coming. Am I going to act on them, am I going insane, what if I want to act on them and don't know it, etc..... it's just a horrible thing to have. But thankfully that is the reason I am on the anti-psychotic medication. Even though I'm not psychotic, it's the only medication that makes it to where I don't have thoughts, and since being on my medication, I haven't had thoughts in years. So my OCD and anxiety is def under control, I'm just worried that even just being on these medications or having these mental illnesses will cause me not to get into school....
    BeOne77 and Esme12 like this.
  7. Visit  VivaLasViejas profile page
    1
    Hello, and Welcome to Allnurses!

    Believe me, you'll find a lot of company here among the nurses and student nurses with psychiatric disorders. There are also several of us who are very open about our diagnoses, because we want to educate and inform others within our profession that you CAN be successful, even with mental illness.

    I'm sorry about the intrusive thoughts. They're part of bipolar disorder, too (which is my own dx) and I know how disturbing they can be. Don't worry about taking an antipsychotic though---the name of the drug is scary, but most of us who take them are NOT psychotic!

    You can do this. As long as your illnesses are well-managed---and it sounds like you're pretty close to it---you can do anything you want. Keep the faith!
    Esme12 likes this.
  8. Visit  elkpark profile page
    4
    Shoot, if people with psychiatric diagnoses couldn't get licensed and practice, there really would be a nursing shortage! The important thing is that your symptoms are controlled sufficiently to allow you to practice safely.

    Best wishes for your journey!
    KelRN215, morte, funfunfun550, and 1 other like this.
  9. Visit  Racer15 profile page
    1
    I've dealt with GAD for years. Sometimes I take my meds, a lot of times I don't. I think it's been about four years since I was on Lexapro. I got through nursing school just fine. No one knew about my GAD except a few friends, I never disclosed it to any instructors.
    VampyrSlayer likes this.
  10. Visit  pronurse45 profile page
    0
    Hi lntm2925! I don't think anyone or anything should hinder you in achieving your dream...even your condition!Good to know that you are dealing well with your illness!Don't let the negative get ahead of you,test the waters first and be open to all possibilities!Good luck to your nursing career!
  11. Visit  kabfighter profile page
    0
    Quote from lntm2925
    wish_me_luck thank you so much for your reply!. That makes me feel a lot better!. I think I will stay here for a long time!. It's good to know that there's a place I can go to that has such understanding people that are going through exactly what I'm going through (and I live in NY )

    nurse4sale thank you so much for your reply!. I'm not exactly sure what I will have to do or say at the interview or how much "personal information" I will need to provide them with. I def don't have or had a criminal background so that is a very good thing. I have heard that nursing can be a very stressful job but I really feel that I can do this. It's been my dream since I was a child. It's just that I have so many bad memories of my cancer treatment and a really rough childhood with my mom that my psychiatrist feels that I'm not properly dealing with them and that's causing me to have my OCD and anxiety. The one thing I'm not though is depressed. I couldn't be happier with how my life is going right now. I have a great boyfriend, 4 great kids (2 of mine and 2 are my boyfriends), a great home, an EXCELLENT job who is supporting me throughout this whole nursing dream....I just get scared is the best way to put it. My OCD is not the typical OCD (handwashing, counting, etc....). With my specific type of OCD, I deal with intrusive thoughts. The best way to put it (although you probably know what intrusive thoughts are lol) are they are very bad thoughts that you can't control.....and then the anxiety starts because I'm scared that I'm either going insane or scared that I'm going to act on them even though I know I never would. And of course with OCD, once you have one bad thought, they just keep coming. Am I going to act on them, am I going insane, what if I want to act on them and don't know it, etc..... it's just a horrible thing to have. But thankfully that is the reason I am on the anti-psychotic medication. Even though I'm not psychotic, it's the only medication that makes it to where I don't have thoughts, and since being on my medication, I haven't had thoughts in years. So my OCD and anxiety is def under control, I'm just worried that even just being on these medications or having these mental illnesses will cause me not to get into school....
    You are in almost the same situation as my girlfriend. She has anxiety and OCD that manifests through obtrusive thoughts. She just graduated from college and did very well. She didn't study nursing, but she was able to succeed in the college environment even though she struggled through high school. It took a bit of trial and error on her physician's part to get a good cocktail of medicines, but now she's doing pretty well for the most part. She does have clonazepam for severe bouts of anxiety and 'bad thoughts' (she actually calls them that, too).

    Just remember...if you are upset by these thoughts, it probably means that they are not 'yours'. I have to tell my girlfriend that sometimes. She likens the OCD to having a gremlin inside your head that tries to feed you false thoughts, so my reasoning is that if they cause distress, they are not your own thoughts but 'bad thoughts'.

    I don't remember having to disclose that much health information to my school when I enrolled. They seemed to be concerned mostly with your vaccinations. You'll do fine.
  12. Visit  BeOne77 profile page
    2
    And I thought I was the only one who had bad thoughts.....Thank you for your honesty..makes me feel human....signed another nurse with Bipolar disorder on antidepressant (1) and (1) antipsychotic...Thanks for making me feel normal....And thanks to all those other supportive nurses who signed in after you...You make me feel like I can really do this....Thanks again...
    vintagemother and VivaLasViejas like this.
  13. Visit  lntm2925 profile page
    1
    Thank you so much everybody for your replies!. I checked in all day today and your words really helped me feel more at ease and you all showed me a lot of support!. I really appreciate it and thank you so much again!

    Unfortunately I've dealt with intrusive thoughts for years. Since I was a kid. At first they were about my dad and now their about my two boys. They are most def not fun and I wouldn't wish them on my worst enemy!.

    Racer15 - I too actually don't take my medication every day. I know that's not good at all to do but for some reason I just can't remember them every day. It's horrible to say that cause there are so many methods I can do to help myself be reminded but I have such trouble doing it. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind when I need to start taking them again though. Sometimes I just remember and I take them, and sometimes it gets to the point where i feel like i'm close to relapsing and I need to take them. My pdoc knows about it too. I have told her that I have trouble remembering to take them and she advises that I take them every day but she says that every time I have needed help, I would call in. She said I am in no way a danger to myself or anybody else because of this and that makes me feel a lot better!.

    Pronurse45 - Thank you so much for your kind words!. It really helps to know that not even my mental illnesses will prevent me from my dream!!

    Kabfighter - Thank you so much for sharing your girlfriend's story!. It sounds like we have very similar situations!. These thoughts do upset me very much.....they actually upset me so much that I have tried to admit myself to a hospital twice. The first time I went to a very big hospital out where I live. I told them what I was dealing with and told them I wanted to be admitted....because even though you know you won't act on your thoughts, your mind plays tricks on you. Your mind makes you think that you want to act on your thoughts or that you will act on your thoughts. I used to be so afraid to be around my children because I didn't want the chance of ever hurting them. My intrusive thoughts got really really bad after the birth of my first son. That is around the time that I tried to have myself admitted for the first time. It was about 2-3 months after his birth. And just like your girlfriend, it took a while to get me on the right medication, but that's when they finally tried the anti-psychotic on me and I have since called it my "miracle medication". It completely takes away my thoughts 100% and very quickly!. There was a time that my pdoc weaned me off this medication when me and my ex-husband started trying for our second baby, because this certain medication can be harmful to a developing fetus. Unforunately, it didn't end up working though. My thoughts came back and back on it I went......and within days, I felt so much better and my thoughts were once again gone. Thankfully my second son was born perfectly healthy and I decided to stay on it permanently since then and have been on it since. My sons are now 6 and 4

    BeOne77 - It has always helped me so much to know that I am not alone in dealing with this!. I'm really glad that my story could help you

    Btw, just so everybody knows, the medications I am taking are Abilify (the anti-psychotic) and Prozac
    VivaLasViejas likes this.
  14. Visit  elkpark profile page
    1
    Quote from lntm2925
    My pdoc knows about it too. I have told her that I have trouble remembering to take them and she advises that I take them every day but she says that every time I have needed help, I would call in. She said I am in no way a danger to myself or anybody else because of this and that makes me feel a lot better!
    (This statement really jumped out at me. This is not at all a criticism, but I would just like to point out that there is a significant difference between not being "a danger to myself of anybody else" in the everyday sense of that phrase and practicing safely as an RN. I doubt your psychiatrist would say the same thing to a practicing physician or nurse in a conversation about not remembering to take meds.)
    wish_me_luck likes this.
  15. Visit  lntm2925 profile page
    0
    Oh no, I completely understand your statement and where your coming from. My pdoc HIGHLY advises that I take my medication every day but sometimes I just have trouble remembering. Sometimes my days are really busy or I sleep all day (I work overnights) and I just don't remember to take them. It's not because I don't want to or feel like I need to (not saying you were meaning that), I just literally forget to take them and then the minute I remember, I take it. My pdoc, my primary care physician and my therapist all know about this and have given me the biggest hope that I will be able to become a nurse. It's very hard to put into the right words at the moment. They all know I don't take my medication regularly, they recommend and highly advise that I do, but they feel (and have told me) that my symptoms are VERY under control. Like I mentioned, they even tried to wean me off my meds all together when I was trying for my second child but my symptoms ended up coming back and I had to go back on it. I don't forget to take my medication that long where I let my symptoms return. There has been once or twice in as long as I've been on my medication that I went so long that I started to get my symptoms again, but I knew right away to call my doctors and start my medication back up.....but that has been very rare. I have been on my meds for 6 years and like I said, it's only happened once or twice. I have not had any intrusive thoughts, other OCD symptoms, anxiety symptoms or panic attacks in years now. I know I need to be on these medications.....probably for the rest of my life, and I know I should take them every day. It's not that I'm not taking my meds on purpose (once again not saying you were saying that ), I just literally forget....


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