NS with multiple disabilities

  1. Hello Allnurses!

    <-- First of all, let me start by saying that I appreciate any responses I garner from this post. Both positive and negative responses are appreciated. I am not a special snowflake, and I can take your criticisms and want them!!! I also do not know whether to post this under student assistance or the disability forum. Feel free to move, mods!-->

    I am posting here in an effort to gain some insight into some areas in which I am struggling in nursing school. I am doing pretty well at the theory portion of nursing school, I am making As and Bs. The program that I am in rarely sees any As. All of the instructors I’ve had both in clinical and in theory state how incredibly intelligent and nice I am. However, I come with pretty big handicaps going into nursing school. I have a long list of psychiatric conditions (anxiety disorders-panic disorder, agoraphobia, GAD, specific phobia, and very severe MDD which has been hard to treat successfully) for which I have struggled since I was a small child. Recently, I was in a severe episode and had to come off the clinical portion for awhile due problems stabilizing my mood disorder. I also have a working memory deficit, dyscalculia, and issues with visual-spatial processing. I can do theory half-baked and in an episode, but I cannot perform at clinical like that.

    Clinical is where I am struggling the most. Basic care tasks I have more difficulty with than others. It’s a mix between anxiety and having little concept of where my body parts are in space. It greatly diminishes my dexterity. It’s like having a third arm constantly slapping your real arms and getting in the way all the time. Even screwing on Curos caps can be difficult for me. Not to mention I get EPS from my medications. I also take longer than others to chart. I am very detail oriented because I fear forgetting or writing the wrong thing down. I check everything 3 times and it’s not just meds. This is my norm because I know if I don’t I could make a grievous error. I also have issues preforming procedures in sequence, especially if I am in a depressive episode. It just makes me do things completely backwards. Unfortunately, all of the above makes my time management ability totally awful. I could not survive working on a med-surg floor. I have even attempted to get a tech job (unsuccessfully) to try and get some of the basic task skills faster to help the situation. I fear actually going further into the program because I know I will not pass any further clinical rotations. They will expect more from me and I cannot deliver. I feel like I have exhausted all of my options.

    What I am wanting to know is what would be some suggestions to overcome some of these problems? If you were a CI, what would you suggest if a student came to you with these issues besides just give me your badge and quit? I feel like quitting is a bad mistake because I’ve already invested so much time, sweat, and energy into this.


    My original goal was to become a psychiatric nurse. I feel like I would be best in that area because of my personality and limitations. And no, it’s not because I have a mental illnesses and I want to save the patients (holy poor boundaries, batman). I feel like my MIs are more of a hindrance than an asset other than I’m more empathetic towards their plight. It also gives me more immediate knowledge of psychiatric care and medications. To grapefruit, or not to grapefruit, that is the question!
  2. 7 Comments

  3. by   VivaLasViejas
    I've read this post several times, trying to think of a response. There's so much content here that it's difficult to help you formulate a plan of action; however, your honesty and willingness to listen to both positive and negative feedback is much appreciated.

    I'll admit, you do have a rough row to hoe. You are dealing with both depression and anxiety that have been hard to treat. Other than medication, therapy and a healthy lifestyle, I'm not sure there's much that can be done to get you over the hump as far as clinicals go. One cannot be a nurse without a foundation of skills that can only be obtained during the clinical experience. Perhaps nursing is not the best choice for you at this time in your life; that doesn't mean you can never be a nurse, just that you are having severe difficulties now and you may wish to try again later.

    Hopefully someone else with a little more knowledge about how to overcome your situation will come along and respond. For what it's worth, I understand a little about mental health problems because I have bipolar 1 and anxiety disorders. How I got through nursing school and my early years in nursing, I don't know because I went undiagnosed and untreated until about five years ago. Even after I got help, I was so unstable that BP ended up destroying my career, and I haven't worked in almost three years now. I'm on disability for that reason, and I honestly don't see how I'll ever be able to return to nursing. There are simply too much anxiety-inducing stimuli for me to handle.

    Accepting this has been hard---I'm a stand-up gal who doesn't like to admit there are things I can't do. Being a working nurse is one of them.

    I wish you the very best in your decision-making process, regardless of what you choose. Please keep us posted as to how you're doing.
    Last edit by VivaLasViejas on Jan 6, '17
  4. by   elkpark
    Quote from Eudaimonia
    What I am wanting to know is what would be some suggestions to overcome some of these problems? If you were a CI, what would you suggest if a student came to you with these issues besides just give me your badge and quit? I feel like quitting is a bad mistake because I’ve already invested so much time, sweat, and energy into this.
    I would think your most appropriate course would be to work with whoever is treating you for your mental health issues. Your instructors may be great at helping students figure out things like note-taking in class, or time management and prioritizing in clinical, but what you are describing is 'way beyond what nursing instructors are prepared or expected to help you with. It is the student's responsibility to be able to meet the basic expectations and requirements of the nursing program.

    While I'm not saying you could never become a nurse, if you feel, as you say, that you've exhausted all your options and you know you're not going to be able to progress farther in the program, would it make sense to cut your losses for the time being, leave the program, and focus on getting yourself into better condition to be able to succeed at a later time?

    And, keep in mind that, however demanding nursing school is, actual nursing practice makes school look like a walk in the park. Getting through school is just the first step. If you're not going to be able to successfully function in your school clinical rotations, how are you expecting to be able to function as a nurse?

    I do hope that you will be able to find some path forward for yourself. I have seen people overcome some incredible challenges over the years. Best wishes for your journey!
  5. by   llg
    Thank you, my friends Viva and Elkpark for your thoughtful answers. I read this OP yesterday and wanted to help, but just couldn't think how to say what I wanted to say. You said it much better than I could have.

    Sometimes, it is best to set a goal aside and change paths. Just because we have wanted something for a long time and/or invested in it, doesn't mean we need to keep on that path. Recognizing that we are not on a path that fits our needs and talents is part of being successful. We need to turn away from paths that will only lead to difficulty and heartache -- so that we can find a path that will lead to success and happiness.

    Eudaimonia, I respect you enormously for the efforts you have made towards becoming a nurse -- and for your willingness to ask for honest feedback, even if it is not exactly what you want to hear. But it sounds to me as if you need to get your problems under control before you will be able to succeed in a nursing career. You need to be working with professionals who are experts in your types of problems and it's not realistic to expect that your faculty members will have that expertise. And being able to be a nurse means being able enough to be responsible for the well-being of others -- and being able to function in clinical situations (stressful, serious, rapidly changing, etc.) at a high level. You don't seem able to do that right now.

    I wish you well and hope you can find a path to a happy, success life and career. But for right now, nursing school does not seem to be a good fit for you.
  6. by   MaddieMT
    Eudaimonia, you say that in clinical you've given all you have to give. Perhaps you can find a few strategies to help you survive clinicals and graduate, but think seriously about what your life would be like in this career. Is this what you want each day of your life to feel like? How is that sort of stress and anxiety going to affect you in the long run?

    You've put a lot into your studies, and I know how difficult it can be to let go of something you've invested so much in, but knowledge is never wasted. You appear to have many strengths. Your grades in theory indicate your ability to succeed in an academic environment. You're articulate. You have an empathy for and deeper
    than average understanding of those with psychiatric
    disorders. There are many other career paths outside of
    psychiatric nursing that will allow you to work with that population, and in many cases will allow you to work more closely with its members than being a nurse would. The knowledge you've acquired in nursing school would be of benefit to you in all of them. Have you explored any
    of those options? Is there a path to your goal of working with that population that relies on your strengths, perhaps a career in which your efforts could be put into thriving and growing rather than struggling to survive?

    If you truly wish to be a nurse, I wish you the best of luck! In reading your post, though, I can't help but think you may find your most rewarding path to be one that embraces the many strengths you do have rather than one that constantly requires you to struggle in an environment that is unusually difficult and stressful for you. Best of luck in whichever path you choose!
  7. by   nervousnurse
    I admire your tenacity and empathize with your struggles. The only thing I can think of is what MaddieMT mentioned---which
    was academics. I was going to say maybe you could continue in school until you have a Master's in Nursing so that you could teach.
    HOWEVER, that may be very difficult for you to study NURSING that much longer? Also, I'm not sure; but I think in order to teach, a nurse has to have a minimum (maybe 5?) years of clinical experience, and a MINIMUM of a Master's?

    Perhaps you could totally change your major to teaching---as in, a general teaching degree, away from nursing? Maybe you could volunteer/ get a paying job at a school to see if you like it first? Find out if you prefer younger students, middle school, high school, etc.

    If you're determined to go into nursing---maybe you could temporarily stop school and HOPEFULLY find different treatment(s) that would
    help you? I'm sure you WOULD make an excellent pysch nurse, too! (LOL at your comment about "boundaries, Batman!) I am someone who has not experienced the struggles you have, and nursing school/ clinicals was hard enough! I cannot imagine how hard this is for you! I'm sending you many ((( hugs )))!
  8. by   silentwolves
    Wow! I see a lot of me in this post! I have many mental illness issues too, mostly depression and anxiety type things. I too did pretty well with theory, but was scared to death to go to clinicals... I am not sure how I managed to push myself through it sometimes. The anxiety and panic that overcame me was horrible.

    I would try to find a mentor that has been there if possible. I wish I would have. Most of my professors just brushed me off, stating that everybody is in the same boat and nervous at first... I tried to explain that it was worse for me. And of course, the psych/mental health teachers were horrible the semester I had then, and weren't any help like i secretly had hoped.

    I also went into nursing knowing I had a bad back...

    I got a job in a hospital right out of school, on a step down unit. I was too afraid to mention my anxiety, and accepted the position before I was told what floor I would be on.
    After several weeks of less than useful preceptors, my manager wanted me to go off orientation. I tried to explain I wasn't ready and mentioned my anxiety. She brushed me off completely... (why are nurses so mean to one another?) . Well, I ended up quitting when they wouldn't extend orientation or let me switch to a less intensive floor.
    I've been working on a rehabilitation floor in a nursing home for over 2 years now. I have applied to a lot of less physical type jobs since my back has flared up, but keep getting turned down because I do not have acute care hospital experience...

    Have you ever been tested for Lyme Disease? I had it years ago and was under treated. I have a lot of issues since then, including increased clumsiness, brain fog, and all my mental issues have gotten way worse since diganosed with Lyme...
    Just a few random thoughts from me...
  9. by   elkpark
    Quote from nervousnurse
    I admire your tenacity and empathize with your struggles. The only thing I can think of is what MaddieMT mentioned---which
    was academics. I was going to say maybe you could continue in school until you have a Master's in Nursing so that you could teach.
    Why is it that every single time someone starts a thread here about how s/he doesn't think s/he is going to be able to handle nursing practice, or hates nursing school, or hates nursing practice, someone invariably comes along and suggests teaching nursing as an option. When you were in nursing school, would you have wanted your instructors to be people who either couldn't hack nursing practice or just disliked nursing?? Would you have wanted nursing instructors who didn't have a significant background of actual nursing practice and experience?