Nurses struggling with mental illness - Page 8Register Today!
- Feb 22, '05 by heartrn716Quote from GingerSueHi Macy - I used to describe myself as "tough as nails" (to myself) - and what I meant was that I was willing to accept any situation, to always help and do as much as possible, no matter what the circumstances of the patient - even if this meant taking as much extra time as necessary to do what was needed, or to understand. I just came to accept this about myself - that this is the way. To never turn away. I did not feel stress because I had made this decision. I felt satisfaction in my work. And I know that many of the patients appreciated this. I wouldn't change it - unless that I could do even more.Do you really have to be tough as nails?....Any information from anyone interested in helping me on the quest would be appreciated in the utmost. I think becoming a nurse will do wonders for my being..I want to find my niche' , too!!
And Severina - thank goodness for your compassion, and your willingness to take the extra time.
And Dixie - I like your approach to "fight it" - I agree - cultivate your will and strength to overcome.[/QUOTE]
Tough as nails, nawww.. I would say you have to be able to go with the flow. And dont take too much of what your co-workers, the patients or the patients family or even the physicians say as a personal attack. Patients only know what we tell them. We are the source of their information, wether it is correct or not, the same goes for family members. Our co-workers, well, let those amongst us who have not had an occasional bad day and just want to scream be the first to cast stones.....mmmm I have not seen anyone who fits that criteria. And the physicians, please, they are so stressed out most of the time, have sooooo many patients they dont remember who you are talking about and always have to be given a brief synopsis of why the patient is there.
The most important thing is have faith in yourself. Remember everyone had to start somewhere and don't quit!!!!
Oh btw, in the Critical care unit I work in 95 percent of the nurses are on some kind of psychotropic drug, either for depression or anxiety. You have to recognize your short comings and deal with them. Just because we are nurses, does not mean we are not capable of being afflicted by the same problems that the rest of the world is.
- Feb 22, '05 by melpnQuote from SeverinaTo Severina- I think it is very brave of you to "come out of the closet" about your mental problems. Mental illness (with the exception of depression) is still not acceptable in our society. I am a recently diagnosed bipolar, previous dx unipolar depression, rx'd with Paxil, Celexa, Buspar,Ativan, etc. The time on the SSRIs was awful; it threw me into hypomania (in addition to intolerable side effects), but I stuck with it because I felt likesomething instead of laying on the couch and wanting to die. Finally demanded to see a psyhcologist, now on Depakote and low-dose Seroquel, a little prn Ativan. and I feel damn near normal. But there have been crises, meds I had bad reactions to, and I needed time off work, which was not looked upon as very necessary. I also had a damn near identical problem with a troublemaker co-worker; totally blew it out of proportion, lied, made it sound as if I were totally unfit to do my job. Ididn't know what to do until I read your post. now I feel like I have a course of action to take. Thanks so much. If you wan't to talk, you can have my email.Wow, thanks for all the replies. I guess there are a lot of nurses out there with these problems. It just seems that in nursing there is a lot of pressure to be "tough" and perfect.
To ARPN: I admire you for pursuing this career, and funtionality and wholeness. In order to do though, you have to work hard at internal communication and cooperation. I lost a really good job in an onc/hem/BMT unit because I had recently found out about the DID and didn't know how to deal with the emerging alters. Many of them (young ones) were terrified of being in the environment and of "doing things to people". I also wasn't on the right meds, although I was in therapy. One day I was dissociated and was walking around like a zombie, being slow and my preceptor picked up on the difference with me. I tried to be vague about it, but she and other higher ups pushed me further for what was wrong. I ended up breaking down and divulging my abuse history and diagnosis to them. They gave me one week to have a psychiatrist write an official letter stating that I was safe to work there. This was impossible. I did get in to see a psychiatrist who put me on the right meds to manage my condition at the time, but it wasn't soon enough and I lost the job. After that, I hit bottom. My parts were rising up in anarchy and saying that they didn't want me to work. I thought that my career was over and all of the hard work that I had done to get my BSN and my BA were for nothing. I wound up in the psych hospital for a few days.
After a while, I got a job in homecare, mostly doing private duty, and some visits. I had a lot of panic attacks and anxiety before going to a home much of the time, but I pushed through it. Slowly, through the next year, I did things one at a time. I showed myself that I could do things that I thought I couldn't. I also had a genuine disability, so I went to the Center for Independant Living where they helped me gain more confidence. Gave me job hunting and keeping skills, supported me and we tried to find options for me. There just wasn't much out there for RNs besides clinical hospital, or homecare work. I started reading books on death and dying and watching video series' etc. and felt more and more that I would be suited for that kind of work. So, in Nov. 2003, one year after my hospitalization, I took the step and applied for the job that I have now. They loved me and wanted me in right away. The HR person, said she had never seen so much enthusiasm from the nurse managers about an applicant. I was floored.
So, I started and luckily was well supported in the learning of the job and got a gradual increase in patient load as I was ready. Pretty soon I was up to carrying a full load (10 pts) and handling it. I couldn't believe it. For a long time, no one knew anything about my mental illness. I wanted them to get to know me without seeing me through a filter, just seeing me as a person and my clinical skills.
Of course, a couple months into it, I did encounter a highly triggery situation with a patient and had to go to someone. I took a risk and told my supervisor about my history, and she was very supportive. She has become one of my greatest advocates.
Of course, during this time I was on meds for depression (wellbutrin & zoloft), anxiety (klonapin), and for switching/dissociation (zyprexa). As I became more confident of my skills and handling of the job, I realized that the zyprexa suppressing my alters was getting in the way of me making any progress in therapy and I made the decision to stop it and work on my relationship with my alter systems and to resolve the trauma. I told a couple of people at work about my PTSD/DID, which was stupid and I guess it got around the rumor mill, because now most people know. Mostly, I don't mind them knowing because as long as people like me hide in the shadows, our illness continues to be "rare" to the gen. public and the misconceptions and stereotypes get perpetuated. I want to be an example of somone with DID/MPD who can succeed and isn't a basket case.
The bad thing is that there have been two really bad incidences where I have gotten triggered badly. The first involved getting yelled at and lied about by an aide, which sent me into a panic and made me switch into a little person. The DON of all people found me on the floor huddled behind the lockers. I thought that now it was all over. But, she was supportive. She encouraged me to take time to do what I needed to do to get myself together, but she also encouraged me to pick myself up and keep going. I took a while, but after a couple hours, I was better and went back and resumed my duties.
I felt really supported until recently when I had another "freak out". I saw something that really triggered and terrified me on a patients TV. I left the room and totally fell apart. That time, I couldn't continue and had to go home, however, I never abandoned my patients and duties. I made sure that what was undone, got done and finished paperwork later.
However, one nurse who is a drama queen and a trouble maker, went to the DON the next day and told a skewed story of what happened, making it sound much worse than it was, like I basically freaked out and walked off the job, which wasn't the case.
The DON talked to me and said that if I have another episode where I cannot finish the shift, she would have to let me go. I told her what really happened, and she talked to my supervisor who corroborated my story, and she said that it made a difference. But all I heard was the threat of termination. I felt like I was under a microscope. The DON was watching everything about me, my clothes, makeup. She told my supervisor that she noticed the changes in amounts of makeup and colors etc. and wondered if that was my switching personalties.
The thing is, that other than this, I have done a stellar performance in this job. I have never had a complaint from a patient or a family, in fact the opposite. Never been written up for any reason. No serious med errors. Good attendance etc. I talked to HR and told them I felt like I was discriminated against because of my disability. She talked to the DON who then talked to me and didn't know that I had been living in such fear. She said that after she heard the whole story, the matter was settled in her mind, and we both agreed that the safety and care was foremost and I promised her that whatever state I found myself in, I would make sure my patients needs were attended to.
Lately, I've been going through some real rough stuff and a whole new load of trauma material is trying to surface and so I rally all of the energy I have to do the job and am pretty much a mess the rest of the time. I have missed some days because of it.
So, thats basically my story surrounding my career issues. I want to encourage people not to hide in the shadows like they have some nasty secret, but to let people get to know them for who they are and see that we can be capable, sane, contributing members of society. Only then will the stigma of mental illness start to be lifted. Yes, there are risks and predjudices, but I think its worth it. We can overcome.
- Feb 22, '05 by ARNPsomedayQuote from nancynurse05Amen to that, nancynurse05! I also gained alot of weight. But the alternative doesn't even compare. And there is a very good side to this: You learn to really work on your spirit and develop deep qualities.For a long time antidepressants were for acute depression. The mental health and medical field have finally opened their eyes to the fact that chronic depression is a very viable condition. I have been on Effexor for 12 years, before that it was Prozac and Wellbutrin. I have come to accept the fact that I will always take meds and I don't really think about it anymore. The only drawback that makes me hesitate is the fact that I gained 65 lbs. on Effexor and can't get it off. You know what? I would rather be fat and happy than skinny and suicidal.Last edit by ARNPsomeday on Feb 26, '05
- Feb 22, '05 by khbarrowI've been an RN since 82 and was diagnosed in college with bipolar disorder.
Fortunately, medication works extremely well for me and I've worked without problem. (I do avoid night shift.) I'm responding to your concerns about ECT which I totally understand, but early on it took ECT to get things back on track for me. It worked beautifully and based on the difficulty you're having and how long it's hanging around, I'd say go for it.
I think it was 1979 when I had ECT and it stabilized things and like I say, medicaton has done the trick since then. Good luck and God bless.
I'm an RN (since 81) and have had difficulty with depression, anxiety, and bipolar illness. Many times I've had to take extended "vacations" and I wish I could have considered it like a "flare up" of any other medical condition! I have to say that all things considered I have done very well. I have found my niche in geriatrics and when I am well it fits pretty well.
Anyway, I have been out of work since Oct 03. Tried several meds and nothing seems to be getting me out of the depression! I am so sick of it!
Doc is now talking about ECT which scares the living .... out of me...[/QUOTE]
- Feb 22, '05 by melpnEchoing Wannalearn's advice- get to a reproductive endocrinologist yesterday. PCOS can cause insulin resistance, obesity, infertility and cause you to lose estrogen's protective effects against against cardiac disease. All those extra circulating estrogens you have are converted to androgens in the body. That's why PCOS pts. often have facial and other more typically male hair growth patterns as well as the male cardiac profile. It can be treated. You can likely (barring other problems) have kids. Fix what you can fix; it feels good to take steps in the right direction. It may lighten your load a bit. I don't have PCOS, but I am bipolar and it is a struggle at times. Good luck to you.Last edit by melpn on Feb 22, '05 : Reason: addendum
- Feb 22, '05 by tiggergirlHey guys,
I am new to this site ... I thought I would share my story. I have generalized anxiety, PTSD, test anxiety, and panic disorder .... I was in a nursing school and doing well, but I had an instructor who decided that, I don't know .... didn't like my hair color or something (she didn't know about my anxieties, but just didn't like me for some unknown reason) ... and from the first day on she tried to intimidate me and make feel stupid, and quit. She would berate me in front of client's and classmates ... the worse being the time she was demonstrating the pulse ox monitor to us and put it on my finger. My pulse was 126 ... she made a rude comment about my being anxious, in front of my patient and all my classmates. Every week was something different, each week escalating from the week before. Although clinical was only 8 hours long, I was having mild to moderately severe panic attacks lasting 26+ hours. At the end of the semester, she pulled me into a room and said "I know that you have recieved A's on everything, and did all the zero-credit work, but we are failing you anyway. You need to change your major or go somewhere else but you will NEVER be a nurse". Well, at first I changed my major believing that I really could not do it ... and I became depressed because nursing has been my heart since as long as I can remember. I took the summer, got my anxiety under control and switched schools. I am in my second semester at the new school and have yet to have a panic attack at clinical. The instructor that I have now knows that I have "some anxiety", but doesn't know the entire story. He is really very helpful and wants me to succeed.
My parents believe that 'it's all in my head' and that i should 'just get over it'. To them 'it's no big deal' and it shouldn't cause me any problems. Because I am covered under their insurance I am only able to attend the counseling at the college. It really has helped and I am grateful that they provide that service, but my counselor is unable to prescribe medications, so I have overcome my anxiety at clinical without the help of medications. I still have panic attacks but I have learned to control them so when I do get the, they are not as severe and I am able to get them under control much quicker.
It is possible to get through nursing school with mental illnesses. I am proof of that!!! Good luck to all you fellow nursing majors!!
- Feb 22, '05 by KPOPhttp://aolsearch.aol.com/aol/search?...ntal%20Illness
I hope that you can make something out of the above web sites!
I am mentally ill myself and I used to be a nurse!
I could go back to work but my problem is memory -- I have a very bad memory where it was not so bad but then it got worse really bad!
Now I barely remember anything except I can still preach though and that is a good sign for me!
Quote from SeverinaI was just wondering if there are any other nurses who struggle with mental illness. It seems to be one disability that is met with little tolerance and support in the medical field. I do have major co-morbid mental illness, Major depression/PTSD/DID, and have had many problems in my career. I have been in therapy and on meds for a long time and have worked very hard to be functional, and I have suprised myself by what I have been able to achieve. Currently, I am a hospice nurse in a residential setting and it seems that I have found my niche. It doesn't aggravate my illness too much. I am very busy at times and most of my job revolves in much cognitive thinking and decision making about the best ways to respond to a patient's emerging or existing symptoms, and in assessing patients to see where they are in the dying process, plus lots of educating to patients and families. My extensive personal trauma background has made me able to have a different perspective on death and don't see it as the scary thing that is SO SAD, that a lot of people do. Plus, because of the things that I have been through, I am more able to be compassionate and understanding of patients and their fears. I especially do well with patients with existing mental illness or lots of anxiety. I notice that a lot of nurses have little tolerance for a patients anxiety and are not willing to take the extra time to walk them through things and provide the extra reassurance that they need.
Yes, there are some nursing jobs that I don't think I would be able to do because of the fast on the spot life and death action necessary. ER and Trauma/Burn are pretty much out for me. But thats OK. A lot of nurses couldn't handle doing what I do either for their own reasons. We are all suited to certain things.
Having mental illness doesn't automatically make you unsuited for the nursing profession. Even though I have heard many times, "what are you doing here?" "Shouldn't you be doing something else, less stressful?"
I am here and am doing the thing I am suited for. Yes sometimes I have to take time off due to my illness, but its no different than somone who has flare ups of a chronic physical illness like lupus, chronic fatigue, or fibromyalgia.
I would like to know how other nurses have coped with their own illness and their nursing careers.
- Quote from khbarrowI've been an RN since 82 and was diagnosed in college with bipolar disorder.
Fortunately, medication works extremely well for me and I've worked without problem. (I do avoid night shift.) I'm responding to your concerns about ECT which I totally understand, but early on it took ECT to get things back on track for me.
I so appreciate your feedback!
I am still struggling with the basics - even showering and mouth care, sigh... I do go out every day to get my dunkin donuts coffee (LOL) but it's drive thru. I am just basically avoiding people and responsibilities, other than that I'm fine (ever hear what F.I.N.E. stands for? Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional)
Anyway - I have just been running away from the whole thing - but from what I hear - maybe ECT is for the best. I have not heard one negative and I have talked to quite a few!
- Quote from tiggergirlHi Tigger girl, thank you for posting! I identify especially re my family thinking it's in your head. Well this year I was hospitalized twice, and in outpatient treatment 4-5 times, plus two siblings are now mentally ill, so they are starting to get it, my dad especially. Plus he is finally willing to read the literature, and he has a new wife who has several years of Al-anon under her belt (boy she has worked wonders).
My parents believe that 'it's all in my head' and that i should 'just get over it'. To them 'it's no big deal' and it shouldn't cause me any problems.
I agree that you can get through just about anything if you want it, KUDOS for going to another school! That other school, MAN - what is wrong with HELPING A HUMAN BEING? If she saw you had trouble, why couldn't she reach out instead of brush off? Sigh...
Anyway - keep up the good work and - you know even tho it is stigmatized mental illness is a fact of life for SO MANY NURSES! Do a "search" on this site and you will find more than half a dozen THREADS on it! not to mention the individual posts scattered throughout!
- Quote from KPOPYou sound like me, LOLI could go back to work but my problem is memory -- I have a very bad memory where it was not so bad but then it got worse really bad!
Now I barely remember anything except I can still preach though and that is a good sign for me!