Nurses struggling with mental illness - page 18

I 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... Read More

  1. by   investorassociates
    Quote from Severina
    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.

    Severina
    MY GOD THAT IS THE BEST ARTICLE I HAVE READ.I SO CAN RELATE TO EVERYTHING U HAVE. AND UNDERSTAND THE FIGHT THAT U GO THROUGH EVERY DAY(IT TRUELY IS A WAR IN THE MIND).I MUST SAY THAT U HAVE TACKELED UR ISSUES AND ARE A TRUE INSPIRATION TO ME.U DONT KNOW HOW MUCH IT MEANS TO ME THAT I SEE ANOTHER IN NURSING THAT IS DEALING WITH THE SAME ISSUES THAT I GO THROUGH.U ARE A OVERCOMMER DARLING AND KEEP STEPING FORWARD.
  2. by   investorassociates
    Quote from krisssy
    I have an anxiety disorder which was caused by post traumatic stress disorder. As a child my mother was mentally ill, and my dad was an alcoholic and a pill taker. I was abused, and did not even know it for a long time. I suffered with fears and anxiety pertaining to the fears for my whole life. Four years ago, my husband had an affair and left me. I had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized with major depression. I also suffered from symptoms of dissassociation. At this point, I am free of depression and dissaccociation, and I am getting remarried next month. But I am still suffering from severe anxiety especially in social situations. I am not able to work at this time. But I have decided that going back to school part time for an MS degree would help me. Being focused on one thing helps to ease my anxiety a lot. During my bout with depression after my husband left, I took a refresher course and did a pharmacology workbook on my own, and it really helped me-almost felt like therapy. My question to my fellow nurses and student nurses is, do you feel there is any particular field that I should get my MS in considering my anxiety problems. Are there some specialties that are better for people with anxiety disorders? I love taking care of people, comforting them, spending extra time with them. I am also a retired school teacher, very organized and efficient(when I am not anxious), and tend to feel better when I am involved in doing something that I enjoy and am interested in. The two areas which would exacerbate my anxiety(for personal reasons related to my childhood) are oncology and hospice nursing. I am curious to know if you think there is any specialty or specialties that would be good for someone with an anxiety disorder with my history?
    I ALSO HAVE SEVERE ANXIETY DISORDER, GENERALIZED ANXIETY,SOCIAL ANXIETY PANICK ATTACKS.PHOBIAS U NAME IT I HAVE IT IN THE ANXIETY MAKEUP .I WAS TAKING 2MG CLONAZEPAM(KLONAPIN)3TIMES A DAY ALONG WITH TOPAMAX SERAQUEL.I DID FIND AN EXPERT. AND ALL THE EXPERTS POINT TO THIS WORKBOOK.IT'S CALLED "THE ANXIETY AND PHOBIA WORKBOOK" BY EDMUND J BOURNE .A COMPOSITE OF MANY EXPERTS IN ONE BOOK.I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT THERE IS PEOPLE LIKE ME WITH THE SAME STUFF AFTER LOOKING FOR 4 YEARS .IN THREE MONTHS I AM OFF ALL 5 MEDICATIONS.THROUGH EXERCISES ,BREATHING.POSSITIVE SELF TALK.AND OTHER ACTIVITIES I HAVE OVERCOME ANXIETY .I WAS A SEVERE CASE.6 FOOT 280LBS MAN THAT WAS SCARED OF EVERYTHING.A CHILD COULD GIVE ME ANXIETY.I TALKED ABOUT ANXIETY SO MUCH THAT MY SISTER SAID I GAVE HER ANXIETY LOL.U CAN BEAT THIS.I PROMISE U GOD AND A WILL TO BECOME BETTER U CAN WIN.
  3. by   Liddle Noodnik
    Quote from investorassociates
    MY GOD THAT IS THE BEST ARTICLE I HAVE READ.I SO CAN RELATE TO EVERYTHING U HAVE. AND UNDERSTAND THE FIGHT THAT U GO THROUGH EVERY DAY(IT TRUELY IS A WAR IN THE MIND).I MUST SAY THAT U HAVE TACKELED UR ISSUES AND ARE A TRUE INSPIRATION TO ME.U DONT KNOW HOW MUCH IT MEANS TO ME THAT I SEE ANOTHER IN NURSING THAT IS DEALING WITH THE SAME ISSUES THAT I GO THROUGH.U ARE A OVERCOMMER DARLING AND KEEP STEPING FORWARD.

    She's awesome, huh? I am so grateful to people who are just "out" about who they are - we have no need to be ashamed. But boy there are those who think we oughta be!

    Take care!~
  4. by   Liddle Noodnik
    Quote from investorassociates
    I ALSO HAVE SEVERE ANXIETY DISORDER, GENERALIZED ANXIETY,SOCIAL ANXIETY PANICK ATTACKS.PHOBIAS U NAME IT I HAVE IT IN THE ANXIETY MAKEUP .I WAS TAKING 2MG CLONAZEPAM(KLONAPIN)3TIMES A DAY ALONG WITH TOPAMAX SERAQUEL.I DID FIND AN EXPERT. AND ALL THE EXPERTS POINT TO THIS WORKBOOK.IT'S CALLED "THE ANXIETY AND PHOBIA WORKBOOK" BY EDMUND J BOURNE .A COMPOSITE OF MANY EXPERTS IN ONE BOOK.I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT THERE IS PEOPLE LIKE ME WITH THE SAME STUFF AFTER LOOKING FOR 4 YEARS .IN THREE MONTHS I AM OFF ALL 5 MEDICATIONS.THROUGH EXERCISES ,BREATHING.POSSITIVE SELF TALK.AND OTHER ACTIVITIES I HAVE OVERCOME ANXIETY .I WAS A SEVERE CASE.6 FOOT 280LBS MAN THAT WAS SCARED OF EVERYTHING.A CHILD COULD GIVE ME ANXIETY.I TALKED ABOUT ANXIETY SO MUCH THAT MY SISTER SAID I GAVE HER ANXIETY LOL.U CAN BEAT THIS.I PROMISE U GOD AND A WILL TO BECOME BETTER U CAN WIN.

    wonderful "testimony" - thanks for coming over!

    I am in a tough spot right now, have had nausea and vomiting all week to different degrees, so my medication blood levels are screwed up, and when I got sick I had just started increasing meds because the level was so low!

    So I am not sure really if I'm doing ok - LOL =- you know the "shoe to drop" syndrome.
  5. by   mont
    Quote from zoeboboey
    wonderful "testimony" - thanks for coming over!

    I am in a tough spot right now, have had nausea and vomiting all week to different degrees, so my medication blood levels are screwed up, and when I got sick I had just started increasing meds because the level was so low!

    So I am not sure really if I'm doing ok - LOL =- you know the "shoe to drop" syndrome.
    hope you feel better soon and good luck with your levels
  6. by   msmona
    Quote from zoeboboey
    She's awesome, huh? I am so grateful to people who are just "out" about who they are - we have no need to be ashamed. But boy there are those who think we oughta be!

    Take care!~

    DITTO and AMEN
    If we don't come out and stay out the stigma will always be there. If the stigma stays, many people who would get help and would be productive are too ashamed or intimidated to get what they need. GO FOR IT
  7. by   Liddle Noodnik
    hi kids,

    can ya keep this thread busy for me? on june 24 my blood levels of thyroid and lithium were messed up, my thyroid got decreased, li increased, pamelor increased, now i've had over a week (less two days in the middle) of being nausea, vomiting (at this point, not every day or all day, just enough to make it tough to take med, keep down, take fluids and foods). funny thing is i do now have these moments of just being absolutely ravenous!

    [possible causes of n/v? flu, change in meds, change to different lithium, ate something, ran out of prevacid and insurance (great!), stress, shrug ... i dunno...]

    question: can you have gallbladder disease and not have severe pain? i have a bit sometimes, but not as bad as i have seen in patients. i'm fat, fair, and forties (this is an old "typical gallbladder" stereotype)

    now as predicted i am hypomanic - not bad but i got up at 8 yesterday am and it's 11 am now, i just do not want to go to bed! if i was tied down i would probably be sound asleep!

    i did just take my morning meds and waiting the half hour before lying down (i have gerd of all things) - took a prn ativan which i hate but i have to force myself to sleep or i will get sicker!

    i am mad as hell so quickly at people i used to be able to shrug and move on with - luckily no one within reach lol - just all these injustices.

    oh and making plans - starting yet another book (to write) being so creative an editor i can't get past making a list - like this note for example i am having to talk aloud as i type and go slowly and check check check.

    if i wasn't so determined to make my 18 year old "pay back" some money by doing some housework, my house would be spick and span.

    nahhhh - i'm doing fun stuff lol - i still am not sick enough to do housework!

    hey well i thought i would open a window and show you my world a little bit, and give the shame shyster a run for his money!



    xoxoxoxoxoxo

    if you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you'll never enjoy the sunshine.
    Last edit by Liddle Noodnik on Jul 19, '05 : Reason: HYPOMANIC! the eternal editor, ROFL!
  8. by   Tuulip
    Hi Krissy,

    I deal with BPD and depression. I started in telephone triage last fall and find it wonderful. I still have patient contact (over the phone of course) without all the stress of the floors. If you are still looking for information of what type of nursing to go into and you're interested in Telehealth, feel free to email me!

    Tracey
  9. by   Tinkerbell2
    Quote from Tuulip
    Hi Krissy,

    I deal with BPD and depression. I started in telephone triage last fall and find it wonderful. I still have patient contact (over the phone of course) without all the stress of the floors. If you are still looking for information of what type of nursing to go into and you're interested in Telehealth, feel free to email me!

    Tracey
    I would like more information on telephone triage nursing. I have yet
    to enroll in nursing school. Our family is planning a move to another
    state within the next year and their nursing program requirements
    are different, so I plan to wait till after I move. Meanwhile, I am
    exploring different avenues in nursing. If you can provide some
    information on this board, I would appreciate it, and I'm sure that
    others would too.
  10. by   mattsmom81
    Telephone triage sounds like a super career...and I'd bet most large metro areas HMO's utilize this for their clients! I will keep an ear open for my area...wouldn't it be great if we could do this AND work out of our homes too!! ??

    I have started a new job...finally got bored at home after 8 months 'decompressing' and working on my attitudetowards myself and my career following this depression episode which included anxiety and panic attacks (for the first time)

    I'm doing private duty home care and so far so good. I didn't have to jump through all the facility hoops and answer personal questions RT employee health, meds, injuries in the past, etc.

    So...I likely will not even TRY hospital work again if this works out!

    Wish me luck...and I wish the same for all here!!!


    Deb
    Last edit by mattsmom81 on Aug 18, '05
  11. by   navywife757
    it seems somewhat comforting to see that other nurses are dealing w/ bipolar and other mental illnessess. although i would never say its a good thing to have a mental illness, it makes me feel better to know that i am not the only one. i am still in school and the idea of having a "breakdown" in school or on the job is terrifying. i take my meds and i am going to therapy but even now i am having problems b/c my meds don't seem to be working for me anymore and i am going through the struggle of getting it right.

    kristy
  12. by   mattsmom81
    Quote from navywife757
    it seems somewhat comforting to see that other nurses are dealing w/ bipolar and other mental illnessess. although i would never say its a good thing to have a mental illness, it makes me feel better to know that i am not the only one. i am still in school and the idea of having a "breakdown" in school or on the job is terrifying. i take my meds and i am going to therapy but even now i am having problems b/c my meds don't seem to be working for me anymore and i am going through the struggle of getting it right.

    kristy
    Kristy a coworker of mine shared she is bipolar. she is very open about it at work, which at first concerned me (for her sake) but this is how she chooses to deal with it. She works closely with her docs and has been stable on her meds for some time. She notices and acts quickly if she does feel a change coming on (hypomania) while at work, and has PRN meds if necessary. She had to, of course, get written doctor's statements to cover her...but she IS a protected group, covered by law and cannot be discriminated against legally. She has consulted with an attorney with the local mental health services and knows her rights; which is paramount for nurses with mental/nervous disorders IMHO. Its too easy for hospitals to just write us off...they want 'perfect nurse specimens'.

    Keep pestering your docs til you find the meds that work for you. Sometimes it takes awhile and we are all different...Hugs to you and keep yer chin up!!

    I did have a panic attack at work in a stressful situation and I know what you mean...its our worst nightmare, and I have had to work on forgiving myself and move on. (as well as change my life...I was overdoing and the work was getting to me...I was 'crispy')
  13. by   Tuulip
    Hi Tinkerbell2 and Deb,

    It's not surprising you don't know much about telephone triage since before
    I was hired, I had no idea either. I live in a smaller city compared with most
    of you - around 800,000 people, however we serve the majority of the
    province (I'm in Canada). On a day shift, there should be around 23-26 RN's
    on at any time, same with evening shift. Night shift declines dramatically and after around 0330, there are around 3-5 RN's on. We work in a call center type area, outside of the hospital. We wear street clothes, but no jeans except on special days. We have a queue and whomever is next to take a call will get that call. We take calls from local and rural, new moms up to 2 months of babe's age (when they go to the regular phone in number), mental health, seniors help line, drug and alcohol addictions line, needlestick exposure for the region's health care workers, and do a number of phone backs regarding osteoporosis studies, pediatric call backs to parents who left emerg without their child being seen, and referrals to the regional diabetes program, prenatal class registration, immunization records requests. Lots of stuff! Amazingly, there isn't much down time. The one thing I really missed initially was conversing with my colleagues. As we work on computers, our time is strictly monitored. New staff have asked how we adjust to the different structure. The only thing I can tell them is it takes time and it finally wasn't such a huge issue for me.

    People call about all sorts of things, as those of you in emerg are aware of with those who present about all sorts of things. I have learned so much since beginning this job. People - even some nurses - don't think it is real nursing. Quite the opposite. New hires have to have minimum 5-10 years experience in nursing. It's amazing how creative your assessment skills become when you can't see your patient. There are also other issues such as language issues. For true language barriers we have a translation service available by phone 24 hours a day at a pretty good cost (not to the caller). We also have TTY.

    Telephone triage here was designed to take the load of the city's emerg's. It has done that and is rapidly expanding, taking on new roles all the time. By taking some of the load off emerg's, it decreases the cost to the health care system, which is completely different than the US as many of you are aware.

    I hope that answers some of your questions! As a nurse living with mental illness, I find this particular job much less stressful and at times, forgiving. The most panic that will happen is a suicidal caller, a homicidal caller, a caller having chest pain, or a baby on the way. Most times, if the caller is in severe distress, we tell them to hang up and dial 911 (except the first two mentioned). No two calls are the same! I had two animal bite calls in one day. I had two electrocution calls in one day. I had two frostbite calls in one day. All different types of calls that on average, we don't hear about very often at all!

    Cheers!

    Tuulip



    Quote from Tinkerbell2
    I would like more information on telephone triage nursing. I have yet
    to enroll in nursing school. Our family is planning a move to another
    state within the next year and their nursing program requirements
    are different, so I plan to wait till after I move. Meanwhile, I am
    exploring different avenues in nursing. If you can provide some
    information on this board, I would appreciate it, and I'm sure that
    others would too.

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