Nurses struggling with mental illness - page 48

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   NurseExec
    Quote from at sea
    nurseexec,

    i have to disagree with "depression" being accepted. at least it hasn't been accepted anywhere i've ever been. perhaps it's just been my experience. i recall conversations with fellow icu nurses discussing our issues with depression. i would venture to say that 40% or so of the people i worked with complained about it. on the other hand, this was when i was living in alaska, and it's really hard not to be depressed, when you go in in the dark and come home in the dark.

    but why do you think there is "poor acceptance"? i mean you are part of a management team, yes? in this day and age? in our profession?? i don't think our profession makes us immune to hundreds of years of stigma against mental illness. it's always been my opinion that people, as a rule, are overtly or secretly "afraid" of mental illness. i spent years struggling with mania, because i knew, as an rn, that if i told my psychiatrist that i had them, i would be "branded" with the bipolar label. i also believe that part of the poor acceptance of mental illness by healthcare workers can be directly related to their experiences with mentally ill people in crisis. for example, an er nurse has a violent schizophenic patient attempt to injure her. she goes home, and her son introduces her to his new, schizophrenic girlfriend. will she be understanding? will she be non-judgemental? i don't think so.

    even the general public, i have to say that if they don't know the statistics, which is very difficult for me to believe, (as they are among the many affected) how could they too, have a poor acceptance? in your opinion, of course!


    when i think of the general public, i often think of my parents, who still think, after all these years, that i can be cured. these are two highly educated, professional people, and my mother is in healthcare. they are very internet-savvy, and read voraciously. yet, given all that, they still are quite horrified that i am bipolar, and prefer that i don't mention my disease, medication, or anything else related.

    i don't know if that's an answer, but it's a few of my humble opinions.


    i really appreciate, btw, your thoughtful questions and dialogue.
  2. by   Babs0512
    At sea: the best I can suggest, is try to keep work at work. I come here and vent on occasion, and then it's "gone". I've put it on paper, and now I have to "let it go.." It's my way of coping.

    I've come to believe, that time will eventually bring me back my credibility. Over time, if my coworkers see me doing my job, arriving on time, taking my share of work, and doing it with a smile (on the outside), then eventually, their thoughts of "Why Babs left the ER" will fade.

    They don't have to know that there are times, like my last weekend on call when I worked 30 hours, 20 of them straight through - that I thought of hanging myself - I was so over tired and burned out, that I couldn't see how I would make it through the next case. I didn't do it , it was a fantasy thought - sort of my way of coping, by saying "I could do this if it gets too tough" - but I'm not far gone enough to actually do it.

    My counselor knows of my occasional thoughts, so don't worry - I'm not going to do myself in. It's part of my illness, these thoughts creep in sometimes, and I know who to call to get me through if I need to.

    Time, I'm hoping, will be my friend. In time, they will see I can be trusted, I will cope. My drive to "be the best" is long gone, I lost that in the ER, now I'm shooting for "average" - by "average" I mean as an employee. I still want to be the best nurse to my patients.

    Good luck, put it behind you, and try to enjoy the rest of your weekend.

    Peace & hugs
  3. by   Liddle Noodnik
    Quote from at sea
    zoeboboey, if you don't mind me asking, what is your story?

    also, it sounds like you have some knowledge about discrimination. again, if you don't mind, tell me more!

    hi at sea,

    i was trying to find a post which summed up my journey thus far just to save me from typing but i couldn't really find one

    well i graduated from nursing school in 81

    in 85 was hospitalized after a suicide attempt. i found out at that time that i was alcoholic and was able to stop drinking right away using aa. i also had my first manic episode during that hospitalization. i'd had hypomanic symptoms a few months prior to hospitalization (i think the trigger was the atkins diet!). i became manic in the hospital due to an antidepressant, ascendin. all this led them to believe i had bipolar ii (less severe than bipolar i and usually due to outside influences such as medication or diet).

    over time i have mostly suffered from depression, with occasional manic episodes. i would work for a few years just fine, then have to take days, months, or even years intermittently to work on my illness and regain my stability.

    however the last time i worked as a nurse was in 03. at that time i suffered severe depression and anxiety and could not handle doing my job - was taking shortcuts i should not have taken and just was totally overwhelmed. i was not a safe practitioner, so i left. i became more stable, but was unable to return to work. i lost my rental house, and basically had to start from scratch, my then 16 y.o. son and i. actually, he ended up moving in with his father at that time because his dad could do a better job with him than i could then. eventually i got another apt. with help from the gov't and my son moved back in.

    in 05 i had a terrible relapse into mania which resulted in my being hospitalized off and on for a whole month, i was not sure i would ever come out of that one! i do seem very sensitive to things like prozac, and anti-psychotics like seroquel and geodon (my mania can become quite delusional and at times hallucinogenic!). i have not had any episodes of severe depression and only a couple days of mild hypomania since that last hospitalization almost 3 yrs ago. my condition was upgraded to "bipolar i" which is more serious/severe than bipolar ii. again my main struggle is with depression, lack of motivation.

    i was out of work until august of 06 when i became able to work as a store clerk at the salvation army, 20 hrs a week. gradually have increased my hours to 29 and work as a "third key" (back up assistant manager i guess you could say).

    i am not on any meds right now because through spiritual counseling and healing by god i've been able to wean off them (medical doctor reluctantly helping me!). of course i am very vigilant and if i had to i would go back on them but i pray i don't have to! i find that by using the principles i've learned in biblical counseling and the holy spirit's guidance that i am ok. i'm still not in nursing, i do think about it, but i still have a lot of anxiety, especially around that possibility! my son ended up going into the army and is doing really really well (he had add and had dropped out of school, and was living on the computer - not doing too hot for a long time. things have vastly improved for him! i do give god the glory and the credit for how far we have come - and for his enabling me to do the work that was required to get there!)

    as to discrimination, i alluded to that because when i applied for my last nursing job i was asked on the health questionaire about current medications. i was on lithium at the time, listing of which was just as good as broadcasting my condition! i sought advisement and was told that though i had to be truthful on my health questionaire (could be fired later if it was found out that i lied), personnel health was not allowed to share my health information. the only question on my employment application that caused concern was the one that asked if i had a health condition which affected my ability to perform my job. truthfully at the time i was hired the answer was "no" - my condition did not affect my ability to perform. later, it did. but at the time i applied, i answered truthfully that it did not.

    i have not personally experienced any discrimination due to my illness. certainly some discomfort when i casually shared my diagnosis with peers and did not have a favorable response. but nothing directly discriminatory.

    anyway that's my schpiel... in a nutshell. exhausting to just think of the experiences i've had - encouraging to see the progress i have made. if this is as "good as it gets" i will be happy - but i do feel yearnings and desires within to do more with my life. just that they cover so many areas i don't know where to start! i am looking into going back to school because i love to write and am good at it and would like to finish my media studies degree. i also think about going back to nursing to some degree. or to do missions with my church! or to travel! so many things that i end up kinda paralyzed - what is god's true will for my life and am i, today, doing it? well i skipped church today and slept in, i'm feeling like i am not in his will so much today (chuckle)... i know he forgives me and probably is more compassionate towards me than i am! i can 'discriminate' against myself so much!

    take care. it is always great to hear how everyone else is coping!
    Last edit by Liddle Noodnik on Aug 24, '08
  4. by   Nurse_Diane
    Quote from trulie.julie
    Hi! I'm trulie.julie and in the summer I will start taking my prerequisites for nursing school, hoping to attend next year. I'm glad I found this place and I have a very serious question. I have struggled with depression and anxiety my whole life and have been medicated for the last 20 years. The meds I'm on are Wellbutrin, Effexor, Klonopin .5 and Ambien. When I go to take my drug test are these going to show up and disqualify me from even trying to become a nurse and if I tell the testing nurse what I am on, will that also disqualify me? If necessary I would get off the klonopin and Ambien but they have literally been life savers for me and I'm at the most "normal" I've ever been in my whole life. No one in my life even would have a clue I'm on psych drugs. Sorry this post is so long..I was just wondering if anyone here has any advice. Thank you so much in advance
    as long as you have valid prescriptions, I don't think you will have any problems with your drug screen. I just had my drug screen and I take effexor, xanax, and trazodone and I had no problems because I brought my RX bottles.

    Best,
    Diane
  5. by   WWRN
    hello all... i'm an rn in pennsylvania and my doctor has decided i need to be placed in a partial hospital program and out of work for a month or so due to a severe exacerbation of my depression. do any of you know if i'm at risk for loosing my rn lic due to mental illness requiring this level of care?

    thanks in advance for any and all replies
  6. by   Liddle Noodnik
    Quote from wwrn
    hello all... i'm an rn in pennsylvania and my doctor has decided i need to be placed in a partial hospital program and out of work for a month or so due to a severe exacerbation of my depression. do any of you know if i'm at risk for loosing my rn lic due to mental illness requiring this level of care?

    thanks in advance for any and all replies
    i never had any trouble because of it, and have done a few in my time

    i find them very very helpful- you get what you put into it - so put a lot in, even if you don't feel like it!

    (sending flowers even tho i don't see the "smiley" for it - feel better soon hon!)
  7. by   Babs0512
    You are entitled to HIPPA confidentiality as well as your patients. If your physician takes you out of work for a couple of weeks, all he need say is "Sue will be out of work 8/30 - 9/13 due to illness. She may return 9/14 without restriction". People may ask the reason, but you don't have to tell them.

    Do what's best for you, take care of yourself first. God Bless
  8. by   Babs0512
    I need some advice. I have been missing work intermittently for the past year, a day or two at a time. Sometimes due to illness ie: sinus infection, other times due to medication changes and side effects. ie: all over body pain R/T statins for my cholesterol with elevated CPK's, generalized edema +3 pitting including peri-orbital from Remeron (a nephrologist figured that one out-good catch!) Pain doc put be on Topomax for my HA/neck pain, KNOCKED me out for three days, no kidding - so I stopped it. Went for injections instead.

    Now my conselor is sending me to a psychiatrist to deal with my psyc meds. I'm on Effexor and Seroquil. So far, so good. Psyc wants me to taper off my Klonopin at HS and increase my Seroquil to 300 mg HS before my next 4 week appt.

    Here is my problem: I have been doing as the doc suggested. I'm down to 2 mg Klonopin and up to 150mg Seroquil. These changes have made me so logie and slow in the morning that I often fall asleep at the computer while drinking my coffee. I can usually rouse myself enough to get into the shower which wakes me up effectively enough to drag myself to work. However, this past week I picked up x-tra hours between call and 2nd call as we have nurses on vacation. So I was reallllllly exhausted by the end of the week. Thursday was the day from hell. We did 28 cases during the day, with 4 add ons after hours. I was second call. I worked from 0730 to 2130 Thursday. Came home, took my meds and went to bed.

    I woke up Friday morning, and fell asleep three times at the computer. My voice was slurred, my eyes were watering, I was just completely exhausted. The busy week accompanied by the med changes that I haven't yet adjusted to - had caught up with me.

    I called in at 0600. I swear, I couldn't have made it to work. I went back to bed and passed out until 1345 in the afternoon. My boss called twice, once I didn't even hear the phone and she left a message for me to call her back, the second time around 1000 to ask me "Why" I called in.

    I thought about telling her the truth, but knowing her nasty ways, she would use it against me and say "Babs can't do her job adequately" - so I lied, said I had a migraine (which I haven't had in over 2 years) my boss asked if I could make it in for part of the day, I said "I'm laying here with my head packed in ice, so I doubt I will be able to make it in". She said "fine" and hung up.

    Usually, I would feel bad lying, but believe it or not, I was still so beat, I fell right back to sleep without giving it another thought.

    So my question: Considering I'm going to be messing with my medications for another 2-3 weeks, (maybe longer, who knows), and it takes me a while to adjust to them, should I come clean and tell the truth and risk her using it as a reason to get rid of me. OR Do I let her be peeved, suspecting I called in for no reason, and stick with my migraine story?

    I didn't really feel she had the right to ask me why I wasn't coming in. I was ill - was all I needed to say.

    I'm torn, so I will go with the majority answer.

    Thanking you all in advance
  9. by   mondkmondk
    This won't be majority I'm sure, but I would continue the migraine complaint and I'd also add you might need some days off to adjust meds (presumably for your migraine, just don't tell her exactly for what). Back when I took Seroquel every night I just couldn't work or be a mom or do anything that required alertness. Subsequently, we worked with a lot of other meds, finally found a few that didn't impair my cognition and put Seroquel on the back burner. I only take it now prn for insomnia or mania (I'm bipolar). Despite the fact that we are nurses, there is still a huge stigma regarding mental illness of any kind and some people out there, your boss probably one of them, do not understand that you need time off to regulate your meds. Most of them I've dealt with think it is some kind of cop-out or plain laziness. So if I were in your shoes, I'd stick to the migraine thingie. Just my 2 cents!

    Blessings, Michelle
  10. by   NurseExec
    If it were me, I'd probably take a leave of absence to get my meds squared away, which I have done in the past. I think it worked out better just not being there at all, rather than risk being singled out for poor performance.

    I take Seroquel, and from long experience, you're going to be feeling like a zombie until you get up to your planned dosage, and stay there for a few weeks. Trust me, it does end, once your dose stablizes out. I do move a little slower in the morning, but it's nothing that a cup of coffee or two can't handle.

    I wish you all the best--I know how hard this can be.
  11. by   Liddle Noodnik
    Quote from babs0512
    i need some advice.
    babs i know this great girl who knows what she's talking about. she would advise: "you are entitled to hippa confidentiality as well as your patients. if your physician takes you out of work for a couple of weeks, all he need say is "babs will be out of work 8/30 - 9/13 due to illness. she may return 9/14 without restriction". people may ask the reason, but you don't have to tell them.

    do what's best for you, take care of yourself first. god bless."

    this great lady's name is babs. or maybe it is nancy? lol...

    love ya! i'm so sorry you are struggling! xo

    Quote from nurseexec
    i take seroquel, and from long experience, you're going to be feeling like a zombie until you get up to your planned dosage, and stay there for a few weeks. trust me, it does end, once your dose stablizes out. i do move a little slower in the morning, but it's nothing that a cup of coffee or two can't handle.

    i wish you all the best--i know how hard this can be.
    hi nurse exec, yep me too re the seroquel but then i had adverse effects (feeling like jumping out of my skin to the point that jumping thru a 3rd story window seemed like one way to do it. got help for that lol...). anyway it's nice to hear from you here, keep in touch. i think we all have gained so much valuable experience, it is awesome that people are willing to share it with others!

  12. by   NurseExec
    Quote from zoeboboey
    hi nurse exec, yep me too re the seroquel but then i had adverse effects (feeling like jumping out of my skin to the point that jumping thru a 3rd story window seemed like one way to do it. got help for that lol...). anyway it's nice to hear from you here, keep in touch. i think we all have gained so much valuable experience, it is awesome that people are willing to share it with others!

    the same thing (akasthisia) happened to me with abilify. that's got to be the worst feeling in the world...thanks for the welcome, btw! have a great sunday.
  13. by   panick
    This will show up as my first post, because I just created this new handle just to post on the disabilities forum more anonymously. I've actually been on allnurses a few years.

    My psychiatrist does not think I'm bipolar, but I do. I feel like I'm manic right now, or hypomanic. I think my performance at work is okay, but who knows? I basicly feel like my brain is going nuts on me. I can't concentrate on things very long, especially outside of work. She thinks I'm ADHD, not manic. Huh? I get pretty unrealistic thoughts all the time, spend money I don't have, I could go on and on. I've been stuck in this about 3 weeks.
    I gotta go, don't have time to write more right now.

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