Nurses struggling with mental illness - page 8

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   Liddle Noodnik
    Quote from 50 Cent
    i was wondering if anybody knew of any nursing research done about nursing and mental illness. i can relate. how do you guyz cope with the long hours, day-night rotations, and the high stress of the job? do you have any advice? how does one not burnout under such working conditions and trying to cope with MI? a nurse's work is so crazy these days...how can a nurse not go crazy?

    When you figure it out, let me know

    I do know that even WITHOUT mental illness a nurse is hard pressed to not burn out -

  2. by   Cheyenne RN,BSHS
    Having read this thread through I must say "Kudos!" to every one of us with the courage and bravity to step up and talk about our individual battles with mental illness in all it's many forms.

    Anyone who admits that they have a mental illness automatically has to struggle with being a victim of discrimination. I am very careful when, and to whom, I share things with.

    Society, as a whole, chooses to look negatively on the diagnosis of mental illness. Yet if the truth be known, many of us deemed "mentally ill" are working, functioning, and contributing to society in a beneficial way.

    (( I cannot count the nurses that I personally know that are on antidepressants and anti-anxiety and insomnia medications because of the stress of the job ))

    I have been a nurse for twenty years and have worked full time for both decades. I also live with DID/PTSD, dyslexia, and depression. It has not been easy by a long shot. (((can you say amen?? )))

    My mother was treated with ECT for severe depression. She was often either physically or emotionaly absent. She was also abusive due to her own stuggles with mental illness. Back then there were few treatments for the mentally ill ..... and in the 40's and 50's mental illness carried a severe stigma. There was little to offer those that needed help.

    My father was a control freak, horribly abusive, and a weekend alcoholic. (((I do wonder at times if there is not a genetic component to some forms of depression and illness. Sort of a chemical and enviromental predisposion to one illness or another.))))

    I admire everyone here who has been so couragious and faught against such odds to not only battle their own "demons", but to continue in a field called nursing that needs compassion and empathy and also contains it's own unique set of stressors.

    So often I have felt alone in this war trying to survive and "appear" normal.....


    :hatparty: KUDO'S :hatparty:
  3. by   Liddle Noodnik
    Quote from Fire Wolf
    Society, as a whole, chooses to look negatively on the diagnosis of mental illness. Yet if the truth be known, many of us deemed "mentally ill" are working, functioning, and contributing to society in a beneficial way.
    Welcome to the club!!!

    ALL of us as nurses ought to take good care of ourselves mentally, physically, spiritually, etc. Just like we tell our patients, LOL!

    Welcome to the "club" - I think it should be "mentally interesting" vs. "mentally ill", LOL!
  4. by   Aquamarine
    Severina,
    I know what you mean. I have ADHD which I was shocked to find out as I think of myself as very calm and laid back, at least for the most part. I also have some minimal depression . I most likely have PTSD also but have not even tried to get therapy as I am just finishing up with my RN, about 10 more weeks to go.
    I do not think the medical field has much compassion or tolerance for staff with any disorders. I have had to speak up for myself and I know I am looked upon as not being that smart. In truth I am very intelligent but just put up with the stigma of the diagnosis. In time everyone will see.
    I was employed as a Nutritionist for 15 years. and had an excellent reputation and a lot of good skils, the patients and the docs were all pleased.
    My problmes are accelerated now because I have to sit so much which is a killer for me. I do much better on the go, nursing shoud be good for me.
    I understand where you are coming from.
    I have been through it all. The death of my 2 young kids, the death of my 2 and only sisters, the terrible physical abuse of a spouse, and emothional abuse of one parent and one other husband. So I will admit I have a unusual outlook on things also after springing back from all of that.
    I get condescending statements from my instructors all the time about things that don't matter. Like: why do I always have to "write"; why do I carry my books with me to clinic; why was I late giving a dying man his bath when his granddaughter drove in from another city to see him, possibly for the last time...he got all the important treatment...meds, etc.;why do I write so much information about my patients (if you don't you do not get to do it again...you fail and you are kicked out!); and comments about being "different".
    It never interfered with me doing an awesome job in my field before and probably won't again. I am glad I am different if that is what they want to call it. I call it experienced, empathetic, and practical. A bath is second to a last and emotional visit from a grandaughter...It is written in my final evaluation and I almost did not make the last semester because of that bath. I cannot believe it! You cannot think or make decisions on your own I guess if you are a student?! I know where you are coming from about the death issue. We don't have a set amount of years we are to live. You never know. Death is peace, illness often is not. It is not an accepted view in the USA but more in Europe. I found my niche before and I hope I will again before someone kills me with thier negative outlook.
    Hang in there. Sometimes you have to just know...and keep it to yourself. You cannot change certain things and other reactions is one of those items you cannot control, but you can control your own thoughts and actions. I bet you are an awesome Hospice nurse. I would rather have someone like you during my final hours.
    Again, Hang in there, don't expect too much from the other professionals. If you learn "ouside the box" and think the same way, things can be a little difficult but you will be an asset to yourself and then to others.
  5. by   belzmom
    Quote from Macy1103
    I know from reading your posts that some people take ssri's...which one's work and do you notice the side effects?..And do you think "condition" would interfere with my career as a nurse. 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!!
    I have worked in mental health about 15 years, and know many other nurses who do as well. I hired a nurse who had spent her previous five years in a state psychiatric hospital as a patient - recovery is possible and even probable! As for anxiety disorders in general, medication is very rarely able to do it. Look for a therapist skilled in cognitive behavioral therapy of anxiety and you can learn skills that will enable you to manage the anxiety. The Anxiety and Depression Workbook is also a good resource. As for the SSRIs - they improve every year. All work and most have different side effect profiles. Lexapro, one of the newer ones, has fewer sexual side effects (I take it for major depression). You can also manage by taking Bupriprion along with an SSRI to help with sexual side effects, or utilizing trazadone at night to help with sleep (it is an antidepressant with the side effect of sleepiness). Look for a psychiatric NP to work with you to find what works. Good luck - I know you can do it! And no, being tough as nails is for hammers, not nurses, in my opinion!
  6. by   khbarrow
    I hope you'll go ahead and take the plunge. Obviously, life isn't fine, but it truly can be. Keep me posted. (It's always darkest before the dawn.}

    Quote from zoeboboey
    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!

    God bless!
  7. by   belzmom
    [QUOTE=NancyK]
    I have been through it all. The death of my 2 young kids, the death of my 2 and only sisters, the terrible physical abuse of a spouse, and emothional abuse of one parent and one other husband. So I will admit I have a unusual outlook on things also after springing back from all of that.
    QUOTE]

    I think your outlook is colored by wisdom and compassion, which I would hope all nurses aspire to. I am studying to be an NP - I am a clinical counselor who has worked in community mental health for 15 years. I have major depression and anxiety, and have hired many clinicians, nurses, and psychiatrists over the years who have mental illness. I found them to be the best as they really knew what people were going through and lacked the judgemental attitude some can have. I admire you for sticking to your priorities, which you are right, is hard as a student. I would rather have you caring for me than your instructor. Thank you for sticking with it and for your caring professionalism.
  8. by   belzmom
    Quote from zoeboboey
    Welcome to the club!!!

    ALL of us as nurses ought to take good care of ourselves mentally, physically, spiritually, etc. Just like we tell our patients, LOL!

    Welcome to the "club" - I think it should be "mentally interesting" vs. "mentally ill", LOL!
    I noticed you are in Maine - liked your post. I am just starting the RN/FNP program at USM after 15 years in mental health (and I have mental illness as well). Love that phrase "mentally interesting."
    Thanks!
  9. by   mattsmom81
    Quote from zoeboboey
    So someone having an employee health exam, what should they do? What should they put on the form? that they are not on meds?

    I agree, they have ways around the law...
    To be totally honest, if I knew for sure it would NOT show up on their drug screen I would not tell them.

    I WOULD tell them if I knew it would show up on a drug screen. But that's just me, in an employment at will state , give them as little ammunition as possible I figure. JMHO.

    It would be nice if all folks were openminded about depression and other MI's...but they aren't in my experience. Facilities look for that 'perfect nurse.'
  10. by   Lawnurse
    (((I do wonder at times if there is not a genetic component to some forms of depression and illness. Sort of a chemical and enviromental predisposion to one illness or another.))))

    Not only are they genetic, there is new evidence suggesting depression and alcoholism share common genes, so they're more likely to occur together.
    (good intuition, Fire!)
  11. by   Liddle Noodnik
    Quote from belzmom
    I noticed you are in Maine - liked your post. I am just starting the RN/FNP program at USM after 15 years in mental health (and I have mental illness as well). Love that phrase "mentally interesting."
    Thanks!

    Hi, that's neat! Practically next door, hee hee! Hope you enjoy the program, I haven't heard anything either way about it.

    Mentally interesting, well, I have been depressed mostly THIS time, so I don't find myself fascinating today, LOL...
  12. by   shandy84
    Quote from Severina
    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 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.

    Severina

    Mental Illness is like any other illness , treatment can be successful! However I do struggle with depression sometimes but alot is related to the stress of being a nurse.
  13. by   hotdogtimmy
    Hi

    Have been nursing for 25 years -always in ER and prehospital and was diagnosed ant 10 years ago (following a whole number of big life events) as bipolar.
    I have tried various meds none of which agreee with me or make me cope better.....I was a keen runner and rugby player and often took NSAIDs for sports injuries and no one bothered to tell me that it interacts with lithium and shuts down your thyroid!!So I dont do drugs any more.But do do counselling and cognitive therapy

    Fortunately tho as an ER nurse the more eccentric behaviour is "normal".....for the rest,its about keeping a journal of moods;lots of holistic stuff like reflexology etc,staying very fit and simply taking care of yourself at the expense of others if needs be

    I think the advice abt finding your niche applies to anyone

    And I never feel more alive than when doing a good resus!!

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