Stay-at-home mom terrified of re-entering workforce after mental health episode

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    I'm terrified at re entering the workforce not only after three years of being a stay at home mom but just recently recovering from a months long manic episode that left me homeless, carless, in debt and without custody of my children. I am not in any legal trouble. I am being supported by close friends and family now that I am seeking treatment and attempting to recovery from the mess I made of my life.

    My friends who are nurses tell me my career is not over and there is light at the end of the tunnel. I have a lot of time during the day right now as I wait for different changes (insurance, appointments) to manifest and am terrified in the meantime that there isn't a place for me.

    Have you talked with nurses who have survived major traumas including mental health episodes and gone on with successful nursing careers? I also left an abusive and isolating marriage at the start of my mental break which makes recover and re-entry scary as I don't have the friends and connections that other nurses may have when returning to the work force. Any advice or support would be appreciative.

    Thank you for your time.





    Dear Terrified,

    Thank you for your question.

    First of all, congrats on leaving an abusive relationship.

    Yes, I know a nurse who was hospitalized and treated for her manic bipolar condition. Some time later, I saw her rounding, doing case management, looking perfectly fine. Being ill, getting treatment, and recovering do not end your career.

    The two most important things are the right treatment and a loving, supportive family. I would wait a few months to re-enter the workforce. You want to be stable in your treatment for a few months before making a major life change such as going back to work as a nurse when you have been out for years. Stable, meaning no medication adjustments and sleeping well X 6 months.

    It will be better in the long run than returning too quickly and risking a relapse.

    Best wishes,
    Nurse Beth

    •  
  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   AnotherRNisnew
    I have gone through being a stay at home wife, a breakup of a terrible marriage and years fighting bipolar disease. I started working a couple of shifts a week at a nursing home. I eventually got a med/surg position. I tried home nursing but it wasn't for me. Just over a year ago I got a job with a leading dialysis company. I received 6 months of training and I work in an outpatient location and I love it. I would suggest to start slowly don't work overnight shifts as that can cause problems if you are on medications. You can do it!
  4. by   LessValuableNinja
    Something important to consider: was it a manic episode, or the result of years of emotional abuse? Depending on your state, this seemingly semantic question can become very relevant. It's worth considering.
  5. by   Workitinurfava
    There will always be openings so as long as things are right on your end I can't foresee you not being able to get a job.
  6. by   caliotter3
    The less detail you give during job interviews, the better your chance of obtaining employment without meeting with undue prejudice. Come up with your spiel and stick to it.
  7. by   OrganizedChaos
    Quote from LessValuableNinja
    Something important to consider: was it a manic episode, or the result of years of emotional abuse? Depending on your state, this seemingly semantic question can become very relevant. It's worth considering.
    The statement she made about being homeless, carless & in debt leads me to believe it was a maniac episode.

    I have bipolar disorder & have been hospitalized twice for it. I'm sorry for everything you have gone through but it sounds like you are coming out the other end. As long as you keep up with your medication & various psych appointments there is no reason you can't work as a nurse. Like a PP said, never tell your employer. I also have epilepsy & told some employers about that & some were less than thrilled. If I told them I am bipolar they would've shown me the door.

    Whenever you start working again be sure to take it slow. Dont push yourself too hard, eat right & definitely make sure to get enough sleep!
  8. by   VivaLasViejas
    Quote from caliotter3
    The less detail you give during job interviews, the better your chance of obtaining employment without meeting with undue prejudice. Come up with your spiel and stick to it.
    caliotter is right. Never disclose a mental illness to any prospective employer. Neither should you disclose after you're hired...it will probably not go well. I have bipolar disorder too and I lost two different jobs due to my illness---both because of mixed episodes---and my career never recovered. I have been out of work for three years and am now on disability.

    This doesn't have to happen to you; but I would definitely wait to look for employment until you've been stable for awhile. The stress of job-hunting and interviewing can set you back if you're not careful. Above all, you must protect your sleep! If you've been battling BP for awhile, you know how important it is to have a regular sleep schedule. I would avoid night shift like the plague, and whatever you do, don't take a job with rotating shifts! It messes with your medication regimen (I'm assuming you take meds) and is just hell on your circadian rhythm.

    Even with all of the caveats, your career doesn't have to be over. I hope you succeed in finding a job you love and that doesn't cause havoc with your illness.Please keep us posted as to how you're doing.
  9. by   AnotherRNisnew
    Don't give up just because you are now disabled. Get a relief shift at a nursing home on a weekend if you still want to go back to nursing. I've been hospitalized more times than I can count. It can be done.
  10. by   VivaLasViejas
    Thanks, but I don't really want to return to nursing even if I could. Every time I even entertain the idea, my stomach clenches and I break out in a sweat. I am disabled not just because of physical factors, but my mental illness is severe and I fear decompensating and having a relapse. It's just not worth it to me. That's not to say I don't miss nursing, because I do; but my last two jobs proved to me that I was unsafe at any speed and shouldn't practice anymore. I have too many cognitive problems to be able to focus and remember things.

    That being said, I maintain an active license just in case I want to volunteer as a parish nurse at my church or give flu shots at a clinic. Once a nurse, always a nurse, right?
  11. by   AnotherRNisnew
    Maintain your license and keep up with your CEUs. You might in a period of time become more stable and able to function. I was on disability for about 10 years before I found my way back. I wish you good luck and happiness in your future.

close