Still Very Anxious Working as a Nurse After Three Years

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    I've been a RN for over three years and am still very fearful about working as a nurse. Before I go into work I can't stop thinking about making possible mistakes and who will think that I am incompetent. It seems I lack self confidence more than any of the nurses that have been in nursing as long as I have. I've tried three different areas of nursing (telemetry, ICU, and cardiac testing.) I've been working in my current job for the past year doing testing.

    There were some major issues in my personal life before I decided to become a nurse like my house burned down and we rebuilt. When I started an accelerated nursing program at 41, my sister died. Then I got my 1st job in telemetry and after a year, my father-in-law died. I took a job in ICU at that time, and it just was too hectic for me so I resigned.

    Finally I found a job in cardiac testing. About a month after I started there, my teenage daughter had a depressive breakdown. I was beside myself in a new job and torn between needing to be there for her. I sought out professional help for her and for me to help me cope with the new job and to help me take care of my daughter. Over the course of eight months my daughter responded very well to treatment, but I had a depressive breakdown and had to take a leave from my job.

    When I came back to work I felt close to my coworkers who were concerned for me. I told them why I had been off work. This was a big mistake. I am now being scrutinized in everything that I do. I have no self esteem. I feel that no one trusts me. I have overheard coworkers talking about me. My boss is tired of me having depressive episodes. Many of my peers are constantly reporting back to her of my performance.

    I now keep to myself, do my job one patient at a time, don't tell my boss when I'm struggling, and pretend nothing is bothering me. The whole time I'm worrying that something will go wrong or I'm going to make a mistake and look like a fool. I have constant self doubt. There's also a great fear of talking to the doctors because a lot of them are demoralizing.

    Please, any feedback would greatly be appreciated.
    Last edit by makeadifrence on May 2, '13
    Joe V, pinkiepieRN, and VivaLasViejas like this.
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  3. 10 Comments so far...

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    I feel so sad reading your post, because you sound so miserable! I know that you can't be nearly as bad of a nurse as you think you are, or you would not have survived three years and three different jobs without making a major mistake.

    Take this for what it is, the opinion of someone on the internet who has never met you and knows only what you have shared in your post about you, but I think it sounds like you have very deep issues with self worth that probably go back many years. I, too, struggle with self confidence when I'm working as a nurse, and I have been a nurse for 23 years. However, I do not beat myself up or doubt myself nearly as much as you do. My heart goes out to you because going to work must be sheer torture for you under the current circumstances.

    You mentioned that you sought help in the past when you suffered from severe depression. If that therapist was competent and you feel like he/she helped you, then I would go back and commit to a much more long term course of therapy. These kinds of issues take years to develop so most of the time they take months or even years to resolve. If that therapist was not helpful, then keep looking until you find someone that you feel that you can trust and who you really feel understands and can help you.

    If you feel that there will never be any redemption at your current place of employment and that you will always feel insecure and unliked there, then stay long enough to where it won't look really bad on your resume' and make you appear to be too much of a job hopper, and then move on, but preferably AFTER you have received intensive, long term therapy and have started to overcome some of the painful issues in your life that keep you from being happy and successful or you will likely find yourself in the same situation again.

    I wish I could give you a big hug. You sound like you are in a lot of emotional pain, and that you could greatly benefit from competent counseling and building your sense of self worth to a point where you can believe in yourself and be happy. I wish you all the best and pray that you will find joy and success very soon.
    nurse671, weemsp, jrsRN07, and 5 others like this.
  5. 2
    (((((makeadifrence)))))

    Your pain is palpable, and you have my deepest sympathies. I've been through something like this very recently, only it didn't end well for me (I was fired Thursday when I returned from medical leave for severe anxiety attacks). I don't have much advice, except PLEASE take the time you need, to get the help you need. You don't want to end up in my situation. Wishing you the best.~
    nurse671 and poppycat like this.
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    I am now being scrutinized in everything that I do. I have no self esteem. I feel that no one trusts me. I have overheard coworkers talking about me. My boss is tired of me having depressive episodes. Many of my peers are constantly reporting back to her of my performance.
    It sounds like your self esteem really is shot and I'd venture to say that even though your co-workers may be talking about you, you're being harder on yourself than anybody else.

    I can definitely relate to hearing of co-workers "reporting back". Hell, I left a unit and kept in contact with some of my old co-workers. I recently contacted one of my old co-workers because I was interested in possibly coming back to the unit and she said that she and my old co-workers had been worried about me and had told my old nurse manager. That's right, they continued to feed her information even though I was no longer working there!
    jrsRN07 and makeadifrence like this.
  7. 1
    Thank you for your kind words. I am currently in therapy and plan to continue for some time.
    VivaLasViejas likes this.
  8. 1
    I really appreciate your feedback and I sympathize with you. I wish the best for you, and hope that you can get through your situation.
    VivaLasViejas likes this.
  9. 2
    Quote from dolcebellaluna
    It sounds like your self esteem really is shot and I'd venture to say that even though your co-workers may be talking about you, you're being harder on yourself than anybody else.

    I can definitely relate to hearing of co-workers "reporting back". Hell, I left a unit and kept in contact with some of my old co-workers. I recently contacted one of my old co-workers because I was interested in possibly coming back to the unit and she said that she and my old co-workers had been worried about me and had told my old nurse manager. That's right, they continued to feed her information even though I was no longer working there!
    I think that happens especially in small units where people feel like a family. They probably think they are helping you and the manager cares about you and would want to know. Its difficult to keep things confidential if you share your struggles with coworkers you never know if they will tell others. Best to keep things private and separate work from home. Can you share your troubles with family or friends outside of work, although with facebook has realized the six degrees of separation thing. One time I confided in a friend who turned out her sister in law worked where I worked and I always wondered if she had told her what I said. I never would have confided if I knew she had a link to my workplace. Maybe better to just write in a journal or see a therapist if one can afford that.
    makeadifrence and jrsRN07 like this.
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    Quote from brandy1017

    I think that happens especially in small units where people feel like a family. They probably think they are helping you and the manager cares about you and would want to know. Its difficult to keep things confidential if you share your struggles with coworkers you never know if they will tell others. Best to keep things private and separate work from home. Can you share your troubles with family or friends outside of work, although with facebook has realized the six degrees of separation thing. One time I confided in a friend who turned out her sister in law worked where I worked and I always wondered if she had told her what I said. I never would have confided if I knew she had a link to my workplace. Maybe better to just write in a journal or see a therapist if one can afford that.
    Yeah I've definitely learned my lesson. I'm going to keep it professional and only disclose as much at work as I would if I it were diabetes or another medical illness. There is a fine line between too much information and keeping coworkers abreast or in the loop about one's health.
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    I think that after 23 years in this profession I have finally figured out why nurses are so catty to each other and badmouth each other to others. What it all comes down to is insecurity. In talking to co-workers over the years and even from reading threads here on Allnurses, I have come to the conclusion that many, many nurses, no matter how confident they seem, are deeply insecure and afraid that they don't measure up as nursing professionals. To compensate for that, they jump on any weakness or insecurity that they pick up on in a co-worker and exploit it for the purpose of making themselves feel better about their own knowledge and skills level. This is one thing that I don't like about the nursing profession, the two-faced cattiness that a lot of nurses exhibit towards each other.

    OP, hang in there. Even though you don't believe in yourself right now, the things that you have been through and the fact that you are hanging in there at your current job and not throwing in the towel indicates that you have great inner strength and courage, even if you don't see it in yourself. You will get through this and come out of it stronger than ever. I wish you wonderful things in the future and I really sense that you are a good nurse because you care so much. : )
    nurse671, makeadifrence, weemsp, and 2 others like this.
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    I have really learned my lesson about sharing too much personal information. Lately I have really noticed that I have wanted to share information about my private life with coworkers that I am comfortable with, and holding back. I'm glad that I am able to stop myself. I'm going to continue to do this, and try to continue to hang in there with my current job. I'm so nervous at times that I have made small clerical errors on paperwork such as forgetting to mark if the patient was male or female, or posting the report in the computer under the wrong office. I'm trying so hard to calm myself so that I can focus and concentrate better.

    Everyone's comments are really helping me. Thank you.

    C


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