Want(ed) to return but can't get past this crazy situation

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    Hi. Several years ago, I went into therapy after my family doctor put me on antidepressants. My thought was to get to the root of whatever my problem(s) was and solve it. As therapy progressed, I started talking to my husband and indicated that other people besides me would need to make some changes. I won't go into all the details, suffice it to say that I had married into a highly dysfunctional family and was being forced to be "superwoman" and it wasn't working out. Tensions escalated, I took a leave from my job, as I didn't think I could be sure that my judgment and concentration were up to par and I didn't want to hurt a patient through a mistake ot overlooking something in the midst of my own emotional turmoil.

    When my job kept calling, I ended up using poor judgment to get some peace. One call was a request to pick up meds and bring them to one of the group homes, as their vehicle was broken down (again). I told staff I could pick up the meds, as I needed to get some for myself, but they would need to pick them up from my house. You can probably tell that my boundaries weren't strong at all. Staff never showed up and I got angry after waiting around several hours for them to show up. I punched a few pills out of a punch card; they were controlled meds. My only thought was being left alone and I couldn't be sure they'd fire me for punching out a few Sudafed. I did get fired and for the time being, that was it.

    When my license came up for renewal, I answered yes to the question regarding incidents and described briefly what I had done; my license was renewed and again, I heard nothing for a couple years. I tried going back to nursing a few times but I still felt too "shaky"; I was still in therapy but had been misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder for a time and didn't have a clear diagnosis. I had been through some very rough periods with and because of my husband, but we had divorced. I was in college, majoring in psychology and working part-time in jobs completely unrelated to nursing.

    I finally received paperwork related to the incident that got me fired; I appeared before the Board without representation, my license suspension was changed to probation and I was to continue mental health treatment and send in progress reports. About 2 years ago, I was looking into review courses to get more up to speed on changes since I practiced last. I know a lot of things have changed and I always took my responsibility as a nurse seriously; sort of humorous in retrospect, but I actually used to think that if I learned enough, I'd eventually get to the point of knowing just about "everything there was to know" (and maybe feel more confident!). Well, I know that there is no getting to THAT point, but I have a bit more self-respect and self-esteem than I used to and recognize that I was a good nurse with developable potential.

    Oh, I had remarried my husband. too ... part of that was due to the laws here ... when we divorced, joint custody was requested but it was given to my husband, as I left. This is being overturned in my state, as it is being used as a weapon against non-custodial parents AND it is very difficult to impossible TO get a custody change. My husband had requested I return several times, which I had refused, due to the way he/his relatives treated me. We spent a year doing things together, with and without our children and I thought he had changed. At any rate, my own health had improved to the point I was again able to be assertive and not be pushed around.

    So, while I was looking into getting back into nursing, my husband was getting treatment for a diabetic ulcer on his foot. This had involved months of 2x a day IV ABT treatment; he would work short shifts in between, so we weren't seeing a great deal of each other. He started having mood swings and raging, reverted back to a lot of his unhealthy reactions. Turns out one of the treatment nurses (married) was instigating a relationship with him. He disappeared one weekend nearly two years ago and called in sick; ended up spending the weekend with this nurse. I made a report to the hospital and later, the Attorney General. I was devastated when I received a letter back stated "nothing improper" or words to that effect had taken place.

    When my husband came back from his weekend, everything fell into place fairly quickly. He ended up leaving and filed for divorce. He was convinced this nurse was going to divorce her husband and marry him. I am on something like month 23 of the divorce ... hoping I have enough money to pay the bills that are due at the end of the week. When I did our daughter's FAFSAs earlier this year, I filled out one for myself. I am not eligible for any grants, having earned a BA in psychology, but there is a nursing scholarship and since it has now been an additional two years since I looked into review courses, I thought I might as well just work toward earning the RN, since I would not only be benefiting from the program, but getting the review and updates as well as establishing new and hopefully, supportive relationships.

    Turns out my husband has a gambling problem that I was unaware of, in terms of its extent. Shortly before he took off, I gave him a Beck Depression Inventory (II) and it indicated severe depression (he had a near fatal MI a year before the foot ulcer). He has wiped out our finances and the legal expenses just keep mounting. I can't afford to move out of the house at present and my car keeps breaking down; I've been forced to do the repairs pretty much on my own (brakes, belts, bearings). He owes me money he refuses to pay and he blames me for the fact that his nurse hasn't divorced her husband ... my daughters have been led to believe that it is "okay" for a health care professional to have an affair with a patient (one daughter told me she would "testify against me" if I persisted in "suing the nurse"; this was in regard to the report I filed with the Attorney General). A couple weeks ago, I went out to leave for my part-time job and saw the nurses's vehicle parked next door, at my mother-in-law's house (she thinks this is WONDERFUL that her son, who has been living with her the last year and a half, is involved with such a "nice" woman. My in-laws act like I died; I hear nothing from any of them.). I kept hoping the affair would at least fizzle out if I ignored it, then maybe the divorce could be handled more sensibly. The nurse is working and is still married and at home with her husband and young son, while she continues to dally with my husband, unfazed by any prohibitions demanded by ethics or professionalism.

    The year I earned my LPN certificate, our children were small. I attended school 40 miles away 5 days a week and worked full-time weekends in a group home 30 miles from home. I managed to graduate with honors; within 6 months, I was hired for an ICU position which was a truly serendipitous moment, as I had merely been practicing interviewing; I didn't have the required experience. Looking back, I figure the clinical director and others who interviewed and hired me must have seen potential in me I didn't appreciate.

    I would like to go into mental health nursing, if ever I can get jump-started out of this nightmare. My own mis-diagnosis and subsequent improvement after finally discovering I was suffering the effects of PTSD, volunteering as a DV/sexual assault advocate and getting to know other nurses who had problems (but worked to overcome them, and did!) in a support group for recovering nurses ... all of these things and more make me think that I might have some experiences and empathy that might be useful assets in that type of environment. I substituted at elementary and middle schools for a few years and was promoted to a sales manager position from an entry level part-time position I held; indicating that the injuries of PTSD are something that can be mitigated, with time and effective treatment/care planning.

    Anyway, I would be glad of any encouragement that might be out there. I am not looking for any legal advice; I feel betrayed by the system, as I have learned that mandatory reporters DON'T report, (some) facilities avoid responsibility (liability) when it is in their power to make the situation better and apparently, the Nurse Practice Act doesn't mean too much (I enclosed a 14 page handwritten letter the nurse wrote with my complaint which outlined the relationship, the boundary violations and her instigation of it, while he was a patient!). I keep thinking that possibly, if I don't get swallowed up by the stress and problems I continue to face, I can work toward educating others about some of the things I've endured ... maybe make a positive difference. Hoping this post makes sense, or at least enough that it can be followed reasonably well. I at least know that I am not in the wrong, despite the way I've been treated ... even so many "support" places act like there's something wrong with me when I've made contact, trying to make sense of everything and work to put it behind me.
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