Loss of identity as nurse?

  1. Hi,

    I recently was approved for SSDI (I've been a nurse for 15 years) for complex PTSD. I tried to hang on and continue working, even though I was struggling and desperately trying to hold on.

    Issue is: I feel like I've lost my identity? Am I not a nurse anymore? Am I being lazy? I don't know what to feel, although I'm relieved to have some income coming in, I am now feeling guilty for this. I am taking 1-2 classes to further my education (I have my ADN) so in case I can go back at some point I will have accomplished something. I am 47 years old and have never NOT worked, don't know what to feel.
    Last edit by VA2AK on Nov 6
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    About VA2AK, RN

    Joined: Mar '18; Posts: 6; Likes: 9


  3. by   VivaLasViejas
    Hi there. You have my sympathies, because I'm in a similar situation being on SSDI for bipolar I. I miss nursing and wish I could go back, but I can't and nothing I do will change that. I still hold a nursing license, but will soon have to put it in "retired" status because I haven't been in practice since 2014. It just about breaks my heart to do that. However, I like to keep up with changes in the field by reading nursing journals and of course, coming here every day.

    I know what you mean about losing your identity, even though you are still technically a nurse as long as you hold a license. I've learned to say "I'm retired" when asked what I do for a living. I don't want to explain why I'm disabled, not that I'm ashamed of it but because it's no one's business.

    I wish you the very best as you work on establishing your new place in the world. Viva
  4. by   Daisy4RN
    I don't know why you would consider yourself lazy or feel guilty for taking SSDI. You have an illness and have been (obviously) paying into the system and now are in need, no reason to feel guilty about it or consider yourself lazy.
    I was off work for about 1 year r/t illness so I do understand your feelings of loss of identity and also sympathize. That was a very hard year for me and I felt lost too. I didn't know if/when I would ever go back to work.
    It is good to continue your education in case you are able to go back to work but I would keep it in perspective with your illness/finances etc.
    You will adjust to these life circumstances either way, your feelings are normal, you just need to work through them. If you are having difficulty doing that don't hesitate to speak to your provider.
    Wishing you well!!
  5. by   bluegeegoo2
    I know exactly what you mean.

    I am in the process of filing for SSDI because of positive labs (ANA, SSA/anti Ro) and a litany of symptoms that prohibit me from working full or even part time. I'm down to PRN, 4 days/month. It's all I can do and even struggle with that.

    I, too, feel guilt. When I'm having a "good" moment, I question myself. Am I really that bad? Geez, just suck it up and work!...I tell myself. I also question whether or not I'm just being lazy, until I have a flare. How quickly we forget how bad the bad is!

    My personal identity is not in being a nurse, per se, but as a financial contributor to my household. Now that I'm barely contributing, I feel very much like a burden on my household. That is a tough pill for me to swallow. I have always been the major contributor as far as income amount goes. Now, I barely make enough to pay the light bill. It's humbling, to say the least. It's also humbling to "allow" someone else to make the major contribution. I sometimes feel like a failure. I know better, but still feel that way on occasion.

    As far as who I am, I have to remind myself that my husband didn't marry me for my income or title, and my children don't love me for my financial contributions. They love me for who I am, and that's good enough for me.
  6. by   VA2AK
    Thank you for the encouraging comments, I will re-read when I'm questioning myself and having a bad day. Thanks again for taking the time to comment!