Published Jan 17, 2022
This is somewhat a continuation of my previous post here. Summary: I've worked in LTC/subacute nursing for about 4.5 years, quit with 4 weeks notice and took a few months off to try to focus on myself and heal from what felt like already complete hate for the field. But of course with all the time we put into being nurses, into getting that BSN and the license, it just seemed I needed to go into nursing again somewhere. All the pressure of other nursing friends and family telling me to go into hospital nursing because apparently that's the only part of nursing that actually matters or is worth it, I finally caved. I took a position at what is considered a very good hospital in my area (part of a very large system in my area), an ortho/neuro (stroke/seizure) unit but has also integrated a lot of bariatric/obgyn post ops due to covid. I suffered tremendously through orientation, every day coming home almost wishing I would just fail out of the orientation rather than have to keep going back the next day. But I made it through orientation (2 months since I had past experience) and worked there for a total 5 months. Each day is excruciating. Each day, even what I consider the "good days" on the floor, I would still come home hating it. I have struggled with what I guess can only be described as depression/anxiety ever since I was a teenager basically, but never addressed it previously because it was just considered shameful and of course I had many high expectations from everyone around me, no time to be anything but a "high successful professional." But after 5 months on this job I finally broke. I found myself every day coming home, slinking into my room alone, hiding in my bed all day on my days off, barely eating or drinking or doing basic hygiene like showering. I was doing nothing but crying whenever I wasn't in the hospital, screaming and breaking things because I just don't know what else to do, physically beating my head on walls and have considered worse. I know this isn't just normal getting used to the job behavior, I hate that I can't handle it. Even now this feels so shameful, I am a failure and hate admitting it of course but I am. After 5 months of putting on an act whenever I was around other people (everyone except my BF who was the only one to know what was going on) I finally broke down to my brother and begged for help. I started missing shifts due to panic attacks that I could no longer just push down and control, so I took a LOA for about 7 weeks. I felt unbelievably better, not perfect because the job isn't the main issue of course, just an extreme stressor to an already broken person. But not having to think of the people, the system, the fear of possibly losing it while in shift which would be so much worse, taking time to just relax and breathe and try to look for professional help and just not be there helped. Now LOA is over and I am expected back on Tuesday. This past week has been nothing but episode upon episode again, extreme panic attacks, physical symptoms such as vomiting, burning pain in my stomach, aches and pains in my shoulders and back and hip, insomnia, chest pain/tightness, when I think of going back I can't stop crying and shaking, like my whole body shuts down. I thought to myself that maybe I could just go back at least to just put in a resignation but even that has me unable to move. I find myself on the verge of quitting my job on the spot when my boss calls me (said he would call in the morning to discuss putting me back on the schedule) and maybe even just quitting nursing all around. Problem is if I do then I don't know what else I would do, what can my broken body and mind handle. My BF keeps assuring me that I will be fine, I have a very decent savings and very low expense living situation-wise right now that I can take time to figure out myself and get real help according to him. But regardless I just can't stop feeling like a complete failure, a disappointment, just nothing who wonders sometimes why I am even here. Leaving a job without notice, leaving a profession that has brought me to the point of physical illness, unclear on what I will do next to survive. I am just broken, I just don't see the point anymore sometimes to any of it, but nobody seems to ever really be able to help, and I can't make it better. No matter how hard I try I can't seem to make it better. I hate myself for getting to this point, I am so ashamed. I just wish I knew what I could do to survive in this world.
hppygr8ful, ASN, RN, EMT-I
Have you sought the help of a mental health professional. What you described may be symptoms of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It's a real condition and it's treatable. Since you can reliably trace your symptoms to your teenage years you may have suffered something called adverse childhood events that can cause all sorts of physical and emotional problems. A good therapist familiar with CPTSD can be very helpful and can work with a psychiatrist to see if the combination of therapy and medications might work for you.
I have suffered for years from chronic physical problems, anxiety, depression and so much more . My recovery has been a long journey but is so worth the effort and I finally have a life I love.
If you are interested I learning more about CPTSD I highly recommend reading
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
Book by Bessel van der Kolk
Hope you are feeling better soon.
depressed and jobless
UNfortunately nurses have to be incredibly careful when seeking mental health. I saw help for my depression, which I thought was a correct response. Then my counselor wrote a complaint and included all the incredibly personal information that I told him. A complaint to the nursing board is public information, my friend and potential employers can read without any permissions. THere fore I can not get a job even outside of nursing. Not to mention for my meltdown that has been over for years, my license was suspended for 5 years. While other RN purposely come into work high or drunk or steel meds and get 3 months or not even that.
I have learned if you are a nurse or MD if you get counseling you still have to be careful what you say, but there are counselors and providers that don't take health insurance, that way your visits are completely private unless you tell someone your going. You don't have to say your real name there, and definitely don't tell them what you do or where you work. You also must not say you are suicidal, that is an infraction to nursing boards. You can be 'charged' with being a danger to self and others and your license can be immediately suspended. I just can't believe that medical people - such as those at the BON buy into the stigma of mental health problems. isn't that what we are supposed to be teaching against. I got 5-years suspension and everything I said to my counselor plus his incorrect inrepretations are made public.- It can't be sealed as it could be if I were I were a criminal and carried out acts of harm on others. THen on top of it no attorney will take a mental health cases. So I will be representing myself. If anybody knows of an attorney that takes mental health cases, please let me know. -- If you are suicidal use a hotline and again don't use your real name. Nurses should not have to go through this to get proper care.
NAMI attorneys won't take it because they only take cases such as unfair treatment at work or housing..... I feel so hopeless nursing is my passion and I have not further reason to keep living.
13 hours ago, depressed and jobless said:
I have learned if I have not further reason to keep living.
I have learned if I have not further reason to keep living.
I was thinking about what I would say to your post until I got to the last sentence and now can only say Please seek the help of a mental health professional! I know from the history you describe that this will be extremely difficult as you have experienced a profound lack of trust. Many nurses have been through these programs successfully and come back better stronger nurses and some have chosen to leave nursing a pursue other ventures. Don't let what has happened shut you off from hope. I am pulling for you and hope you find some serenity to move forward.
The only failure would be to continue to punish yourself by working in a job you hate to the point it is making you ill and trying to live up to the expectations of others. THEY are not living YOUR life or in YOUR head. If they think nursing is so great, or being a high achieving professional is what life is all about - let them go live that life. IT IS NOT YOU.
Someone will ALWAYS think they know what's best for you, what you are capable of or have some other expectation (see the common thread?) or advice about what you should/could/would be doing..bottom line is..that ALL it is - their opinion and the sooner you learn (easier said than done I know) to say "thanks" & keep focusing on what is best for YOU even if that means leaving nursing the happier you will be. If the people can't respect your decisions to live YOUR life in a meaningful & healthy way for YOU, then, you can distance yourself from them.
As far as the mental health counseling, I disagree w/a few other posters that your counseling sessions/seeing MD for mental health issues is board reportable. The ONLY thing that would be board reportable is if you were in counseling for drugs/alcohol & trying to keep/reinstate your license & even that is controlled. So please don't let the..not so accurate information about that stop you from getting assistance. While it's wonderful your BF is supportive, he is also just that - your BF & you need someone for your sake & his professionally to step in & help you carry this load right now.
I have dealt with depression/anxiety for decades. Nursing has a changed a LOT especially in the past 10 years or so. Honestly, if I would not be a nurse with how things are now. Nurses are, by & large, still viewed as a commodity & are sold the story that the only way to be a great nurse is to be a modern day Florence Nightingale. Out of all the nurses I have ever known, only 2 (yes 2!) said they felt nursing was their calling/they were born to be nurses. MANY stay in the profession because of the money as it's difficult to make the same in other jobs w/o college degree or training.
Don't be so hard on yourself. You are doing nothing wrong by taking stock of your life & knowing beyond a reasonable doubt, the path you aren't isn't for you.
I hope you got help, I hope you leave the job that is making you miserable & I hope this time next year you are living the life YOU want.
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