My Job Hopping & Bipolar Disorder

Nurses General Nursing

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No judging please. I’ve been a nurse for 10 years and the longest I have stayed in a position was 23 months but that included an almost 4 month maternity leave. No matter how hard I try to stay, I just can’t help it. I’ve had PRN jobs where I worked 2 shifts and decided to move on and Im currently in a new full time role (2 months) and am ready to call it quits (which I feel really bad about because the people have been amazing and of course it was a waste of their time). Obviously, this is affecting my life in a negative way (my husband is fed up with it) but I have no idea what to do or how to control it. I’m compliant with my medication, so I’m at a loss. I excel in all of the jobs I hold and end up being a resource to other staff and a team lead but I shy away from leadership positions when asked because even if I feel I can stick around, the logical part of my brain knows I can’t. Can anyone provide any type of insight or direction on how to overcome this? I have a psych follow up next week and will bring it up then but looking for opinions. 

Davey Do

1 Article; 10,372 Posts

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years).

Hi starmickey.

Thanks for sharing your situation and please allow me to convey some respect and admiration your way. I'm sensing you're utilizing a data-gathering process on attempting to deal with your situation, exploring different areas and brainstorming for a solution.

I've had a few close relationships with individuals dx with Bipolar and worked with patients for years. Those close to me where highly intelligent, talented individuals who had trouble focusing and staying on task.

It is good that you're med compliant, however meds are often not the whole enchilada. Working a program, such as the 12 Step Emotions Anonymous, on a daily basis can be quite helpful. I recently attended my first virtual online meeting and was surprisingly pleased with it.

In working a program we recover by living it- we eat, drink, and sleep the philosophy and the principles of recovery.

An area of nursing worth consideration is psych. Although it is sometimes an exercise in futility to believe we can fix ourselves as we fix ourselves, in working a program we keep what we most need by giving it away.

Good luck and the very best to you, starmickey.

MunoRN, RN

8,058 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care.

Nursing is a challenging endeavor for those that are "psychologically healthy", which I think is a pretty misleading term, but in particular for those that face hurdles in psychologically challenging scenarios, so kudos to you for finding success at least for some duration of time, even if it didn't last.

What I would offer is that nobody finds nursing to be without severe challenges to our coping mechanisms.  If the standard was "I'm not sure if I want to keep doing this" determined whether you should continue nursing then there wouldn't be a single practicing nurse, not a single one.  

For all of us, the challenge is how do we cope with those hurdles, some of us do that in an unhealthy way; we just ignore it.  Some, like you, have a more healthy view which is to recognize it.  That's a far better start than those who just ignore it, which means you've got real potential, it's just then a matter of what coping mechanisms work for you.  

Specializes in Oncology, ID, Hepatology, Occy Health.

I have known people without mental health problems change jobs frequently because they just don't like getting stuck in a rut in one place. Have you considered just doing agency nursing? Would it suit you better to not have long term objectives in a job, but to just get to the end of the shift and never have to go back if you don't want to?

Two things strike me. You've been a nurse for 10 years so you've stuck it out in a very hard, demanding profession and not thrown the towel in. You excel in all the jobs you do, so this isn't a capability issue. You know you're a good nurse.

My mother was bipolar and in contrast to you she needed stability, routine, familiarity etc. Does your ability to adapt to different situations reallly have to be seen as a problem if temporary work is available where you live? Does your psychiatrist believe this is directly linked to your condition? I'm in no way trying to make light of your condition, but I'm just curious if you can turn this around without actually having change too much? I wish you luck.

Guest 1152923

301 Posts

11 hours ago, DavidFR said:

I have known people without mental health problems change jobs frequently because they just don't like getting stuck in a rut in one place. 

     This is me!  My parents were career nurses and my father worked at the same hospital 44 years.  I just can't imagine and if this were me, I would have fallen on my sword a long time ago!  Some people like myself are just inherently restless or unsettled and though I've had a lot of jobs, I still consider myself a highly competent nurse and a quality employee for the time I'm there, haha.  Like they say, "Different strokes for different folks"

On 1/19/2022 at 5:16 PM, Davey Do said:

An area of nursing worth consideration is psych. 

The new position I currently hold is actually BH Case management and I dabbled in a substance abuse clinic before where I only lasted two shifts. I don’t feel that the BH CM job is for me because I haven’t encountered one person who actually wanted or truly needed assistance so far. The referrals are mostly for anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder but they’re all already set up with services and managed. The referrals for the substance abusers get no where because they don’t return calls or answer the phone. I feel like a solicitor trying to help people who don’t want it. 

16 hours ago, DavidFR said:

I have known people without mental health problems change jobs frequently because they just don't like getting stuck in a rut in one place. Have you considered just doing agency nursing?

Would it suit you better to not have long term objectives in a job, but to just get to the end of the shift and never have to go back if you don't want.  Does your ability to adapt to different situations reallly have to be seen as a problem if temporary work is available where you live? Does your psychiatrist believe this is directly linked to your condition? I'm in no way trying to make light of your condition, but I'm just curious if you can turn this around without actually having change too much? I wish you luck.

These are all good suggestions but the issue is that I haven’t done patient care since 2016. I was in and out of hospital systems until I accepted the fact that it wasn’t the individual hospitals I didn’t like, it was patient care as a whole. Dealing with rude, ungrateful patients along with the unrealistic expectations of hospital administration wasn’t for me. I’ve been working for the major insurance companies in case management and quality management. 
When I was first diagnosed my provider did think that my difficulty staying focused and needing to move around was related to the condition. But now I truly don’t know if this is just a personality trait of mine or bipolar related which is why I wanted opinions. Even as a child I couldn’t sit still and would switch from one extracurricular activity to the next. I sought out the psych help because I thought I had ADHD but when I informed him of the behaviors I had earlier last year that brought me to him, I learned that I was actually having (at that point) a 7 month manic phase (which I don’t understand how I didn’t recognize as a nurse but I definitely see now that I was 100% manic)

Have you considered private duty?

JBMmom, MSN, NP

4 Articles; 2,479 Posts

Specializes in New Critical care NP, Critical care, Med-surg, LTC.
On 1/21/2022 at 12:45 PM, starmickey03 said:

Dealing with rude, ungrateful patients along with the unrealistic expectations of hospital administration wasn’t for me.

On 1/21/2022 at 12:45 PM, starmickey03 said:

I haven’t encountered one person who actually wanted or truly needed assistance so far.

Based on your responses above, I think that you're looking for more of a position where patients are responsive to your care and expertise. These days in the field it's almost impossible to get through unless you can really get the judgments out of the way and just be satisfied with providing the best patient care that you can, knowing you can't really do much about how it is received. 

It would translate to a teacher that doesn't want to teach anymore because most of the students aren't engaged, so they don't get a positive feedback loop. And think back to your middle or high school days, how many students were eager learners? I know that even one of my own kids is probably a frustration to teachers because she is acting actively bored in class (despite my admonishments when she mentions some of the situations she has encountered. 

I'm not sure where you find a profession these days were something that you provide, whether it be a tangible service or some sort of care, where what you provide is valued by the recipient as much as the person providing the service. I wish you all the best in finding a good fit for you!

m0ckingbird

4 Posts

My thoughts...I don't know your age, but I do know that sticking around at one job for longer periods of time, even if you become unhappy there is more common with previous generations.  It's much more common now for people to hop around to various jobs, I think.  

I also know lots of nurses that do this that are not bipolar.  Maybe you would enjoy doing contracts or being a travel nurse.  Some people really like change or else they get bored.  I would ask yourself if you find you are making the decision to move when you are in a manic phase or maybe just because you want a change.  Nursing is stressful and burnout is very common.  Our work environments can be unhealthy.  Change might be a form of trying to take care of yourself for some people.  

Talking these things through with a therapist could help.  There is also a book I recommend called Trauma Stewardship that talked about people in caring positions leaving their jobs that gave me some insight.  Be forgiving of yourself.  I feel like our society and capitalism puts a lot of pressure on us to do right by our employer, but you should do right by yourself. 

Mqshell

11 Posts

Specializes in Med surg long term care.

I’ve had this same issue, but I’ve realized the cause, my husband makes enough money to cover the bills, when I had to work to pay bills I did. I know this sounds cruel, but I’m telling you nursing isn’t a “fun job” anymore, never really was fun per say  it’s hard hard work. And if you don’t have have to work you won’t, not in nursing anyway. Right now I’m starting a new job in float pool but it’s full time and I know I’m going to hate full time, I will request part time after this peak in Covid. I have implemented goals to keep me at it, such as building new  closet with some of my paycheck, vacations I wouldn’t normally be able to go on due to finances and other things to keep me motivated. I know I’m spoiled and have been very fortunate that we set up our life to not rely on my income  But as long as you are not forced to work to buy food or pay rent it’s going to be hard to do in nursing especially now in a pandemic.  I’m not saying you or I don’t need the money but we have gotten along without it many times and we know we can. I even quit to do sub teaching making 17 hour and same thing happened. So it’s not just nursing for me. I’m working on myself and my growth right now, I mainly want my self respect back which means being more independent and relying less on my husband to take care of me and our home. I suggest doing some self help exercises with books and other resources it’s working for me so far. 

I actually thought about this long and hard yesterday and did realize something. The jobs that I’ve held the longest didn’t require a lot of collaboration and I mainly worked alone-writing reports, records review, etc. The jobs that I tend to not last long at are those that require constant interaction with patients/coworkers and have no daily structure. A recent job I left was due to daily collaborative meetings that would last 3 or more hours. It was mentally draining for me. My current position is field case management and has no structure so I never know what to expect which bothers me. Now I’m thinking this is more related to my anxiety than anything. Thanks everyone!!

SmilingBluEyes

20,964 Posts

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis.

Do you have access to EAP (Employee Assistance Programs) for some talk therapy? or how about career counseling?

Those may help.

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