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NP with Bipolar: Can I Do This?

I am thinking about returning to school to pursue an advanced nursing degree. I'm currently knocking out pre-reqs and have applied to volunteer at a local hospital.

The issue is that I have bipolar disorder, and sleep deprivation is a major trigger for me. I'm trying to figure out if this is something I can realistically and heathfully do. My pdoc is not optimistic.

My current plan is to apply to nursing school in the fall. I would graduate with a BSN in 3 years. After the BSN, I would like to work part-time as an RN while I study for the MSN (likely 2-3 more years). My goal is to work part-time as a nurse practitioner (not sure on speciality, but have an interest in women's and mental health).

I understand that most new grad nurses work nights at first, usually 3 12-hour shifts/week. I also understand that many NPs that work in the hospital setting work some grueling hours. I don't think I'd handle that well.

My question is whether I can attend nursing school, complete clinicals, and work PT without compromising my mental health? Do you think I can stick to days and less demanding outpatient settings? I think that my pdoc is projecting her med school experience onto nursing school in telling me that this will be too demanding/require prolongued sleep deprivation. I also know that some people work and go to school FT, sacrificing sleep in the process. My question is: if I make sleep a priority, is this realistic?

Thanks so much for any advice.

pixierose, BSN, RN

Specializes in ED, psych. Has 3 years experience.

I think, with a good support system and with appropriate management in place to maintain yourself ... you can do it!

I have bipolar disorder, and just graduated with my BSN. My advice: *take it one step at a time.* Focus on getting into nursing school. Then complete your BSN. Once you graduate, take the next step and get a job. Work for a little while, THEN apply for a graduate degree program.

Sleep is definitely something to consider. It's a trigger for me as well (I get anxious, can't sleep, vicious cycle emerges = mania and/or depression). So, I personally take a medication to sleep at night. I make sure I get my exercise, eat right, and also make sure I get outside (nature always is a happy experience *for me*). In other words, I definitely make sure I get my "me time." I need to take care of myself first. Whatever your "me time" is, and whatever you found that works for you, don't give it up. I am also very lucky; my potential job opportunities are days/evenings. I'm doing this on purpose. However, it may be something you can't avoid.

However, that's 3 years from now for you. You're a different person than you were 3 years ago, I'm sure, so whatever may trigger you now may be very well controlled by then. Focusing on one step at a time can help you.

As for your doctor, don't let her experiences interfere with your own. However, look deep inside yourself: what makes her say that? If you truly believe it's her displacing her own experiences, find a new psychiatrist. This actually happened to me; my psych was doing the same thing (however, she also referred me to a shaman as well :no: . She thought maybe my manic episodes was me being "super sensitive to the beyond," but that's a different story entirely!)

My new(er) psych lady is awesome, and incredibly supportive.

Good luck with whatever you decide!

Edited by pixierose
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traumaRUs, MSN, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 27 years experience.

Moved to prenursing forum

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