Nurse and Bipolar

Updated | Posted
by Domosuki Domosuki (New) New Nurse

Has 4 years experience.

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I always struggled with anxiety and was managed with medications, but I was recently diagnosed with Bipolar 1, my past jobs included telephone triage nursing, AL floor nursing. I've never thought how my anxiety can impede on my nursing career, but when I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 I was dumbstruck and felt like my world ended. I know it's not the end of the world. I am about 9 months stable, I take my medications try to get enough sleep. Are there any nurses on here who are Bipolar and would like to give some support, I'd be interested to learn what position you hold in nursing. In the past I have always help jobs down for 2-3 years, but I was always casual, and in school full time. I would like to try bedside hospital nursing, is this even possible, I know shift work may be my downfall. I use to work as a nursing assistant in med surg and I almost quit nursing because of it. I was offered a case manager position and I am a little nervous about it. I worry what the future will bring, If I'll be able to work when a new episode arises. 

abbycdps

abbycdps

7 Posts

I will say that I do not have bipolar disorder, but I worked on an inpatient psych unit for a few years. We had a charge nurse that was the BOMB. You would have never known that she struggled with her mental health. She was older when I met her and had things down to a T. There would be weeks where she would be off for her “health” and I point blank asked someone one time. I assumed she had cardiac problems cancer etc. she was bipolar type I and had been diagnosed for a very long time

she just took mental health days when she knew she needed to. Regrouped and came back to be the kick-*** nurse that she was

Point of my story is, she took care of herself, like with any chronic illness. Listened to her body and was very successful in her career. 
Also I think going through her own struggles helped her to really connect with the patients and made them feel listened to and understood. 

DavidFR, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in Oncology, ID, Hepatology, Occy Health. Has 36 years experience. 506 Posts

I had a bi-polar colleague who was an excellent nurse in oncology.

She was observant with her meds and most people didn't know she had a problem. When she felt the strain she sought help and took the appropriate time off. She was a much appreciated colleague.

Seek the right support, do the right things and I'm sure you'll be fine.

Good luck.

Edited by DavidFR

Emergent, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 29 years experience. 2 Articles; 3,998 Posts

Our society needs to be more flexible and accommodating of the variations of human beings. I don't believe that bipolar or ADD or the autism spectrum are necessarily disorders. I think modern culture has required people to be medicated into subservience to its frantic requirements, instead of realizing that these human variations should not be suppressed. They are vital for the betterment of humankind!

Look at Albert Einstein or Thomas Edison. Both were geniuses who are on some sort of spectrum or another. Society should support people and allow them to contribute to the common good in the way that they are can.

Edited by Emergent

Henriettydoggy

Henriettydoggy

Has 8 years experience. 2 Posts

I’ve dealt with this. I can just say from experience, I thought I loved shift work (I worked night shift) but what I learned is that it made me cranky, and even though I tried to control it, it turns out that patients could feel my anger at times and I started really not like going to work because it felt like a battle zone everyday. 

I thought I could escape the grind of day shift by working night shift but the only way I made it through especially while in nurse Practitioner school part time is by the grace of God. 

one thing that another nurse told me is that the patients could probably sense that I didn’t want to be there, I would just really stress good mental health and balance; just remember it’s a long journey of nursing 

Henriettydoggy

Henriettydoggy

Has 8 years experience. 2 Posts

I work part time as a nurse practitioner seeing patients in an office setting in an undeserved area of the city.

Edited by Henriettydoggy

This is the problem with labels and the DSM. You didn’t worry about your ability to choose the right job opportunities for yourself before, and you never lost a job d/t a supposed manic episode. Yet here you are wondering, because of what one practitioner said, whether you will be okay in your next career chapter. 

My advice? Step away from psychiatry and listen to your body. If you’re truly tied to the idea that psychiatric medication is going to make or break you, at least get a second opinion. But remember that psychiatry is so subjective and what one doc tells you can very WILDLY from another doc. I am living proof of that. 

Been diagnosed with like 10 things over the course of my life, all different with different doctors. Been off medication and absolutely thriving mental health-wise for 3 years. I learned some incredible coping skills, learned what it meant to be part of a community, identified the etiology of my issues (childhood trauma), and cultivated a spiritual/religious foundation. 

You are truly only destined to become who you CHOOSE to be, my friend. Rooting you on! Reach out anytime. 

To answer what I do, I work in inpatient rehabilitation - I am a high worry person and I took a float RN position for like a month and highly disliked it. I will choose jobs now on my interest and what makes me tick - no what any doctor said I should or should not do for my mental health. I don’t enjoy high acuity but I do enjoy being a subject matter expert on something. If you know stressful situations don’t work well for you, ask yourself what causes you the most stress? Is it high acuity patients, having too many patients, dealing with family members, arrogant providers, nasty teammates? Know yourself and choose accordingly. 

Edited by K. Everly

Tweety, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac. Has 30 years experience. 31,589 Posts

On 7/2/2022 at 8:52 PM, Emergent said:

Our society needs to be more flexible and accommodating of the variations of human beings. I don't believe that bipolar or ADD or the autism spectrum are necessarily disorders. I think modern culture has required people to be medicated into subservience to its frantic requirements, instead of realizing that these human variations should not be suppressed. They are vital for the betterment of humankind!

Look at Albert Einstein or Thomas Edison. Both were geniuses who are on some sort of spectrum or another. Society should support people and allow them to contribute to the common good in the way that they are can.

While I can agree that sometimes our society is too quick to take a pill,  bipolar disorder can be very serious.  A person in mania that isn't sleeping and can't focus surely would have a hard time functioning as a nurse.  Likewise someone deep in depression.  Leveling out with medication can relieve a lot of suffering for the individual.  

 

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience. 142 Articles; 9,968 Posts

I’m a retired nurse with anxiety and bipolar I who ended up leaving the workforce at 55 because I just couldn’t take it anymore. The first 15 years or so were fine, and I thrived on the adrenaline rush. But my illness took over in my early to mid-50s and it took several years to find the right medications and settle down, but it was too late to salvage my career. I’ve now been on Social Security Disability for the past 7 years, and don’t even have a nursing license anymore.

That being said…it doesn’t have to be that way for you. You have meds that have kept you stable for some time. To be honest, I wouldn’t advise taking a job in acute care, which can be overwhelming even for neurotypical nurses, let alone ones with our challenges. The case management position may be a good choice, even though there is pressure to perform just like in every other job on earth. I worked as a DNS in assisted living and stuck with one facility for 2 1/2 years…that was almost the longest time I ever stayed at one job. I usually left jobs in the Spring, which in retrospect coincided with manic episodes. I had no idea at the time that I was BP, in fact I wasn’t even  diagnosed till age 53.

So, try something new , just know your limits. I don’t mean to sound like a Debbie Downer, I just wanted to share a little of my experience because I don’t believe in sugarcoating life as a nurse with bipolar disorder. It is tough, and some of us don’t do well. But it can be very rewarding for the nurse who’s in the right job. Good luck! 🍀 

Domosuki

Domosuki

Has 4 years experience. 3 Posts

@VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN 

Do you have experience working in an acute care facility, like med surg. It's something I really want to try. I worked on a med surg floor as a nursing assistant it was tough but doable, this was before my diagnosis. I'd say I got burned out a year into the job. When I graduated nursing school I was thankful I got my job in telephone triage vs the hospital, but now I just want to try it see if I can do it. I have a friend with Bp2 and works on the cardiac ICU. I wonder how she does it.

Domosuki

Domosuki

Has 4 years experience. 3 Posts

42 minutes ago, VivaLasViejas said:

I’m a retired nurse with anxiety and bipolar I who ended up leaving the workforce at 55 because I just couldn’t take it anymore. The first 15 years or so were fine, and I thrived on the adrenaline rush. But my illness took over in my early to mid-50s and it took several years to find the right medications and settle down, but it was too late to salvage my career. I’ve now been on Social Security Disability for the past 7 years, and don’t even have a nursing license anymore.

That being said…it doesn’t have to be that way for you. You have meds that have kept you stable for some time. To be honest, I wouldn’t advise taking a job in acute care, which can be overwhelming even for neurotypical nurses, let alone ones with our challenges. The case management position may be a good choice, even though there is pressure to perform just like in every other job on earth. I worked as a DNS in assisted living and stuck with one facility for 2 1/2 years…that was almost the longest time I ever stayed at one job. I usually left jobs in the Spring, which in retrospect coincided with manic episodes. I had no idea at the time that I was BP, in fact I wasn’t even  diagnosed till age 53.

So, try something new , just know your limits. I don’t mean to sound like a Debbie Downer, I just wanted to share a little of my experience because I don’t believe in sugarcoating life as a nurse with bipolar disorder. It is tough, and some of us don’t do well. But it can be very rewarding for the nurse who’s in the right job. Good luck! 🍀 

Do you have experience working in an acute care facility, like med surg. It's something I really want to try. I worked on a med surg floor as a nursing assistant it was tough but doable, this was before my diagnosis. I'd say I got burned out a year into the job. When I graduated nursing school I was thankful I got my job in telephone triage vs the hospital, but now I just want to try it see if I can do it. I have a friend with Bp2 and works on the cardiac ICU. I wonder how she does it, she says she loves it and doesn't see herself doing anything different.

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience. 142 Articles; 9,968 Posts

Yes, I have experience with Med/Surg nursing. I worked as a float to the postpartum unit and CCU as well. I only lasted as long as I did (not quite 3 years) because I was frequently pulled to those departments, which saved my sanity in the short term but also put off the eventual meltdown I had the morning I went to clock in and suddenly lost it. I knew I could not work on M/S one more day. I had my ugly crying episode in the CNO’s office and then left. She told me to go ahead and file for unemployment, the hospital wouldn’t fight it. I was also given the opportunity to use EAP even though I wasn’t working there anymore. 
 

I wish you the best whatever you choose.