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Nurses with bipolar or anxiety/depression

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by freckles23 freckles23 (Member)

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Any of my fellow nurses diagnosed with bipolar or anxiety/depression? I was recently diagnosed with bipolar w hypomania but having difficulty accepting it. I really thought it was just anxiety with depression. Reason I say anxiety depression is because I have been feeling low for the past 2 years or so where I just dont have the same desires, motivation and just want to sleep all the time, hopeless, sad, no confidence and poor sed satisfaction. Then when I go to work I am anxious due to all the duties of a nurse and become annoyed very easily. So it is hard to tell if I really am bipolar or just anxious? I do tend to overthink things, binge eat which has caused significant weight gain, irritable or angry over small things, difficulty sleeping or sleep too much because I work night shift and sometimes when I go out im either happy or in my feelings. I feel these are normal feelings due to life and its stressors and how annoying people can be majority of the time. Any advice/tips? I was started on lamictal about 5 weeks ago and I know these meds take about 6 weeks to notice any changes depending on dosage or if its even the right med for me.  

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not.done.yet has 8 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

4 Followers; 43,910 Visitors; 5,430 Posts

We cannot speculate on the accuracy of your diagnosis, but I applaud you for seeking help. If you feel this could be erroneous I would encourage you to seek a second opinion. Good luck and I hope you feel much better soon.

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pebblebeach has 1 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Orthopedics.

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Yes.  I wouldn't worry so much about the label (bipolar vs. "just anxious") right now. All feelings -- annoyance, hopelessness, flat -- can be "normal," the deviation is how loud the volume is on those emotions. For me, without help, the volume is on full blast.

You said you have a prescription for Lamictal. Assuming this was from a psychiatrist? Do you have a therapist in addition to a psychiatrist? (I recommend both, if you can afford it.) If so - bring up the concerns specifically about nursing. Notice when you get annoyed at work, how often, etc. so you can get to the root of it. Yes, maybe the person is just annoying. But does it feel like you're crawling out of your skin, or like you can't focus because you're so annoyed? Therapists can help with those things. Psychiatrists help when you need an Ambien prescription because you can't sleep between shifts. 

Are you open with your close friends or family about this? That can help immensely. 

I journal, old-school pen to paper. It helps with identifying how soft or loud I am on that volume scale. Journaling when adjusting to a new med is useful too, literally a sentence or a couple words everyday -- "felt nauseous, more depressed than yesterday, etc etc." It helps to have a timeline and then be able to go back to your MD with that.

I'm able to be a good (good enough, sometimes) nurse because of the above -- my small little support system - therapist, psychiatrist, family, friends -- and my meds.

I can't tell from your post if you're a new nurse or experienced nurse, but from a newer nurse struggling on night shift, I struggle too, it's a battle like any other illness. You're not alone. Don't worry about the label for now. Feel free to message me on here if you want. ❤️

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ruby_jane has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in ICU/community health/school nursing.

3 Followers; 8,292 Visitors; 2,287 Posts

We can quibble with the wording of our diagnoses  for sure. Or we can take the medication prescribed,  and if it helps, then it helps, no matter what's really wrong, right?

Also, do not underestimate the toll that night shift is taking on your body and mind. It was difficult for me. It may be fine for you.  I love pebble's journal idea. Hang in there.

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4 hours ago, pebblebeach said:

Yes.  I wouldn't worry so much about the label (bipolar vs. "just anxious") right now. All feelings -- annoyance, hopelessness, flat -- can be "normal," the deviation is how loud the volume is on those emotions. For me, without help, the volume is on full blast.

You said you have a prescription for Lamictal. Assuming this was from a psychiatrist? Do you have a therapist in addition to a psychiatrist? (I recommend both, if you can afford it.) If so - bring up the concerns specifically about nursing. Notice when you get annoyed at work, how often, etc. so you can get to the root of it. Yes, maybe the person is just annoying. But does it feel like you're crawling out of your skin, or like you can't focus because you're so annoyed? Therapists can help with those things. Psychiatrists help when you need an Ambien prescription because you can't sleep between shifts. 

Are you open with your close friends or family about this? That can help immensely. 

I journal, old-school pen to paper. It helps with identifying how soft or loud I am on that volume scale. Journaling when adjusting to a new med is useful too, literally a sentence or a couple words everyday -- "felt nauseous, more depressed than yesterday, etc etc." It helps to have a timeline and then be able to go back to your MD with that.

I'm able to be a good (good enough, sometimes) nurse because of the above -- my small little support system - therapist, psychiatrist, family, friends -- and my meds.

I can't tell from your post if you're a new nurse or experienced nurse, but from a newer nurse struggling on night shift, I struggle too, it's a battle like any other illness. You're not alone. Don't worry about the label for now. Feel free to message me on here if you want. ❤️

I have been a nurse for 4 years. I left my old job because the ratios were 1:9 and I feel like thats where my anxiety came from because I was always in crisis mode and stressed out so I left the job. Im currently at 1:6 which is a tad bit better depending on the acuity.

 

I had an appt for a therapist along w psychiatrist but then a snow storm hit the day I had a therapy session and it got cancelled so I never rescheduled. I keep telling myself my feelings and problems are miniscule compared to someone else and I have my days where im good thinking I dont need help but then when im low I tell myself I should really go talk to someone. 

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DextersDisciple has 5 years experience as a BSN, RN.

3,494 Visitors; 229 Posts

I am. Lamictal is a wonderful drug. Chances are an antidepressant would help as well but that’s for you and your doctor to discuss. I take my meds and life is good.

Nights, however, made me have breakthrough symptoms. Nights wreak havoc on “normal” people’s minds and bodies let alone those With a mood disorder. Best of luck to you, it will get better. 

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pebblebeach has 1 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Orthopedics.

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20 hours ago, freckles23 said:

I have been a nurse for 4 years. I left my old job because the ratios were 1:9 and I feel like thats where my anxiety came from because I was always in crisis mode and stressed out so I left the job. Im currently at 1:6 which is a tad bit better depending on the acuity.

 

I had an appt for a therapist along w psychiatrist but then a snow storm hit the day I had a therapy session and it got cancelled so I never rescheduled. I keep telling myself my feelings and problems are miniscule compared to someone else and I have my days where im good thinking I dont need help but then when im low I tell myself I should really go talk to someone. 

I feel you. It took me years in therapy to stop comparing myself to others' issues, i.e. "well my childhood was fine, my parents are great, I've never been abused," etc. etc. It's my belief now after a lot of self-work that every single one of us has experienced trauma in some way. Go to one appointment - what's the worst that could happen?

Sending you good vibes, you'll get through this!

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VivaLasViejas has 20 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

8 Followers; 142 Articles; 247,950 Visitors; 9,625 Posts

I'm a retired RN who lives with bipolar I disorder and I can really relate. Accepting a diagnosis of bipolar is difficult sometimes, even if on one level it's a relief to know there is a name for what you've been going through. I had a terrible time accepting my own diagnosis, and once in a while I still question it, even though it's been part of my life since I was a young child and only in the past 7 years have I gotten better. Meds and therapy literally saved my life.

So if you're having a tough time, the thing to do is schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist and/or a therapist, if you haven't already. I know all too well how bad it sucks to carry this diagnosis; I lost my career to it. You, on the other hand, are self-aware enough to know when you're in trouble, and that's amazing. It usually takes years to "get it". Lamictal is a good drug; I've been on it ever since I was diagnosed without side effects. If you can get away with taking only that, you're doing well. (I'm on Lamictal along with Celexa, Trazodone, Klonopin, Geodon and Zyprexa, but then I'm somewhat treatment-resistant.)

Sometimes a "label" isn't all bad. If it helps you to recognize you have a problem, you need it. I wish I didn't have it, it cramps my style, but working within the framework of bipolar disorder has assisted me in finding new ways to live my life. Best wishes to you. Viva

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FolksBtrippin is a BSN, RN and specializes in Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Public Health.

1 Follower; 13,414 Visitors; 1,507 Posts

 

If you feel like your bipolar dx doesn't fit, talk to your psychiatrist about that for sure, but don't let it stop you from getting treatment. You may be right and it may be anxiety/depression. Either way, stick it out a little bit. It does not hurt to explore all the possibilities.

Lamictal should start to take effect before 6 weeks. Give yourself some time, but check in with yourself a lot and try to notice how you are feeling. This builds insight and will help your recovery no matter what your diagnosis.

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traumaRUs has 27 years experience as a MSN, APRN and specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU.

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Moved to forum for similar topics. 

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Hi all! I found this thread because Ive been battling with depression off an on since I was 12, I am now 28. I never seeked professional help or have been properly diagnosed. I am afraid of the stigma and unsure how being diagnosed with a mental illness will affect my career. Seeing that you all are seeking treatment gives me hope. Do you disclose this to the BRN? Does it affect your license in any way? Growing up I would always talk to my dad about these struggles. But he passed away 6 years ago. Now I don’t tan to anyone about it. I haven’t felt safe enough to talk to anyone else about this. I’m married and I don’t talk to my husband about it. We’ve had a rough marriage (only 3 years in) and he says I’m psychotic and need to go on meds (mainly bc that’s what my MIL thinks of me...husband left our marriage an open book to her and shared every argument form day one), my close friends thinks he is verbally abusive for saying that. I’m afraid to go to him about these issues bc I’m afraid he will use it against me, and if this does affect my career I will have no means to get by if we do divorce. My MIL has been treated for PTSD, anxiety, OCD and more...so I’m not sure if he just thinks medication is the soltion bc that is the norm in his family. I’m just afraid to be diagnosed and having it on my record. Does this interfere with our liscence?

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43 Visitors; 2 Posts

Sorry on all the typos. It’s late on my time and I typed that fast :). 

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