Nurses struggling with mental illness - page 16

I was just wondering if there are any other nurses who struggle with mental illness. It seems to be one disability that is met with little tolerance and support in the medical field. I do have major... Read More

  1. by   jnette
    Quote from zoeboboey
    If nothing else you can disclose a learning disorder

    ... and that if they don't get out of your face your head will spin around!

    Love it !
  2. by   warrior woman
    We are all kindred spirits on this thread, as we have all walked through the same turmoil. You are all amazing people here.
  3. by   HyperRNRachel
    I have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and suffer from severe anxiety, which I am currently being treated for. I just started working in an ER and the constant organization as well as constant reassurance that I am doing well has helped me with my ADHD and my anxiety. In talking with my doctor(psychiatrist) about lowering my dose of Adderall (at my request) I got nervous and asked him if I could request a higher dose if I find myself going scattered brain. After a discussion he pointed out that my main problem is the fear that I will not perform well due to my deficits and he assured me that he has plenty of patients who work in the healthcare field, I'm not the only one, and with the right medications many, many, many of them are doing an incredible job.

    Do not be afraid to find the answers. Seek treatment and continue doing the job you love!

    By the way, a bit of irony, a new student in the ER said she cannot wait until she has the self confidence and assertiveness that I have! :chuckle
  4. by   RNAnna
    I am amazed at how many people see us as stronger people than we sometimes feel. Hyperstudent, that new student in the ER is looking up to you because you have more experience and probably more confidence than he/she does.

    We have become very practiced at hiding our doubts and fears that come with our mental illnesses because of the stigma attached. Some of us are afraid of reactions at work, or even among friends. If it can happen to someone they know, then it can happen to the thinking goes. The most important thing is to believe that we can and are getting better while learning to manage our symptoms both on and off the job. We always feel differently than we present. At least I do. I know that I am the one that has the most doubts about myself.

    I always have to remember to take things at my pace and not to let anyone push me. That is when mistakes are made. My pace is different than others. We each have our individual pace that balances us. When we find it, it is a good day.

  5. by   CHATSDALE
    I have tourettes syn and sometimes my facial expressions don't match the things going on inside the brain...frequently people think i am laughing at them [or worse they think i am laughing to myself] but i have chosen not to share this with many people because even nurses are not familiar with this disorder and nurses are the can be the most judgemental people sometimes
  6. by   AuthorityPR0BLEM
    I suffer from PTSD and have a history of eating disorder and self injury. My hospital experience is actually what got me interested in nursing. What I've gone through has made me more compassionate and empathetic, as well as more understanding of mental illness.

    Nothing can stop us! We will follow our dreams, and we will SUCCEED!


  7. by   Liddle Noodnik
    Quote from CHATSDALE
    I have tourettes syn and sometimes my facial expressions don't match the things going on inside the brain...frequently people think i am laughing at them [or worse they think i am laughing to myself] but i have chosen not to share this with many people because even nurses are not familiar with this disorder and nurses are the can be the most judgemental people sometimes

  8. by   NURSESUZ
    Quote from Macy1103
    Hello Everyone,

    I have been viewing the different threads at for the last 2 years. I've learned alot about the nursing field and some of the in/outs and gripes that accompany and field, not just nursing. Right now I'm in my last semester of pre-nursing classes, before clinicals. I have hoped and prayed for the last 2 years for someone (above) to give me a "sign" that I should pursue nursing for my career. The thought of being a nurse almost give me "chills", in a really good way. My mother, 2 grandmothers, and aunt are all RN's and I look up to them so much. My husband thinks I have a "calling" to be a nurse, as he would put it...and my family thinks its the best career fit for me. I am currently an administrative assistant (A.A. Business Admin) for a large company and am miserable.

    Which brings me to the reason for my post. I also have severe anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, and suffer from panic attacks, which are treated with Ativan PRN (yeah, my first nursing term!!!!)...I have taken SSRI's etc.. before...none seem to help enough to override the side effects (weight gain, lack of desire for intimacy) to keep me on them....but I wonder if I will be able to "keep" it together in the nursing field. I also have a hard time sleeping...I take 3 mg ativan to go to sleep....I worry about having to work 3rd shift and being really out of sync with reality. I would LOVE the 3-11 shift or any combo of 2nd shift..i just don't think i could do the overnight thing..i mean physically..without being so "out-of-it" i would probably end up in the hospital or worse....

    So basically, I'd great to read this post and it's what has prompted me to finally register and post a reply myself. I know from reading your posts that some people take ssri's...which one's work and do you notice the side effects?..And do you think "condition" would interfere with my career as a nurse. Do you really have to be tough as nails?....Any information from anyone interested in helping me on the quest would be appreciated in the utmost. I think becoming a nurse will do wonders for my being..I want to find my niche' , too!!
    Hi, Macy! I, too struggle w/several diagnoses--PTSD, Bipolar, Dysthymia, Panic Disorder. I have tried SSRI's, to no avail. Am now on Risperdal and Desyrel for the psychosis and depression. I also take an occasional Xanax for the Panic Attacks, and sometimes Ativan for sleeplessness. I feel like a pharmacy(LOL)!! They help, and I am able to work in an in-patient psychiatric facility, when they need me. It helps to work with patients who have some of the same difficulties as I do. Lets me see I'm not alone. And that I could collapse mentally any day, now. That keeps me on my toes! I work for a staffing agency, and when I feel squirrley, I don't go to work if I can help it. I have a tough time paying bills that way, but at least my sanity is preserved.
    I have worked in many specialties, including Med-Surg, OB-Gyn, and Geriatrics since I was diagnosed, but this is by far the best situation for me.
    I also work with a therapist on a regular basis, and take my meds. I can't always afford them, since I don't have health insurance, but I always am able to buy a few days worth to last until I work again.
    I work the 11p-7a shift when I can work, and for me, most of the time, it works out for the best, because the work load is lighter. Not always easy to sleep during the day, because I have a 17 yr old daughter at home. She is developmentally delayed, ADHD, Bipolar, too, with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. A real hand-ful, but I try to cope. There are still days I just try to stuff my crap, and sometimes it works. Some days are better than others.
    I hope this helps you. Take care!
  9. by   sandiLa
    After reading all of this I have a question, well first let me say I started having Panic Attacks in August of last year in my last semester of Nursing School. My Dr. put me on Lexapro and Xanax. I thought it would go away once I graduated, no way, from Jan-March I wouldn't leave my house at all. Had very paranoid thoughts and changed meds several times. I'm now on Wellbutrin and still Xanax prn for the p/a's but can leave my house now. I was sure this would go away after taking boards. No it didn't. I still have the p/a's and in April I was diag. with type 2 Diabetes. I've been through a lot this year and am taking time off before I try to go to work. I plan to start after my son returns to school in August. Now on to my question.....

    If I'm taking Wellbutrin and Xanax and have a prescription for them both and I know they will show up in my drug test, do I need to disclose what I take them for at a job interview? I'm worried if I tell the person interviewing me that I was diag. with Panic Disorder she/he will think I'm not good under pressure, which I am and have been. This is what I'm not sure of. I don't mind my Nurse Supervisor knowing this if she/he must know but that would be after I get the job wherever I decide to apply. Does this make sense? Any suggestions would be great.

    Also on the delayed sleep thing. I've always had insomnia and can stay up all night and sleep all day. I've tried everything to go to bed early, can't do it. While in nursing school I went to bed at 1am and got up at 5:30am and did that the entire time. I've also stayed awake all for over 24 hrs. before with no problem. I've tried everything OTC and Ambien, doesn't work. This started when I worked as an EMT, I worked 24 hr. shifts and we did get to sleep some nights, not a lot but I'm so used to getting woke up in the middle of the night that if I do get woke up I can't go back to sleep for a couple of hours. I thought this would go away but it's only gotten worse with the PD.

    Thanks for listening and I'm so glad everyone here has shared this, it makes me feel better to know I'm not the only nurse going thorough these kinds of things.

  10. by   Liddle Noodnik
    Quote from sandiLa

    If I'm taking Wellbutrin and Xanax and have a prescription for them both and I know they will show up in my drug test, do I need to disclose what I take them for at a job interview?

    Also on the delayed sleep thing. I've always had insomnia and can stay up all night and sleep all day. Sandy

    Hi Sandy!

    Looks like the meds need a little more tweaking! Lord I hate feeling like an incompetent fool (which is what the panic attacks make me feel I am doing). I do know what I'm doing, so what is the fear? That's exactly what anxiety and panic are: Irrational fears!

    I did NOT have to disclose when I was interviewed for the job. They did ask, did I have an illness which would interfere with my work, to which I said "no" because I was coping well enough and still functional despite my symptoms.

    However once I got to the physical exam part, the form asked for what meds I was on. I called my closest disability rights and they said that I MUST be truthful about what I was taking. But that employee health was obligated to NOT disclose to my boss.

    Eventually on the job I DID begin having symptoms, at which time I did disclose to my boss, as needed.

    That's how I handled it. Some say not to disclose at all. But the disability people said that if I LIED about the meds then it could be held against me later and I could be fired if they found out the truth.

    Good luck!
  11. by   Thunderwolf
    To add my 2 cents in. I first began having symptoms in 1998 when my two children became the same age that I was when I had it very rough as a kid. The nightmares and images about my own childhood began during this time. Looking at my children flashed images of when I was that young, my old memories flooding me. When this happened, I would cry and hide myself out of shame. At night, I'd wake up crying or in panic from the dreams I had, many I remembered, some I did not. My wife got used to me after awhile bolting straight out of bed or not going to bed at all. Some times, she'd tell me in the morning that I cried in my sleep. Many times, I was afraid to go to bed, because of the nightmares. I was diagnosed with PTSD in 2001, but not until I sought help for myself; my wife was against my seeking help because she didn't want a diagnosis on our insurance, for anyone to know, and just found it, I was just making bad choices or something of that nature. However, I began seeing a counselor, then was referred to a psychiatrist who placed me on meds. In 2001, after getting help, my symptoms escalated because events in my life that I had no control over, such as: my sister getting beaten up by her then husband, a good friend ( in his late twenties and an RN) keeling over from a massive MI, another friend almost died from a brain aneurysm, a patient who successfully suicided by hanging and my attempts to save him to no avail and trying to hold together my young coworker who was falling apart afterward, my wife and two kids in a major car crash with my wife injured and my 5 year old with a severe spinal injury, helping my daughter get through that experience during the ER, life flight and prep for surgery, and living with a caustic mother-in-law who lived with us (wife and mother had codependency issues) who took great effort to split my wife and I up since I couldn't function like "a man" don't have emotional issues (their standard). All these stressors occured within a one year time frame on top of my PTSD that I already began developing and which I kept hidden out of shame. The resultant and concurrent depression took all the little reserves I had left. In a year's time, the theme and threat of death and people suffering was all too much for me. I crashed. I burned afterward. In 2002, the PTSD and the resulting depression left me almost unable to function. I was hospitaized, much to everyone's shame. At the time, I was too numbed out to care anymore. In the hospital, I met a surgeon who was being hospitalized for his major depression, in a way, validating that it can happen to us too. Had to take two leave of absences from work. As far as my wife and her family were concerned, I had no more to contribute to them. Mental or emotional illness was such a filthy word in that family. My then lawyer brother-in-law who was going through a bout of his own depression and on Zoloft could not tell anyone about his own condition then because of the shame it would have caused regarding his own mother...he had to stay the apple in her eye. Yes, another high achiever and miserable. My own family lived about 200 miles away. I left psych as a field because I didn't want any more triggers, no more saddness. I also felt that if I could not help myself, how could I help others. So, I left the field. Actually, I'm kind of proud of that. I've also seen my fair share of impaired mental health professionals in my 10 year hitch in the field who mix their own issues with that of the patient, which I always felt was wrong. I thought it was my ethical duty to remove myself. I was on meds for 2 years when my symptoms finally began diminishing to a point where I could function on my own. All my adult life prior to all this, I was an achiever, grabbing any goal I set my sights on. High achiever in the military, grad school, and career. Lived in an up and rising neighborhood development, with most of my peers being docs, lawyers, accountants, and businessmen. But, the PTSD made in all insignificant. The PTSD and depression took much away from me. I lost my wife because I stopped being that high achiever she needed as a partner. We divorced under good terms, but the experience of PTSD made me see my wife under a new light. If I got no support through this, what support could I expect if I had an MI or became significantly injured or got cancer? The kick in the pants was that my wife was a counselor (LPCC), marriage and family to be exact. Both my then counselor and doc both shook their heads when they met her, both saying to me in private "and she's a counselor?" much to their disbelieve and dismay. My wife only came to a couple sessions to appease my counselor and doc, because it was my problem, not hers. She didn't seem to care that it was tearing us apart. Like I said, I worked in psych for 10 years, but after going thru this, I just couldn't do it any more, at least not for a long time. So, I left it in 2003. I didn't want any triggers or any further relapse. I let my counselor license (LPCC) lapse and placed my Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) license on inactive. Moved out on my own, giving just about everything to my ex-wife. Much of why I did this was because I loved my kids so much...their lives shouldn't change because of everything. I detest dead beat dads. I sure wasn't going to start being one. In fact, through just about all of this, my kids were pretty well sheltered away from this whole thing, the one thing my wife and I whole heartedly agreed upon through the whole ordeal. In this sense, my wife and I worked together as a team. I see my kids every day off. I see little of my ex-wife, mostly by my choice. I've been med free, counselor free and doc free for 2 years and plan to do what ever I need to do to stay that way if I can. My symptoms now, consist of occasional nightmares and images, but not to the severity, intensity or frequency that they once were. As an ex-counselor, any surfacing symptoms become my cues to improve my coping and support. Had a suicide one year ago on our med surg floor, just got past his anniversary. Had some increased symptoms for a little while, but now they have diminished greatly since the anniversary passed. I just told my first live person at work (in private/off duty) some of my experience. The first time in 2 years. I did this because he (an LPN) had a recent episode a depression and a bout of suicidal ideation, checking himself inpt. He told me in private. After the coarse of a couple weeks, I shared some of my story. He's young, about 26, lots of angst in his life. He desires to make some positive changes in his life, although it causes great frustration to him. I told him about myself because I truely care for the guy and don't want him to see himself as being the only one around that has struggled. However, he is young, and his motivation may wax and wane. I respect him highly, even if he is 17 years my junior. I really believe he has great potential and will make an excellent man later in his life. So, I risked it. So, I told him, but I fear that I may have lost him as a friend as a result. I try not to psychoanalyze anyone, but as an ex-counselor myself, I could feel it in my gut, and it sort of saddens me. However, like anyone who tries to move forward, one can only move onward. I'll try to give him the space he needs. I try to understand. But, in closing, there are alot of nurses and doctors who have mental and emotional illnesses who still practice and practice their art and science well. We are only human. And as humans, we can hurt and we can suffer and we can also move forward. The last of my 2 cents.
    Last edit by Thunderwolf on May 27, '05
  12. by   Kitty-MayRN
    Hi everyone.

    When I saw this thread, it almost brought me to tears. I am a new graduate nurse, who is about to open a door in my life as a professional licensed RN.
    I have suffered major depression for half my life, and also have anxiety, and phobias. I have seen myself as outside the world bubble for so long and have been struggling to be let in.

    I am on wellbutrin, effexor, and risperdal and I am still trying to get myself in good balance. The depression is like a third appendage to me, but the anxiety and phobias are new and increasing. I am surprised that I made it through clinicals.

    Now I should be happy that I graduated and starting a wonderful career, but I also see it a big scary test--upping the stakes of "can she do it without crumbling".
    I feel exhausted some days in the world just trying to appear normal. I have agoraphobia and claustrophobia and my depression can totally paralyze me some days. :stone

    I am (happy?) to see others who have mental mountains to bear. I don't think anyone other than us truly understands how painful and overwhelming it can be in our lives.

    thank you for sharing,

  13. by   Liddle Noodnik
    Quote from Thunderwolf
    To add my 2 cents in. I first began having symptoms in 1998 when my two children became the same age that I was when I had it very rough as a kid. ....

    And that is the bennie, to use our experience to benefit someone else. And learn who we REALLY REALLY are.

    Brava Thunderwolf, I am so proud of you!