Nurses struggling with mental illness - page 40

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   Owney
    Dear readytolive,

    zoeboboey gave you a good answer. My therapist thought I might be ready to work after a year, so she gave me a referral to the "rehab counselor." After speaking with her nurse-to-nurse we decided that I was not, but she gave me good advice about keeping my license as long a I can. In '05 I began to collect SSD (physical disability) checks but they became less and less sufficient for my wife and myself to live on. We relocated to an area which has a much lower cost of living, I applied for my hospital pension, and my wife turned 62 so she filed for SSI.

    I am reasonably certain that I will never return to the bedside, but have not ruled out every possible nursing specialty, if only an occasional consultant job, private duty or volunteer work. In March of this year I renewed the license in my old state for the second time since my boss "retired" me in '03. Both 2-yr. renewals required $50 to the state and $20-30 for on-line continuing education, so it costs me $35-40 a year for the privilege of signing "RN" after my name.

    The Social Security administration allows us to earn some income. I am sure that a rehab counselor could advise you how much you can earn without jeopardizing your SSD. Once upon a time there were plenty of low-stress nursing jobs, but as with other fields, low stress employment is increasingly an "endangered species." There seem to be fewer employers who will pay us for "sitting around."

    Have you contacted your state/provincial board of nursing? They should advise you what you would have to do to reinstate your license. All of the states I have lived in have "reciprocity", meaning that I could get practicing privileges in as many as I can afford. Unfortunately my new home town has only two hospitals and from what I have heard on this site, they are both stuck in the 20th century in terms of pay and nursing autonomy. California is the only state I know of which has patient-load limits established in law, and I doubt that I would (like the ten years I did so) ever want to live there again.

    A competent rehab counselor would help you inventory your skills, abilities and interests to help you find work which complies with your stress tolerance and which you enjoy. I would jump at the chance to care for 6 or fewer (healthy) newborns, but I doubt any mother-baby unit would pay RN wages for doing only that. They would more likely "float" me to NICU which is the scariest place I ever saw.

    Welcome to allnurses. I wish you well in your quest for the perfect job.


  2. by   readytolive
    Thanks for the last 2 post here. It's great to have somebody who understands where I am coming from.
    I'm giving these ideas some thought.

    As for caring for 6 well babies ---and floating to NICU....OMG..that would be awesome. I guess that is why I got into so much stress. I loved the really critical ones. The sicker, the better. It was more of a challenge and made me think.
    Back in the good ole days (lol) when I worked CVICU, my favorite was immediate post op heart patients. It was 1 on 1 then, and you could concentrate your entire energy on recovering that one patient. From what I hear that probable is a thing of the past but it makes me smile just to remember some of the great times I had in Nursing.

    Happy Memorial Day to all!
  3. by   inthesky
    ready to live, i would aim for part time 8 hour DAY shifts.. sleep 8 hours religiously.. and get very regular psych care and therapy. and if it doesnt work. maybe temp nursing jobs? so you dont have to sign a contract.. agency stuff?

    night shift is destabilizing my bipolar =( >_<.

    on a different note, im a bit distressed at all the posts about not taking meds for bipolar disorder. the majority of my IP bipolar patients are off their meds. I know that meds are imperfect and trust me ive wanted to quit them as well.. but having bipolar disorder and not being on meds can be very dangerous. Everyone's illness is a bit different, but im concerned that people reading this thread may be encouraged to quit their meds!!
  4. by   readytolive
    After YEARS & YEARS of finding a medicine that worked...I can't quit it because that along with therapy is the only key to stability with Bipolar. It's so easy to think you don't need the meds when you are in a manic spell.....but then you crash. Been there...DONE THAT WAY TOO MANY TIMES. I finally got the message that the meds are MANDATORY. My husband helps me to stay on track with that.
    The biggest problem I see with medications is the cost. Even with my Husband's insurance, my Lamictal has a $100.00 monthly copay. In addition to that, my daughter (18 y/o) was diagnosed last year with Bipolar and takes Lamictal also. That's $200.00 per month not to mention the rest of the meds. buy gas or you buy Lamictal. Without the meds, you can't drive anyway because of the instability of the Bipolar.

    Hence the whole purpose for my initial post. I need more income!

    Don't any of you guys think about trying it off the meds. It just don't work!
  5. by   Poochee
    Hi guys, It's been a minute, since I posted in this thread. but I have a question, I have applied for SSD, and after a very, very long wait, I will finally be having my day in court, but

    now I am scared to recieve benefits,
    I am scared they will say you are crazy and take away my license, does this happen, or am I being paranoid:uhoh21:, TIA
  6. by   Liddle Noodnik
    Quote from Poochee
    Hi guys, It's been a minute, since I posted in this thread. but I have a question, I have applied for SSD, and after a very, very long wait, I will finally be having my day in court, but

    now I am scared to recieve benefits,
    I am scared they will say you are crazy and take away my license, does this happen, or am I being paranoid:uhoh21:, TIA
    I don't know the answer because I have my license on inactive and haven't tried to activate it since my disability was approved.

    Good luck to you!
  7. by   readytolive

    Everyone's situation is different, but I was never confronted by anyone about taking away my license. I was started on SSD, and kept my license (inactive) for 3 years. I wouldn't let that be the reason I didn't sign up for SSD.
    Good luck and relax. Let God handle the big problem. :-)
  8. by   Babs0512
    Hello, I have major depressive disorder and PTSD due in part to my work in the ER and all that I had to deal with there, and a couple of personal tragedies in my life. Anyhooo, I have found my workplace has been anything BUT supportive. With a Psyc diagnosis - it seems my credibility has been obliterated. The respect I worked hard to achieve is gone, and managment doesn't take my concerns seriously.

    I work in a small community hospital - so the "gossip grapevine" is always in full swing. If I had had a massive MI, or cancer diagnosis, there would have been major support from co-workers. But a psyc diagnosis! People turn their backs and run.

    It's ironic. We have courses that we must take yearly on Healthstream, which our hospital endorses. One subject is how staff working in high stress areas like ICU, or ER are more prone to depression and PTSD - yet they fought my diagnosis every step of the way. I no longer work in the ER, but in PACU. Taking call one night a week and every sixth weekend is killing me. I get no rest, insomnia is part of my diagnosis and illness, and I can't take my sleep meds when I'm on call.

    I've been looking, but in this small community, there isn't much out their for employment. Part of my diagnosis is my fear of traveling any distance from home, so traveling to a city 45 min to an hour away, is pretty much out of the question (with gas prices as they are, not sure if it would be cost effective anyway) - so I feel I have no where to turn.

    I do understand what it is like to try to keep going with these diagnosis, but it is dammded difficult. Somtimes I think taking a couple of years off to concentrate of recovery would be a blessing, but my mortgage company wouldn't be appreciative of that.

    Any suggestions???
  9. by   Liddle Noodnik
    Quote from Babs0512
    I work in a small community hospital - so the "gossip grapevine" is always in full swing. If I had had a massive MI, or cancer diagnosis, there would have been major support from co-workers. But a psyc diagnosis! People turn their backs and run.
    It's amazing isn't it?

    No advice for you, I am not working in nursing right now and don't know if I ever will - just get the best help that you can and do as much as you can work-wise without hurting yourself. ((((((( Babs )))))))))
  10. by   inthesky
    Im a new grad, but im beginning to understand your problem. I'm bipolar and 4 months of night shift has unraveled me pretty badly. I talked to my nurse manager about day shift (which there are no positions). I of course made no mention of bipolar..because yeah.. i did say that i was getting physically ill and depressed.. she truly is a nice person, but she didnt give a crap because me leaving puts a strain on our small psych unit. now im faced with do i risk my health and what tiny morsel that is left of my mental stability to work the next few months until i can find a day position elsewhere? or just leave for me?

    I really feel for you and wish you the best. I don't do well with dealing with medical trauma. Sometimes i get pangs of panic when i drive thinking of what happens to people after wrecks. My clinical rotation in ICU was horrible.. nothing bad in particular happened (other than the usual dying, suffering patients, but i wanted to hide in the supply room and cry the entire rotation. I don't think you should be taking call anymore. Do you see a psychiatrist? Following the Americans with Disabilities act 1990, we have the right to reasonable accommodations. It is definitely time to look at your own needs first. I am wishing you the very best and healing for your tragedies.

  11. by   Owney

    From my first day in the ER of a major trauma center, I knew I was putting myself at risk for PTSD. In 1981 I don't think it even had a name yet, and I had no idea how much I was paying until I was retired from nursing. One day my boss decided she no longer loved me and I was fired, black-balled, blocked my six-months' unemployment and questioned my license. It took about six months to realize what "at will" meant, and another six before I began to learn what PTSD is.

    I learned more from the Viet Nam Veterans Against the War (without whom I question whether PTSD would ever be added to the medical diagnosis manual) website than from any other source. What I learned about PTSD is that it gets worse before it gets better. I also learned that one can seldom attribute it to a single episode, and that it did not begin on my first day in ER, but from the day I was sworn into the Navy. I filed for a veteran's pension, and after nearly a year the V.A. told me, "You must be wounded in combat. You cannot get PTSD by being stabbed by your boss, surviving a typhoon nor from witnessing the carnage of combat."

    I took two leaves of absence from the trauma center. On both occasions I saw my internist and my psychiatrist. I kept copies of my visits and only recently read that my employee health record contained documentation that, "Illness not related to employment." Evidently this prevented my family from suing the hospital if I were to commit suicide.

    The most important thing I have learned about it is that, although there is no cure, one can learn to live with it. Like you, I tried PACU and it did not work out for me. When I had same-day surgery, I saw the way my nurse was pressured by her supervisor. I decided that their was no chance of finding any RN position that does not demand life-or-death responsibility and a constant demand for superhuman perfection.

    Isn't it amazing that I could work in a major teaching hospital that had a "trauma victims counseling program" and they could completely disregard my emotional needs?

    I looked into the impaired nurses programs in my state and found that their only help was mandated for nurses who were addicted to alcohol or other drugs. I did get help (group and individual therapy) at my community mental health program, but again, most of it was directed at drug dependence. I had stopped drinking as soon as I realized that with no income, it was a hobby that I could no longer afford. Most of my fellow group members were mandated by their parole/probation officers, and after "how to avoid relapse" for the umpteenth time in eighteen months I stopped attending group sessions. I did continue bi-weekly individual therapy sessions until I relocated to a much smaller city with a much more affordable cost-of-living.

    I renewed my license in my former state and considered transferring it to my new home. After talking to other nurses I found out that there are only two hospitals in town, and both treat employees even worse than in the big city. Our family dollar goes much further here, so I hope I will never have to earn a nickel by nursing. I intend to volunteer at the senior citizens' and poor peoples centers for blood pressure, glucose, visual, nutritional and general health screening. I love nursing too much to ever abandon it completely, but even "paperwork" nursing jobs eventually have pressures (quotas, increasing case-loads).

    I am at a loss to recommend a field of nursing that is pressure-free. I would guess that the State of New York may have on-line PTSD resources. Have you checked with Albany? If you have insurance, can you see a therapist?

    After a thirty-two months' battle I qualified for social security disability retirement for Crohn's ulcerative colitis, degenerative arthritis secondary to (and exacerbated by) stress and anxiety. My symptoms diminished considerably when I began getting checks and nearly disappeared when I walked away from my predatory mortgage and relocated to more comfortable, affordable (and crime-free) housing.

    If you have insurance, can you see a therapist? Does the State of New York have on-line resources for PTSD? You might find out by checking with Albany?

    Hospitals are too busy chasing the almighty dollar to care about nurses. Fifty percent of the cost of each hospital admission goes to nurses' pay. The boardroom suits consider us nothing more than expenses (like a cart of linen or IV fluids). Almost every day I pray for nurses who care too much to survive in the hostile American "sickness care industry." I will surely remember you in tonight's prayers.


  12. by   Liddle Noodnik
    Quote from Owney
    I will surely remember you in tonight's prayers.


    ((((((((((( Owney))))))))))))))))
  13. by   Babs0512
    Owney, thanks so much for taking the time to answer me directly, it is GREATLY appreciated. I am seeing a Psychologist, and I am on Effexor currently. They keep trying to include Remeron to my medication, but whenever I take it, I get generalized edema. I am currently functioning (barely) as I absolutely DREAD working each day, ESPECIALLY when I am on call. I take Klonopin and Ambien for sleep, and to tell you how well that works, I took it three hours ago, and I'm talking with you now. However, if I go to bed, I will probably fall asleep, I cannot take it when I am on call. So on call = no sleep - I doze at best.

    My mother passed away, traumatically in 2002, I found her, did CPR - got her back but she died 4 days later from a contracoup bleed after a fractured skull. My stepson committed suicide in 2004, and paying for two funerals is expensive, so we had a bankruptsy in 04 as well.

    I was working in the ER througout all of this, I use to LOVE my job there. Thought I would never leave. As time went on, the carnage took it's tole - poor working conditions didn't help. I once had to code a friend of mine, her husband cried throughout the code "Babs, what am I going to do, I have three babies at home... etc..." He focused on me. It was the only code I ever cried all the way throught. He begged us not to call the code. She was 30 years old. Hx of renal problems and accidentally OD on pain medications. I asked the Chaplain if I could talk with her a few minutes, and went to tell the Charge nurse I would be off the floor for about 15 min. - I was told "No, we are too busy, you may not leave the floor!" My friend just died, AS MY PATIENT, and this is how understanding my employer was.

    I developed chest pain a few weeks after that, was admitted to another hospital for a cardiac cath, dx with prinzmetals angina. I was out of work 5 days, on the 6th day I woke up to go to work, and I completely panicked, I ABSOLUTELY could NOT bring myself to go in. My doctor took me out, I saw a shrink, diagnosed me with major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, and PTSD.

    My employer was anything but understanding. I tried to file disability, as the shrink said I was "completely disabled" at that time, at least in part due to the job, my employer fought it. Couldn't get workmens come either, not without a fight. So I worked with employee health, and got the shrink to let me go back to work "to an area of less stress" Yeah, right - so I ended up in PACU, with a part time position, promised to turn into full time, that was 3 years ago, still part time.

    Sad thing is, I'm a very good nurse, with a lot of experience. The job is killing me - or driving me to think of doing myself in from time to time.

    I also have chronic pain from 2 herniated and 3 buldging discs in my cervical spine - pushing on my spinal chord, causing pain down my left arm and back, this only makes coping worse.

    I don't want to lose my home, it is the ONLY place I really feel safe, so I MUST KEEP WORKING - I'd like to try legal nurse consulting, but I need to find a way to become certified at a reasonable price. If I could get into that, I could do a large part of the work from home.

    Sorry if my spelling is a bit off, that's the medication.

    I wrote an article for the "critical care" article contest, see if you can read it, it's called "Nancy and Babs" - true story, that is how I learned to cope in the ER. I probably won't win - but I'm sure I'm not the only one who used this type of coping mechinism.

    Hope to talk with you soon - by the way, what do you do for a living if your not in nursing anymore?

    Take care, Babs