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Orientation day + first weeks+ smoking cessation meltdown

Student Assist   (1,424 Views | 11 Replies)

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SUMMARY SO YOU CAN SKIP THE READING: Severe, recent Chantix side effects have made me lose my ability to be happy and motivated. I'm irrationally fearful all the time. I'm just ranting, I don't need support. Hopefully this post encourages someone to take a different path. (OR DON'T EVER START SMOKING!)

I have zero time to be posting on here with the volume of schoolwork I have to do, but I'm going for it anyhow. Talking about my recent experience counts as self-care time, I think.

In the last 3 months, I have quit smoking on Chantix. Hooray! Right? Ehhh...

I've recently been dealing with the dark, bad side effects it can sometimes have: anxiety, random terror, panic, vomiting, chills, unable to sleep, not being hungry, not eating. - In a way, I want to blame this on being creeped out on orientation day. They totally hit us hard with failure rates, reasons to be kicked out, and the whole reality-check run down. What's so frustrating is that I expected this on orientation day. --AND, I was doing mostly well (mentally) on Chantix before that day (though my husband disagrees).

The day after orientation, I had a full blown panic attack. My thinking was completely irrational.

Something is wrong with my brain, now. It's not the stress of nursing school in itself. I'm going through some sort of chemical crisis. Sometimes, it feels like a horror movie. I become totally out of control and... hunted, I guess. It's like dark force takes over and fears I've never thought much about become true somehow. My doc pulled me off Chantix immediately.

Currently waiting for lab results for my serotonin (& a few other happy chemical) levels. Dr. suspects some interference due to the Chantix. .

Nursing school is its own ball of trauma, but coupled with losing my mind? Ouch. It just feels so raw. I was so proud of my hard work, and now I feel ashamed. It feels terrible to have been so well adjusted & prepared for nursing school, and then nosedive into this mental/emotional-chemical crisis.

I've got no one to blame but myself. I get that. I knew the risks of smoking & of Chantix. Maybe some of this is nicotine withdrawal, not Chantix (stopped 3 weeks ago, smoking 4 weeks ago). However, I really have no desire to smoke. The smell is disgusting to me now.

I just want to be myself again: not this fearful, moody, crazy person. I miss myself, and & I'm humiliated (even though only my doctor and husband know - I crazy people give off vibes. They just DO).

Not sure what replies I'm looking for here, if any. Just sharing my experience these first few weeks. Maybe my main idea here is... don't smoke, and if you do, stop smoking on your own LONG before you enter a rigorous nursing program. It was humiliating to call my doctor and tell him I was "terrified and desperately need help IMMEDIATELY."

I would imagine many people lose their minds a few times in their life. This experience has been jarring. There are very few things more terrifying to me than losing trust in myself.

I just want to feel normal again.

Regardless, I'm going to get through this. If I'm a robot on anxiety meds for awhile; fine.

But I might need counseling. I just don't have the ****amn time! I'm scared this might like forever. Ugh.

Thanks for reading! I'm just bitting my nails and hoping that my brain will chemically rebalance itself.

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LessValuableNinja has 8 years experience and specializes in Cardiac (adult), CC, Peds, MH/Substance.

754 Posts; 5,591 Profile Views

Dear Jules, plz read this. You probably have a useful reply.

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1,035 Posts; 6,959 Profile Views

Well, if nothing else, this will give you a good appreciation for the awful experience of being out of control of your health and of the depths of misery somebody who looks perfectly normal can be in.

This is a known SE of Chantix. It's not permanent. If your PCP doesn't know how to manage it, get him/her to refer you to a psychiatrist (MD) who can prescribe something to get your serotonin and other happy chemicals back on the job.

This too shall pass. Stay in touch and let us know how it goes. {{hugs}}

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63 Posts; 2,167 Profile Views

Thanks! Iwill do what you say and use it as a learning experience. Prior to this, I felt that I knew enough about depression (and, therefor, somehow, all mental health issues) from my own past experiences & education. Boy. :facepalm: This really makes me hurt for others - & want to learn more.

I'm trying to stay cognizant of any mood swings, but (I think) I'm slowly improving. Instead of fearing my workload, I'm really digging the education (and the purpose)! Good sleep makes a hell of a difference.

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la_chica_suerte85 is a BSN, RN and specializes in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.

1,260 Posts; 10,981 Profile Views

This confirms my suspicions about Chantix -- every time I see the commercials and they throw out the rapid-fire list of possible side effects I always think to myself that it's pretty terrible and, if I were a smoker trying to quit, I would be extremely hesitant to go that route.

All that said, orientation for nursing school is a major kick in the butt for people who aren't trying to go through a major change like quitting smoking, let alone those who are. Orientation is supposed to feel that way -- the Chantix is certainly exaggerating the feelings that result from the typical nursing school orientation.

But, these feelings won't last, Chantix or not.

With all that you have going on, this is a very critical time for you to understand that kindness to yourself is paramount at moments like this. Nursing school shakes you to the core and it always seems to happen when you're the least prepared for a crisis. So, here's your first one. The good thing about it is you're getting it out of the way and you'll be that much harder to freak out in the future.

You're frequently going to feel like you're not cut out, there's something fundamentally wrong with you that will prevent you from getting through school and passing the NCLEX and finding a job and you're just simply bound to fail. Then, you remember that you are human and these are human feelings and it's ok. You forgive yourself for the self-torment, learn more about yourself and get stronger.

The summer before I started nursing school I read I Wasn't Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse. It has some fantastic personal accounts of the trial-by-fire journeys people undertook to become nurses. The underlying theme is the transformation these nurses went through and the massive amount of self-knowledge they gained in the process. I found it helpful to regard all of the nursing school journey as one that will change you for the better, even when things are crushingly hard and you will see things and have experiences that will make you feel like you aren't yourself anymore (and, that goes double for the time you transition from school to new grad -- I am definitely not the same person anymore).

So, good luck (and congratulations!) will quitting smoking. This likely will be the toughest thing you will endure during nursing school and you're getting it out of the way early! Some people will go through the majority of school all easy-breezy and then something will come out of left field and take them out when they were least prepared for it. Now, you have an experience that will make a lot of the hard things nursing school will throw at you seem not so bad. Good luck with everything! ;)

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Apple-Core has 1 years experience as a ASN, BSN, RN.

1 Follower; 1,013 Posts; 6,058 Profile Views

First of all.........HUGS~!! Secondly, can totally relate. Not from Chantix, but have experienced a mental/emotional breakdown and it was terrifying and ghastly. Sending good vibes your way!

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1,035 Posts; 6,959 Profile Views

I. Love. This. Site.

Thank you both.

You're entirely welcome...and remember that this is what nurses do the next time you read some dumb-butt "NETY! NETY!" whining here. We're nurses, we can help. {{hugs}}

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4 Posts; 331 Profile Views

I've had those mental breakdowns in the past, sadly more than once. I can't imagine dealing with that on top of nursing school. You are amazing! Although those feelings feel like they will last forever, they will definitely subside! Many hugs to you!

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brillohead has 5 years experience as a ADN, RN and specializes in Cardio-Pulmonary; Med-Surg; Private Duty.

1,781 Posts; 23,035 Profile Views

Bless you for quitting smoking. I work a cardiopulmonary unit now, and I see every day the terrible, terrible toll that tobacco takes on the body.

I've never tried smoking, so I've never experienced the hell that is the quitting process... but you're in my prayers. You got this, sweetie!

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datalore specializes in Cardiac/Tele.

100 Posts; 5,178 Profile Views

Good on you for quitting! Watching my hubs do the same and you about-to-be-former-smokers are warriors I swear. Kudos. Hang in there.

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