Severe Depression In Career Choice

Nurses Stress 101

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Specializes in Med surg.


Hi everyone. This is about to be very long and drawn out but so necessary to get off of my chest so I'm just going to go ahead and spill it. Thank you to anyone for reading.

So I'm very very afraid I chose the wrong career for myself. I deeply dislike my job. I hate going into work, I like some interactions I have with my patients but 90% of the time I am faking it. I have been a nurse for about 3 years now. 6 months of visiting nursing which was cool but I think I was just excited to be a nurse after graduating so not even really sure if I like that. I stopped doing that to get acute care experience. I did Telemetry for one year and absolutely hated that. In the beginning I was motivated and excited to learn then started hating it. I left there to do agency nursing, tried ortho for 6 months which was OK but still crazy most days. I tried ICU, only made it 2 months because I HATED it. Some things were interesting but I really just wasn't into it. I then returned to agency on a surgical care unit which is tolerable but I still don't like it. I feel like a servant. Patients are ungrateful. I'm always stretched thin as all nurses are, my body hurts, I'm always tired. I am always nauseated. I am now taking antidepressants because I am SO depressed and I just don't even know what to do... I have no clue what to do with my life at this point. I am currently able to pay off my loans at least since I am agency nursing but that's the only thing that keeps me going. I don't think I'll last another year on the floor. And I feel so guilty because part of me feels like I need to just get over it and accept this is what I chose for myself. But then part of me is like why do nurses have to toughen up and just deal with this? I know so many that now suffer from depression, are extremely unhappy, and just hate their lives. And my friends who aren't nurses and have careers don't feel this way.... it's so heartbreaking to me because I put blood sweat and tears into my career. And I just hate it. I hate my life and don't know what to do. In 3 years I've have like 5 jobs. Trying to find happiness and satisfaction that I just can't find. What is a gal to do?? How has anyone gotten through this? And I'm not really interested in being a nurse practitioner anymore. Or maybe I'm so depressed I have zero motivation at this point. I've had a nurse tell me it wasn't until 15 years later that she actually started to love her job and I almost screamed. I would not ever wait that long and couldn't even imagine. If any tips or suggestions I'd greatly appreciate. 

Specializes in NICU.

I feel your pain,but you are doing the best thing by trying out different roles being an agency nurse.The grateful patients and families are scares ,don't hold your breath.Many go thru a find your fav place to work transition and it is trial and error for some of us.You might want to revisit the area you were most excited about in nursing school.I am sure you will find your right fit somewhere.Put NP school away for now,get a solid base and solid $$$$,pay off loans,put yourself in good financial position.

Best of luck,a little counseling for stress is also a good idea.

Specializes in ER, Wound Care.

Thank you for your post… I am going through many of the same feelings and have also recently been questioning my career choice. I think it’s generally accepted for nurses to feel like this at some point in their career but not constantly. Like you I have changed jobs frequently and I’m beginning to wonder if nursing is the right career choice. The last 3.5 years of my life have been by far the worst… filled with anxiety and depression, self doubt, self deprecation, being exhausted and feeling like I am too spent from work to enjoy any sort of life outside of work. Physically I am the most physically unhealthy I have ever been, coping with the stress by drinking too much, not eating healthily and not advocating for myself as far as time off or vacation. I am about to quit my job again and try something new, like you I question if I am searching for happiness I will never find being a nurse.

I would suggest you try and figure out what you enjoy about nursing or what is the most important to you… is it interacting with patients? Challenging yourself with learning new things? Having control over your schedule (working 8hr shifts vs 12hr shifts, PTO, etc.)? Or maybe think about why you wanted to become a nurse in the first place. Maybe you would be happier being a school nurse or working in a clinic or urgent care setting. There are also forensic nurses, nurse coders, public health nurses, cruise ship nurses, RN medical device educators/sales reps… the list goes on and on. Honestly, I am realizing that I hate acute care and feel that I am just not “good at it” and therefore I am planning on leaving the hospital soon myself. I don’t know what your financial situation is, but someone suggested to work part time at a clinic and then work another part time job that is outside of the medical field? Have you worked other jobs prior to nursing? Perhaps there are nursing positions out there that can combine your passion/personal talents with nursing. Don’t lose hope just yet… there is surely a job out there that will be a good fit for you! Like Leader25 suggested, counseling may be helpful as well, even if just used as an objective person to help you figure out what the key issues are.

Specializes in Med surg.

Thank you both so much for responding. It really makes me feel a little bit better knowing that there are people that can relate and understand what om going through. I am actually seeing a counselor and she is the one who recommended I get on the antidepressants asap. She was very concerned for me and pretty much told me I was in a dangerous place and may need to check myself into an institution. I've recently been feeling a little better, I did get a new position as a wound care nurse that will be m-f 8-4 so I'm going to try that out and see if it makes any difference for me. I've also been looking into other specialities that are not in acute care.

Aqualady_24 thank you for sharing all of those ideas. I have looked into some of those fields and I have thought about coding, case management for insurance companies, and documentation specialists jobs. I'm just not having any luck getting into those jobs I may need to redo my resume or get some more experience first. And I think going out patient is a great idea. I feel like they make it seem like you need to be in acute care as a nurse and you really don't. Like not everyone wants to work in thay craziness! As for the drinking I have totally been there too. I was drinking so much at a point I was making myself sick. I've stopped though. I've been trying to get back up, go to the gym, eat healthier and start traveling again, really trying to do things I used to love but it is hard. I'm still isolating myself from friends and family and I'm still not happy but I'm hoping in some time I'll be where I'm supposed to be and I am hoping so for you as well. 

I was trying to login to comment but it didn't take me directly back to this thread, so I searched for "depression" and it came back with 10,000 results on allnurses! I just skimmed the first page but it looked like nurses discussing their own experiences with depression. I don't have experience with this or with the jobs I'm going to suggest but they are jobs I've seen others suggest as alternatives to acute care.

There is utilization review for insurance companies, primary care clinic RN, nurse management of an inpatient unit or an outpatient clinic, home health, school nurse, case management, public health nursing, outpatient dialysis.

Maybe you need to take some time off or switch to part time to work on your mental health. Maybe after bolstering your own mental health you might find you have a lot to offer patients in inpatient or outpatient psych. But I think if you can take a step back for a bit, maybe take FMLA for depression, you might be able to make a better decision about what to do next.

Specializes in Community health.

Hang in there. And definitely consider outpatient. The last time I stepped foot in a hospital was my last day of clinicals. I was hired at an FQHC (a clinic for low income people) as a new grad and have been very satisfied with it. Every job has its challenges, every job has its skills— but the good thing about nursing is that there are so many different options. My job does not resemble bedside nursing in really any way. 

Specializes in Hospice.

With Summer coming, camp nursing might be an area to consider - even for a week.

At least for me, camp is a place to recharge as a nurse. Everything about that environment is helpful to me - completely different population, generally healthy kiddos, beautiful scenery, simple documentation, time to breathe and meals provided (no cooking or clean-up!). I can walk around the camp (or drive a golf cart) to watch different activities. It's nursing - but in a very different venue. 

If camp isn't your cup of tea (it's not everyones), then I'd encourage you to think about what your "happy place" is and see if maybe there is some nursing opportunity  available there. 

You've gotten some great recommendations. Maybe one of them will help or maybe you'll find something that fits you well for now.

Glad to see you are making your health a priority. Best wishes to you!

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