do you think it is okay for a nurse to have bipolar and still be working

Nurses General Nursing

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I have a question. I have been bipolar for many years and I am a nursing student. However ppl I know who know my diagnosis have told me that I shouldn't be working in healthcare especially since the field that I want to go into is psych. I am on meds and I am stable so I don't see why it should be a problem. Any thoughts.

dinkymouse

182 Posts

I think you would be fine as a nurse. It sounds as if you take your meds and keep appointments with your doctor. I think you would be a great psych nurse you have been there and have empathy. I have depression and anxiety and I make a great nurse. If you had cancer but were in remission no one would question your decision to work on an oncology floor. People don't always understand that a psych diagnosis is a condition that can also be treated. There are diabetic nurses, nurses who are alcholoics but who are dry and drug addicts who haven't used in years. I used to have multiple personalities but I have dealt with it, should I not be a nurse because of the possibility I will have a problem. No because I recongnize the symptoms when I become to stressed and take measures to deal with it.

Specializes in Psych, Med/Surg, Home Health, Oncology.

Hi

Keep up with your meds & treatments; I worked psych for a lot of years & one of my best friends was Bi-polar. She was an excellent psych nurse. as a matter of fact she still is all this many years later.

Good luck in your studies; You'll be great.

Thunderwolf, MSN, RN

6 Articles; 6,621 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Geriatric, Behavioral Health.

Having a disorder, such as Bipolar, does place you at risk for relapse when working in very stressful environments. Nursing is very stressful, so you need to take care of yourself. I have known many healthcare providers and clinicians who have Bipolar disorder and functioned quite well on the job. Be mindful of stigma, though. It is very real. So, be very careful who you disclose to. Depending on where you work and with who, nurses have a history of being very catty with each other. Don't place yourself at risk and make yourself vulnerable by sharing your diagnosis. You don't want to be in the path when catty claws come out. So, be good to yourself. I'm glad you asked and posted. It shows that you have some insight into your illness, how others may perceive a person with Bipolar disorder, and "am I doing the right thing by going into nursing". The key for you is maintaining stability. Be mindful of yourself of your key symptoms of instability and nip it in the bud. Do what you need to do to remain stable in your illness, in the field and at home. Stress, especially relational stress, is quite often the thing that kicks off instabilty for many folks...with or without a diagnosis. You mention interest in psych nursing. Makes sense. Many folks with or know someone with a disorder become interested in going into psych. But even here, take care of yourself. Stigma, even in the mental health field, is still very real here too. I wish you well in your studies.

sunnyjohn

2,450 Posts

If you are taking your meds, your condition is well managed and the BON in your state is willing to give you a license I think you will be fine.

Like others here have said, take good care of yourself while you are caring for others.

NoCrumping

304 Posts

I have a question. I have been bipolar for many years and I am a nursing student. However ppl I know who know my diagnosis have told me that I shouldn't be working in healthcare especially since the field that I want to go into is psych. I am on meds and I am stable so I don't see why it should be a problem. Any thoughts.

Take your meds, never allow yourself to go off them, you'll be fine. But, dont ever, ever, ever, disclose this info to people at work. Ever. There are lots of nurses with depression, bi polar, etc..... You can function, and do well. Good luck. But remember, dont disclose!!!!!!

leopold

179 Posts

Yes, be careful who you disclose to. Before I started nursing school I talked to the special needs coordinator about the fact that I had bp (I had to disclose it in my physical). All she said was "You need to make sure you can finish this course. If you start this course you need to make sure you can finish." On and on ad nauseum. I was pretty upset about that, I have not had a problem with bp for years. Stigma happens in just the littlest things people say and do.

One time I passed out from exhaustion and the paramedics found my medication in my bag and decided I was trying to commit suicide. I would NEVER do that. They grilled me about what I had done to make this happen and before I could even answer for myself they had pumped me full of Narcan. I cannot tell you how upsetting that was. It seems that no matter what you do there is always someone out there to remind you that you are some kind of mentally ill freak. So just be careful. You can't lie on the official documentation but I suggest you keep it to yourself otherwise.

Cute_CNA, CNA

475 Posts

I am a CNA and I have bipolar disorder. And I work in a psych hospital.

VERY FEW people at work know I'm bipolar. It's none of their business, really.

Let me tell you, it's not easy sometimes. I try to remember that I MUST be therapeutic, no matter how I feel. I am aware that when I do get agitated, it's MY decision whether or not I'm going to share that agitation. Although I must say, sometimes it leaks out, no matter how much I try not to.

Do not lie about anything, like what meds you are on, when you are hired for a job. You are not obligated to tell your coworkers that you are on meds, of course.

I find it helpful to keep myself well-rested and well-fed (and always take my meds, ALWAYS).

Sometimes I feel myself very tense (I think I also suffer from an anxiety disorder, but I've never been diagnosed or gotten meds for it... I think I would like to), I just discreetly clench and unclench my fists in my pocket, or I squeeze something really tightly. This is helpful to me, as it helps me release tension without appearing like I'm agitated on the outside.

If you ever feel like you need a time-out, as soon as you can, WALK AWAY. Ask the charge nurse if you can take a break (I've been told that this is a legitimate request, even for those w/o mental illness). Do something that relieves your tension, like find a private area and just breathe deeply.

When I get home from work, sometimes I just get on my laptop and type away about things that happened that day and how I felt about them. There have been many occassions where practically every other word was a curse word, but I think it's better to type it in a place that is safe where others don't see it, than to let it build up inside yourself and then you find yourself acting inappropriately at work.

If I ever feel like getting angry and really yelling at someone, I just decide to not say anything. I just keep my mouth shut. A big deterrent to doing something like this is thinking, "Gosh, if I do x, y, or z, I would probably be fired. So it would be better if I hold back and deal with this temporary irritating moment, then to not have a job at all! It's much harder to find a new job than to deal with this temporary moment."

EDValerieRN, ASN, RN

1 Article; 178 Posts

Specializes in ER, Peds, Charge RN.

Please read "The Unquiet Mind." I forget who writes it, but it was very informative. The story is about a prominent psychiatrist who has BP disorder, and how she coped with it and the stuff she went through. It's not a nurse in the story, but I still think it may help you. True story, and a great read.

Valerie

OBRN2004

38 Posts

One of my good friends is bipolar. She happens to be a nurse I work with too. She takes her meds and has no problems at work. She is one of the best nurses I have seen. You know your limits. If you think it will effect your taking care of pts, then maybe consider something else. But, if you are stable and compliant with your meds, I see no problems. Good luck, hope all goes well. :)

krob0729

222 Posts

I have a question. I have been bipolar for many years and I am a nursing student. However ppl I know who know my diagnosis have told me that I shouldn't be working in healthcare especially since the field that I want to go into is psych. I am on meds and I am stable so I don't see why it should be a problem. Any thoughts.

I was dx with bipolar about 6 years ago. The BON had to have all the documentation from my Dr. stating that I had been on meds, what it was, how long, and whether I had had any episodes. I haven't had any episodes in 5 years . There's a stipulation on my license for 1 year, saying that my DON sends in a work performance every 3 months, I see a therapist and get a report from him and send to the board. After that the stipulation is lifted. Suits me just fine, atleast I get to practice. You better start getting all of that together now though, because they didn't tell me they needed all of this until the month of graduation (last Aug) and I didn't get a temp permit to work. It took them 6 months to send me my Authorization to test. So, start getting all ur stuff now and send it in when you send in you license application. You'll be fine. The BON is just covering their own butt, which I don't blame them. They want to make sure I won't cause harm to pts by having a meltdown or something...don't want me wigging out.. :roll

Specializes in PeriOp, ICU, PICU, NICU.
Take your meds, never allow yourself to go off them, you'll be fine. But, dont ever, ever, ever, disclose this info to people at work. Ever. There are lots of nurses with depression, bi polar, etc..... You can function, and do well. Good luck. But remember, dont disclose!!!!!!

I agree, if you take your meds and keep it under control you have nothing to worry about. Only, the ppl you might disclose it too. Good luck to you. :)

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