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Working with bipolar

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by Sezzie0000 Sezzie0000 (New Member) New Member

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Hey guys,

I have recently been diagnosed as bipolar. I have had many difficulties with holding down a job over the last 3 years as I wasn't on mood stabilisers and my mood would greatly effect my work.

I recently had 3 very serious suicide attempts (a couple of months ago) and the psychiatrist from hospital said I should be okay to return to work by mid to late Jan. I am worried as I do not feel like I can go to work. I feel the stress of returning to work will be too much. Does anyone else struggle to work as a nurse with their illness. Any tips or advice. I feel like my family is pressuring me to return to work and I am not ready but I don't know what to do. Also I work on agency and some of the hospitals I work at I was a patient at and I work in emergency so I am afraid they will remember me, so that is stressing me out. At one hospital my dad brought me because I wasn't doing well and I was straight away recognised by 2 nurses as the girl that took the huge overdose and shouldn't have survived.

I would just like to hear of other people working as nurses with mental illness. I must admit that the hospital frustrated me as they stated "don't you realise that this suicide attempt could ruin your career" as a nurse in emergency I have seen patients unwell and would never say anything like that to them. I honestly wasn't thinking of my job when I was suicidal and it just showed to me how little they actually understand on mental illness. It is horrible being on the other side of nurses.

Thanks,

Sezzie0000

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VivaLasViejas has 20 years experience as a ASN, RN and works as a Retired/Disabled Nurse and Blogger.

8 Followers; 142 Articles; 247,682 Visitors; 9,598 Posts

I am at work right now and will respond more later. You are NOT alone. There are several of us here at Allnurses who battle bipolar and we are here to help. Hang in there!

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VivaLasViejas has 20 years experience as a ASN, RN and works as a Retired/Disabled Nurse and Blogger.

8 Followers; 142 Articles; 247,682 Visitors; 9,598 Posts

OK. I'm home now and can give you a little more in-depth about how I personally have coped with BP on the job.

I was diagnosed only a couple of years ago, at age 53. I am bipolar 1 and have had a great deal of difficulty working with the severe mood swings (especially mania). Things reached critical mass at my DNS job back in April of last year because I was full-blown manic and having serious anxiety attacks to boot, and my psychiatrist gave me the choice of going out on medical leave of absence or being hospitalized.

Unfortunately, I didn't stay out long enough---three weeks were all I could afford---and within 2 hours of walking back in the door, I fell apart all over again and was sent home by the corporate nurse, who'd taken over my work while I was out. Three days later my employment was terminated, because the company had decided that they couldn't make the accommodations recommended by my p-doc and I certainly couldn't perform the duties of the position without them.

It took me six long months to stabilize after those events, and I wound up retiring from clinical nursing a couple of weeks ago because I really CAN'T handle it anymore. Fortunately, I had an application in with the state government for a position as a nursing home surveyor, and today was my first day. Not one of my new co-workers knows I'm bipolar, and there's no reason for them to know as I am in full remission and have a battle plan in place to help prevent mood episodes. This includes a rather alarming amount of medication, along with a regular schedule for sleeping and waking, and regular visits to my doctor for therapy and med management.

Bottom line: Do not, do not, do NOT go back to work until you are ready. This is one time where it doesn't matter what others think, you need to do what's best for YOU. It could be that the hospital jobs are triggering and you need to do a different type of nursing, and it sounds like you're either not on meds or they aren't working well. While we can't offer any medical advice, I do urge you to be proactive in dealing with your illness---educate yourself about bipolar disorder and talk with other people who live with it to learn their tips and tricks (you did well to start out here, and I hope there will be more responses soon).

I also would advise you not to discuss your mental health issues with your supervisors or co-workers when you do go back to work. I made that mistake, and forever after, I couldn't breathe in the wrong direction without some well-meaning person inquiring about the state of my mental health. It's a crying shame that we have to be so secretive about something that's just as much a part of us as brown eyes or flat feet, but the truth is, nursing is NOT kind to those of us with psychiatric issues.

I hope this helps at least a little. Again, you really are not alone.....don't be afraid to ask for help!

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poppycat has 40 years experience as a ADN, BSN and works as a private duty pediatrics.

36,157 Visitors; 852 Posts

I also have bipolar (type 2). I wasn't diagnosed until age 48 & before that I also had a hard time holding a job. The longest I was at any job was 2 1/2 years. I've been at my current job almost 7 years now. It took almost a year for me to find the right medication for me. Mood stabilizers don't work for me. They tend to send me into hypomania. I've been on a low dose of an antidepressant for the past 6 years & it works well for me.As Viva stated, don't go back to work until you are ready. The people pushing you to get back have no idea what you have been through or are going through now.We are here for support any time you need it.

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