Breaking the Stigma of Mental Health

A Psych Nurse's Battle with PTSD and Depression

Been Too LongĀ 

Hey everyone! I’m sorry that it has been so long since I’ve wrote anything! I have been so busy with work and family that I struggle for even a moment to myself. I sincerely apologize.

I hope everyone has been well!

I’m not going to get into a deep conversation today. I just wanted to say hello and see if I still have any followers who would be interested in me continuing to post. Just let me know and let me know what you’d like for me to discuss!


Where are the Laws FOR Nurses?

I have debated for awhile about writing anything about this. After days of wanting to scream at the top of my lungs and demand the government to help us, I finally gave up because I realize it would take too much for the state governments to want to protect nurses. I mean, what’s their gain? 

Obviously they wouldn’t want to place into affect laws that would guarantee a safe nurse to patient ratio; that would be absurd. Of course they wouldn’t want to put into affect laws that would mandate the maximum amount of hours that we could legally work; that’s even more ludicrous. 

These types of laws would only help protect the patients and help prevent a severely exhausted nurse from having more patients than he/she can handle… obviously nothing bad can come out of that equation, right?

I hope by now, you can sense the sarcasm and anger I am emitting.

Some of my coworkers and myself are severely upset lately. So much so that one called a lawyer for legal help. This state has no laws in place to protect nurses. Legally, they can have 1 nurse with up to 60 patients, per the lawyer. Is this making you feel safe going to the hospital?

The company we work for has no morals about them. Each unit at my facility has usually only one nurse. They’ll put one nurse over multiple units. They’ll have one nurse with ~30 patients. 

Feeling safe yet?

This company even has tried to pull nurses to a unit that they have no prior experience with, and they would be the only nurse on that unit. How is it safe or legal to pull a nurse to a unit to be the only nurse and they have had zero orientation to that unit? 

I must be over thinking this because since the government has no laws in place this must mean these practices are totally safe and leave the patients completely safe, right?

Taking Care of Me

I recently moved to a new state last October. I haven’t been to my doctor since about August. Since moving, I have been so focused on buying a home, taking care of my children, working full time, being a wife, etc., that I forgot to take care of me. This past couple of weeks I have broke down into tears on multiple occasions. I have felt very down and low and overall miserable. 

I forgot the most important thing that I always tell my patients: you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.

It’s time I start taking care of me again.

I have an appointment this Friday. I had been considering rescheduling it because of my hectic schedule, but now I know I need to go.

My current antidepressant is Celexa, and I don’t feel like it’s working anymore. I take 40mg at night, and I don’t want to increase that. So, I need to see about trying something new. I take Prazosin for my ptsd, but I’m getting side effects from it that I can’t tolerate. I’ve been off Adderall for my ADD for months. It’s time to get my mental state right again to where I feel happy and am not under any unnecessary stress so that I can take care of everyone else.

It’s so easy to forget to take care of ourselves. The stress of being a mother, a wife, a daughter, a nurse is all overwhelming even when it’s only one of those things. Putting it all together will wear you down quickly if you don’t take time for yourself. 

I’ve spent majority of the time lately stressing about having the money for  our down payment for the house, which means I’ve been focused on work. I need to take a step back and focus on me.

It’s not always selfish to take care of ourselves and put us first. 

I need to start remembering that.

Emotional Rollercoaster

This past week of work has been a true Rollercoaster. Where I’m working at is suffering from extreme understaffing. If it weren’t for others, I’d have been the only nurse on the unit with almost 30 patients and multiple admissions. That is not humanly possible, not even for the most experienced nurse.  

I cried at least 2 nights this week due to the stress. One day, I even escaped to the med room and sat in the floor and almost cried. If it weren’t for a good coworker, I’d have probably broke down and cried. 

Its so stressful!

It is already stressful enough working in the psych field, but to have to be understaffed opens you up to being injured at work, improper patient care, and potential med errors. Yet most states do not have a law regarding nurse to patient ratios. 

I love being a nurse, but when you reach the point of crying… you start thinking it’s time for a change. I’ve started looking for a new job… and I hate to admit that.

Nurses really need someone doing effective lobbying for us. 

But You Look Great!

At work the other day, one of the doctors I work with that knows about my history told me, “But you look great!” Keep in mind, he’s a psychiatrist. I just wanted to tell him, “You know as well as I do, looks can be deceiving.” 

I went home and cried my eyes out on December 23. My PTSD was bad that night. I couldn’t escape the flashbacks. All that went through my mind was that if ONE thing had happened differently, I’d be buried right now. My daughters wouldn’t have their mother. I couldn’t escape those thoughts. Looking at my 3 year old, who loves me with all of her heart and looks forward to me coming home from work every day, I couldn’t imagine them having to explain to her that I was in Heaven now and not with her. It breaks my heart to think of that. My beautiful 1 year old, I couldn’t imagine her growing up never even knowing me… never knowing my face, my voice, my scent. That’s enough to drop me to my knees in tears.

Then Christmas Eve, my stepsons came over. I couldn’t imagine them having to be told I would never be back to see them. It took forever to earn their trust, just for their young minds to think I abandoned them.

I really lost it Christmas. Those thoughts were still in my head, then on top of  that I was missing my family. I live in a different state now. It was the first time I didn’t have a Christmas meal. The first time I didn’t see my mom and sister and niece and nephews. It broke my heart and made me homesick. I was still crying yesterday…

But at least I look great…

Nurses DO Care…

It’s hard to be a nurse at times. I truly care about my patients. I love my job. But, as much as I wish I could help and do everything I want to do, there are things we cannot do without Doctors orders or administration approval. Obviously doctor orders are pertinent. 

But, what happens when you know that a patient needs something that the doctor won’t order? I’ve had 2 patients recently that I want so badly to help, but I’ve pushed as much as I can. I’ve talked to the doctors repeatedly and voiced my concerns. 

My patients aren’t critically I’ll, but it’s the fact that the issues are ones that can be treated. And all I want is help for them. 

Nurses go to school, learn more than what you would think is possible, then we go to work and spend majority of time with our patients just for some doctors who are there for a small bit of time to think they know more… 

I’m not sure if this post has a point, but I just wanted to put this out there…

How to Say Goodbye

Not all of my posts are mental health related… like all of you, I have a personal life as well, and it rolls into my writing and my thoughts.

Someone very near and dear to me is dealing with a lot of turmoil in their life. They don’t seem to know how to say goodbye to a long-term relationship that they’ve had. I hear people say, “Well why would someone throw away a relationship that’s lasted this long?” Well… here’s my response: 20+ years don’t mean sh*t if there’s no trust or respect.

This person that I know is in a relationship where their significant other is sneaking around, hiding their phone, hiding money, staying out until all hours of the night, and coming home with condoms in their pocket. Sounds fishy, huh? Well my friend doesn’t want to confront their SO. They cry about it but won’t confront their SO. 

I want so badly to go off on that SO. But I’ve been called confrontational in my life… I’m not known for my subtlety. I’ve tried telling my friend that they need to stand up for themselves… demand the respect deserved. Even though they’ve been married for years… at this point, it’s time to say goodbye.

… I don’t think they know how to. 

How do you teach someone how to say goodbye?

“I Am Going to Kill Myself”

Most people don’t know how to react when someone tells you, “I’m going to kill myself,” or “I wish I were dead.” I’ve heard people say the cliche things such as, “Why?” or “But you’ve got so much to live for!” If you’re one of the ones who’ve said this, I don’t look down on you nor am I saying you’re stupid, none of those things. You just don’t know what to say.

My first response always is, “How are you going to do it? Do you have a plan?” You may think I’m encouraging it, but I’m not. If someone has a plan, especially a reasonable plan that they can easily achieve, they’re very likely to do it. You can help deescalate the situation quickly by figuring out their plan and disabling them from carrying it out. If someone has no plan, they’re very likely asking for HELP. If no one responds to their silent request for help, then they start making the plans.

When someone comes to you telling you they’re depressed, they’re suicidal, anything like that… it is our duty to help them. It is our duty as their trusted person… It is our duty as a human being!

Responding with hurtful things such as, “Stop being so dramatic,” “Suck it up and get over it,” etc… They do nothing but cause a person to sink into a deeper depression. It causes pain more than you can imagine because the person reached out to you and you shut them down that quickly.

I’ve reached out to people before and got shut down… It hurts. I was able to get help, though… Not everyone does. I’ve gotten patients admitted to my unit after several failed suicide attempts because no one heard their plea. 

If anyone reaches out to you… Try to help them, and help them find someone who can help further. Don’t just be hateful and put them down… Help them… 

Santa Claus is Coming to Town…!

Christmas is almost upon us.  Most of us are buying gifts for our loved ones, and trying to figure out how in the world we can afford it! We are looking through the sales papers and online trying to find the best deal for the things are loved ones want.  We are cuddling up with our loved ones and watching TV Christmas movies, decorating our trees (or whatever decorations you put up during this time of year). There are so many traditions that people have that we couldn’t imagine spending it any other way.

Then there are other people who are not able to do these traditional things like we do.  Some people don’t understand what those who suffer from mental illness go through, especially during this time.

Working on a locked psychiatric Unit where our patients can’t leave when they feel like, it gives me an insight into what they go through. I have some patients right now that I know will not be released before Christmas. Why? They’re not stable enough to leave. They have severe mental illness that isn’t responding to medications. Then, we have some who are homeless, and even though they’re mental illness is under control, they have no where to go. That’s what is sadder than anything.

First of all, the homeless population I see that are with us… majority are veterans. They have nowhere to go. They have no family willing to take them and they have no money to afford a place to stay. It is beyond heartbreaking. There’s nothing I can do, though, except take care of them during this time. I’d love to work at a VA hospital, but honestly, the VA is a flawed system. But that is a conversation for a different day.

My other patients who are actively psychotic, they’ll be with us through the holidays. Some have family who will come visit and bring them presents… They’re the lucky ones. Some will never realize it is anything except another day. I’d love to bring them presents, but I can’t afford gifts for that many people. (Contrary to popular belief, nurses are far from rich.) 

These patients stay on my mind when I come home, when I’m spending time with my family. I can’t forget them; I can’t turn it off like a light switch.

For those with mental illness that are not in a facility, some may have a wonderful holiday season like the rest of us. Others, they may never realize it is anything else except another day. Some are one step away from being put in the hospital…

So, if you can afford it, donate to those this season who need help. If you see someone who looks like they need help, offer them a prayer, positive word, anything you feel led to do.  But always, pray for them if that’s what you do, positive vibes, whatever you believe in to do. If you know anyone with a mental illness, visit them this holiday season. Give them a positive word. If you have a family member or friend who will be in the hospital this season, call or visit them. You’ll be surprised how much it’ll help them and cheer them up!

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