I’m Too Nervous to Return to My Nursing Career, I’m Not the First
I have always loved nursing, right from the start
I started my nurse training nine years ago in September 2010 and I fell in love with it immediately. I loved the balance of science and humanity. I realised early that I was going to be very passionate about nursing and in particular my new favourite words: good practice.
I have always been lucky to find myself in the group of learners that absorbed information easily and managed to remember most of it without studying much or revising at all. This meant I could a lesser amount of time worrying about the academic side of things; I could just read what I was told to, pass exams and essays and focus my time on work placements. These could be anywhere in the nursing field, in hospitals or in the community - basically hanging out with nurses and trying to become one.
I loved every second. I wasn’t able to think about the things that scared or worried that came with a wild lifestyle and rocky mental health history. Any time that I’ve been aware of any anxiety or depression symptoms, they have always almost vanished when I’ve got my uniform on and I’m working hard.
Nursing even helped me develop life skills like strong communication, time management, prioritisation and improved flexibility as a nurse must be a hundred people in one shift.
I started a new job at the same time I experienced PTSD for the first time
Then I started a new job as a minor injuries practitioner, quite a bit more demanding in some ways than working in emergency departments, less in others but certainly more responsibility. I started this dream job the very same week that my parents stayed with me and I was experiencing PTSD symptoms.
I was so mixed up at first, I carried on working, saw the GP who prescribed medication and I referred myself for some sort of counselling. This held up about a month and then I took all my medication which landed me in ICU. I wasn’t messing around and was gutted to wake up.
I told my boss everything, even some of the questionable methods for managing my symptoms and she was great. I had months off and returned to this new an anxious mess. I struggled on trying to improve and find my stride as a nurse practitioner but after 12 months I left as my mental state continued to deteriorate. My colleagues were supportive in a way but clearly didn’t really know what to do and I didn’t know how to help myself.
I left my full-time job to work more agency shifts in emergency departments
The point of leaving my full-time position was that I felt much better working in a busy emergency department, which I was able to do in an agency capacity. I had been working a lot of extra shifts in the preceding weeks, trying to stay normal, standard avoidance behaviour I realise now.
I did manage to work a few shifts both near my home and near my grandparent’s home when I turned up at theirs looking for a safe place, but eventually I had to stop working and start engaging with mental health services to prevent a further attempt on my life.
Since then, I've written more than anything else
That was April 2019, my last shift and the thought of working as a nurse fills me with dread. Not something I had really expected given my career which seemed to be going from strength to strength. I did however start writing as I discovered a brand new outlet for myself.
I do sort of miss nursing, I miss caring for people but I just can’t get past the responsibility of it all. What if I make a mistake? What if I make someone unwell, or more likely don’t stop them getting worse? What if someone dies? Could I handle that now? I used to be excellent under pressure and that might still be true, I don’t know and right now I think I’m too unwell to take the risk to find out.
Now, looking to the future
For the last month or so I have been meeting with someone who is trained in getting people back to work following mental health crises. I think it’s going okay so far, even though I couldn’t keep going to one of the courses, I will try again and we might now be looking for writing jobs that can use my years of nursing expertise which is actually very exciting.
I would like to think that one day I will be well enough to return to nursing but for now I think I might have to stick to writing about nursing.