Finally- I smiled.

22 Sep

Sometimes all it really takes to feel better is to know that you are not the only person feeling dark and depressed. It is true that our feelings are our own unique experiences but sometimes it takes someone else feeling the same way and expressing it in a way that you could not seem to find the words for to help you identify that deep dark hole in your gut that squeezes your chest. I identified that place today over at Nurse Seans place…a dark place.

I seriously thought about quitting my job. I thought about all the jobs I had before I was a nurse. Could I go back to graphic arts? Could I afford a career change? What about all the years of schooling, the student loan debt?  I graduated nearly 2 years ago and started working on telemetry right after my first intern rotation. So I have been working non stop telemetry for 14 months now without any time off when this darkness set in. I loved it at first!  I learned so fast. Every night I came home and read and read learning the medications, arryhtmias, the heart, heart failure, gas exchange, I just loved learning. I studied for ACLS and got certified. I worked overtime. I loved my job. I was always ready to help out.  Then the darkness set in.  I am not sure why or how it managed to sneak up on me, a dark shadow in a dim lit back alleyway.  It did. I could not write. I could not read. I was filled with dread the night before work. I slept on my days off all day and all night. I watched television alot! I got to work filled with anxiety and complained about the system, administration, and everything that is wrong with all things hospital related. I kept asking myself, “how did I get here?”  It seemed as though I had one bad shift after another.

There is noone to talk to about your job. Even if you are in relationship such as marriage or the like, when they ask you, “How was your day?” Can you really sum it all up in a few meaningful sentences that will be coherent to the other? No! You can not.  Who will understand what you do?  What am I doing and when will I get better at it? How can I explain what it is I do when it goes so fast sometimes that I even wonder…what did I do today? Intervention after intervention.

Then the personal unrelated to work depression sets in. The questions. Am I able to retain long term personal relationships? Can I really maintain that? Closeness. Have I ever really let that happen? The past is an old movie playing in my head like a VHS tape that I taped over with the new movie. The past is like an old hard wood floor with generations of family cats and dogs, pooping and urinating, and spraying on it till the finish is gone and the wood turns black and the edges shrink leaving cracks for dust and dog hair and sometimes flea eggs in them, and they start to creak in certain spots, the floor can not be removed because the house, like the past, like the floor is to large. We can just cover it up with a nice new carpet with the lots of padding underneath.

Finally, I used some of my vacation time that was just building up to be ultimately cashed in at the end of the year if not used. I took two weeks off. Still depressed. I slept for two weeks. I started to read. I slowly crawled out of the shadows. My first week back was still emotional, and crazy, but I managed fine. I felt myself getting better and I even started smiling! It was weird to feel my facial muscles twist up into that silly grin with my crooked teeth.

One Response to “Finally- I smiled.”

  1. Michelle Leonard September 24, 2008 at 11:24 #

    Wow. My heart just broke when I read this because I completely feel for you. It made me think about the topic of my research paper in school on compassion fatique. It is amazing how much is required of our souls to be nurses. I agree with the part about nobody understanding a typical day at work because it is indescribable. We can only rely on each other which is why I made lifelong friends in nursing school. I have only been a nurse on my own for four months on a med-surg floor and can see how nurses get burned out. I have worked in the hospital for 13 years now though so I think the burnout pre-existed for me. I have had the same crazy thoughts about….why did I do this? should I do something else? what about all the hard work I put into this already? The guilt I feel about having these thoughts is tremendous. This has been my lifelong dream and some days I feel like I could walk away because it is so stressful. I think I enjoyed nursing school more than nursing itself. I have had the anxious dreams and pit in my stomach before going to work too. My gosh, we have so much responsibility. Regardless of these doubts we have, God gave us a gift to do it. There are so many cool things about being a nurse. I love that no two days are ever the same. The schedule with 12-hour shifts is irreplaceable and I could never work a 9-5 job ever again. I dont know how my friends do it. The people I work with are the bomb. My charge nurse is a fountain of knowledge and help and all without an attitude. So, this relationship with nursing is like a marriage. When it gets worn you have to remember why the relationship started in the first place and go back to the beginning. I have discovered that after all that hard work in school the ultimate best thing about being a nurse is the days off. Crazy isnt it? I am glad you have been able to pull yourself into some light. I have a blog also that I put alot of nursing stuff on if you ever want to look at it… Hang in there and write me anytime. Michelle

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