Nursing is a tough gig by anyones standard, the demands put upon us to know medications, procedures, illnesses, conditions, symptoms, cultural traits and behaviours; be able to assess pain, nutrition, hydration, mental state, and to be able to perform our ever increasing mound of responsibilities while maintaining our smile, our professionalism and conducting our duties with aplomb. Then on top of all that add in a large dose of self doubt, insecurity, second guessing, negative self talk, fear, paranoia, anxiety, reluctance, demotivation, and malaise. That’s Nursing with Depression.
I love my job. I don’t mean that in a cynical it’s nearly Friday kind of way, I genuinely love what I do. I am privy to people at their worst and get to help them through it. I get to see someone take the first steps on a new knee, or regain movement after a traumatic injury. I get to see people recover from the depths of despair, and see them cast off their demons. I love my job, but, I have deep perfectionist traits, and these traits often leave me feeling uneasy about what I do. If I am administering medication I like to know the reason for why the patient is on it, how long have they been taking it, do they receive the intended benefits, and have they spoken to someone if they have not. What I also tend to do, is beat myself up. I will be organising a patients medications, get to something I am unfamiliar with by name, look it up, realise it is the same as a drug I already know, then kick myself for not knowing, for the rest of the shift and sometimes further past that. This then leads me to kick myself about everything. Sometimes things that are even out of my control or ability. I have such a high expectation of myself that I will count failure where others count success. I have been told I need to see the silver lining in things, and for the most part they are right, but to my perfectionist side… silver is second place.
The perfectionist it probably the reason for my burn out last year, my depression taking hold and the anxiety being as high as it was. The depression is the ongoing anchor around my waist. Most days I can get through with a reasonable level of positivity glued to my face and convince everyone I am ok. For the most part I succeed, but not every time. There are a few who I work with who know what is going on, to what extent, and understand the daily struggle. To everyone else, I am either well rested or exhausted. The depression manifests itself at work in the form of doorway syndrome, having to read the same thing anywhere from twice to six times, checking my watch three times and still not realising the time, feeling lethargic on the floor and feeling like I am walking through molasses. It takes some of the joy out of my job, the time spent with the patients, and the satisfaction from my work. It truly is hard to describe what is it like.
Though the depression makes the day difficult, nothing is as debilitating as anxiety. Anxiety as a whole is terrible, I feel for every person who lives with anxiety. Trying to nurse with anxiety some days is down right impossible. There have been times on the ward I have had to leave a patient’s room to try and calm myself. I have had to steady my own hand as I’m giving an injection, not only to perform it correctly, but to give a modicum of hope to the patient that it was going to be fine and they needn’t be nervous. Thankfully it hasn’t stopped me from performing my job, yet, only delayed or slowed what I am doing. It has curbed my interactions with staff and patients. I find it difficult to talk about some subjects, especially those that I believe will cause people to think less of me, or that I am incompetent. But I suppose that all links back to the perfectionist side again.
This article is not designed to illicit sympathy or cause you to feel pity. This article is to show you that times can be tough, work could be rough, your anxiety is kicking you when you’re down, and depression won’t let you get back up again. It is to share with you my struggle, every single day. It is to show you that you are not alone, your journey is shared and we are stronger together.
Maintain the Rage