Nursing and mental health

Nursing and mental health go hand and hand. Nursing is hard. Nursing is hard not just physically but emotionally. We hold everything in because we are the ones that are supposed to help. We heal. We often forget that we can sometimes be the ones that need healing.

I was diagnosed with depression years ago, years before I became a nurse. I was placed on meds that I no longer take, I’ll explain why later on. Nursing school didn’t help, it just kept me so busy that I couldn’t take a moment to acknowledge the depression. Nursing, especially in a hospital that I hated, added anxiety attacks to the picture. I would wake up at night in a panic without being able to pinpoint why. That made me feel worse. I felt like an idiot for panicking over nothing, which made me hate myself even more. It was a downward spiral.

Before nursing school, when I first voiced suicidal ideation, my parents sent me to therapy. That is when I first received the diagnosis of depression (my mother died when I was 16, I watched her take her last breaths, I shut down big time). I was placed on trazodone and Zoloft. I hated it. I went from feeling depressed to feeling nothing at all. So I stopped taking both of them (don’t be like me) and instead stuck to therapy. It worked for me. She helped me come up with other ways to manage my mental illness. It worked for quite a while. Then enter nursing school and full-time nursing. I ended up back in therapy but due to my schedule I just couldn’t keep up with it. Hey, I’m a nurse, I can figure this out on my own. I’m tough. I’m a fixer. I’m a healer. I help everyone else so why can’t I help myself?

I am my own worst enemy.

I wear a smile for my patients and my coworkers. I am happy Fred the nurse. I’ve got a smile and a joke. My patients love me. My coworkers love me. Everyone believes I am ok. I look like I’m ok. I also spend most of my off days sleeping, I’m talking 12-13 hours. I don’t want to leave the house unless it’s to get food. I isolate myself from my friends, my brother is my roommate and he may not see me the whole day. I have dark thoughts that I know I should not be having. I wake up with my heart pounding feeling like some unknown thing is wrong and if I don’t fix it the world will implode. I am Fred the nurse and I have depression. I am Fred the nurse and I am not strong enough to battle this alone. I am Fred the nurse and I am strong enough to know that I need therapy again. I am Fred the nurse and I will get out of my own way. I am Fred the nurse and I will be ok.


39 thoughts on “Nursing and mental health

  1. Liz

    Look after yourself. I imagine this can be very hard for the job you do, but do take time out for yourself for you. Even if it is just for 10 minutes when you are home.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mmelchi1

    I think that most nurses should get therapy. We have to deal with things everyday that most people will never deal with. Actually, I think it needs to be part of the medical and other first responders’ job, to have therapy. I’m sorry you are going through this, but I’m happy you recognize your need! Wish you healing and peace of mind.


  3. This blog is therapy to me. SO many nurses have struggles themselves but end up being non compliant or “handling it”. I have dealt with things at work that have forever changed me. In hindsight, I believe I had an undiagnosed anxiety disorder prior to becoming a nurse. And as you know, that just adds fuel to the fire. Thank you for the honesty in your writing. I have similar content on my site. I especially enjoyed “resident-splaining !” I had an experience the other day with a resident trying to explain the anatomy of a cervix to me and I wanted to yell out WTF I have done way more cervical checks than you probably ever will!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lindsey Porter

    Helpful info. Lucky me I found your website by accident, and I’m shocked why this coincidence didn’t took place in advance! I bookmarked it.


  5. Hang in there Fred. I know it’s easier said than done but I believe you will get through this. Thanks for this honesty. Being a nurse and battling depression cannot be easy and yet you do it. Be sure to to take time for yourself because me time is very important.


  6. pagerachel

    Thank you for sharing your story. I can relate. I am a registered nurse, and I also suffer from depression and anxiety. It is a debilitating illness, especially both of them combined. I went on a road of self-discovery to truly learn how to love myself. I started to read the book “The Secret” (it is about the Law of Attraction). I has opened my eyes, and given me a sense of hope and brought so much positivity to my life. There will be better days. Chin Up and Smile.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve actually has several people recommend that book to me. I’m going to have to read it because it’s obviously something I need. I’m glad to know I’m not alone out there. We nurses have each other’s backs


      1. Rachel Page

        Of course. That is the beauty of our profession. We are (mostly) an empathic group that truly knows how to relate to one another. I also found talking to people about my feelings help. I see a psychologist regularly.


  7. You will so get there! I empathise with you, I’m a first year student and struggle with feeling depressed sometimes but you have no time to deal with it when you’re working a 10 hour shift looking after patients and you’re right, no one really has a clue, especially when you’re laughing and joking x all the best x


  8. Such a blessing to read this! As a recently diagnosed nurse with PTSD I know first hand the stigma on seeking mental health, like we all need to lay on someone’s couch! I love my 2 therapist they have changed my perspective introduced me to yoga, mindfulness and meditation!


  9. Getting there

    I can relate to so much of this. I’m a mental health nurse and suffer from depression. Of course as a mental health nurse I thought I knew best. I didn’t. I made mistakes. I didn’t speak and things got much much else before I got on the road to recovery.


  10. NurseFaceBlog

    This is a wonderful post. Thank you for being honest and real about depression and how a person can look like they have it all together when inside they are falling apart. It speaks volumes to nurses everywhere. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I am opposite of what you’re doing at work… I feel like everybody hates me… But with family and friends, I am happy… I am currently in a low state at the moment whenever I think about work… I had bad feedback from my manager and I feel like it was an unfair feedback as I do not think I am that kind of person that she was describing… I know we should see negative feedback as a step to improve but all I can feel at the moment is that I am undervalued and not appreciated…

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Hannah Josephson

    Thanks for being so open. I do struggle with some of the same things you mention. And i hide behind a smile and hardly ever open up to anyone about. Nursing is so hard and can take a lot out of us. I’m glad you’re able to use this blog cathartically , just hope you have a good support network. I wish you well. Please please take care of yourself. I know times get dark but try and remember to let the light shine through. Take care


  13. Fred, I do not suffer from depression, but lately as a new nurse it feels like I’m always anxious or depressed. Nursing is hard and we give the best we can, just know that you are doing your best and making your patients day a little better when their health is at their worst. You got this, and remember to take care of yourself first. We are all hanging there!


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