I remember an interesting case when I used to work in psych ER. The patient was a 40-something gentleman, known with bipolar affective disorder. He was found on the street, naked, shouting out some disrespectful words at passersby. He was brought in by the police for “bizarre behavior.” Once installed in a room of the psych dept, we had to proceed to the inventory of his belongings, including his wallet, all in his presence. You can guess my surprise when I pulled out his ACTIVE registered RN licence from the wallet, along with his card indicating he was a nursing instructor at a college…
I tried not to make any facial expression that would show my surprise. But I have to admit this case stayed on my mind for a long time. How many RNs do you know, who are working tirelessly, and would benefit from a mental health consult? I know this particular patient had an underlying condition that may have led to his presence in the ER, but it does not mean we, not having any mental illness dx, are a 100% safe. I don’t know about you, but there are some days I would need some sort of mental health help. It might be the same for you. The stressful atmosphere, the bullying coming from some patients’ family, from MDs, and even from our own nursing colleagues can have a serious impact on our psyche…
Of course some of us do live with mental illnesses, just like in the general population, but if our illnesses are not well controlled, do we have enough insight to know when to stop caring for other people and take care of ourselves? When to say enough is enough? Or to say: No, I won’t do the OT this time because my sanity’s at jeopardy?
I think ones nurse’s worst nightmare is to end up in a bed of her own floor, right? ER nurses always say: if I drop –, or something happens to me, swear you’ll drive me to that other hospital! We may say that with a bit of humour, but that just goes on to say that we would be ashamed for our fellow HCPs to see us in a vulnerable position. And it’s understandable.
But we’re no super humans…although sometimes we feel like it. In order to avoid ending up in a hospital bed, it’s important to make sure our mind is doing fine. As we all know, prevention is key.+
What are your thoughts on the subject? Have you lived any situation where you thought you were about to loose all your sanity? Please share. It’ll make us all grow.