Burnout!

  1. Well, friends and neighbors, I finally came to the breaking point today........and it took me totally by surprise. I was called into the manager's office this morning for questioning about yet another incident in which I failed to finish something I started, and wound up having a mini-nervous breakdown right then and there. I'm serious.......I bawled just like a little baby, and I don't DO that in front of people.

    I guess it was exactly the right thing to do, however, because not only did my NM appreciate the fact that I'd finally admitted to being burned out, I'm actually somewhat relieved. I knew, of course, that my job has become harder and harder in the past year or so, and that I've been sick so many times due to plain old stress, but I had no idea I was that bad off.........guess it takes something like bursting into tears in my boss's office for me to realize that I'm ***** (not to put too fine a point on things).

    Trouble is, I feel absolutely terrible about my freak-out---now I'm gonna look like a little wuss who's too weak and emotionally unstable to be a nurse. I've always thought of myself as tough enough to survive in this profession, but I'm so frazzled now that I don't know if I can even go back to the floor.......seems that my intestines have been tying themselves into knots every morning I have to go to work, and I can feel my BP creeping up, up, up........last week it was 189/96, and that was when I thought I was RELAXED. (And I'm on three different HTN medications.) I've even begun having headaches again, and lately I've been experiencing these intense blood-sugar crashes in the middle of the day that make me so confused, shaky, irritable, and weak that I've taken to carrying around glucose tablets in my pocket so I can ward off the worst symptoms. (I'm not diabetic---at least, not that I'm aware of---but I'm beginning to wonder.) Sometimes they happen so fast that I'm frightened.......one minute I'll be fine, the next I'll feel lightheaded and sweaty and the only thing that fixes it is a few of those tablets, or a cup of regular Pepsi, or better yet, both.

    So, I'm sort of on a day-to-day leave of absence, on the condition that I seek some assistance (I have an appointment with a therapist in about an hour) and keep my NM posted on my progress. I wish I could afford to do as Dutchgirl has and take a nice long leave, but my DH is currently drawing unemployment and SOMEBODY in this house has to work or we won't have a house to live in.:stone I'm looking for another job, but I don't want to take just anything out of desperation......and I've decided to leave the bedside for good. I can't handle it. I love my patients, but I can't take care of them the way I want to in today's acute OR long-term care environment, so it's either going to be discharge planning or doctor's office for me. I'll have to take a huge pay cut almost any way I turn, but at this point I think I'd be better off with peace of mind, a regular schedule, and less physical and emotional stress.

    Thanks for listening.
    •  
  2. 27 Comments

  3. by   SmilingBluEyes
    OH MY MY MY Marla....do what you have to, to take care of yourself. It seems like it's a bad week/month for so many. I do worry about your health. Do take care. I Hope this thread is also somewhat cathartic for you. You have a lot on your plate, my dear.

    Concentrate on that lovely family of yours---it's your grandbaby's VERY FIRST CHRISTMAS---enjoy it and them......and know we are here for you my dear, in every way possible. You are in my thoughts.
  4. by   Katnip
    Oh, Marla. You know, this sounds exactly what you need, though. The time to sit back, take stock of where you are and what you need to do for yourself.

    Heck, I've only done 2 and 1/2 years of nursing and I'm flipping out. You'll find your niche. Never fear.

    Like Deb said, just enjoy the moments you have with your family now and try not to worry.
  5. by   traumaRUs
    Marla - you must take care of yourself first before you can extend yourself to others. Your stress with your husband's job situation, your dear daughter's accident and the death of the young soldier you were close to might be coming together to signal to you that while one door is closing, another is opening. Good luck...
  6. by   Tweety
    (((Marla)))

    By sharing you're story, you're helping someone else. Best wishes.
  7. by   chris_at_lucas_RN
    Kinda amazing, in a way, but you popped into my head early this a.m. and just stayed there.

    I'm so sorry all this has happened. And weak, you are not!

    You have been working an intense job for quite some time, and while home has had its delights, it has been stressful too.

    I know you will do what you need to do. I hope you know we are all behind you, we love you, and nobody, but nobody who knows you could ever think you were a wuss (or whatever that term was).

    BTW, hugging on the baby can be rejuvenating..... At least you have one in residence!

    Hugs, hon, as always!
  8. by   barefootlady
    Marla,
    Please take this time to rest and access your bottom line needs. I can so relate to every word you wrote, I admire your frankness and appreciate the time you took in sharing your situation with us. I will pray you find all of the answers you are searching for soon and according to His plan for you. Remember, when a door closed another window of opportunity opens. :icon_hug: :heartbeat
  9. by   VivaLasViejas
    You are all very dear to me.........thank you so much for being there for me.:kiss

    I'm feeling quite a bit better this evening......had a very good first therapy session this afternoon, and I have a lot of new 'stuff' to think about. Right away, I learned that I haven't been taking care of me for a very long time.......perhaps never, at least not in the way I should if I want to be around to see my grandchildren grow up. He also said something that slapped me upside the head so hard that I made him repeat it, twice: "A problem is nothing more---and nothing less---than a failed solution".

    Well, to say that I'd never looked at it that way would be an understatement; but when I thought about it, it made all sorts of sense. I mean, what ELSE have I been doing when I self-medicate with sweets? Sure, it makes me feel better for a brief time when I'm having a bad day, but later I feel gross and overstuffed, and it adds more and more weight, which is the root of a lot of my physical problems, and thus creates a vicious circle.......a failed solution.

    I also realize now that self-medicating is EXACTLY what I've been doing for most of my life: it's no different than drinking like a fish, smoking like a chimney, doing speed, or toking away on a joint---all things I've done in the past. And hey, why not? Food is legal, it's socially acceptable, it's always available, and it doesn't give you cancer or make you smell or turn you into a dropout.

    Trouble is, it doesn't solve anything, and indeed creates other problems, as has been made abundantly clear to me through the aches and pains, the high blood pressure, the groaning of my poor abused joints whenever I get out of a chair or climb stairs, the bad digestion, the depressed moods. It's no different from how I used to behave whenever I went on one of my six-month-long benders: I've got the stinkin' thinkin', I've got a crappy attitude, I'm stressed, I'm anxious, I'm totally down on myself........all the ingredients for a world-class dry drunk. The only thing I'm NOT doing wrong is actually consuming alcohol........no, I get to feel virtuous by staying sober all the while I'm systematically destroying my body with a knife and fork.:stone

    What I'm going to actually DO about all of this remains to be seen; I guess that's why you're supposed to go to therapy more than once. But this is an enormous breakthrough........just tonight, I've caught myself reaching for the peanut brittle twice, only to stop myself by asking if I really wanted it or if I was just trying to soothe my lingering embarrassment over my crying jag in the boss's office this morning. What is it they say about a journey of a thousand miles........?

    Speaking of which, I got enough courage from my therapy session to go to the meeting at work that I've been dreading for a month, the so-called "debriefing" about a patient I talked about here awhile back, the one with the controlling husband who treated us all like dirt, the one who went bad on me while I was dealing with 4 other patients and a fresh post-op who was acting like a drama queen. Seems the lady passed on a couple of weeks ago, and if her thundercloud of a spouse isn't planning to sue us, I'll eat my employee badge. (The actual death happened at our flagship hospital, where she'd been transferred after our 'mishandling' of her care.......where her WBC count went from 25 to 45 to 69, where she was put through every test under the sun, where massive sepsis overwhelmed her bad heart, bad gut, and bad lungs.)

    Anyway, I said some things at that meeting that I should have said weeks ago when the assistant department manager reamed me a new anal orifice for 'neglecting' a patient in whose room I spent three and a half hours of a four-hour shift. When my NM said we are supposed to call in the managers if we become overwhelmed with patients who are crashing or otherwise needing heavy care, I told her the truth: "I HAVE gone up the chain of command, but I have been told---on more than one occasion---to suck it up and just do it".

    You could have heard snow falling in the room, it was that quiet......other nurses were nodding silently, and the managers all sat there with their mouths hanging open. The NM said finally, "well, I personally have never told anyone to 'suck it up', but......" Which is true, she's never told me that, but I HAVE heard it from the ADMs, the house super, and even the staffing coordinator, so after a while I just learned to shut up so I wouldn't be labeled a whiner.

    The NM then told everyone in the room that if we EVER are overwhelmed and need help, we are to persist in getting that help, even if we piss off somebody in the process, because patient care is the ultimate priority.......even if we have to call in the VP of Nursing Services herself. I said, "OK---I will hold you to that". And I will........I'm not going through this sort of thing again and getting hung out to dry like I have in the past.:angryfire

    But then, I'm not going to be in Med/Surg any longer than I need to in order to keep food on the table until I can find another type of job. That's another thing I was made to understand today.......this kind of nursing sucks the life out of me, and I can't possibly take good care of my patients if my strength is so sapped that I have nothing to give them. As of today I am on leave of absence; I will be in touch with my NM next Wednesday at the earliest, but at this point I feel like something's crossed over in me, that I may not be able to return at all........I have several irons in the fire already, so to speak, but I also want to spend some time with my 20-year-old who's coming home on leave next week, and to enjoy my grandson's very first Christmas on earth.

    What it all boils down to is this: I've got to take things one day at a time, just like I did back in the early days of sobriety when I was so afraid of going crazy, never realizing that sanity would come only when I'd cleared the booze out of my brain and learned to deal with life on its terms.

    Thank you all again, and good night.
  10. by   LoriAlabamaRN
    (((((Marla)))))

    I am so sorry you are going through this. Is your dh unable to work physically? If not, I think that instead of you stressing on being on a leave of absence and having to work because he isn't, that he should be the one looking for even a small job to allow you a break. Noone is going to think that you are "too wussy" to be a nurse. Nurses are human, bottom line. In this situation, with stress out the ying-yang, we all have our breaking point. It is better to acknowledge yours and take the break that you need than to keep working and possibly make errors with your license on the line. You are doing the right thing. I hope you follow up on the BP and glucose issues, you may need a switch in BP meds and you may very well be diabetic. It happens a lot when the person's self-medication is with food. I know many nurses who are diabetic now d/t eating when stressed. Comfort food is so tempting, I fall into that routine myself. It is a blessing that you are realizing this now, and yes a journey of a thousand miles does begin with a single step. I'll pray for you!!!
  11. by   Roy Fokker
    Quote from mjlrn97
    now I'm gonna look like a little wuss who's too weak and emotionally unstable to be a nurse. I've always thought of myself as tough enough to survive in this profession, but I'm so frazzled now that I don't know if I can even go back to the floor
    Keep up this kind of attitude and yer gonna get a chewing out from me!

    Marla :icon_hug: You've been through a lot this year. Both GOOD (your aniversary, birth of your grandchild) and BAD (sickness etc.). Stress comes from both directions. And all the little ones add up to give you quite a load on your shoulders.

    We're all human. Our shoulders can take only so much...

    Now's the time to take a few deep breaths, drink a couple cool glasses of water. Take a nap. And then a shower. And then sit down and think, what ought to be done....

    Peace and hugs.
  12. by   weetziebat
    (((Marla))), I am so sorry for the situation you are going through at work right now. Sounds like this 'melt down' must have been coming on for quite some time. We can try to ignore a lot of warnings our body gives us, but at some point it becomes impossible to deny the need to reassess our lives, and figure out if we're going in the right direction. Try to look at this as a wake-up call - an opportunity to step back and think about what you want to be doing. No shame in this.
    Take care and let us know how you're doing, alright? I'm sure you know how much we all care for you here!
  13. by   Katnip
    Marla, that therapy session seems to have done a lot of good. Keep it up, girl. You'll do fine. Just take care of yourself and the rest will fall into place.

    (((HUGS)))
  14. by   DusktilDawn
    :icon_hug: :icon_hug: :icon_hug: :icon_hug:
    Take care of yourself Marla. Please let us know how things are going. Lots of hugs being sent.

close