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What Working in a Hospital Is Like as a Nurse With Bipolar Disorder

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One thing I have noticed about myself is my ability to be a completely open book. I have always been open about my mental health, and am always free to talk about my experiences. That’s how I started my blog, because I enjoy sharing what I go through with this illness. Although there can be a fine line between sharing your thoughts and oversharing your thoughts.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

I have this tendency to not have a filter. I just open my mouth and such personal words come out sometimes. Like at work recently, I opened up to two friends about having bipolar disorder, my divorce and so on, when realistically, I should be cautious about who I open up to. These people at work are wonderful people, but I honestly don’t know them that well and things could escalate if they decide to spread gossip about me. In the hospital, gossip spreads like wildfire. Get a bunch of women together and it can get messy.

I know there is talk around the unit about me struggling with my mental health, because I’ve missed a lot of work and had my schedule all personally arranged into only day shifts and so on. So, I know people are talking about me… hopefully not negatively, but it happens.

The scary thing about mental illness is some people truly look at you differently when they hear you struggle with one. The stigma around mental health is so hard, people are so fast to judge you for being different.

I worry about the nurses judging me at work, especially because we see so many people severely struggling with their mental health in the hospital. You see someone with a history of bipolar, schizophrenia or borderline personality disorder for example and you can judge a patient just from what you read on the report. It’s not right. Nurses shouldn’t judge patients. But we have seen enough to understand mental illness can be challenging in the hospital, especially because we aren’t psychiatric nurses. We don’t have the skills to help people who are really sick with their mental health.

I personally don’t mind looking after psychiatric patients, because I can relate to them and have pretty good patience and compassion. But there are a lot of nurses who are very negative toward mental illness. So, it makes me nervous if the wildfire spreads that I have bipolar… what are people going to think of me? Are they going to look at me negatively and question my ability to be a nurse? Are they going to think I’m “crazy?” Am I overthinking it?

I am quite proud of this personal podcast I created. It’s all about my journey through life with bipolar and I worked really hard on it. I go through moments of wanting to share it on my Facebook and really throw it out there for all my friends and family to see. But parts of me are like “No, that’s not a good idea!” I feel like people are going to listen to be nosy instead of listening to learn something. I keep going back and forth from wanting to share it with everyone, to being really shy and naked about it. I have even had moments where I wanted to remove it from the world all together. Those are short-lived, because I truly am happy with it… but it’s the fear of judgment from other nurses I work with that really gets to me.

I have to be brave. I have to tell myself those negative Nancy’s at work who judge people and spread gossip are not people I want in my life. I know I’m a good nurse, and I know I can handle my job with bipolar. I’ve done it for six years now and have been successful with my career. I have to just keep telling myself that over and over again. It’s almost like I need to start saying mantras to stay positive about my podcast. It’s so important to me and I need to be strong.

I posted the most personal episode of my podcast this week. Even though it’s super personal, it’s my absolute favorite episode. I keep looking around for feedback and what people think of it, but it’s been pretty quiet. I don’t know if people are shy to talk to me about it? It doesn’t really matter. I’m proud of it, and I know people are learning and enjoying listening to it. I just have to keep my chin up and remember this podcast is for the greater good, it’s to help people, it’s to help the stigma around mental health. It’s so much bigger than my ego.

I need to be strong. Wish me luck.

Getty image by CentralITAlliance

Originally published: July 1, 2021
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