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When My Doctor Convinced Me to Quit Night Shifts for My Mental Health

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Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

Mental health can be so challenging. I have “high-functioning” unipolar mania, and I have frequent hypomanic episodes. I have been manic several times, but fortunately have been semi-stable for over two years.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

Today is the day my doctor told me to stop doing night shifts. He has been saying for years that shift work is hard on my mental health, that it’s causing instability and frequent episodes. I have been so damn stubborn all this time, and I’m finally realizing he is absolutely right.

Night shifts disrupt my medication schedule, causing me to go periods of time without medications, and adjusting the timing of my meds each set of shifts accordingly. My doctor would try to come up with some sort of makeshift schedule for me, but I was still too stubborn to follow it. Nurses can be the absolute worst patients. I would just do my own schedule so I would prevent being exhausted on my nights, which is an obvious side effect of many medications. My own schedule would cause instability if I had other unplanned life stressors happening, and night shifts would just exacerbate my symptoms.

But today, he convinced me. He convinced me my health is number one, and I need to adjust my lifestyle to better suit my health. I need to start looking at life that way. Who cares I’m giving up night shifts?! To be honest, most people would call that a blessing. I am sad to lose a full-time line on my cardiac unit I love so dearly, but there are so many options for me to adjust my work so it better suits my mental health.

So, whoever does shift work with mental health issues, please listen to me when I tell you: listen to your doctor. Listen to their advice, and pay close attention to how those night shifts affect your body. Life is short and I promise to listen to my doctor’s advice and focus on my health as my number one from here on out.

You can follow my journey on Memoirs of a Manic.

Unsplash image by Niklas Hamann

Originally published: January 13, 2020
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