According to some article I read one night, written by someone I’ve never heard of, quoting somebody else’s study – nurses are twice as likely to be depressed as opposed to the rest of the general public (18% vs 9% to be exact). For all those referencing Nazis out there, or if you would like to read more about the study yourself, it came from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative.
Working in the private health system, I have been made well aware of this statistic. I live it, breathe it, work it. Not only am I struggling with depression myself, but a majority of my colleagues are struggling with some sort of mental illness. It’s much easier to talk about having mental struggles with like-minded individuals, but it’s sad in a way. The way it’s spoken of, is either quietly, secretively, or as a joke. We laugh it off or shrug our shoulders. Make light of the fact we’re taking the same medications as we’re giving, or wondering which side of the nurse’s station we should actually be standing on. But the real issue gets put into perspective when daily, we nurse, nurses. Multiple health care professionals are frequently admitted for depression, anxiety, alcohol abuse, prescription medication abuse, suicidal ideation, you name it they have it – WE have it. Now, just why is that?
I have quite a few ideas behind it. Firstly, and the most intruding parasite on the nurses brain in my opinion, is the shift work. Body clock? What body clock, right? I’m sure most nurses who read this will be the “I hate night shift” type. I, on the other hand am the complete opposite. I’ve always been a night-owl/insomniac. Morning shifts? Come on. If we speak logic for a minute, what do we know about morning shifts? They are busier (more admissions, discharges, transfers, issues – with all of the above, plus patient dramas and colleague bullshit involving hospital politics – colleagues winning the biggest pain in the ass medal the majority of the time), you get paid less, you get stuck in peak hour traffic getting to work, you get stuck in peak hour traffic on the way home – does any part of that sound like it would make you happy? Ok, for arguments sake you got through all that and still believe it’s a good idea. What about holding on to pee for an hour, or two, or four, or the whole damn shift? I don’t know how many times I’ve realised, I went to the toilet before I left for work, and the next time I went, was when I walked through the door at home.
Nurses are fantastic when it comes to caring for others. Nurses are terrible when it comes to caring for themselves. Self-care is one of the most crucial factors in mental wellbeing, and we fail at it. Why? Because everyone else comes first. Our patient’s, our partner’s, our family, our children, our pets, our jobs. I’m going to give you this piece of information for free. My psychiatrist – who billed me for $445 for an introductory appointment (consider yourself very lucky), told me, “you’re useless to everyone else if you give 100% and leave nothing for yourself”.
To provoke thought in you all, I leave you with a quote
“There are two ways to be happy: change the situation, or change your mindset towards it”