I was ironing clothes when Shawn came down to the basement and flicked a neon green cardstock mailer on the table.
“To Nurse Kimberly. Give us your money. Love Michigan,” he said.
“Ah shh–,” I scanned the room for little ears, “shit!”
“You forgot to renew your nurse license!”
“What? Pft. No! This is due in March! I’m good.”
What I didn’t renew was the Canadian one.
“Well they made it in a bright colour so people like you don’t forget. You’re not going to forget right?” he said as he pat the top of my greasy bed head.
*Cue Nervous Laugh*
“Nope. Not gonna. I’m on it.”
For those who don’t know, I am indeed a Registered Nurse.
*Crowd whispers to each other*
This nutter butter is actually allowed to…is actually registered…her government said she could save lives?
And I can CPR your grandma back to life in both Canada and in the State of Michigan.
Now don’t get your panties in a bunch.
1 in 5 of us have a mental illness. That means that there’s a good chance that you’ve been treated by a nurse or a doctor or a health care worker with a mental illness and they’ve probably been one of the most compassionate people to hold your hair back while you were puking.
You never would have guessed it.
I worked with a mental illness for 3 years before resigning from my job and it wasn’t because of my mental illness. It was because of my broken spine and the fact that I took my employer to court to pay for outstanding medical bills that they refused to pay for.
The only ones who knew I had bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder were my managers and the janitor who caught me crying in the dirty linen closet. He was such a sweetheart.
My son was still too young for school so it was perfect. My husband and I decided that I would stay at home, spend quality time with him, and work on being well both mentally and physically while doing the stay at home mom gig.
When my son started school, I was horribly depressed. I needed a sense of purpose and thought that going back to school to refresh my nursing knowledge would have pulled me out of my funk.
I’d be able to build confidence in myself, learn new things, meet new people, get a job, and get the heck out of the house. So on a last minute whim, I had enrolled in a six month refresher course that cost us an arm, leg and half a kidney.
Now on top of my depression, life had flipped on its head. My son did not transition well to school and he made me quite aware of that fact by frequently pointing to a picture on our nightstand and by saying, “See that picture of you? That’s when you were a good mommy. Now you’re a bad mommy by bringing me to that place.”
Kids are fun sometimes.
But my depression was more than –
On the first day of the nursing refresher course, I was so nervous that my hands shook, my armpits were sweating, and I threw up what little bits of pasta I could eat for dinner. The professor went up and down the room asking each person why they were returning to nursing and what they did before.
When it came to me I stuttered, “I injured my back at work saving a patient in Michigan.”
Then she said, “You worked in Michigan? Me too! I work for worker’s compensation!”
That was all I needed to hear.
My brain misfired.
My old employer sent her to spy on me.
I could not focus on anything other than where she stood in the room, where her eyes landed, and why at every class session, she only remembered my name.
At break times, I remained in my seat because I was afraid to run into her in the hall.
I didn’t raise my hand, didn’t shuffle my papers, didn’t cough, didn’t blink – if the mannequin challenge happened in 2012, I was the queen. I was not drawing any attention to myself.
The wild thing is, I had nothing to hide, my case was over and done with, and part of me knew that my thoughts and fears were completely irrational.
When she called me at home one day inquiring about my injury and asking if I’d be interested in working in Case Management, I decided that I could never return to class.
A few days later, I admitted myself into the hospital. I was diagnosed with psychotic depression and I was at risk to myself. I had made a plan but it wasn’t because of her…although that entire ordeal had added to the surmounting pile that was smothering me.
I have not been that severely ill since that time.
I have not gone back to school since that time either and quite frankly, when I think of going back, it makes me panic.
Actually, when we take my son to the college for swim lessons, the smell of the college hallways reminds me of that time and it turns my stomach.
I can still hold a license – it is a non-practicing license so don’t worry y’all. If I decide to ever return to working, our governing body will make sure that I return to school beforehand, but I’m not ready. I’m so not mentally ready. So not.
But I loved and still love nursing. It’s been a dream of mine ever since I was a kid.
So when I clicked “Submit Payment”, just like I do every single year, I get really bummed because I don’t use my license anymore.
Except for the people who still ask me, “What does this look like to you?”
And damn it all, I still have it.
“Oh that’s xyz. Just put abc on it. You can get it over the counter.”
But they still go to the doctor and I’ll wait until they come back and they say “You were right!”
I do however use WebMD to diagnose myself because I have anxiety. I had this funky thing going on in my eye and WebMD said it was either pinkeye or I had to amputate everything.
I’m better now.
Even got to keep my eyeball.
I could do it, go back to school. Just not right now. One day. I’m not giving up.
*Have you attempted to return to school after being off of work for a long period?