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One Day, Just Not Right Now

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.

Yeah.

Holy crap.

*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.

Circa February 2011 – soon after I resigned from my nursing job.

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…

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?

14 Comments

  1. Returning to school after a long absence can be very intimidating! I returned to school during my divorce. Luckily I really enjoyed the classes BUT there were a shit ton of assignments and exams. I remember wanting to quit so many times. I felt so tired…

    Good for you for keeping up your license and considering going back eventually. You’ll know when you’re ready. I’m sorry the damn depression took over last time. I had to laugh at Chunky telling you were a bad mom because you took him to school 😛

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      Oh it was such brutal timing. Such a rotten year overall. I had my gallbladder taken out and it was just one thing after the other. When I quit school my son said “Oh, you can stop going. Then I can!” I had to tell him that our teacher quit and we didn’t have one or something like that. It was awful. It’s wild what our brains do when we are sick. Like I seriously thought that she was spying on me.
      It must have been such a challenge to go back to school during that time. You are fierce for sticking through it. You must have felt like such a bad ass at the end xoxo

  2. I was a Registered Dental Assistant. I have epilepsy and my now ‘tics” (myoclonic type movements that come whenever they decide would be really really cool) make it so I wouldn’t be a good candidate to ever have a sharp object in a persons mouth again. I originally left because of burnout, not because of patients, but because of my boss. I love love love love love dentistry (please, no comments about the whole dentistry thing.) Helping a person with dental phobia go from being so terrified they had to be premedicated, come in with friends, have nitrous et all, just to be examined, be able to get major work done to two years later coming in and not having anything and leaving smiling without any discomfort was such a joy. I will never be able to do that again. I still love it. I’m afraid to ever step back into the ring in any capacity. I let go of my license. I think about going back into it, I can still do a lot of the extended functions (in the lab, i could go into other areas that I kicked butt in, i did every single temp prostetic because Im an artist and wanted my patients walking out with a temp that was good looking to not be ambarrassed for weeks, not some lump of composite just so they would come back for the perm.) I enjoy helping people who have questions, who might not know how to brush to avoid problems down the road, to save their anatomy so they dont have to make choices they dont want to make some day etc but I’m so afraid to ever fail or for my disease to take it away from me again (Its more extensive than just my mental health and epilepsy) I related to this in so many ways and appreciate your candor. you’re always so honest and it’s needed in this world.

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      I am so sorry Chrissy that you had to leave a job that you loved so dearly – and no comments about it at all. I give you all the credit in the world because that is honestly a job that I could not do. I love my dental hygenist to moon and beyond because it takes a special person to be able to calm the nerves of someone who opens the door to the office and is already scaling the ceiling and screaming “If you touch me, I’ll kick you in the face.” Yeah, I’m 36. Terrified. I had a bad dentist when I was small. Never got over it. So much respect for your profession. I really really do. Especially when you work with the little people. OMG. We go once a month for my son because he has an appliance and his hygenist is such an angel.
      Like you, the nursing profession is wide open – there are so many things I can do. They aren’t as appealing as the job I used to do before. I have to hunt. But I think that I get what you’re saying about it being so much more….it’s more complex than mental health and epilepsy. I’ve got layers. xoxox

  3. As you know, I recently won my disability claim due to the bipolar and anxiety. I was awarded 3 years of disability before I have to reapply. I get so scared when I have a good stretch because my mind tells me I don’t deserve to have won–the paranoia kicks in so strong–I am sure every car on the street is someone spying on me–and that’s a good day!!…and then I have a day like yesterday where I couldn’t shower or leave my house, where everything gets rescheduled because mommy…you get it, I’ll shut up now. Bipolar is an ass. An ass that won’t even let a good day be a good day. I, for one, am glad to know you still have your Michigan license and I rarely double check what you tell me with my doctor. Eh, nurses are the brains of the operation. I look forward to seeing your coming adventures, whenever they come.

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      You’re the best. I was turned down for mine eons ago because I am a nurse and they said I could still use my brain in some sort of capacity and the fact that my arms still worked…so I could be useful in other areas in nursing. AND…because I worked in the US, they said I should tap into the US disability instead since I worked there longer. It all came down to dollars and cents and Canada is cheap and doesn’t want to pay.

  4. I go through the “go back to school ” phase every few years and this past summer actually started taking classes. I decided to take this semester off because I was so stressed out last semester and want to reassess the situation to see if this is really something I want to do… it’s definitely not easy. Things happen for a reason somehow, someway… I will see what next semester brings..

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      I am so proud of you Susi for going back. There’s no shame in taking a step back and reassessing. None at all! School is hard period. xoxoxo

  5. Whatta story!
    I went back to school after being a mom for years. I actually like school. Now, if I could just get a job that I enjoyed as much as school…

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      That is fantastic Abby! I am the weirdo who loved school. Don’t get me wrong, it was stressful and it was a lot of work but I didn’t mind the learning part and … ahem..projects. See weird.
      Now, if they could pay me to go to school full time…..hmmmmmm….

  6. You know, I think about going back to school and have the same bout of anxiety that you do, and I realize it’s completely irrational and I never experienced that kind of panic when I did in fact attend school.. but some fears, I’ve learned, are just completely unexplainable, right?

    But I love that you loved nursing and I can tell it was something that was very near to your heart. Also my mommy (at 70+ years of age!) is still working the night shift as a Registered Nurse. SO MUCH endless amounts of respect for anyone working in this profession–I know it’s not easy.

    XOXO

    Also gotta love Chunky. His comment though 🙂

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      My child. Is. Me. in so many ways. Some days though. Some days 😛
      You are right about the anxiety. It’s such a jerk. When you actually do the “thing” you were worrying about – you realize “hey, none of those things I was freaking out about happened.”
      For me, I won’t be able to jump back in to the same capacity of nursing that I was doing before so I have to really think about what I want to do. School is a good first step. Scary AF. Expensive AF. But it’s there. One day. xoxox
      And OMG go your mom. I think that’s fantastic. Now that is someone who loves her profession. So many nurses are getting into it just because it’s a sure thing and it’s a well paying job and you can tell.

  7. Can I please hug you. Please.

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      YES. YES. YES!
      That sounded dirty.

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