It has been eleven years since I recognized and knew something wasn’t right… that my constant stomach aches, my avoidance of family and friendly gatherings and perpetual feeling of dread wasn’t normal.
Between the ages of 18-23, I’ve struggled in a constant state of anxiety. I gained weight, I missed out on life’s adventures during a decade of my life that is meant to be used for experimentation and adventure. Then… a break in the clouds – for awhile I was happy and my anxiety was no longer in control, it was on the back burner and I actually felt good about my life.
I went to nursing school and had the occasional periods of anxiety, especially as stress came and went. I passed my boards and graduated, moving on in my life. I was officially a nurse – everything that I have been working for, my dreams have been realized. Nursing in the bay area is so highly competitive that you could go a year as a new graduate nurse and not find a job.
So I applied elsewhere. I moved 4.5 hours away to a town riddled with drugs, homeless and crime and took a chance. I got into their new graduate program and it’s now been 1.5 years since I started. I’m now training other new nurses and have my eyes set on furthering my career in the near future.
But yet… my anxiety remains, this lifelong burden. The little voice in the back of your head that says, “you’re not okay, you’re going to make a fool of yourself… you are an embarassment.” I’ve addressed this Burden before, I’ve tried therapy and I’ve been given tools to combat it, but It still rears its ugly head. What’s worse is that I know and recognize the stressors that are triggering It, but affecting the outcome of these stressors is all out of my control.
To make a long story short, my grandma has stage IV pancreatic cancer. If you’re in the medical world, you know what this means. Not only is she scared of the next step she must take, but my family is left to deal with the consequence of not having her around anymore. She has taken care of my grandfather for over 50 years… he doesn’t even know how to cook. He has already said that without her, he might as well go too.
Also on the career side of things, I’ve applied to our hospital’s ICU transition program. Making the jump to work in an area of the hospital with the sickest patients is intimidating and quite frankly, petrifying. I have every desire to be in the ICU and ICU charge nurses have been telling me that I am good for the job, but I am worried about looking like a dumbass.
I’ve also been trying to get pregnant with my husband for about four months now, with no luck. The state of being pregnant and the birth also scare me…
So anyway, I just came off of an 8-night 12-hour work binge. I threw myself into work without even realizing what I was doing. Not only was I distracting myself from my own life, but I was immersing myself into other people’s problems so that I wouldn’t have to deal with my own. My patients are my priority at work, and I am their advocate. At work, I am the one that is assigned to fight for what they need and make sure that I am keen enough to pick up on small signals that something is going south.
It’s a big responsibility, but I take pride in the fact that I can go to work and truly care for my patients and ensure that they get the best care that they can. In those 12.5 hours that I am immersed into my patients’ problems, I forget about my own. By the end of the shift, I am exhausted and can finally get sleep. However, after those 8 days were over, I woke up surrounded by my own problems yet again. But what can I do? This Burden is something that follows me everyday, but for some reason I just can’t seem to accept that sometimes life’s stressors are uncontrollable – that I must learn to roll with the punches. We can’t control everything in our lives, and unfortunately we will all die some day. I’m surrounded by death and sickness, yet I still worry about life’s nuances that I cannot control.
How can I rid myself of the Burden?