Nursing Job Anxiety has ruined my life!

Well, to put it simply, I work as a RN. I don't actually ever remember liking this career a single day. In fact, I actually hate it. I have been nursing for 25 years, and although it paid my bills, it destroyed my health, family life, marriage and has caused me significant unhappiness and anxiety. In fact, I don't even think i had wanted to do this kind of work, but my parents pressured me into it at a young age.

I am sure i have developed some form of compassion anxiety, and it may be true, as they like using that diagnosis for anyone in the "caring field". The pressures of the job has been very hard on me, and seems harder as i get older. My body can't even handle all the stress or physical strain. I get the worst panic attacks days before and the day i have to work, I literally spend every waking moment convincing myself that I should not call in sick. The thing is, I have called in sick a lot lately. I took sick leave a couple of years ago, and quit. I could not find any different work, so then eventually found a a different nursing job again.

This problem, is getting worst! I take out my frustrations on myself and everyone around me. I don't even know what it is like to be truly happy. I always have this feeling of doom and sadness knowing I work in this field. So is it compassion anxiety? Or a phobia? Cause it feels more like a phobia of going to work and dealing with the same stress and not knowing what to expect. I pray that I don't have to deal with anything major or life threatening. Cause I know how i could not cope. And when things get serious at work, I just feel the urge to go home and cry. I want to retrain, but I don't know what I would do. But I do know that the time has come for me to be truly honest with myself. Despite the pressures of others telling me to "stick it out", or "you have a great career". Even the mere mention when someone asks me "how's work?" puts me in such a mood, I just want to scream, "Who Cares!" I panic and my heart races, and I feel sad, and depressed and confused and even can't concentrate on anything. All I think about is how much i hate my job. I have lived this way for the past 25 years of my life. So, I read a lot about the subject, and listening to someone tell me to change my breathing, use relaxation techniques, Or change how I perceive it, or don't fight or run away from the anxiety. That doesn't work! Nor have meds. Nothing seems to work. I am so depressed about looking like a failure, and disappointing anyone. Or losing a significant pay. But at the same time, my health is suffering, Cortisol levels are peaking, I'm gaining weight, I have high cholesterol, and I am bordering on diabetes. I look and feel terrible. Tomorrow I will ask my doctor to go back on sick leave. I must for once do something for myself that I want to do, and not something because I have too that is making me unhappy. I can only imagine the feeling of never having to return to nursing. Just the mere thought of that excites me. The entire health field turns me right off and puts me in a state of anxiety and depression. Whatever is causing me to feel this way, it is not something I wish upon anyone. As it has had such a huge impact on my health and happiness.

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5 Replies

  • Hi looking4me, how sad to read your post that you have worked in a position that you have disliked for 25years. What a disservice to yourself and your patients. Your job may pay the bills but look what it's done to your life, to you. I can relate in some ways to your story in that my mother pushed me during my high school years to become an executive secretary like she was. She was very happy working for a large corporation, my desire was to work in a hospital. She was livid thinking I'd rather be underpaid then work in a better environment and get paid well. I followed my dream, my passion. I taught while in the medical field as well as becoming a Certified Paramedic working for several Fire Departments as well as the ER of a Trauma 1 hospital. My mother never recognized my accomplishments. Never told anyone what I did for a living. It hurt then but now I'm happy I spent my time working in something I really loved doing.

    My hope is that you get out of a field you dislike. Life is too short to be so unhappy. Don't worry about who you may disappoint. It's your life. It doesn't make any difference what is making you feel this way. Now's the time to turn things around. Could you imagine what it would be like to actually look forward to going to work each day. I really wish you the best in moving forward. You have a lot of time to make up for in being happy. x

  • Being forced to do something you don't want to do is trauma. Especially, if you have been doing it for 25 years!!! Why are you torturing yourself? Don't you think the world is cruel enough and can give each and every one of us more than enough stress and anxiety ? Get out while you still have your sanity and whatever physical health that remains. Be kind to yourself. Love yourself.

  • Oh my.... Reading your story is exactly mine! I am also a nurse and feel the same exact way. I am presently not working and I'm looking for work outside of the field of nursing. The only problem is that all of my experience is in nursing, so it is very difficult to get an interview doing something "non-medical". I'm so happy that I'm not alone in this. I left my last job, because I had panic attacks every morning before work, and would have them at work (so severe that they would call an ambulance). Talk about embarrassing. I'm so sick and tired of feeling this way. I'm so sick of the panic and anxiety ruling my life. I beat myself up, because I think negative thoughts like "you're a nurse, you should have it together, you shouldn't have anxiety and panic attacks". I dread the thought of having to take care of anymore sick people, and then I feel guilty for dreading it. If I could afford to, I would go work at a doggie daycare. Silly? Maybe. But just to have a fun and happy job and to be carefree..... To laugh and not have gloom and doom. Sigh.

  • Hi looking4me, when I was coming up to leaving school I wanted to be a nurse!! My mum told me I couldn't and to go into a factory and earn some money!! It just amazes me how some parents let there kids follow there dreams and others choose there paths for them. The one positive thing out of all of this is at least you know what you don't want to do! And it's not so easy nowadays stepping into another job as you've found. Having been in your job for such a long time and it's all you know so it must be daunting deciding what direction to take. When you get signed off sick I guess you need to take that time to reflect. Relax!! You could benefit from some therapy, someone to talk it through properly with.treat yourself, massages, nails all those lovely things we never do for ourselves.try swimming, anything that makes you relax your body. your not the first person I've heard say that about the job you do. It's very stressful I know, just take some time, youl find yourself and what you want to do x

  • Thank you all for your support. I was just diagnosed with fibromyalgia. This explains a lot of my fatigue, joint pain, dizziness, headaches. I have not slept all night worrying about my shift in three hours. I am sore all over. I did go back and do a shift Friday evening and today I went to the mall for an hour with my husband. I feel like I was run over by a truck and someone ties cinder blocks to my legs. I will be taking the time off I need. I keep trying to see if it's going to be manageable, like something will miraculously change, but then I always end up hurting.

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