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mabear
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Hi all,

Just thought I would give an update. Things just became too much for me for awhile. Had major panic attack, took ativan and ambien to try to sleep for a little bit (totally not a suicidal event) and the two medications reacted with each other. I am totally fine after the episode, was checked out in ER and all ok. However the stress level that pushed me to the panic attack is the problem. My psych has me off on fmla for another 2 weeks as we figure out what is needed for supports. The majority of the stress came from work; burnout/compassion fatigue and vicarious traumatization. Overwhelmed my capacity to cope with my ptsd and bipolar playng a part. So it's been a really rough time lately and I am mentally and emotionally exhausted. I am struggling to maintain my level of sanity and just need encouragement to take care of me for once instead of evryone else and me last.

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Well, ma, my first suggestion is to stop thinking of it as "vicarious traumatization" and start thinking of it as absorbing other people's pain. Kinda makes it more real, that doing that too much could hurt you as much as the other person gets hurt.

You need to rest. Throwing yourself into your work is a pretty normal way to cope with personal problems, but given that your work involves coping with other people's problems, this might have what clinicians call "a sub-optimal outcome potential." :-P

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Trying hard to keep my head above water. Drowning a little more each day. The stress/anxiety is becoming too much. Yes I have been doing breathing excercises and the other recomended activities, but my mind just won't turn off. Just don't seem to be able to motivate myself to do the physical projects i love either. ugh.....

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  • 3 weeks later...

well, it got to be too much and i sort of broke. ended up having a severe panic attack and took to many meds to try to deal with it. No permanent damage of any kind but I am missing 3 days of memory, probably an ambien blackout in conjunction with the other meds. Missed 3 weeks of work and just barely talked my way out of being hospitalized after ending up in the ER. Not sure how or what I said since that was during my blackout period. I just wanted everything to stop so i could sleep and catch up. The stress from my work finally caught up with me. Now I have so much to fix and change from my psych and counselor that I am still feeling overwhelmed. I have been sleeping 12-15 hours a day and still tired. Not to mention I hate holidays. well, that's where i am right now.

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Mabear,

Welcome back and I am so sorry to hear about your troubles. Wow, that was scary. Its good you are on leave for now. You really do need a break.

Can you tell us about the kind of work stresses that caused your panic attack and the subsequent problems? Do the holidays play into this at all?

Allan:)

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Thank you for your support, it means a lot to me right now. I am really struggling with life.

My work has been crazy for years, but more so recently in the last year. There are two main issues. The first issue has been a long term issue that I have been asking for help with and telling them it is affecting my MH for 3 years. Approximately 4 years ago, in conjunction with a self-help mental health organization, we brought their program to the hospital. It has grown tremendously and is a full time job just to try to manage it and keep it running. My requests have fallen on deaf ears and I get the response to ‘hang in there and we’ll get to it’. Staff aren’t allowed to have mh issues in this mh hospital – ironic eh?

The second is our work loads have increased greatly as the institution is implementing new treatment care format (e.g. teaching 20 groups per week) and working with trauma patients who are here with persistent MI and have pled GEI. Particularly taxing this year has been a DID patient. It has been very intense and apparently more triggering to my own childhood than I realized. (I have since transferred her case to a psychologist)

So the stress from doing too much has increased the bi-polar sx and the work has triggered my PTSD. Subsequently to all this, my pdoc has taken away all my benzo Rx’s and my anxiety is through the roof. There is hardly a moment when I am not tense and shaking to some degree. I am now also having kidney issues from the OD. I want my Rx's back in a bad way.

I am supposed to start working full speed again on Monday teaching groups and managing the program etc. but I am scared and just waiting for the next attack. My reserve is not even close to normal and my counselor and I are just starting to get into some deep work as well.

I will stop – I am rambling. Thanks for listening.

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I'm sorry to hear about your difficult situation. I've often thought that it must be very difficult to work in mental institution, to keep yourself balanced. I can see how it must be doubly challenging when you yourself have some anxiety issues. My heart goes out to you for your courage and determination notwithstanding your challenges.

Is there any way of extending your leave by a week. I can tell it's a busy and demanding environment, but sometimes they don't realize just how much you need the help until you are not there... just a thought. I went through a period in the fall where I was not functional enough for work, so I was off for 4 weeks and then went back gradually, 2 days a week to begin with and then 3 days and that made a huge difference in my capacity to regain my breath.

Make sure you actually rest this week, no entertaining of 20 people for the New Year:) Seriously though, it's OK to do nothing for a while when we are exhausted, and we should not feel any guilt about it. After 3 months of taking it very easy I am just now starting to see improvement.

Once the holidays are over that will take some pressure off at least - it's a very busy time isn't it!

Take care of you this week!

Symora

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