waves of anxiety

I’m on a roller coaster. At times I’m fine, thinking that everything was fine at the new job and I’m going to get through every night just fine, take it one night at a time. I got this. Then there are some hours where my body is in agony, panicky, unable to eat, my stomach churning. Luckily, I hadn’t really had panic or anxiety like this in years, and I didn’t expect to have it like this again, if I had I never would have come. I still feel like I’m in the right place, but I’m begging the universe to let this anxiety calm down in the coming weeks. It’s exhausting and I’m already so exhausted. I know that night shift is the worst possible thing for my panic attacks (it was so bad for me when I did nights in 2010). When I’m tired, I’m prone to anxiety. I also know that evening (right before I work) is my trigger time, and not drinking enough water. I’m trying to force myself to eat and drink as much as my stomach will allow me, and remind myself that I’m overtired.

I keep telling myself that it’s ok for me to be anxious right now. Every single thing in my life changed in a week’s time. It was all like a vacation until they put some patients’ lives in my hands, and I was in a social situation with strangers for hours on end. It’s totally normal to feel panicky in the beginning weeks. But god, it’s such an awful feeling. The symptoms themselves trigger more panic in a positive feedback loop. The tightness in my stomach, it causes my heart to race and my body to shake, and then the tears come. I’m out of practice for keeping it at bay and I’m trying to dig back to five years ago and all the ways I coaxed myself out of a life of anxiety.

There are some other travelers on their first contract who are feeling the same way. That makes me feel a little better. There is even one from my same hospital back home. We are both missing our home hospital fiercely, well at least the comfort and proficiency we had achieved there. If my old hospital suddenly popped up here, I’d run into it with tears of joy streaming down my face. I miss feeling competent, like I’m really good at something. Good enough to train others, good enough to make a huge difference in the care of patients. Right now at work I’m just struggling to keep up. My only homesickness is for the comfort I had at work, which is totally gone now.

Well tonight I’ll be on my own for the first time. Charge nurse and unit, please be kind.

Author: Mother of All Things

Mother by fostering, adoption, and marriage... wife to my best friend... Bay area critical care nurse... travel in my blood, reading in my bones, clean food on my mind!

4 thoughts on “waves of anxiety”

  1. IT WILL BE BETTER. Hold on to each new person who is nice that you meet. Remember this is actually why (in addition to money) you choose this path. ADVENTURE and New Experiences. Yes, it is hard but YOU CAN TOTALLY ROCK THIS.
    Now, how can we support you beyond saying what you are feeling IS normal and it will improve?
    Would help if the weather cleared (I cannot do that for you) and if governmental things were less stressful (again, I cannot change that); but both these things add to the panic and you need to remember these outside things are making the new job harder. New job and new place to live are both big stressors without the other things on top. If your patients are able to converse ask each one what their favorite place to go and do things with visitors is. IT WILL BE BETTER, we believe in you and are holding out support!

  2. I feel the exact same way every time I start a new job! (And my significant other was in the military for several years, so I had to do that often). I even broke down in tears repeatedly at the beginning of a job I loved and knew was perfect for me. I just value familiarity and routine, and not having that in place is so challenging! New people, new procedures, being “on” when you’re trying to make a good first impression – it’s so much to juggle, on top of making sure your little girl is adjusting too.

    All of that to say, I’m so sorry your experiencing this anxiety! But you’re right, you’ve experienced so much upheaval in a short period of time. You’ve taken an incredible leap, and done something that most people don’t have the courage to do in their entire lifetimes!

    It has always helped me to remember that nostalgia always comes with a healthy dose of amnesia. Just to say hold tight to the reasons you took this adventure whenever you start missing your old life 🙂

  3. It takes time, but not too much time, to get back into your old flow. You’re a good nurse, from all I know about you, and you will deliver the same amazing, competent and compassionate care you always have. It’s just a new space, new processes and people right? 🙂 Look to your lovely daughter and how she manages to fit wherever she goes for inspiration and then focus on your patients. You will do great. I’m already sure of it. 🙂

  4. Womensmarch.com has a 10 actions/100 days plan. If you marched or were unable to but support equality, healthcare, public education, planned parenthood, BLMatter, etc. PLEASE look it up and start by doing your postcards. 39 cents at the Post Office. Mention that you vote and why you support the marchers. AND SHARE THE NEWS! Thank you.

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