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.