I think I am quickly reaching another crossroads in my life, this time in my career. I am a RN and have been for almost 21 years. I’ve done lots of great things in my career. I’ve also experienced burnout and mental health challenges, as have my fellow healthcare professionals. In fact, this is becoming a major topic of discussion in the medical field as a whole, as our jobs are more difficult and there are increasing incidences of violence, from patients and within our own community of professionals.

As for my own story, I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder at age 33, after a severe bout of postpartum anxiety and depression combined with an abusive spouse caused the once hidden symptoms of hypomania to rear their ugly head. As for workplace violence, I’ve encountered it in nearly every setting in which I’ve worked as a RN. There were the adult patients who tried to pull my hair. One patient threatened to kill me for telling him that he was not allowed to smoke in his hospital room. Even in pediatrics, I’ve encountered irate parents who wanted to harm us in one way or another. I know many others in my field who have similar stories.

So how do we fix the problem? I really don’t know. I do know that I am becoming increasingly burned out as a bedside RN, with the overwhelming levels of responsibility and terrible work hours. My ideal job would be some kind of mental health advocate for healthcare professionals. I just don’t know yet where to begin or what it will look like.