“Alone is No Longer Enough”

Alone in Mental Illness

I have had anxiety since I was a young child (though not diagnosed), honestly as long as I can remember and depression since high school. The stigma behind mental illness makes it hard to admit this, but I am working to change that. I don’t want to be ashamed or hide. I don’t want to feel embarrassed to share my whole story. There is beauty in sharing your story- and there is healing. For not only you, but for others.

The problem with mental illness, pain, and trauma is it leads you to believe alone is enough. Alone is where you are meant to be. Alone is better. And when you are around people, you hide your true self. It is scary to let people know your struggles. So it is easier to keep them hidden.

Alone in Nursing

Nursing also has a culture of teamwork and unity- but being alone in your feelings. We are taught that you just “deal with” the trauma you experience daily as a nurse. If you are going to be a good nurse, you won’t let the death get to you. You won’t cry in front of families. You will be able to experience trauma and heartbreak, and then move right along to the next patient or home to your family. No one ever taught us how to process and cope in a healthy way. No one taught us the importance of leaning on your peers outside of the hospital. No one taught us that showing emotion makes us human. I have cried in front of families, and it made them feel like their loved one was care for. Loved.

The past two years, especially during the delta wave, I truly began to feel the loneliness weighing on me. My emotions and grief were heavy. I went from high functioning depression to a major episode. I had trouble leaving bed. I had little appetite. I felt physical pain. I needed help, but I couldn’t find the energy to ask. Alone is where I thought I needed to be. People had lost loved ones, so my pain was less than. I should be able to handle it- alone.

Alone is no longer enough.

I realized I needed community and support to work through my PTSD, anxiety and depression, and get back to loving myself again. I started with asking my NP for help and sharing the struggles I was having. This lead to me starting medication. Next, I made an appointment (and actually kept it) with my therapist. I realized this was helping, but it’s not enough. I had 9 years of nursing cumulative care taking trauma and a long history of mental illness to work through. With the encouragement of my therapist (and family and friends)- I started the Nurses Supporting Nurses Support Group. I have found a lot of healing and growth through starting Nurses Supporting Nurses. It is growing into both a business and community. A healing place for nurses. Alone is no longer enough.

I want NSN to help to change the culture of nursing and mental health care. Nurses need nursing care. And mental health care. Debriefings and support group should be a normal part of our culture and healthcare system- not the outlier. Checking in on healthcare workers to see if they are okay should happen on a weekly basis. Resources should be readily available. It is time we care for our healers.

My beautiful friend and debriefing nurse Tara Kosma is the person behind the quote “Alone is no longer enough.” She is the founder of Debriefing the Front Lines, a non-profit organization that provides free and low cost debriefings to nurses to help them process cumulative care taking trauma. I encourage everyone- nurse or not- to consider making a donation to help support DTFL and their mission.

NSN Support Group is open to any nurse or CNA from any speciality looking for a healing place to come together with a community of your peers. Sessions are offered free of charge, but donations are accepted to help support NSN’s support groups and other mental health resources. Donations are appreciated but never expected. You can make a donation here.

If you are struggling, please reach out. Debriefing the Front Lines and Nurses Supporting Nurses are here to support you. We do not want you to be alone. We want to sit with you and hold space for you. “Alone is no longer enough.”


1 thought on ““Alone is No Longer Enough””

Melissa Weaver

Your words were uplifting to me and I’m sure to many others. 💕

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