Remember how I said everything went really well last weekend? Well, it was kind of an exaggeration. I came in the first night; it was great. The second day, for whatever reason, I just couldn't deal with it. About four hours before my shift, I couldn't pull myself together. I was crying and I didn't know how to calm down. I wanted to be dead. I just kept thinking that I'd rather be dead than go to work, and that if I had to drive to work, then I'd drive to meet death instead.
I kept trying to tell myself things that I thought would help: you just have to get through tonight; it's only twelve hours; you'll feel better when you get there; things are going to become less weird at work; we need the money, you need to suck it up a little; you're not going to be stuck doing this for the rest of your life; your patients will be great; you adore the nurses; you made a cake, you need to bring it in and share it. Instead I just cried more. I called in and fell asleep on the couch about ten minutes later. The third night I went back to work; it was like nothing had happened. I was fine again, in a warm and silly mood.
Well, now I'm on my next hump. The other night, I went to work. I waited for things to get more comfortable, but they just didn't. Some nights it would take me about four hours to start to feel comfortable, to stop feeling sad. I kept trying to stay busy. I kept trying not to think too much about anything besides my immediate tasks at hand, but I was just getting more and more worked up. I was cleaning IV pumps and restocking procedure carts and doing finger sticks and my eyes were brimming with tears. I kept trying not to blink so they wouldn't splatter anywhere. I didn't want to do this crying thing again; it was really beginning to annoy me, and also starting to scare me. All I could think was I need to get out of here. I felt like I couldn't talk to a single patient or coworker without losing my composure.
I was recording some vital signs and realized I was going to blow. It was sort of the brief warning someone might get before puking, only this time, it was sobbing. I rushed to the bathroom, locked the door, sat down, head in hands, apathetic about the germy floor. This time I couldn't stop, I really couldn't stop. Thick strings of mucus were dripping onto my scrub top. I didn't care and was too unsettled to move the three feet to reach for toilet paper. I was trying to keep quiet, but one of the nurses must have heard my ragged breathing through the door.
"E, it's Judy. Are you okay."
"Yup." More crying.
"Can I come in?"
I pressed down the handle on the door. It swung open a few inches. Judy came in and sat on the floor across from me. I continued to cry.
"Did something happen?"
She handed me some toilet paper. Other than my sniffles and honks as I furiously blew my nose, we sat there in silence.
"Is there anything I can do for you?"
I stood up, patted off my face, washed my hands, and walked back out into the nursing area. I continued to work, silently blinking away tears. I kept telling myself I have to stop this. I'm going to scare patients if I look like this. My coworkers are going to think I'm a nut. I'm never going to get anything done if I can't stop crying. I focused on another task, and by the time I was done, I couldn't hold it in anymore and returned to the bathroom. I cried for about ten more minutes and went back to work. Things seemed no better than before. I still couldn't stop.
After two hours of crying and little improvement, Judy told me I should go home and get some sleep. I left work about four hours before my shift was supposed to end. It was about 3:00a.m. Instead of going home, though, I drove the opposite direction. It was cold and snowy. I was wearing my warm and comforting down winter coat, just like in my fantasy. I watched the snowflakes flying into my windshield and imagined that I was flying away from them. This is just how it was supposed to be. This is the perfect night. My husband won't be expecting me so he won't be worried. There will be no one on the street; no one will see me; no one will try to call the police. I can become splattered on the rocks and I won't have to worry about anyone bringing my body to the hospital.
I drove through town and up the hill, closer to the bridge and the gorge. I sat in my car while my engine idled. I sat and thought about MiniMan and started sobbing violently. And then I thought, you really should be nicer to yourself. This really isn't very nice. You're tired. Go home and go to bed. Get some sleep.
So I turned around. I turned around and drove home, all the while continuing to cry.
* * *
Somehow this turned into a narrative, but still, I really don't know what to do. Sometimes I feel fine and sometimes I feel out of control. The day after that I couldn't hold myself together and called in again. I am becoming so unreliable I'm worried I'm going to get fired from my stupid job. I don't know how to manage these "bouts" any means except sleeping. I'm being honest with my doctor and my psychologist, but I still haven't found any good ways to cope. Everyone keeps telling me that things will improve over time, but I feel like (at least with my job) I'm running out of time.