When taking care takes its toll

For this apprentice nurse, caring for dementia patients has worn her down. Time to give up or keep going?

Our elder advises looking to the future. Here’s how. 

Dear EWC:

Hello there. I am 19 years of age and am working as a nurse in the dementia department. To be clear, I am in the final year of my apprenticeship as a nurse, soon taking my final exams. The thing is, I do not know at all what I want to do with my life, as of so, what to do with my career. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love to work there, make the residents smile, remember and feel as normal as possible, but the conditions we are working at are really tearing me down, not just physically but also mentally, as in depression, anxiety, insomnia etc. And so I just do not know how to even keep going till summer. I know, I’ve already managed to go through almost 3 years by now, but my energy and motivation are slowly sinking, below zero. 

With the fact that my home life isn’t great either, meaning that my parents are divorced but are forced to live together, cuz we cannot afford 2 households with this pandemic and them relying on me too when I get full pay, my hands are bound on what I want to do after. I really wanted to go abroad, but this isn’t possible anyway right now. So I am really questioning what I should be doing. I really can’t keep on working there forever. 

I need some perspective and some sense of life. But I am not even going to start talking about that aspect of life, cuz I’m not good at being stopped, once I started to talk about it. Anyway, I hope you had a great day and thanks for the answer.

Dave-Scott replies:

As I see it, you are 19 and have lots of time ahead of you. Gutting it out for the next few months or year is something you probably could and should do. Don’t let the years you have already invested slip away. You will regret it later.

After you get your certification, then take a good look at what you want next. At that point, you can make a choice for something different, but you can immediately feel good that you have already accomplished something difficult. And whatever happens later, you have something to fall back on or at least include in a resume. 

Sounds as if you like being a nurse, but maybe just not doing what you are involved with now. That’s understandable—working with dementia patients must be difficult. But make sure you leave the nursing option open to you.

For now, I recommend making a couple of lists—one for the next day and one for the next week. A list keeps you on track and gives you a sense of accomplishment as you check each item off. Lists also keep you focused on what is most important and allow you to ignore things that are just distractions. Your lists should include a few things that are fun or will improve your outlook—you might list dinner with friends, workout, take a whole day off, watch a movie, run or walk a mile, or sleep in one morning.

Solving your family problems may take more work, but maybe put that off until after graduation. Don’t try to handle everything at the same time. I recommend a great self-help book, ‘You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life’ by Jen Sincere. I really think it might provide you with many answers. 

Please contact me again if I can be of further assistance. I truly hope you are successful in simply becoming yourself. Good luck.



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