(Trigger Warning – allll the suicided)
Several months ago I stepped down from my position and moved departments. Took a pay cut.
The department I was in was so toxic. We are talkin’ daily verbal and professional assault. It was fuckin’ terrible. It was really hard to let go of my people, the team I built from the ground up. It was hard to give up and walk away. I spent three years being a buffer for these people. Helping them navigate a pandemic. Keeping them out of harms way and taking the punches. I just couldn’t do it anymore. The burnout is real.
I moved to the ICU in a lesser position. It’s been an experience, for sure. I have been in a supervisor role for so long that being in a role where I have no say in anything was refreshing and fucking weird. The people I work for and with are fantastic. I’d follow them to hell and back, so having no control is fine with me. They are so kind. I’m grateful for the break.
I worked really closely with ICU for years so the move wasn’t really a big change other than the work environment improved 100%. They asked for me, and I’m so glad they did. Because, I don’t know that I would have moved on my own. I loved the team I built and feared what would happen when I left (turns out everything I feared unfolded about a week after I transferred. Ugh).
May is their birthday week. It’s also our anniversary month. While at work, one of the ICU nurses that I work closely with asked me a question that I answered truthfully. It led to me giving a quick synopsis of their suicide and the aftermath. The nurse, Jon, spun around and looked me in the eyes and said: “Wow, what a douchebag”. When I say I laughed, oh my stars. That’s the first time I’ve had that reaction from someone. I laughed and replied “Yeah, a little”. Jon started to apologize. I was still laughing. Truthfully, it was a welcome response. Had it been 5 years ago this would have put me in mental choke hold. I explained that, and that he had no reason to be sorry. I then explained that for the most part, they didn’t have a choice in their thoughts or actions; I told Jon the diagnosis. I will never forget his response. Never. Because it was the first time anyone had ever completely understood the situation. He locked eyes with me and said “So, they blamed you then. They left a note blaming you didn’t they?”. The world spun. It fuckin’ spun for the first time in a while. I’d never told anyone. Jon went on to say something to the effect of (don’t quote me here my brain was coming to a full stop at this point): “people with that diagnosis, their chemicals are all messed up and they blame the spouse.” I’d never had anyone understand the situation, or connect the dots so completely like that. I never had anyone point this out. I don’t think I knew this was common.
He had no idea what he did for my soul that day. She did leave a note. She did blame me. I blamed me. I blame me even though I know logically it wasn’t in my hands.
It’s true that ICU is a different animal. Apparently it’s the one I didn’t even know I needed.