Each year, I write the editorial for the issue of Ostomy Wound Management that goes to the Symposium on Advanced Wound Care (see annual poem below). When I choose my pretty much nonclinical topic, I look for inspiration to the exceptional life moments that define us, uplift us, and make us tick — experiencing karma, deciding on a career, conducting and then writing about exciting studies that utilize information from seminal (ie, “oldies”) articles. I gather my motivation and themes from the plethora of health care overachievers with whom I figuratively am surrounded — dedicated and talented individuals who pursue their missions and maintain their goals with gusto. They personify success and fulfillment, whether professional or personal, whether individual or universal.
I don’t know about you, but lately I am finding such feel-good moments few and far between. I am weighed down by the gravity and inescapability of recent political turmoil (I am being … tactful)1 and a winter that has lasted far too long (on the first full day of Spring, the eastern United States experienced its fourth snowy nor’easter in as many weeks). Like many in the United States (43%, to be exact),2 I am concerned about health care in general. The stock market behaving like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride is bad for my agita. Too many people (close to me and beyond) have died, some natural deaths, some (as the media too often reports) violent ones. Probably/hopefully, my mopes are temporary; in fact, I could be suffering föehne, transitory headaches and lethargy attributed to an ancient seasonal mountain wind. I wouldn’t dwell on this except that the more people with whom I speak, the more I hear the same sentiment. Is it a bad case of the blues or something more sinister?
I decided to conduct a bit of research about my (at the very least) apathy and learned depressive disorders are not uncommon among health care professionals (and maybe those who write about them?) and can be largely associated with chronic disease and female gender, facts that are quite disheartening considering the majority of our readership is comprised of women nurses who care for long-duration wounds. An article in Health Times3 addressed the daily challenges nurses face (among them, a culture of survival and dealing with rude, ungrateful patients and patients who, despite a nurse’s best efforts, do not heal). Such realities can affect not only nurses’ quality of care, but also their mental health/quality of life. The article includes definitions of and action items for managing depression (see a doctor, eliminate physical causes…in short, get help!); other publications4 called depression among nurses a silent epidemic.
The only way to distinguish normal highs and lows from a depressive disorder is to seek a professional diagnosis. Even if you can attribute lack of motivation, not deriving pleasure from activities you usually enjoy, finding it difficult to concentrate, and feeling guilty/overwhelmed/down on yourself to a slow-to-arrive Spring, an especially full calendar, or the tumultuous political climate, the symptoms of depression should not go unchecked. Nurses are too valuable to do anything more than wear the blues, not experience them.
In the meantime, to fuel my own fulfillment fires, I am going to settle in with a bowl of salted caramel crunch ice cream (my favorite Summer comfort food) and this issue of OWM with my nearly 13-year-old furry therapist ready to lick away my ephemeral sads and some of my errant ice cream. Short of getting and appropriately responding to a bona fide confirmation of clinical depression, I highly recommend similarly rewarding self-indulgence. Works for me every time.
S outhern charm that brings delight
Y outh and history unite
M IPS and tips you’ll want to share
P leasant faces everywhere
O utcomes bettered with your learning
S o much CE credit earning
I n Exhibits, food is free
U p-and-coming faculty
M ark this conference “resource prime”
And make the most of NC time.