The Real Nurse Jackie

Look on the bright side to fight depression

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Jacqueline Vance, RN
Jacqueline Vance, RN

I'm depressed just thinking about it!

I was recently reading an article about depression and what one can do to help themselves. It said that how you became depressed is important, but more importantly, you can learn how to do various things do defeat the depression. 

I can mostly “buy into” all the solutions, but I want to equate the answers to the work place.

Let's go over the advice the article gives then break it down on how it can relate to “our world.”

  1.  If the area you live in is part of the cause of your depression, you may want to think about moving. People who live in undesirable neighborhoods tend to get depressed because they do not feel safe. Changing your environment can help to reduce or get rid of many of your feelings of uneasiness.

What if our neighborhood is the workplace? What if our “neighborhood” is undesirable and makes us feel unsafe? Can we just move? Should we run away? Or can we change the environment within?

I am a firm believer that the grass is not always greener on the other side and that we should always try to be a change agent. I know from experience that it takes just one person to start a culture of change. However, if the leadership at your organization or facility does not value you, does not show appreciation for the contribution you make to daily operations of its mission no matter how hard you work, no matter how many hours you put in, no matter how much you have made its mission your own, then like the old song says, maybe it's time to “hit the road Jack!”

I know we don't work for accolades, but we aren't drones either and a little appreciation goes a long way!

  1. Stick to a positive group of peers to combat your depression. You will find that it is difficult to remain in a depressed state when those around you are bubbly and positive. Those who are positive can even direct you into more positive thinking patterns that help support a more positive you.

I've noticed that my peers seem to be a lot more positive and bubbly when they are at a pub at happy hour but that is what I call a “career limiting move” if we bring it into the workplace! But we can have “happy hour” at work. It is amazing what a little humor in our day can bring us. I really do try to surround myself with positive thinking “cup half-full” types of people and try to avoid the “Eeyores” (as in “Winnie the Pooh”) in life. I promise you, this will make a difference.

  1. Stop rewarding bad behavior. Many times someone who is depressed will wallow in self-pity, allowing others to coddle them and take care of their responsibilities. Take away the rewards and the depressed person can focus on the root of the depression.

Reading this one caused me to pause. Wow. We spend so much time dealing with the person who is “the squeaky wheel” that it takes time away from others. They get the “Oh, you poor baby, attention. What can we do to help?”

Maybe if it is a one time thing. OK. But you all know who I am talking about. You can see them in your head as you read this. That truly is rewarding and enforcing that behavior. Others catch on. “If I complain and whine and moan, everyone will pay attention to me.” Don't reinforce bad behavior. Period. It brings down the whole team!

  1. A great way to deal with depression is to change your attire. It is true that the way you dress can often directly impact how you feel about yourself. Be sure that you always dress your best no matter what it is that you are doing and both you and others will have a more positive view about you.

I have to say I LOVE the character Zoe on the TV show “Nurse Jackie.” She wears the zaniest scrubs. And you can't help but smile when she comes skipping into the ER with her latest attire. I do realize that some of us have dress codes or wouldn't be caught dead in kitten scrubs (or my favorite pair of Kermit the Frog ones I often sleep in).

But don't come to work in a uniform that looks like you slept in it or that looks like you pulled it out of the laundry basket. That IS depressing. There are actual studies that show when you dress your best, look your best you do feel really good about yourself.

  1. Keep your thinking positive. Having a negative outlook towards everything is the very thing that helps head down the road to depression. Feeling that your accomplishments are never good enough, experiencing constant failure and constantly feeling rejected are all contributing factors towards depression. Life is tough, but if you keep a positive attitude, it can really turn things around for you.

OK, I totally know this isn't easy — at all! But realize what you, as a healthcare worker, are accomplishing in a day. Think of the lives you have touched and the differences you get to make in your career choice every single day.

Not everyone is blessed like that. Who else gets to hold someone's hand and smooth their brow as they cross over from this world into the next? Who else gets to just smile at someone who is cognitively impaired and know that they just took that someone's fears away? Who else has the strength (and stomach) to care for the bodily functions that we do?

Seriously, think about who you are, what you do and the difference you make in lives EVERY single day. Now that is uplifting!

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie


The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, a 2012 APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse who is also the director of clinical affairs for the American Medical Directors Association. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. She has not starred in her own national television series — yet. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates. 

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The Real Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, a 2012 APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse who also is the director of clinical affairs for AMDA - The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.


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