(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

LETTER: Health-care workers need self care

Registered nurse says she suffers from PTSD

The Editor,

Re: “Nurses plead with public to follow COVID-19 rules,” the Now-Leader, Nov. 26.

After reading Amy Reid’s article, I had an ache in my heart. Thank you for bringing the awareness of frontline health-care workers’ psychological wellbeing to the public. This topic holds a special place in my heart.

As BC Nurses Union (BCNU) president Christine Sorensen mentioned, burnout is prevalent among the frontline health-care workers. Many have reported the heightened anxiety, fatigue, distress, and fear. If these heavy emotional demands are not addressed, negative outcomes such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur.

I have unfortunately learned this the hard way.

I’m a registered nurse from Vancouver General Hospital. I am diagnosed with PTSD due to a workplace assault. I have experienced the abyss of PTSD distress first hand and I wish no one will have to go through my debilitating path.

I was attacked by a patient. I was kicked in my stomach so hard that I flew across the room and landed at another patient’s bedside. I was in such intense shock and pain that I couldn’t escape even when the patient was crawling towards me. I had to be carried away. Meanwhile it took four security guards and at least 10 medical staff to have the patient under control.

Fourteen months later, another workplace violence occurred. While the patient was spitting, kicking and punching, I froze on the spot. I couldn’t attend to my patient’s safety, not to mention my own.

I cannot express enough in words the despair, rejection, and shame that I have undergone. It is not until I have come across to self care then it marked the turning point in my life. Admitting the need for self care takes courage as health-care providers are especially reticent about mental health.

Now that I am better, protecting nurses has become my personal objective. As such, I have founded PTSD Support for Nurses, an organization that promotes awareness to the mental health of medical professionals. Everyone should be able to access psychological help without stigma.

PTSD Support for Nurses is creating personalized self-care packages for health-care providers. Nurses reported that the packages have made them feel that their bravery, commitment, selflessness, and heroism have been recognized and their wellbeing is valued. The self-care package is a solution to Christine’s concerns regarding nurses’ mental health issues.

If you are a frontline medical provider who is looking to get started in self care, email ptsdhelpfornurses@gmail.com to get your personalized self-care kit.

Cecilia Yeung, Vancouver

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