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Work Related Ptsd

Discussion in 'Employment & Education' started by singingyamada, Apr 26, 2011.

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  1. singingyamada

    singingyamada New Member

    Hello. I worked as a nurse in acute mental health for years, and it was mental health that gave me PTSD. I live in a place where everyone knows someone. I was case managing a young man who unexpectedly killed his friends father. It was handled badly and whilst the powers that be knew about it, no one bother to tell me until my clients dad rang me up and with the wail of a wounded animal told me what his son, my client had done. That was when I heard my brain crack.

    I took time off work and the culture of nursing is "Don't be weak . Get back up on the horse" had me back at work after three months.But I struggled and struggled and finally after the constant blurred boundary of home and work (as we knew the victims family) and the constant unexpected shock of things related to this popping up( murder trial) I was shattered.

    I took a week off, I walked into work and I was called into the office over something trivial and I thought it had happened again, that someone had died and this time they were going to tell me rather than let me find out and my brain actually broke. I have never worked since.

    At first the workers compensation insurance paid me as they said it was my pre-exisiting Anxiety that had been aggravated, but now they have stopped, because a psychiatrist they sent me to said any PTSD would have stopped once I left work.

    Now I have to go and see a court appointed psychiatrist and I am really not coping.
    I am going to be sitting in front of a stranger trying to prove to them that I am not;
    a. A malingerer
    b. That PTSD has significantly messed every thing up.
    c. That there is an impairment, that my GP, 2 psychiatrists and a psychologist agree on and the only specialist who disagrees is the one the insurance company pays for.
    d. And that this is PTSD , not my old buddy anxiety that I used to manage very well. The fact that I rattle at night with so many more and different medication should be proof of that.

    Is there anyone who has had work related PTSD, because its feeling really lonely here in Australia. I have never been able to meet up with anyone who has been in the same position as me.
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  3. Perth girl

    Perth girl New Member

    Hi Singingyamada,

    I am sorry to hear what you are going through. I too experienced my PTSD in the workplace and my psychologist has been very helpful with workers comp etc. My situation is not as bad as yours however, and I have still been attending work despite how hard it can be at times, however I have changed workplaces.

    That being said, are you in Australia? And if so which state?

    From what I have been told the insurance company/ employer can't demand that you see one of their therapists or doctors, and it is actually not recommended by workers comp. However you can see an independent one to both parties. Were you seeing the same psychologist before the incident for your anxiety issues or have you only just started?

    Because I know that with my therapist if it was ever question she can tell the difference between the pre and post symptoms. I was previously seeing her in regards to Depression, but then I was physically assualted and verbally abused in the workplace and although I may have been a bit more vulnerable to developing symptoms, the assualt is what triggered most of it, ie/ the nightmares, anxiety etc.

    PTSD symptoms won't just dissappear when you leave the workplace, and any trained Psychologist or Psychiatrist would no that... it is a journey that will take time... although some of the triggers are removed whilst not in the workplace there can be other triggers when in other environments. Ie/ for me I freeze whenever there are verbally abusive people around even if not directed at me ie/ in shopping centres etc, or aboriginal people despite the fact that it's not the same place or situation.

    You can also appeal the insurances verdict through workers comp where they will independantly evaluate your situation and symptoms. And if you wanted to go down the path, you can also look at suing workers comp, because apparently you can't actually sue the company that you were working for.

    I hope that has given you a bit of an insight! But just hang in there! Things will get easier and just be yourself and let the psychiatrist know exactly how you feel. They will be able to tell a lot of it anyway!

    Goodluck, and let me know if there is anything else that I can help with!!
  4. singingyamada

    singingyamada New Member

    Thanks . I live in NSW. I have been seeing my GP for 13 years before the incident . My anxiety was well managed, a bit like diabetic, in that I would have to take sick leave every now and then and get the medication tweaked. And the psychiatrist I saw before hand would say the same.The insurance company sent me to an "independent' psychiatrist shortly after I claimed and he said it was an aggravation of my anxiety so they paid.
    After 2 years, my solicitor said bite the bullet and claim lump sum and get it all sorted now as the insurance company will start trying to find a way to back out. They had already tried by harrassment, but my GP and Psychiatrist all told them to back off as they were making me worse with their 'commando calls' out of the blue harrassing me about re training and I would end up in a corner in tears.

    I have been medically retired and its likely I wont work again,

    My solicitor sent me to a psychiatrist for an assessment for permanent impairment and it was good (though in a bad way) to be validated as to how limited I am. However the insurance company sent me back to their same psychiatrist who had me painted as virtually on holiday and it was he, that said that I was well, I was back to my anxious self as any PTSD would have stopped when I left work. So with their one medical opinion vs my four different proffessionals the insurance company stopped payment.

    We had to go to the Workers Compensation Commission who arbitrates all issues and disputes and now I have to go and see another court appointed psychiatrist.

    I think the policy with insurance companies must be
    1. Find a way not to pay
    2. If you have to pay , find a way to end payments early
    3. Then f ind a way to stop paying
    4. Then drag it out for as long as you can and see if the claimaint either dies or gives up because of the stress of it.
    5 If all of the above don't work then try to diminish the amount to be paid.

    Thus I am trying to find someone who has been through similar to me.
  5. gidge

    gidge Active Member

    hey while my PTSD is not work related i just wanted u to know im a nurse also and get the whole nursing culture of "get over it". I am currently on stress leave and am wondering if i will ever be able to return to work due to inability to concentrate, although it is still early days for me. As a profession nurses are great at taking care of others but useless at looking after ourselfs and colleagues.
    Good luck with your fight for insurance. Hope it all goes well.
  6. singingyamada

    singingyamada New Member

    Yep nurse managers would eat their young. Its always do more with less and you only as good as your last call into the office for doing something wrong. And I was in a moderate to severe community mental health team. The management were flawed. they knew what my client had done and denied any problems on the day. I had to hear it from my clients father.
  7. gidge

    gidge Active Member

    thats horrible they should have told you. You shldnt have to hear news like that from any one else
  8. singingyamada

    singingyamada New Member

    It was . Even if they had to check the facts they could have redirected all calls to me and taken me somewhere and told me. but they didnt . I knew something had happened the minute I walked into work as the director of mental health was standing in our office with a big yellow envelope which always has a file and that always means a death or a critical incident. I asked them them three times had something happened and three times they said no , then they left our office, They stood and denied there was a problem. And left me to hear it off my clients father who had the sound of a cat in pain. I can still hear it, And when I turned around I was in the office alone. Then one of our doctors came in. I have never experience such horror, shock , helplessness and then froze. I couldnt move. I was abandoned.
    And this is by management.
  9. gidge

    gidge Active Member

    OMG that is shocking what were they thinking. You think as nurses they would realise the relationships that you form and how news like that would affect you, as clients do become like family/ friends due to the nature of the job. It is not always easy to maintain a strictly professional relationship especially when working in community where you get to know the families etc, as you do get pretty close especially if you live in the same community you work in.
  10. singingyamada

    singingyamada New Member

    Gige it was drummed into us that we took on the family when we took on the client. and you do. what made it worse was that the man who died was know to my family.
  11. gamereign555

    gamereign555 Rabid Wombat!

    I dont know if its unusual or not, but I myself 'cracked' at work and ended up in the hospital. But returning to the same job is what I needed or what worked to get me better.. But then again I cant seem to sort out what is the exact cause of my PTSD being that there was quite a lot of Abuse/trauma in my childhood, loss and then all my years of drug abuse. My work was stressful and I was still drinking at that time in my life, guess I could have stubbed my toe and got PTSD? Hard to understand because the big triggering event had PTSD like symptoms in itself.
  12. singingyamada

    singingyamada New Member

    I had a crap childhood with a paedophile uncle but I went and got counseling and sorted it. So work was the last thing I ever thought would do me in. However with the benefit of hindsight, I can see what working in mental health does to a lot of the workers in the way of alcohol or drugs or burn out.
  13. gamereign555

    gamereign555 Rabid Wombat!

    I tend to agree with you there. I was drinking energy beers and energy drinks a lot, I think that had something to do with all this for sure. I had just quit both prior to the incident. I read that the withdrawl symptoms for people sensitive to stimulants in energy drinks can be quite severe, that combined with alcohol withdrawl and long periods of drug use in my past might have done it. Sounds like I pretty much fried my nervous system.
  14. singingyamada

    singingyamada New Member

    The thing with the acute end that I worked in was that there was no where to go mand dump the days work. Any clinical supervsion was shorted by staff shortages and paper workl and more work and you were only as good as your last complain. And if you read about , I was screwed by the people I trusted.
  15. singingyamada

    singingyamada New Member

    Hi and an update. I went and saw the court appointed psychiatrist and I blubbered for an hour and a half. She was shaking her head a lot when I told her how my work place managed the injury, so maybe that is a good sign. I just have to wait know for the report and that can take weeks, so have hatched a plan to do something useful not just exist to pass the time. I am going to paint the parts of my house that have bee driving me mad for the last 2 years.

    In the meanwhile it took me three days to organize of the papers with regard to my head and the insurance and guess what , i am a very good hoarder of paper. For some deranged reason before I left work I kept copies of guidelines and policy's do so with critical incidents and how to handle them and lots of other stuff that is quite useful.

    So if your PTSD is involved or could be involved with the legal world, Document , document and document and keep copies of everything that might see relevant.
  16. sarahvee

    sarahvee New Member

    I think the last straw event for me was my workplace trauma 2 years ago. I've been phobic about jobs since then, whereas before I had no problem looking for and finding jobs. It's hard not to feel ashamed - I hate to give that crap job power over me. It's a struggle. Just wanted to let you know you're not the only one.
    redheaded moppet likes this.
  17. popeye

    popeye Well-Known Member

    I realize I am joining the conversation late but I too have PTSD from the workplace. I am currently seeking disability for my PTSD as all but one of my therapists and doctors have stated that I should not work. I have been fighting to get this for almost a year now and it's almost helpful to have a goal. I have been so aimless since i left my job and it's nice to have a goal i can pursue.
  18. Sazza

    Sazza I'm a VIP

    Not much to add really concentration poor at moment read your post but not sunk in. Just wanted to say i to am suffereing the effects of work incidents that have caused PTSD symptoms but no diagnosis as of yet. I to work in health field but am not qualified like yourself. Work really don't seem to understand the effect it has had on me, it feels like i to was expected to man up and get on with it, however its not happening i am now off.

    I doubt if i will be able to return to the place at this rate.
  19. redheaded moppet

    redheaded moppet New Member


    I developed work-related PTSD last fall. Am not in the health field but in education (am a high school teacher) so I can relate to the "deal with stress and take it" mentality between the demands of the students, parents, and school administration. Have taught for over 20 years - abruptly resigned my job in November which I'd only begun the end of August 9 weeks into the school year, so have been living off savings. Right now am talking to my T to see if I might be able to get the unemployment compensation I was eligible for last June when I was laid off but didn't take except for one week before hired at the job I ended up leaving when I broke emotionally - yeah, weird, right?? :confused: My problem now is of course I'm trying to find another job and have that plus having been laid off last June hanging over my head professionally which looks REALLY good on a resume in terms of recent stability... :eek: forget the fact the district where I was laid off I'd been there 5 years...

    I'm not sure if I will be able to get the UE or not - have to check more with them directly - but my T told me he'd write a letter to help me out here. I want to go back to work - don't like feeling useless, etc., but I also don't want to be "labeled" with PTSD professionally which I would have been if I'd remained in my job last fall and then gone to EAP to see someone... I couldn't trust anyone at my job there b/c I knew nobody and being the "new kid on the block" of course everyone was watching my work performance. So... my dilemma presently is trying to see if I can get UE to help me here or not; if not and I don't find another job I am looking at serious financial consequences by late fall here... which will NOT be good in terms of keeping my house.

    Any ideas or suggestions would be helpful here - above all I want to continue getting help I need to get over this the rest of the way, pay my bills/keep my townhouse, and return to work or else go back to school for something completely different. Have had several interviews lately for teaching jobs for fall but after the interview I don't hear anything and so far others have been hired. :unsure: Hope things get better with your situation - that's tough.
  20. gamereign555

    gamereign555 Rabid Wombat!

    I believe my job also contributed to my ptsd, the first panic attack I ever had was at work, things have not been the same for me since. I worked in hotel maintenance which I think is a stressful job, but some of it was me. I was never willing to take a sick day, at the most I would do for myself, I would try to work as long as I could while ill, only going home after all the hardest most important tasks were finished. I also had too much on my plate, rather I would always try to do more now so that I could do less later...however maintenance doesn't really work that way, there is always more and more to do. I managed to continue my job for 6 more months after the ptsd had shown its ugly colors to me. I could have continued my job, but it wasn't my choice as I was laid off after new management came into the hotel. A huge weight was lifted after losing my job, though the advantages to having a job are obvious and I miss that.

    Constant unrealistic deadlines, inspections, reports and paperwork, endless routine but with constant learning, an unsatisfiable boss and co-workers. My job also demanded that I set a complex priority sort of flow chart of tasks if you will.

    If only they had assigned me partner or a worker under me, things might be different today.. But only might, because I have already had much trauma in my life. Abuse and neglect as a toddler and child, the loss of my dear father and many years of drug use and all the lovely things that go along with that all contributed to where I am today.
  21. ragdoll

    ragdoll Member
    Premium Member

    Hi Singingyamada, My PTSD was brought on by working in a school environment with a child who has special needs. Lots of physical abuse and I was mainly the sole carer in this environment. I also suffered sexual abuse as a child and a few other experiences that played around with my childhood.
    I find myself triggered about my workplace incidents while replying to this post. Please forgive me if my post is a little out of sorts.
    I live in WA and have been on workers compensation since June 2010.

    I have been assessed by my employers' psychiatrist twice. Appears this happens on a 6 monthly basis. On both occassions he deemed me unfit for return to work. He is also an AMS - Approved Medical Specialist via WorkPlace WorkPlace is a protection agency in Australia for work place disputes etc.

    I see a psychiatrist of my choice every couple of months (3hrs away) and see my psychologist/counsellor every fortnight. I am currently in the process of beginning EMDR - when I am capable of doing it without "crashing" as I do.
    My employers insurance company pays for all expenses.

    Due to being on workers compensation for nearly 12 months, my union suggested to protect myself for any future settlements (court/common law damages???) I should be independently assessed by an AMS via WorkPlace for level of disability percentage. The fee was paid by my union!
    I have not seen my report but was advised due to my condition not yet being stabilised he could not give a percentage. My extension to apply for common law damages was granted for 6 months.
  22. ragdoll

    ragdoll Member
    Premium Member

    Oops. Pushed the wrong button & my post was put up! I ran out of time to edit it.
    I wanted to mention how I am afraid to go for common law as the insurance company will stop paying my salary and all expenses. How can I continue to get on top of the debilitating effects of PTSD if payments stop? If my workplace is found liable, the insurance company will re-imburse costs incurred etc. I am not in a financial position to take this risk. We may have to sell our home if I want to go to court.

    Regarding your past anxiety - my employers psychiatrist mentioned my childhood abuse played a significant part in my PTSD (I had counselling as a young child). However, my solicitor, GP, psychiatrist and psychologist said I should still not have gone through with what I did in my workplace environment.
    Employers have a duty of care to provide to their employees. One proffessional said if I had a bad back, yet obtained an injury to it through work, work is still responsible. Just because we have underlying issues doesn't excuse the workplace not to be responsible for your well being. They said this was often used in court cases - duty of care.
    Although you suffer anxiety in your past, you were obviously able to manage it in a way to continue working.
    With PTSD anxiety comes along comes deeper and stronger. You have so much to cope with let alone insurance psychiatrists placing more pressure on you.
    I'm glad you feel confident since your last post. Good luck and take care.

    Ragdoll xxxxx
    goa way likes this.
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