Not only is Brooke a badass sober nurse and an out-loud recovery advocate, she is Canadian! And I have to admit, I have a major girl crush on all my sober sisters up North.
Brooke has been a Licensed Practical Nurse for seven years, and in recovery for nearly as long. In addition to the usual suspects – drugs and alcohol – Brooke has overcome codependency, gambling and a binge-eating disorder. Her story illustrates how stubborn our blind spots can be, even when we’re educated, and the source of our problems is directly in front of us.
Brooke worked as a nurse in a treatment centre (Canadian spelling in her honor!) caring for patients with addiction and mental health issues. She recalls multiple colleagues at the centre who were in recovery as well. Yet it took tragic consequences, including the overdose death of a friend, before Brooke woke to the fact that she too needed serious help.
This month’s spotlight nurse is proof that we do recover, from all the things! May her story bring you hope, and serve as potent ammunition against stigma and shame.
A self- admitted perfectionist, Khara graduated from nursing school Suma Cum Laude, married her high school sweetheart, and had two children together. But beneath the surface dark secrets were brewing.
From a young age, Khara experienced anxiety and depression. By college, she was perpetually bingeing on alcohol and chronically high on weed. Becoming licensed as a healthcare professional didn’t help Khara eliminate her toxic habits; in fact, the culture of nursing normalized them for her.
Like many of us who searched desperately for relief from emotional pain through substances, Khara tried for years to moderate before ultimately facing and overcoming her addiction to being numb.
She came to a realization: there is no escaping discomfort through drugs or alcohol. Trying to do so only kept her separate from herself and the beauty of life around her. Four years ago, Khara found her freedom in sobriety.
Khara’s story is so empowering, I felt bad having to edit it down to one brief interview! But Khara’s on a journey to becoming a recovery coach, and I have a feeling she’ll have many opportunities in the near future to share her story of hope and healing.
But there’s another Nurse Florence I want to share with you today. She also served in the military – World War II – and retired from Skagit Valley Hospital in 1981, the year I was born. A beautiful Japanese Maple was given to her as a retirement gift. Thirty-eight years later, this tree flourishes in my front yard.
While she may not boast the same accolades as the esteemed “Lady With the Lamp,” in my view, she deserves recognition this National Nurse’s Week, amidst the global celebration for Year of the Nurse.
MaryBeth Murphy has been a nurse for over 30 years, the majority of that time spent in pediatrics.
Just over 3 years ago, she broke her ankle and decided to use the time to get healthy. This included challenging herself to not drink alcohol. One seemingly “small” habit change and the trajectory of MaryBeth’s life changed forever.
Not only did she embrace an alcohol-free lifestyle in 2016, she took the opportunity to look honestly at her career and personal goals, bravely admitting that working at the bedside was no longer on that list.
MaryBeth is a holistic health and recovery coach, yoga instructor, reiki healer, craniosacral therapist and more!
I am in awe of this woman’s character and determination and honored to have interviewed her.
It is most certainly the Year of the Nurse, and I’m proud to share one nurse’s journey from daily drinker to holistic health coach!
Shannon McDonald’s smile is contagious. She’s funny and kind and has a passion for refurbishing furniture and hitting the trails with her family on their ATVs.
But it wasn’t always this way.
In 2009, Shannon’s life was the stuff addiction is made of: a lack of coping skills “I was a negative person”, a troubled relationship “My husband and I were awful to each other” a legitimate cause for pain prescriptions “migraines and herniated discs” and high-stress job as an emergency room nurse in a Level 1 Trauma Center.
Similar to my experience, Shannon learned the hard way: marijuana’s not the gateway drug, opiate prescription pills are.
This post is longer than usual but worth it! In the following interview, Shannon opens up about procuring drug hookups in jail, suffering withdrawal from heroin, and finally, the joy of recovery.
Recover and Rise: Shannon, how long have you been sober, and what do you define yourself in recovery from?
Shannon: My sober date is Dec 2, 2015. I’ve been in recovery for 4 years and 3 months from drugs, alcohol, job burnout, and a generally crappy attitude – LOL!
There is a strong cultural acceptance within our collective culture, but I think especially for nurses that feel they need a quick stress reliever. We are particularly complacent about alcohol’s overall impact on our lives. I believe there is a lot of shame attached to this as well.
Brittany is a wife, mother of 3, and nurse of almost 13 years.
Raised an ultra-conservative Mormon, Brittany never considered touching a drop of alcohol until after she experienced a crisis of faith and left her church nearly 6.5 years ago.
Once she got a taste of alcohol’s so-called benefits, the drink became increasingly difficult to put down, even as the consequences became increasingly unbearable.
This is an all too familiar tale for many of us.
In the interview below, Brittany bravely shares how she’s overcoming self-diagnosed perfectionism and codependency, (two common conditions for nurses), and how she decided to put down alcohol outside of any religious, moral code. Brittany lives alcohol-free because it’s right for her and her family. Choosing sobriety aligns with her newfound life of radical self-love and acceptance.
This year’s even better. Every single one of the 366 days in 2020, dedicated to us! (Yep, it’s a leap year!)
In honor of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the World Health Organization (WHO) has deemed 2020:
THE YEAR OF THE NURSE
I might be a tad biased, but if anyone deserves a whole year of devotion, it’s me and my nurse peeps.
#YON2020 isn’t just an excuse to eat birthday cake with Nurse Flo’s name on it. The WHO intends to advance nurses’ vital position in transforming healthcare around the world.
Nurses and midwives play a vital role in providing health services…They are often, the first and only point of care in their communities. The world needs 9 million more nurses and midwives if it is to achieve universal health coverage by 2030.
I’m on board with boosting legislation that results in Universal Health Care, but my agenda is a little different; I’m concerned with the health of nurses themselves.
So when I first heard the phrase “Year of the Nurse” this is what (and who) came to my mind:
Critical Care colleagues physically exhausted, facing moral distress
Colleagues in recovery fighting to keep their license, sobriety and lives intact
Nursing students who are ill-prepared for the sacrifice their careers will demand
I thought of the secret shame so many of us harbor, overwhelmed with life and work but desperate to keep anyone from thinking we’re weak. We even hide from our coworkers, despite our shared experience which could foster deep connections if we felt empowered to let down our walls.