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On April 25th, 2021 at 10:55 in the morning I messaged my chat group of girlfriends from where I work as a nurse on an ICU floor: "Nothing like feeling strongly suicidal at a job where you're supposed to be keeping people alive," and then tweeted that my "mental health wasn't great" and deleted the Twitter app off of my phone because I didn't want to "overshare."
That I felt like dying.
That I would've rather died than still be at work.
I am not alone.
In 2020 there were roughly four million nurses in America. Only 2.7 million U.S. soldiers fought in the Vietnam War. Those soldiers who came back from Vietnam, having witnessed atrocities-and in some cases, participated in them-were changed forever.
You can't send four million people into a wartime-equivalent situation without there being psychological consequences.
And yet that's what America has done.
Nurses spent a year battling a largely unknown assailant. Running low on gear. Haunted by the fact that we could bring something deadly home. Getting coughed on by people who pretended that our fights were imaginary, that our struggles-watching people die, day after day, no matter what we did-were literally fake.
Nurses are scarred. And unless people understand what we went through and commit to never let anyone lie in the future about public health, we will never become whole.
Year of the Nurse: A Covid-19 Pandemic Memoir is Cassandra Alexander's poignant effort to come to grips with suicidal ideation and PTSD after being a covid nurse in an ICU in 2020. Comprised of original essays and her chronological journals, tweets, and emails as she attempted to save lives, including her own-this book will let you experience last year from the bedside.
Come and understand what it was like.
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