A nurse is telling:

There was a girl who was driving inside a tunnel and something just fell on her car and she died. That messes me up more than thinking about patients who are sick.

I have a hard time understanding what is the meaning of the phrasal verb in the context.

  • Put ones mental health in jeopardy. May 8 '16 at 23:12

A mess (noun) is

a situation that is very complicated or difficult to deal with - MW

To mess up, then, (as a verb) means

To cause to be confused or troubled: The divorce really messed him up.

It's an idiom, like "messing with one's head" or "messing me up".

Nurses may feel bad about their sick patients, maybe worrying that they will suffer and die (conjecture; more context might be helpful.) But they can understand death in the context of illness.

It is much harder to think of death occurring so randomly to a healthy person. So, the nurse is likely expressing how troubling such an event is compared to more understandable events, like sickness and death.


The nurse means that she is psychologically harmed or damaged by the cruel fate that caused the girl in the tunnel to be killed. "To be messed up" is also used for physical damage to the body and for other mood altering things such as inebriation (e.g., "He is really messed up."). It is also used to describe situations that have either been made or have gone wrong, e.g., a tree falling on a house or a printing error causing something like a page to be missing in a book. It is widely used in U.S. English conversation.

  • In this context I assume the meaning would be something like "makes me anxious". May 8 '16 at 19:15

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