I’m in a bit of (what I call) a blip. Unfortunately, if you have chronic mental health issues these blips can occur at any given time, and I’m working through it in my own way. A few days ago I chose to have a duvet day; I hadn’t slept the night before and I decided to go back to bed after I took the kids to school. Initially my plan had only been to sleep for a couple of hours then get up, but in the end I was so tired I just kept resetting my alarm every 30 minutes, until I gave up at about lunchtime, accepted I was going to shelve my plans for the day, and just rested until it was time to leave the house.
Usually this would be a huge problem for me as I have a mindset, that I find hard to shift, about having to be ‘productive’ every day. The last few years have been a harsh object lesson for me, as I have found it increasingly more difficult to be able to pack as much into my day as I used to, as my M.E and Fibromyalgia have taken their toll. I have beaten myself up so often because I plan my day or week out with what I either need to accomplish, which means picking or choosing what is important, spreading things out, working different hours around my bust and boom periods, or having my family help me; but on frequent occasions I simply have to take a day where I abandon all plans completely and just call it quits.
On some days that means doing what I did yesterday and just dragging my weary ass to bed. But more often than not it takes the form of a short nap followed by some television, walking my dog, and reading or playing with my phone. Sometimes I can incorporate some work into my day with some writing, taking my camera for a walk, or making some designs on my phone while I am watching tv. That makes the concept of taking a duvet day a little easier to stomach. On this particular day however, I was simply unable to work through it, and by resting I was able to refresh myself to come back to what I needed to do with a stronger mindset.
But why do mental health days scare us so much. People get burned out. That’s pretty simple fact. Our world today is designed to mean most families are on two wages, expectations are sky high and the prevalence of mental illness is higher than ever. So why do we often work past the point of burnout until we end up in a full crash. We treat physical illness a certain way, if you have an injury or illness you have to be off because you cannot fill your work duties to the correct standard. Yet mental health is essentially ignored and you are meant to be on top condition all the time. We are very harsh and unforgiving of mistakes made owing to these types of problems.
I know I am fully aware the concept of a mental health day is open to abuse. But from personal experience I’ve worked through bad times and ended up in a crash that necessitated weeks or months off work because I had gone past the limits my mind could endure without seeking help. In these kind of circumstances work places suffer for longer periods for the sake of short term understanding; its a false economy. Surely there are some ways to insert X amount of days into a calendar year where you can have a telephone or face to face meeting with your employer, explain your situation and take a mental health day, in the same way you can take a day with a stomach bug, so you can return and discharge your duties more efficiently without longer term detrimental illness or adding to an overburdened GP’s workload. We need to have conversations that normalise mental illness so it stands on equal footing with physical health and illness. This blog started for that very reason.
What is your opinion on the subject of a mental health day. Let me know in the comments below. As ever I’ve provided a star rating form for you to be able to rate my writing so I can continue to improve and provide great content. There is also a contact form below and a subscription form if you want to sign up to receive news of new blogs straight to your inbox. I don’t sell details to third parties or send spam. I’m looking forward to hearing your opinion on mental health and work based sickness.