Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mental Health Days

Mental health days are a great idea. That's what some poeple call those days when you're just feeling burned out and overwhelmed and you call in sick to work because you need to take care of your spirit and morale. It's a perfectly legitimate use of a sick days, especially for those of us who rarely get physically ill. Without the occasional cold or flu to break our daily monotony, we need to call our own breaks: our mental health days.

Unfortunately this concept doesn't always seem to apply to the people who need them most: those who are actually mentally ill. Friends or family are more likely to encourage us to play hooky if we're "normal," but just don't want to go to work. But if a person is actually going through a depression (low energy, trouble concentrating, either weepy or irritable) family and friends can get annoyed and tell the suffering person to go to work and suck it up. We're told to get over it.

It's a typical reaction of many Americans to mental illness such as my chronic depression. Mental health days are supported for those who are stressed and need a break, but for those of us actually experiencing symptoms of chronic mental illness, that sympathy can go out the window. The unfairness and cruelty of this reality makes me think twice whenever I hear the phrase "mental health day." I applaud the practice, but wince as I recognize that the majority of Americans wouldn't apply it to someone like me.


Pusher of Pens said...

I'm behind you 100% on this one. I've only used my sick day once for actually being sick. Otherwise, I feel guilty and just have to lie. Saying, 'I have no motivation to get up today' seems like a weakness I should get over.

Regina Rodriguez-Martin said...

I say that if you don't have the motivation to get up, don't get up. I LOVE lying in bed for hours, reading, blogging, emailing, watching shows or just sleeping. If I'm actually depressed and not really enjoying myself, I still allow myself to lie there until I feel better. This sometimes requires that I push back against my husband who is NOT a lying around person, but so be it. I take care of myself.