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The day I called in depressed

Guest Author: Mitch

This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.

I don’t know why but, even as a person who deals with anxiety and depression on a daily basis, I always felt there was something deceiving about taking “a mental health day” from work. Like it was code for an extra vacation day or something where your boss couldn’t call you out for faking sick.

As a result, many a times I have called (emailed) in sick to work with general stomach pain or just that I wasn’t feeling well when the truth was I needed a mental health day to sort through my shit. I always felt bad about it, needing an hour or so to get over the idea I might have bamboozled my workplace into a day off before realizing that I do need that day off.

But today, something snapped.

Today wasn’t going to be a good one

I just finished working three nights in a row, with another four right ahead of me. Having fought through the thoughts that made me want to stay in bed all day to get to work for those shifts, and then miserably revisiting them as I walked home eight hours later, I woke up with a pretty clear feeling in my gut – today wasn’t going to be a good one.

After attempting to shake it off and convince myself that going in to work could make me feel better (it wouldn’t), I decided that I was going to have to call in sick, but this time, I wasn’t going to hide why.

Maybe it was because #BellLetsTalk day is coming up and “ending the stigma” gets a little more love in the media this time of year, or that I was just sick of pretending that it wasn’t a legitimate reason for a day off, but I didn’t hide it – I said I was too depressed to work.

Hey guys,
I’ll be straight with you. I’ve been fighting through a bad depression bout to come to work the last few days and I’m just too mentally and physically exhausted to do it again for my shift tonight and still be productive in the slightest…

Sorry for the late notice. I was trying to shake it off all day before I came to the conclusion I needed a mental health day.
Thanks,
Mitch

It felt good. Not so good that I wasn’t depressed anymore, but good to just say it out loud (or type it, I guess) and be honest in admitting as openly as I could that this is something that affects me all the time and sometimes I need to put a hold on other things because of it.

The stigma is still out there and this was uncharted waters for me.

Admittedly, I was a little bit worried about what the response to my honest email would be. I was pretty sure my supervisors would understand, but the stigma is still out there, and this was uncharted waters for me.

Thankfully, the response I got was even better than what I hoped for.

Don’t worry about the late notice here. We understand that feeling mentally unwell isn’t something you can just shake off and we don’t expect you to fight through it to be here today, tomorrow, or any day. Take tonight off and we can check in with you tomorrow. Hopefully you’ll feel better then, but we don’t need to set any firm timelines on your return to work at this moment.

Let us (and me specifically, if you prefer) know if there’s anything we can do to help.

I don’t know how I will feel tomorrow or the next day or any time after that. I just wanted to share this small win for the mental health community with you because 1) it makes me feel better to write and share my struggles with depression and anxiety, 2) you should know there’s nothing wrong with taking a mental health day, and 3) if you didn’t know what to say to your boss when calling in with depression, you can steal the template from my email.

Comments

Danielle
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Reading this helped me alot. I’ve only recently returned to work after being off for 2 years and on odsp. I started back in May and things were going good, I was happy to have a new job and happy to be working again but a month later depression crept up on me and I’ve been unable to show up for work and even call my boss because I’m embarrassed. I’m scared about losing my job but I feel my doctor would advocate for me because he knows my history and battle with depression. I’m just feeling overwhelmed right now and reading this helped.

Tom
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It is always hit or miss stigma is always out there but it is good to know that there are good employers out there.

Mel
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I appreciate this article and am happy that there are employers out there who are willing to treat their employees as the human beings they are. I have been suffering from anxiety my whole life, diagnosed for 6 years now, sadly in the realm of Grocery and Retail, the words “mental health day” are ones that will never be accepted. I couldn’t even call in sick without worrying about it 3 hours before and after. All they care about is having a body there.

Lyn
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Thank you for sharing this! I struggle with Bipolar Disorder. Currently, it’s the depressive symptoms that are bothering me. I have called in sick in the past, my boss does know why but I still feel bad. She’s very understanding. Please remember that you and I are ACTUALLY sick. It’s a real condition, not something in our heads. Some people may stigmatize it, but they don’t understand the struggles people with mental health problems have to face. The more people talk about it the easier it will get and the more informed the general public will get. (I too work retail and it isn’t the best when you have depression. Especially during the holiday season. So demanding and tiring.)

Lissa
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Yes, today was a sick day for me too. The rain and the dark days, my aging parents and other life stufg, the fact that I’m really just grinding through my work days and on top of that I’ve been battling for years with depression. I take meds but they are not a cure all. Sure, I laugh and have good times but deep down I just don’t want to be here.

Brandon
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Thank you for posting this. I have Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety. I’ve been fighting through both for over a decade, and sometimes it wears me down to the point where I can’t even go through the motions anymore. I work a high-stress technician job, so the last thing I can afford to do is work on dangerous machinery or hazardous electrical devices when I can’t focus. The issue is that my coworkers and my bosses don’t understand what depression actually entails, and have shown no willingness to treat it as a real issue. The minute any mental health issue comes up I essentially put a bulls-eye on my back. I’ve seen what happens to those who are honest about it at work, and it equates to career suicide. So to survive I have to just report the physical manifestations and say I have a flu, or a headache, or literally any other ailment than depression. The real kicker is that these same people who treat depression as a “b.s. disease” or “laziness” will go out of their way to help when something physical goes on or if I have a death in the family. They’re good people, but they just don’t understand. So I end up putting on a mask to preserve my livelihood. I like my job and my coworkers: I just hate having to wear the mask every day. I look forward to the day where the social stigma is gone and I can throw that mask in the dumpster.

John S
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I wish I could of had the courage to write the email you just wrote. But no I blamed it on physical symptoms. I feel the world is inhumane if your not indestructible your unemployable.

Mental health support from employers here in the UK is none existent its an almost unspeakable subject. After hearing a previous employer say he’ll never hire anyone with mental health issues I’d never dare be open about my problems.

Brian
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Thank you for posting this. I am a very reserved and introverted person that has suffered from depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. I have personally never had the courage to seek professional help or medication, etc. but I think the time has come. I am lucky in that my work place is very supportive when it comes to the well being of their employees but I have never been straight with them or previous employers when it comes to my mental health, I have often called out and stated that it was for another physical reason in the past. I think I am going to contact my supervisor via email and just be straight with him and see what happens. I am finally going to get some help with this, it has been eating away at me for too long.

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