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.

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.



Now THAT’S a true feel-good story! From one depressive to another.


So happy that your workplace walks the talk. Wish mine would. They say a lot but actions reveal otherwise.


Wow! So impressed by your courage and by the response from your employer. Your description of the guilt and turmoil you felt when trying to get the courage to write the email describes EXACTLY how I have felt all the times I have had to write those “sick today” emails to my employer. Thank you for sharing your story.


Must be nice. When I have had to do that the days are just ‘unscheduled absences’ that cause grief to other staff members and bringing someone In to cover my shift effects the over all budget. 🙄


I’m so glad you got this response. Your supervisor seems very understanding But not all supervisors are like this. The stigma is still out there, I did the same thing as you and was honest to my supervisor about my depression and she started to attack me asking me questions like how are you going to keep a job, this sounds like it happens a lot, she was saying I’m not reliable. Her comments have really took a toll in my emotions lately. I’m not sure how to move on from this incident. But it’s very upsetting that taking a mental health day isn’t considered for calling in sick! We need to break this stigma!! #sicknotweak


Hey Mitch, good on you man! I completely get where you are coming from. I also do overnights. The combination of my depression and messed sleep patterns can wreak havoc on my mental health. So called “coming out” for a sick call can be so hard to do. Glad to hear your employer recognized it for what it was.


Thanks Mitch,
You are very courageous! Hopefully one day the stigma will be gone and this action would be as expected as if you were to stay home if you had a “seen” (physical) illness. Take care.


Wonderful to hear that, Mitch!. Getting support means so much. I think a lot of employers are more understanding about that now. From personal experience, it’s other people I know, especially people really close to me, who still don’t get it.


Thank you for sharing your story, Mitch. I am so impressed with your supervisor’s reaction. Your description of how you battle those depression demons speaks directly to me. I always felt weird because I thought it was just me. Your experience is an inspiration and gives me hope. God bless you!

depressed in GA

I wish my employer was as understanding as yours. They fired me for missing too many days and they knew about my depression and doctor appointments.


I wish my employer was as understanding as yours. I called in sick last week – 4th time in one year (32 hours total). I have been feeling depressed and distracted – in that sandwich generation. Two elderly parents both in their home and university aged children. My parents have drained me emotionally. I called in sick and my employer (top rated one in Canada) and who has had Margaret Trudeau in as a speaker promptly put a letter (1st in 30 years) on my file for being seen outside in my yard.

All power to you Mitch.


Same thing happened to me this morning but ive never once called in sick before in the last three years. I didnt have the same courage you had because im sure my bosses and everyone would call me a pussy and give me alot of shit. Railroad construction takes everything out of me and its easy to not be strong enough to hold it together sometimes at work. I needed today off but I felt i had to lie and say i was sick. The small crew we have its never an option to miss work really and non of them understand depression. Didnt help it was the start of a huge derailment cleanup today. Everyones bery angry at me already so i turned my phone off. Its funny cuz im always the “Tough” guy but then situations like this i font even have the balls to tell the truth and keep my phone on or even try to explain whats been eating at me all these years.

A sad barista

This was light heartening, I had a anxiety attack after work and my manager told me to come in anyway ..because it wasn’t a real reason to take a day off.


Wow, what an amazing supervisor.


Wish my company …well manager…understood. I get the “its not really a good time” bs. Im sorry…when is a good time to have a meltdown???


My manager will understand, but she gives me the guilt trip sometimes. & i hate it, it makes how im feeling 10x worse. But sometimes you just have to for your mental health. It sucks when others arent going through it & cant relate so they think im weak or just lazy & dont want to do anything. Im far from lazy. I try my damn best at work. Sometimes my depression/anxiety gets the best of me. ..


I just called In “sick” and it hurts. It hurts to be bipolar and wish you could just power through and feel ok. I work in a high stress medical job and I just know today I can’t power through anything and everything that may be thrown at me in that setting. Some days it’s more about preserving my job than protecting myself.


Today I got a whole another message from my super-visor. I called in sick with depression. She told me I had to come to clear my mind and that if I would stay home for one day I would be more depressed. She said she knows what’s best for me. But one thing: no one but you know what’s best for you. Her message made me so angry and confused. She told me society doesn’t work like this. And I told her, that I don’t approve with a society like that and supervisors should not force depressed people to go to work eventhough they had the strength to tell you that they are not strong enough. In this world where we are feeling the pressure to work and not take care of ourselves, it’s on us to make a difference. Supervisors like that, should NOT be supervisiors. They are just following protocol. Instead of that, they should ask themselves the question. What does my co-worker need today to show up again at work tomorrow?

Canadian Resident

Im not gunna lie…Im feeling a bit better reading all the comments knowing I’m not the only one with a shitty boss. Mitch your article is very inspiring, but also rather envy enducing for those of us that dont have support from our employers. Not that you should carry that burden at all, and in no way does that mean you should’ve changed or deleted your post. I’m just glad that things are changing enough that some bpsses are getting it…yet havent changed soo much that I’m the only sucker with a uncompassionate boss lol.


I still haven’t told my company about my problems. I called in sick today because I have spent the last three days in bed, have no energy or desire to even get out of bed, yet nothing is “physically” wrong with me. My boss was very cryptic with me and told me attendance matters. So I am expecting to get laid off when I go in tomorrow. I don’t think I have the courage to inform them about my condition.

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