Feb 20, 2018
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.
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.