The other day I left work because I couldn’t breathe. I’m not asthmatic, I don’t suffer from anaphylactic allergies, but I do live with occasional debilitating depression, and that was enough to knock the wind completely out of my Wednesday.
I sat in the locker room and tried two separate exercises I had read about online. First, I’d put my head between my knees, breathe in for five seconds, hold for three, and breathe out for seven. Secondly, when those lamaze techniques failed me…I’d walk the fuck out and cry for the entirety of my drive home. Ok fine, that second one wasn’t a Facebook-found life hack, but turns out, watering my lap was crucial to ridding my mind of its toxins.
Side note: I just googled how many fatalities came at the hands of a panic attack and turns out nobody has actually died from one.Could have fooled me.
I beat myself up for hours about not being able to keep myself together enough to function as an adult at a job that hired me to
literally just not leave when I’m having a bad day interact professionally. I realized at the end of my panic attack, between my depression and now-guilt for having either of the fore-mentioned mental health glitches that I didn’t need to feel this way about needing a moment. And if that moment turned into a couple hours, which ended up being a whole day…I deserved it, no questions asked.
Im totally aware that when I was a teenager I wasted very undeserved time off on nursing a hang over on a Monday, or bowing out early to Vegas on a Thursday night. And I wish I could go back and tell the drunk and irresponsible me that I’d need those Karma points for half days off work when life might be too overwhelming.
Who am I kidding, 23 year old me would have just handed 31 year old me a beer.Point is, mental health days should be a thing. And as much as them being a thing, they should be advised, not taboo, and if it were up to me…
paid time and a half mandatory.
Half of my coworkers would throw a fit if I showed up to work with a cough, but I don’t see any of them cheering me on for staying home when I have the “sads”. I’m aware that you can’t catch my depression, but I’m certain you’d want all the H1N3’s over this prison sentence anyway.
I have to admit that my supervisor and office manager were both super supportive about my premature exit mid week, but I fear that maybe some people with the same prevailing symptoms might not be so lucky. And in that realization, I worry that people sometimes forget that we work to live, we don’t live to work. Unless you’re Britney fucking Spears. We’re killing ourselves pretending every single day we wake up is a day nothing hurts. Being “on” without fail is unrealistic. And covering up the need for a day without added distractions with a “stomach bug” is equivalent to pretending that guns kill people; not the mentally ill. When people asked where I went on Wednesday, I told them I needed a mental health day. And I told them they should take one too if they ever feel like they’re neglecting themselves to the point of tears. In a world of hashtags like #fitfam I can only hope mental health, in its continuum, shows more and more improvement. Having a proactive approach to self care starts with finding ways to avoid work place break downs and providing ourselves the ability to take the time we need to appropriately function. Or else…