With an impending restructure at work, my days have been a bit more stress-filled than usual. My team of six has been reduced for now to a team of three – and we’re doing our best to keep things going despite the sense of doom and gloom about the place.
In the midst of all this turmoil, staff have been dropping like flies… with record numbers of sick days. As for me, who rarely gets sick enough to justify a day off work, I’ve been day-dreaming about taking a “sick day” to just, well… decompress.
In my mind, I imagined I’d time my “sick day” for when the kids were at school/kinder so that I could sleep in ’till 10am and then go out for a brunch with my husband (who is currently studying at home).
I then planned to dig out one of my craft projects – which have been ignored for the past 2.5 years since I went back to full-time work. And I’d end the day by picking up my kids (who would be surprised to see Mum rather than Dad waiting outside their classroom) and then welcoming them home to home-cooked cookies.
My work has an official name for days like this. I know it’s “technically” fine to take a mental health day, but I don’t know about you – I still struggle with the idea of taking a day off when I don’t physically appear sick.
Go to work with a hacking cough or a dripping nose and people encourage you to go home and rest up. But arrive at work crippled with anxiety, depression or stress and no-one is any the wiser. It’s easier to hide feelings of despair, depression and hopelessness than a fever. I worked through months of acute depression – and no-one at work noticed, until I made a point of telling them about the struggle I was having.
Not that I advocate hiding your mental illness from your employer. I have let my manager know about my condition – and I’d like to think my employees feel comfortable enough to share with me. Yet, I’m well aware that just telling your staff that they’re technically allowed to take time off to deal with mental health issues doesn’t make it easy to actually do it. We need senior staff to model that it’s actually ok.
Today, I finally got my sick day.
Only problem was, it really was a sick day. And it struck on a Saturday morning. Sure I got to spend the morning in bed…. but that was where I stayed for most of the weekend. And as for a leisurely lunch with my husband – well let’s just say that I wasn’t feeling up for any kind of date. Instead of feeling free to enjoy a Monday off work… I found myself dealing with 1000’s of tissues and an aching body that didn’t want to do anything but lie down.
Moaning that “this isn’t what a sick day is meant to be like…” my husband kindly pointed out what I was after wasn’t a “sick day” but a “sickie”. Hmm… I’d better be careful what I wish for next time.