Don’t Worry About Her…She Is Taking A “Mental Health” Day!
As I have progressed through school, and now employment, I have found it necessary to manage my mental health conditions in a way that lets me function, perform and be productive. This has meant the need to take time off to recover, regroup and recharge. In society, these are sarcastically known as “mental health days.” I do take offence to this phrase and how it portrays many of us who are struggling with one or more components of a mental health condition. The connotation is not a flattering one.
To be clear, we never hear and talk about people taking a “physical health day.” We simply say, “they have the flu” or “they sprained their ankle.” Yet if someone takes a day off for a reason to do with their mental health, it is usually referred to with a rolling of the eyes and insinuation that they are “goofing off.” Yes…this is another blatant example of stigma which is entrenched in historical bias.
To hopefully enlighten and educate those who may not know differently…I have composed a number of quotes that individuals who are suffering with a condition of deteriorating mental health would really like to say when they need to be absent from work or school…but due to societal stigma choose to stay quiet.
” I am sorry I won’t be in today, but the presentation I was supposed to give has triggered my social anxiety so badly that I cannot stop sweating and shaking. I will be back as soon as I can stand without my legs buckling.”
“I am sorry I won’t be in today, but in the ongoing management of my schizophrenia I have had a setback and am experiencing intense hallucinations and I think you will find my speech very hard to understand. I will be back as soon as I get settled and can distinguish true reality again.”
” I am sorry I won’t be in today but my depression has made me extremely angry and irritable and I simply don’t have the energy to get out of bed. I will be back as soon as I realize I am actually a good person.”
“I am sorry I won’t be in today but my bulimia has given me fainting spells and an irregular heartbeat. I will be back as soon as I can feel my hands and feet again.”
“I am sorry I won’t be in today but my obsessive compulsive disorder has become so debilitating that my self doubt and fear of contamination have made it impossible for me to function. I will be back again as soon as I get the upper hand in the battle with this disorder.”
I think I made my point? Don’t get me wrong, I do believe we are slowly getting the message out there in regards to the negative stigma which surrounds mental health disorders. Also, there are some amazingly understanding employers. I just feel we have a very long way to go. I also don’t believe people need to tell exactly what they are experiencing…I just said this tongue and cheek. However, if they do want to they should not be embarassed or ashamed to do so. They should also be taken seriously…just like with physical health conditions. The next time someone rolls their eyes and tells you that somebody is taking a “mental health day”…I challenge you to ask them if they know what that really means.