As a society, we tend to focus on getting on with it. Everyone is all about perseverance, and while I think yes, I will endure because I am who I am and its in my DNA, perseverance is not just barreling through your emotions and a platitude of other experiences that arise from mental health quips. Perseverance is knowing when enough is enough. Knowing when to say, “I need a ‘me’ day”. There is no shame in that.
Mental health is not a spectrum in my opinion. We each experience different mental health disorders and experiences differently. I have anxiety and depression, mild OCD, and a body-focused repetitive behaviour disorder. My friend who has bipolar is no worse off than me, nor is she better off because in each moment, only you know how you’re feeling and whether or not you have the spoons to carry on at a functional level.
We often battle internalized oppression. We have been told since the beginning that mental health issues are weaknesses and that “our lives are pretty good, what do you have to be depressed about?” But that isn’t what a mental health day is about.
A mental health day gives you a break when you know your daily routine might make how you’re feeling much worse. A mental health day is a day where you take stock of how you’re feeling emotionally, relaxing, taking care of yourself in whatever way that’ll help you cope tomorrow when you go back into the swing of things.
Why are mental health days important?
Because how you’re feeling directly impacts your productivity and interaction with co-workers, friends and family. Mental health days promote healthy well-being, attending to your mental health needs as well as physical. There is no need for guilt. Focus on the benefits that come from taking a mental health day, such as that it might take the edge off of your seemingly endless stress-induced life.
And to anyone who would argue with me that being mentally unwell does not translate the same as being physically unwell, I say come at me, bro.
If I take today off to cope with my overwhelming feelings, it means tomorrow I wake up with more fuel to feed the flames.
My professional and personal life benefits when I am taking care of myself and part of your self care should cover mental health as well.
So I say, look after you. Do what you need to do to feel better inside, to take the edge off of an otherwise stressful week.
And do it proudly. Mental health is just as important as physical.