Every company should offer mental health days and this is why.
When I got out of bed this morning, I felt like my heart was pounding so hard that it could burst through my ribcage. My stomach churned. I had a headache.
And I knew what I needed to do. I took a shower, put on clean underwear, and went to work. I wrote down everything I needed to do before lunch.
Then, after lunch, I did those same tasks again. By the end of the day, I was exhausted. But, I didn’t feel any better. In fact, I felt worse. Because I realized something. I’m sick of doing the same thing every single day.
I’m tired of writing the same blog posts. I’m tired of answering emails the same way every week. I’m tired of talking to people the same way every day. I’m tired being the same person every day.
I’m sick of living a life where nothing changes. So, I decided to change. I’m going to start treating myself differently. I’m going to stop taking care of everyone else, and instead take care of me.
I’m going to eat healthier food. I’m going to exercise more often. I’m going to read books. I’m going to go outside more often. I’m just going to live. No matter how much I hate it, I’m going to make it happen. That’s right. I’m going to make myself happy.
I agree with you. Every person should be allowed to have a mental wellness week. For those who do not have such a thing, they should be allowed to request one. They shouldn’t be made fun of if they ask for a mental wellness week.
Sometimes I do not have it, but I am expected to have it. Sometimes I do not want to wake up, but I must wake up.
Sometimes I do not know what my purpose is, but I am expected not to ask questions. Sometimes I want to lean into someone, but I am afraid they might break under the weight of me.
Sometimes I do not have the strength to keep myself upright, let alone anyone else. And so, I sit down, and I wait until I can stand again.
Until I can walk again. Until I can breathe again. Because that is how I survive, and that is how I live.
My mother asks me whether I’m sleeping on some nights, seeing as how she has observed an earlier version of me finding disarray and chaos in a lack thereof.
My dad struggled with sleep due to being a paranoid schizophrenic. He had his own dad battle episodes of major depressive disorder and other mental health issues, going undetected for quite some time.
This story is common knowledge among people of color, where crazy relatives are often dismissed as Thanksgiving dinner fodder, and whispered about under the tables. There are dark parts of ourselves, in all of us that we observe and gawk at from afar, marveling at the speed with which our brains can consume us.
At such times, medication is not needed, alcohol is not needed, sex and conversation are not answers. Sometimes the answer lies within the silence in the solitariness.
I do not wish to have to smile, sometimes. And sometimes, I do not. For some reason, there are certain moments when holding my child feels like a burden.
At these moments, your goodness is not the best goodness you can offer, and so you draw from that imaginary well of courage you were taught very early on to draw from: “Suck it up”, “Man Up”, “You Got This”, “Thoughty Over Matter”, “Take it In Strid”, “It’ll Be Alright”, “You’re Better Because Of This”.
These are the moments when the voice of hurt is louder than you’d like it to be, when the pain inside you is stronger than you’d like it too, and so you do not wish to speak, or type words, nor be present for others.
There are no such things built into our work schedules, for most of us, so we try. We seek out any signs of help, any hope, any piece of a magic potion.
But there are no such things built in. So, we try anyway. We find ourselves sitting in those small spaces, minds adrift, searching for anything to hold onto — a sign, a glimmer, a hint, something to give us hope.
There are moments when I do not feel complete, when the ones I love, are not complete as they should be, but, as they would like.
Not as they SHOULD BE, but, as they WOULD LIKE. Because SHOULD IS A TINY TOXIN; SHOULD IS SUBJECTIVE. There are layers to WHAT WE SHOULD DO. It is far too simple for someone who is not YOU, who has not lived YOUR LIFE, to say what YOU SHOULD be doing with your pain, depression, or anxieties.
Mental illness matters. It matters because there are things that don’t quite fall into a neat little box. You don’t quite fall into boxes.
We’re oceans of emotion. A loss of a loved one is not the only reason why we mourn – relationships end, friendships fade, families separate, children grow up.
Feelings, experiences, happen outside of boxes and easy to identify checklists. We, as a country and a culture, must create room for those who require the room; to allow room for those where room is so often not provided.
That is how a nation grows strong, how a society thrives. We are what we eat. So, take a moment to think about what you can do to help others today. You deserve it.