I took a mental health day today….and thankfully, I didn’t have to lie about it.

By Alysha Clark

Yesterday I woke up in the morning with a tight chest, difficulty breathing and racing thoughts.  The same thoughts I had over and over in my head for the last week.  I felt heavy, my heart was heavy, my body was heavy.  I looked over at my partner and said “I just can’t do it today.”

But this isn’t the first time he has heard this, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder when I was 15 years old, about 16 years ago.  From time to time, this happens and many things can lead up to it.  Even with almost two decades of experience with this diagnosis and years of therapy, journaling, support groups, and keen self awareness, I still have days that feel as though nothing will help to curve my negativity.  

So I ended up emailing my Supervisor asking if I could take a Mental Health Day.  A Mental Health Day is simply “a day off that is specifically and strategically geared toward stress relief.  While one day off may not by itself cure burnout, a mental health day can definitely provide you with a much-needed (and well-deserved) break.”

The response to my email was met with support, encouragement and willingness to be there for me if I needed it, approving the day.  And when I came back to work, I took a risk…I decided to talk to my Supervisor and our Human Resources Director about the mental health challenges I was facing, including those specific to the job.  Thankfully, we did not get too into how to “fix” this feeling I was having.  Rather, I was on a virtual call with another human being, saying, “Yeah I hear you, it has been hard for me too” or “I really appreciate you voicing this, you have so much self awareness.”  Which was the exact response I needed to hear in that moment.  

But I realize that this is not the norm in many jobs.  Taking time off from a job is almost always related to someone’s physical health, referenced as a ‘sick day.’  This can create an environment where the employee feels they have to lie about what is happening in order to get the day off they need.  For me, this is a very hard thing to digest.  -How can we continue to move toward a world where we can fully be ourselves, even at work?

I know that I will continue to need mental health days and I am so grateful that the staff at Chrysalis will respond to these with compassion and understanding.   We are truly living #StigmaFree from mental health challenges, where work is a vital part of our recovery. 

For more on Mental Health Days, please visit: https://www.cnet.com/health/how-to-take-a-mental-health-day-from-work/