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What It Means to Take a Day Off When You Have Anxiety and Depression

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

The following is based on one person’s experiences.

With a bit of a hangover, I wake up, ready for the day ahead. I iron my work uniform, do my hair and makeup, and ready for new challenges I may face. Then it hits… I’m not OK. I dread work, I don’t like my job but I have to make my living as everyone else does. I live with depression and anxiety.

For me, not turning up to work is more than “no-showing” for my shift.

It’s panic attack after panic attack before I even leave the door. My thoughts racing so I can’t gather them, my heart beating at ten to the dozen; then I’m hyperventilating, struggling for breath. After managing to calm myself down, the depression kicks in.

“You don’t deserve a job.”

“You’re a rubbish employee.”

“No one will care if you leave.”

So I make a decision to listen to my thoughts, get my pajamas back on and climb back into a pit of depression and anxiety and fall asleep. I wake up to five missed calls, all of which get ignored until I go back into work the following day.

“Why didn’t you come to work? You will get a disciplinary meeting for this.”

Of course, I tell my manager I was physically ill rather than mentally ill because people wouldn’t understand when all they do is treat you like you are nothing anyway. I don’t expect them to understand or sympathize with me, but I do expect that bosses should know working more than 40 hours a week in a negative environment can have an impact on your mental health.

Taking a day off for me was needed; I had hit rock bottom. I was having suicidal thoughts and had planned my suicide for after work that day. I decided to put myself first, listen to my body and brain and give myself a break I not only needed, but I deserved. Why was I getting a disciplinary meeting for putting my mental health before a job? Did I deserve it? Should I have gone to work and possibly make myself feel worse?

The answer is no to all of those questions, I do not and should not be made to feel guilty for putting myself and mental health first. That day off saved my life. And if you are someone struggling with your mental health in work, you are entitled to a day off and you are not entitled to be made to feel guilty for putting yourself first because it could have been worse that day. You also do not have to explain yourself to anyone at all.

Take time for yourself; you need it. You are important, loved and worthy of living. Do not be made to feel guilty for struggling. You deserve better than that.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Originally published: December 10, 2018
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