Call Out Sick & Show Up For Yourself.

I called out sick today.

My job is really stressful. I know a lot of people have stressful jobs but like, my job is really stressful. Overseeing the day to day operations of a drop in homeless day center and supervising a staff of 10 take up far more than the 40 hours I’m contracted for.

I love my job. It’s fast paced, the work is meaningful, and it’s a good work environment. But girl, is it stressful! Breaking up fights, calling an ambulance for suicidal clients, and narcaning individuals when they overdose. All while smiling from day to day, updating my notes on time, and giving it 100%.

It’s a lot. My role changed drastically when the pandemic began. I was working with sheltered individuals 1:1 to secure housing, which could be overwhelming at times but overall was manageable. When the pandemic began and resources became scarcer, my organizations’ drop in center attendance skyrocketed. The clientele became more acute, the work more stressful, and there’s a pandemic going on!

As work, my mental health, and my life got harder and harder to handle, my therapist suggested taking 2 weeks of medical leave to separate from work and focus on stabilizing my medication and positive coping mechanisms. I took a minute to process that, and then asked “Am I really that bad?” I was.

But I kept going anyways. 5 months risking my health and safety to serve others. As Monday of this week crept up, I knew I had to take a mental health day. I finished hiring 2 new staff, scheduled their shifts to begin next week, and cancelled all my appointments for today.

I worked extra hours to make sure I would be caught up and my absence wouldn’t complicate the jobs of everyone else (as a small non-profit, we have to watch out for each other!). As I said goodbye to my supervisor yesterday, I told her “Just so you know, I am going to be calling out sick tomorrow and taking a mental health day”. She replied “Okay, are you OK?” to which I replied, “Yes, I just need to have a self-care day, my mental health has been poor the past couple of weeks and now that I got everything I needed to accomplished, I need to focus on me”. And she said “That’s fine, have a good weekend!”

I typed up an email last night, and sent it out to our team first thing this morning. being honest with them as I did my supervisor. “I need a mental health day so I am calling in sick, I’m ok but need to focus on my mental health today”.

I am so glad that I did. I don’t get physically sick often. I never call out. I feel guilty when calling out when I’m struggling with my depression and anxiety. Who doesn’t have depression or anxiety? Who doesn’t need a self-care day now and then to rest and recharge?

I shouldn’t feel guilty for taking a day to make sure I’m ok. I was getting really burnt out, and saw that my service to others was lacking because I was running on empty. I would never judge someone else for taking a day to focus on their mental health, why do I think that my co-workers would judge me? Why was I judging myself?

I was honest, and it allowed me to enjoy my day freely.

I called out sick today.

And it was a really great day. I slept in a bit, ate a slow breakfast and drank my coffee. I went to the pool in my complex and read a book. I took a shower, for the first time in 3 days, and put on a face mask. I caught up with the cleaning and laundry. I wrote in my journal. I did what I needed to do to feel better.

I called out sick today and I am so glad I did. For the first time in a long time, I put my own needs first in a small way and showed myself the love I’m constantly showing everyone else.

By calling out sick today, I showed up for myself.

I truly urge you to do the same.


Happily Ever Becca

I’m Becca.

I’m 24 years old, working as a Case Manager at a homeless shelter in Massachusetts. One question I get asked over and over again is how did I end up doing one of the most exhausting yet rewarding professions.

Did I go to school for social work? Nope. Did I personally overcome addiction or homelessness? Not I. Are you a saint? That’s a negative.

Growing up, my stepmother was the director of a small family shelter in western Massachusetts. I grew up helping cook meals for the women and children that lived there.

When my mom needed to go in on a Saturday to handle a situation with a client, she brought me to tag along and play with the kids there. In my eyes, my mom was the saint!

I grew up and started going on service trips with my church youth group to Washington DC. We volunteered at homeless shelters, food pantries, and soup kitchens.

I learned how to treat one of the most vulnerable populations with dignity, respect, and love. I went for years, and had a wonderful experience.

I went to college, clueless as ever about what I was going to do with my life.

It didn’t even cross my mind that I could pursue a passion that was engrained in me at 10 years old.

I became the philanthropy chair of my sorority and planned events to raise money for different non-profit organizations.

Still, I was focused on pursuing a future in biology, psychology, and higher education. I was lost, but decided to focus on higher education.

I went to Arkansas after getting accepted to a higher education masters program, and interviewed for several graduate assistantship jobs that would keep me afloat. I didn’t get any of them. I decided to take a year and evaluate exactly what I wanted to do next.

I interviewed for a few bachelor’s level higher education jobs, but still didn’t get them. As the summer drew to an end, I was running out of options. I started applying for any and all jobs.

I came across a job at a small non-profit homeless shelter, applied, and scored an interview. I still wasn’t convinced that this was what I wanted, but quite frankly, I needed a job. I walked into the shelter, and my now work best friend invited me to sit down and the supervisor would be out soon for our interview.

I stood, while the case managers ran back and forth, the phone rang non-stop, and the residents repeatedly tried to engage with me and figure out who I was and what I was there for.

I walked into my future supervisor’s office, and instantly I knew that I wanted to work for her.

Halfway through the interview, I asked if we could stop for a minute. My work experience was hardly applicable, but my experiences at my mom’s family shelter and my years of volunteer work did qualify me for the work.

As I left the interview, my future supervisor told me that she wished she had a case management job for me to interview for.

I had a job offer within a few days, and my journey began.

I started as entry level direct care, and worked another part-time job at a local hospital’s adult impatient psychiatric unit.

As I helped others work through their trauma, mental illness, substance use, and homelessness, my mental illnesses manifested. I found myself taking things home, having flashbacks of past trauma, crying constantly, and contemplated self-harm.

The biggest question arose: how could I take care of others if I couldn’t take care of myself?

The unlikely answer was very well. But in doing so, it took a toll on my friendships and relationships. And I couldn’t do it forever.

I gave 110% to my clients and left myself on empty. I was promoted to case manager, and got some of the most difficult clients I had ever worked with.

I called a local therapy office, and did an intake. Making that first appointment was like taking a breath of fresh air. I felt, for the first time in a year that everything would be alright.

And it was.

I started working through my past, present, and future.

I learned how to apply the self-care techniques that I taught my clients every day.

I learned to love myself like I love others.

I learned that I need medication to function like many do without.

I learned to be happy.

Welcome to my journey of happy: becoming happy, embracing what and who makes me happy, and reclaiming happiness when life throws a wrench in the way.