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.

-B