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.


6 Simple Tips For Dealing With Anger

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I have been working through my anger for a long time. A LONG time. Angry at my parents, angry at my peers, angry at my bosses, angry at the world, and most of all, the systems that keep people marginalized/impoverished/down.

I had a tendency to react quickly and dramatically. At times, I would be in a full meltdown over a minor inconvenience, and if someone wronged me I would hold a grudge. I was angry at myself and at the life I lived. It just kept getting projected onto others.

So yeah- I know plenty about being angry, but I have learned so much about working through my anger, channeling my anger into something positive, and sometimes just letting things go.

Here are my top 5 alternatives to getting angry, brought to you by psychiatric medications, lots of therapy, and slow but steady self-growth.

1. Wait 24 hours, then react if you are still angry.

It’s important that you give yourself time before you react, especially in a serious situation. My standard is to wait 24 hours if I feel alright doing so, and if it still bothers me in 24 hours I will speak up. After 24 hours, I use my voice in a calm way to clearly state what I am angry about and what I would like done.

2. Find the root of your anger, and deal with that.

Anger is often simply anxiety in disguise. Not always, of course. Sometimes an individual’s action can anger you, or another direct scenario that led to an angry response.

Are you angry at the amount of traffic there is at rush hour, or are you upset at yourself for pressing snooze one too many times and running late?

Are you angry at your partner for not doing the dishes, or are you feeling overwhelmed about how much you have on your plate?

I believe that more often then not, anxiety manifests itself as anger as an “easy” coping mechanism. By deflecting an anxious situation by simply getting angry, you are denying yourself the opportunity to recognize your triggers and work through them.

3. Practice deep breathing.

The key to successfully utilizing calming breaths in situations when you are angry is to practice when you are not. Being able to turn to a healthy alternative to anger must be practiced and its unlikely that you will be able to adequately calm yourself down with deep breathing if you are in the middle of an angry episode.

Meditation, a sister of practicing controlled breath, is also a great option if you’re looking for something more intense. I’m a huge fan of guided meditations on Spotify or Headspace.

I underestimated the power of stress balls for the longest time, until a friend of mine got me one. I LOVE these ones from Amazon. Squeeze while you breathe in, release as you breathe out. I keep one in my office, one by my bed, and one in my bag! It’s a must have.

In through the nose, out through the mouth. Breathe.

4. Move your body.

It might be the last thing you want to do, but getting up and physically removing yourself from a situation that is causing you to be angry is an easy immediate solution. It could be as simple as going for a walk or as intense as going to an exercise class.

You know yourself best, and might need to try a few options until you figure out what works best for you to keep your cool.

5. Check in with yourself and see what you need.

9 times out of 10 I’m hangry, not actually angry. By pausing for a moment and seeing what you actually need, you can address that before and then see if the response is necessary. Have a drink of water, have a snack, take a quick walk, put on some music, talk to a friend.

Give yourself permission something that makes you feel just a little bit better in the next few moments. By tending to one or more of your needs, you’ll be able to get yourself in the right mindset to properly tune into yourself and figure out what you’re angry at and why- and most of all, if it’s worth being angry about.

6. Be angry. Let yourself feel how you feel, then let that sh*t go!

If you’re angry, you’re angry. Let yourself feel anger for a moment or two, but don’t hold onto it. Life is too short to be angry, and you won’t feel any better for staying angry. Very little is worth your anger, channel it into something better, make a change, or let it go!


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.