Sick leave for mental vs. physical illness

I’m kind of struggling at the moment. I’m feeling quite down, I’m irritable and tearful. Everything feels a little bit too much. I do feel like I’m trying to help myself- I’m really making an effort to keep to my meal plan, I’ve reached out to friends and I’m making sure I’m exercising to keep my mood and energy up, I’m sticking to routines that I know help and I’ve scaled back my plans for the next while to make sure I have some rest time. I know it will pass in due course, I know it won’t last for ever, so I’m not panicking about it I’m just trying to ride it out.

However, I am still struggling and work was really difficult today. I have to interact with people all day long and be convincing that I know what I’m on about (I’m a teacher) and I am worn out from it. I really could do with a few days off but I know this would cause havoc in work so I don’t feel like I can.

This is where mental illness becomes problematic- if I had gastroenteritis or a severe migraine or an allergic reaction or something like that, anything physical really, I think I would feel better about calling in sick. Yes it would be hassle in work and I would only do it if I really needed to (I rarely take sick days) but I think people would understand. However, as it’s mental not physical, I feel I can’t take a sick day. It would take too much explaining and I would feel too guilty about it and that would probably make me feel worse. Why should I feel more guilty for not being in work because I can’t stop crying vs because I feel physically ill?

I don’t think this is a societal/ institutional/ systemic issue, I think it’s just to do with me but gosh I wish I didn’t care so much. I really could do with the break. But instead I will have a quick nap and then get on with prepping tomorrow’s workshops. Sigh.

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3 thoughts on “Sick leave for mental vs. physical illness

  1. Do you not live in the U.S. ? Usually mental health is a valid reason to get time off. I know some people who have done it. Regardless, hang in there. You are doing the right thing by eating, exercising to feel good, and reaching out. Remember that recovery is far from linear-and never stop fighting. Thinking of you.

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    1. I live in the UK and yes I could get time off if I asked for it (I’d just have to get a medical certificate which my doctor would happily provide), it’s just my problem about not feeling it’s a valid enough reason for me to take it- I never really know how bad is bad enough to warrant a day off- how much is me just indulging and how much is me actually needing it. I feel the same dilemma when I’m physically sick too but it’s not as bad. Just my internal issue! My work have pretty good support around mental health I think. Thanks for thinking of me though!

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  2. I SO understand you. Physical illness is just so logic – and understandable / but mental illness feels like failure…! But I at the same time rationally “know” that I should learn not differentiating those two things – being ill = being ill… But logical thinking and feelings just don’t feel compatible..!

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