After a six day school week, surrounded by people (yes, most of them friends) I am struck by how unfamiliar I feel to myself. I am an introvert, as many writers are, and I am well aware of my need to have quiet time to refresh so that I can be the most effective person I can be. But man oh man was this week trying! Let me say this: I adore my friends. I am blessed to have met such wonderful people and can’t think of a better way to spend my school days than sitting beside them, learning about teaching, laughing with each other, and generally getting up to shenanigans while planning learning targets. However, after six days of this, I became a zombie. I had no hope for the next day or the day after. I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. I even…skipped some of the reading!!! Horrendous. Today is my one day off and I am feeling relaxed, as if I am healing from something big. It’s as if I have been ill all week without realizing it. This is the trouble. The world needs to let us slow down. Mental health days need to be acceptable in our culture as sick days. Because I am not sneezing and blurry eyed does not mean I am not sick. The mind can also be ‘under the weather’ and it’s time our world acknowledges that. If I am to be the best friend, girlfriend, daughter, sister, cat lover, teacher, student I can be, I must be allowed the time necessary to rebuild my self-resources.
In our world, the phrase ‘mental health day’ is a hushed whisper in the hallway or over the phone. It means something is wrong with your head, wrong with you. Sick with the flu? Sure! Stay in bed! Get better! But mental health…? Like Voldemort, it is something to avoid, something we just…don’t mention.
If I need a mental health day, I don’t want to have to lie and say I’m sick and in bed. Mental health days should be just as acceptable as sick days and I’m afraid it will never be that way. Right now, I know I will have to go to school tomorrow. I feel I have no choice, no other option. I know from the way my body feels like it’s scraping along the floor that I need to sleep until 7:00, go on a fresh-air walk, do some homework and read a book in a quiet apartment while my cats rest on my lap. I need to make tea and wear pajamas. I need to nurse my mind back to health. After all, the mind is what drives us. If that isn’t healthy, how can we be?