In lots of ways, I’m very lucky. I don’t have any ongoing conditions that keep me off work for extended periods of time, nor do I have to explain mental health days to people who don’t see past the stigma. On the whole, I’m pretty healthy (touch wood!) and very able to work.
But I do have a weak-ass immune system 🤒 I don’t know why – maybe I just need to eat more oranges or something! In the past year I’ve picked up colds, flus, sickness bugs and a viral infection and when I’m ill, of course, I call in sick. If I’m just a little under the weather I’ll go into work – it’s close to home and not a physically demanding role – but if I’m ill to the point where I know it’ll have an impact on my working day and make said day incredibly tough, I’ll call in sick and take the day to recover.
But I always feel bad. Even when I’m stuck indoors all day feeling really, truly awful, I still feel guilty about not going into work. It’s as though I’m just taking a day off, which isn’t the case – trust me, any girl will tell you being doubled over with period pains so bad that you can’t get out of bed is NO FREAKIN’ HOLIDAY!
It’s just an underlying sense of guilt which I think (or at least hope!) other people feel too. Of course I know it’s important to look after yourself and if you need to take a day to care for your own wellbeing, be it your physical or mental health, then you should definitely do it. People understand. Colleagues understand. Any good employer will understand.
I just get this horrible voice in my head asking “what if..?”
“What if it gets busy and I’ve left my work friends in a sticky spot?”
“What if people think I’m faking it?”
“What if my boss is annoyed at me?”
“What if I miss a day’s pay?”
I spend so much time worrying about things like this – and I’m sure I’m not the only one – that I forget about what’s really important: my health.
You can’t guarantee anything in life. You can’t guarantee your health will last forever. You never know when something might come along out of nowhere and destroy your happy, healthy life. We need to look after ourselves; yes, we want to work hard, do our bit, take responsibility, but we also need to make sure we’re in a good, fit, healthy place to do just that.