2 minute read

I should have been at work today.

Instead, I got a workout done before 7:30, and spent over three hours outside with my dog, before heading inside for a long lunch and some household chores. While writing this, I went back outside and moved forward on a blackberry trellis project.

I needed, and took, a personal day. And I have more planned.

To err is human

To repeat behavior and expect a different result is (arguably) insanity.

The error in question happened the fall and winter across 2015 and 2016. I had experienced a lot of sick days, with vaguely flu like symptoms, as well as increasingly severe headaches and heart arrhythmias. And my temper, mood etc. at home was also not meeting any high standards, nor was my sleep discipline. The attentive reader might guess where this is going.

Stress. It was, indeed, stress. Brought on by a rather taxing job with high demands on my emotional reserves. That the workplace was rather mismanaged did not do wonders, either.

Not that I realized this. I was in complete denial. Only after i could not stand up for my headache did my wife drag me to the doctor, with an immediate diagnosis – and a sick leave lasting weeks.

The past couple weeks I started noticing a pattern. Increasing occurrences of minor ailments. My mind getting details wrong, particularly around time. Being less attentive to my family. Not maintaining my health. My sleep schedule starting to slip.

Uh oh.

Part of this is attributable to starting a new job this fall, with a rather more active (and younger) clientele. Hello, germ bombs!

But then. The nature of the new job is different, with a much greater emotional labor load. No more hiding away at the graveyard shift. Now I help children and young adults with quite the array of challenges. I don’t mind the occasional stool lobbed at my face. Or getting spat on, or slapped, or bit. All while working hard to externalise my own emotional state so as to better regulate my charge. Really, I don’t. And I’m good at all that.

Except it does take its toll. Emotional labor is hard work.

Avoiding insanity

So. I had a chat with my boss (who knew of my previous stress diagnosis) and let her know I was noticing certain trends. Immediately she helped me block out over a week of days off spread over the next few weeks for me. In her words, it was important I ‘get some air’1.

This first day of breathing room has been great, so far. And knowing that I both noticed the signs and had management I could trust to work with me is, in fact, great!

A note to my past self

It is okay to not be okay.

It is also okay to tell people who count on and depend on you this.

You’re not a superhero, and you’re not playing one on TV.

The author and his dog

  1. Granted, it is my own vacation days.