My First Sick Day

Dear Reader,

I very rarely get ill, I have a very good immune system, probably helped by the fact I sleep with my windows wide open all year round. I’m sure it was a mistake to say that, I have probably cursed myself. Today I am having my first sick day from work ever. Partly because I have made the conscious decision to start putting my health first, but also because yesterday I had a 2 hour long panic attack. And now the thought that I may have another panic attack like that one is making me feel worse.

I am not one to let illness bother me. I haven’t had a sick day from work in 6 years because I have never been ill enough to constitute one, well, ill enough for me to feel I need to take a sick day. I feel bad for having today off. Am I really ill enough to have to take a day off of work?

The only time I ever remember feeling this bad, was when I was 10 years old. I had a severe chest infection. One of the most vivid memories of my childhood is the day when I was at the worst point of that chest infection.

At this point my brother and I were attending the same school, he is 3 years younger than me. It was Monday morning, both of us were ill, my brother had been throwing up the night before, so by default he was allowed to take the day off of school, I had to attend school however, as it would look strange if we both took days off. When my brother or I were sick, we would stay at my grandparents house so my mum could take the other one of us to school. My grandparents live about 40 seconds away from us. My mum and I dropped my brother off with my grandparents and then began the 35 minute walk to school. I was pretty excited to be honest, she had promised me some sweets on the way to school.

I wanted to go to school, I didn’t particularly like school, but I didn’t particularly like being at home either. I didn’t want my mum to get in trouble because it would be “suspicious” when my brother and I were both off school sick. So I put as much effort as I could to get to school. But, I knew I couldn’t make it to school deep down. I couldn’t breathe, I had no energy. I could hardly walk. Every few steps I crouched down and pretended I was fixing my shoelaces, this worked for a bit, until my mum started shouting “come on! We are going to be late.” by the 4th or 5th time I had crouched on the floor to “fix” my shoe laces, my mum realised there was something wrong. I realised that I had already stopped moving 4 to 5 times and we had moved less than 2 meters away from my grandparents house. So we turned around, went back to my grandparents house, where she called the school (AGAIN!) to tell them that I was also not coming to school, and made an urgent doctor’s appointment for me.

I don’t really remember much else about this illness, I remember going to the doctor and the doctor listening to my chest. He said I had a severe chest infection, gave me the most disgusting tasting medicine I have ever tasted and also an inhaler, but not a regular inhaler, like one of those huge plastic spacer things they stick on the end of inhalers. Because I couldn’t physically use an inhaler due to lack of energy. I had to have a week off school. When I returned my friend had started a rumour that I had been in hospital because I had had an asthma attack.

It’s bad that I have called in sick, but I feel guilty, I am sure that people have probably called in sick for less than what I have now but that is not the point. I feel like I have let people down. I once said that even if I had my arms and legs chopped off I would still roll into work. And here I am, moping in bed because I called in sick. The upsetting part is that it is not the illness stopping me from getting out of bed. It’s me. Guilt and depression are stopping me from doing anything now. I can’t even bring myself to watch television or respond to the text messages I have received this morning.

Yesterday I had a panic attack that lasted 2 hours, it began when I started feeling sick as I had used up the little reserve of energy I had. It wasn’t like a regular sick feeling, I felt like I was literally going to throw up at any moment, but had no idea when that moment would be. I was shaking and I couldn’t really tell whether my inability to breathe was this illness or the panic attack. I became convinced I was going to throw up, in public, at this point I became hysterical, I was trying to eat dinner with a friend, instead I hid in a toilet for 5 minutes trying to convince myself I wasn’t going to be sick. When I returned I tried to eat my first meal of the day, but my body wasn’t having it. So I ate about two mouthfuls and left the rest.

Part of the reason I called in sick today was that besides this stupid illness, and the severe pain in my chest and back from coughing. I am convinced that I am going to run out of energy again and either pass out or throw up all over someone. And just typing that has made me feel faint.

I went to work yesterday and I was clearly ill, in fact, my manager suggested I go home but I said I was fine. When I rang up today, he knew straight away what I was going to say. It seems the only person who needs this sick day to be justified to them is me.

As Always,

The Elephant in the Room


11 thoughts on “My First Sick Day

  1. I call this progress! You have recognized what your needs are and you took steps to meet your needs. I still believe that if I had been able to call in sick when necessary over the years, I might still have a job. There was no balance in my life. It was all about what I thought others wanted of me. And I gave it until it was gone. It feels weird getting used to actually taking care of yourself but you can do it.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. It’s good to take care of yourself. I would give my kids a “sick day” from school once in a while. They rarely needed it for physical reasons. Just an observation…my birth family had multiple mental health concerns, but were never, I mean never prone to physical illness…the colds, flu, measles, mumps, etc always seemed to pass us by. My husband, who grew up in a “Happy Days”, “Ozzie and Harriet ” kind of balanced home, was and is still prone to catch every bug that comes along. What’s up with that ???

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  3. It’s absolutely wonderful that you finally took the initiative to take a break when you needed it! You certainly haven’t let anyone down. In fact, you’ve just made everything better. ‘Cause if you had fallen sick enough (though I hope you never reach that point) to have to leave work in between, wouldn’t that have made you feel worse? To leave things incomplete?
    The guilt you feel right now is in no way deserved. But of course, you’ll only be able to accept that over time. Try to relax a bit, at least for the sake of the fact that you’ll recover fully faster if you do relax and rest for a while. Don’t worry though. Your guilt will settle into something less noticeable once you take a day off a few more times when you feel sick (and yes, that is unfortunately going to happen, but it really isn’t your fault and it IS okay when you do so) – After all, taking care of your health will only make you that much better at your job right? Take Care. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sending you love. I know that feeling when everyone around says there is clearly something wrong, when even the machines measuring your vitals insist there is something wrong, but somehow you still aren’t sold on it. Nothing I say will make the difference, even if your body is obviously sending out some kind of distress signal. I’ve found it can help if you look at your body as an “other”, and try to respect that it’s try to communicate its pain and distress to you, and it’s your responsibility to try to care for and respect and understand it.

    Though what works for one does not always work for another! Take care.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. A few days in bed will give your body a chance to rest, you’ve had quite a lot of upheaval in the last couple of weeks, so’ it catching up with you, but don’t feel guilty, also this time of year there a few bugs flying around so you probably caught a bit of that too.

    Feel better soon:)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m proud of you. I know how it feels to have this guilt, but over time – like you’re experiencing now – you’ll be able to let go of that guilt.

    Everything has a start.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So I saw that you liked one of my blog posts, and I decided to stop by and visit your site. I have been looking over many of your blogs dealing with your precarious struggles with mental health, risk aversion, hopelessness and despair, self-harm, and many other topics. I am frankly quite chilled by your thoughts, the details of your circumstances, and your unique perspective about your condition. I am most perturbed, and perhaps even emboldened by your words, because I could be reading my own thoughts on the subject. Your voice is eerily familiar. I also have a reliably cynical demeanor and aptitude for not taking the lemons and making lemon aid, but somehow getting left with the sour face regardless. Judging from clues I picked up on and your voice on the audio file, I would guess that you’re considerably younger than me. However, I admire your self-introspection and desire tp find meaning and purpose, and honest resolve to get well. You seem wise beyond your years. But then again, I imagine that’s common amongst us troubled with active brains and at the mercy of our shifting moods and anxieties. We’re al forced to grow up fast. When I was a small child, and then later, an adolescent, I hated more than anything when people would say, “You’re such a serious young man. It can be as bad as all that. Try smiling.’ Like you, I am not a violent person towards others. I self harm. But in those moments, I more than once fantasized about slapping some bitches! I personally suffer from Bipolar Disorder I, Anxiety, and severe ADHD. I am on a large bevy of meds, and my life feels eerily similar to yours. I admire your courage to be so open about your mental illness. I was only diagnosed three years ago (I’m 38), but I still haven’t summoned the strength to ‘come out’ to the world. As you imply yourself, the world is not mature enough to handle mental illness, and still stubbornly stigmatizes those afflicted. It is a harsh and judgmental society, that still fears and demonizes the mentally ill. I know it’s not always easy to talk about it so openly, but it is appreciated by those of us still trying to ‘pass.’ Perhaps I can look to you for inspiration. Your talk of self-harm and suicidal ideation are troubling to read, but again, I can relate, and therefore do not judge. I just hope that you take care of yourself, and put your needs first for once. You have a lot to offer. Case in point – I found my way to your blog, and you’ve already helped me feel not quite so alone and useless. I have three university degrees and years of professional job experience, and yet I am on disability, and don’t work. It’s hard to find purpose without the aid of a job. I have found that blogging and writing generally help give me structure, a creative outet I have missed since leaving grad school, and a means to actively engage with the world around me. I’m still relatively new to WordPress, and have very few followers, and follow even fewer sites of my own. Yet, finding a blog like yours gives me comfort and hope. And you know what they say? Hope springs eternal…


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