On Monday after lunch (cheese sandwiches) things got on top of me, not literally but mentally. There were just too many plates spinning and I couldn’t spin them all, even the one with the sandwiches on.
Home life is tough, my divorce paperwork is progressing, I had an interview last week for a job I really want (if I don't get it then I have 4 weeks left till I go back to a role that I can do but it doesn't suit me or use my strengths), my best friend relationship is still in a tough place, I've got no money and there's a whole host of smaller plates too.
I've just got a lot on. A lot of plates.
It's not weak to feel overwhelmed from time to time and it's actually a real strength to notice it and do something about it and put your resilience first.
So I did the right thing and mailed my boss and took the afternoon off sick, not physically sick, although anxiety plays havoc with how my body feels so maybe physically sick.
I went and sat in my car in the work car park and had a bit of a cry. I needed to let it out and that was the best safest place to do it.
I then started thinking that Metallica should re-record a version of Nothing Else Matters with these words.
After sitting in the car for an hour I went back into work and dealt with some of the plates and got them re-spinning again. That felt better. But it was probably only a sticking plaster.
What I really wanted to do with my sick leave afternoon was to either go for a swim or go for a walk. But I was having an afternoon off sick (or should have been) so was I ‘allowed’ to go for a walk.
I spoke to a friend about this. Their partner has been off sick with stress for a few months. Medically signed off. On a week day he/she asked them if they wanted to go for a walk, and they were worried about being spotted by someone when they were off sick. Because when you're off sick you should be confined to the house, right?
I understand this. But we need to all recognise (me included) that when it’s not a physical illness that means you cannot work then sometimes the best thing might be to do some exercise. Or go sit on a hill. Or meet some friends and talk. Or play some sport? Basically doing any of those things that help your wellbeing and resilience.
So this is a challenge to you as a person, as an employee or as an employer.
If you or someone you know is struggling mentally. What will you do? What should they do?
Can you use your sick leave to go for a walk?
If you can then try and go with someone else and connect and try and laugh too, because connection and laughing help with mental health too, so try walking differently, maybe like an Egyptian.
Mr Paul Wyse