Some days, I wake up and want to call in for a “sick year” to my job. The reasons for this often vary. Perhaps I simply don't want to get out of bed and put on pants for an entire year. Another possibility could be I'm feeling down on myself, since I've had an incredibly fat and single past five years.
There is a slight chance this could be due to the fact that I'm currently dealing with the consequences of spending the past 15 years internalizing the immense and awful trauma that's associated with watching someone I love being held by the intangible pull of acute mental illness. Maybe I would much rather just spend the year at McDonald's, blissfully eating chicken nuggets and continuing to not deal with my problems.
Whatever the circumstances may be, I'm fairly certain it all ties back to the idea that for a very long time now, I've wanted the chance to have a proper amount of time to rebuild myself. I need time to process some awful things that have happened. I'd like to get the chance to heal, reflect and simply be human.
The problem with this, however, is we live in a society that ignores the fact that we need time for our mental health and well-being. We live in a society that prioritizes sweeping our issues under the rug so we can spend our time on 8 am conference calls instead of taking care of ourselves.
We need to make a living. But how can we do this without taking into account our mental health?
Let's think about how grand of an issue it is to find the time to deal with episodes that cause extreme mental trauma.
Did you know that in America, if you lose someone in your immediate family, you only get 10 business days off? You have 10 business days of pay to adjust to the fact that the worst possible thing in your life has happened. Then, you just have to go back to work and get on with it.
That is 240 hours to process the most profound sense of loss you could ever experience.
On another note, what if you found out you were the one facing a life-changing illness? What if someone you loved was no longer in your life due to certain circumstances? What if this broke your heart, and you never allowed yourself to recover?
What if you feel an aching sense of emptiness because you've never properly dealt with the emotional baggage of your past? What if you've spent the past seven years of your life hating yourself and feeling wracked with guilt for moving to another country because you simply couldn't watch your loved one get hospitalized for the seventh time?
What if you were just having a bad day? You dropped a slice a pizza you really wanted to eat. That was the last straw. Then, you found yourself on the floor with it, crying for reasons you can't even identify.
Do you have the option to take care of yourself and pay your rent at the same time? No, you do not.
You get up, make sure you check your work emails and get on with it. You do your laundry. You fold your sh*tty clothes.
You pretend everything is OK. You push the fear back deep inside of you. It continues to live in the core of your stomach. You carry on with the ordinary nature of your life, while being unable to let go of your silenced pain.
Unfortunately, in the United States, we don't have the opportunity to engage in polyamorous affairs with time, money and mental health. The problem is, without money, we can't survive. Without time, we can't heal or focus on repairing any emotional traumas.
When we have money, we don't have time. When we have time, we don't have money.
When we don't have time to process our personal traumas, we don't have our mental health. When we don't have money to support our livelihood, we do have our mental health.
The true tragedy lies in the fact that there seems to be no solution here. There seems to be no way to connect the triangle of mental health, money and time.
We'll go on existing and not dealing with our traumas. We won't allow ourselves the time we so desperately need to take care of ourselves. So, we continue to fuel this vicious cycle.
For now, the carousel will keep on turning. Just make sure that when you feel like your world is about to collapse on top of you, you make time for your 8 am conference call. I'll be on the line as well.