Help, I’m drowning in mucus…
Despite working in a field that professes self-care’s importance (social work), it’s an area of my life that has always been lacking. Even as I type this I am trying to ignore flu symptoms that include extreme fatigue, dizziness, being super sweaty and then freezing cold all at once and a throat that feels like I swallowed a pile of rusty razor blades. But I’ll be damned if I’m not productive. I promised myself I’d write today and even if the screen goes in and out of focus at times, I will meet my goal.
So clearly I’m an idiot. I know this. However, I can’t seem to override years of conditioning that has made me believe that taking time off because I’m sick means I’m weak. And I suspect I’m not alone in this erroneous notion. People from my generation (X, I think,) grew up in a time where hard work and perfect attendance was a measure of your worth as a person. People who called in sick were viewed as slackers. Those who talked about not being well or needing a break, were referred to as “whiners.” Logic aside, it is really hard to let go of an ingrained value system that tells you to work at all costs or you’re no good. Thankfully, from what I’ve read, we’re the last generation to buy into this bullshit.
Millennials, are doing the whole sick thing differently. Unlike middle aged, self-professed workaholics like myself, this younger generation has embraced a very different set of ideals when it comes to self-care, illness and working. For starters, I suspect that they would not hesitate to call in to say that they needed a “me day,” (whatever that is.) And at the first sign of a sniffle, they unapologetically baton down the hatches and engage in some serious TLC, regardless of what their work calendar says needs doing that day.
Somewhat predictably, my initial response to the Millenial way of handling illness of any kind was to scream “that is SELF-INDULGENT BULL CRAP.” Or yell “In my day we’d just WALK THAT SHIT OFF.” But recently I’ve forced myself to take a long hard look in the mirror at my sunken eyes and disgusting snotty face and ask myself “Is it possible these youngsters are onto something? ” And “When did I turn into an eighty-year-old disgruntled man?”
So as I lay here, half on the couch and half on the floor, without the energy to even drag myself into a comfortable position, I acknowledge it’s time to make some changes. Clearly this whole working through illness and not taking care of myself strategy is a ball of crap. Sure I might have been able to pull it off in my 20’s and 30’s, but now that I’m firmly ensconced in middle age, my body is calling in all those I.O.Us on self-care. And I need to pay up.
I know it won’t be easy, but I can take baby steps. And step number one is closing this laptop and curling up for a nap.