When you’re sick, usually it’s obvious to an outsider that you are. You’re pale, sleepy, usually your nose is all red, you’re coughing a lot. The outside matches the inside. Most people aren’t their normal self when they’re sick, mainly because their body isn’t feeling normal. This makes it easier to figure out that they aren’t feeling the best.
What if you’re not physically sick? What if just your mind is sick, but your outside appearance isn’t? Your mind is tired, but your body’s fine. It’s harder to notice that someone wouldn’t be feeling the best, because there isn’t any obvious clue. They don’t cough to let us know they’re sick, they aren’t blowing their nose frequently to let us know. They have to hide it. They have to act like they’re okay, just so people wouldn’t question. So they wouldn’t wonder why they’re upset, moody, mad, irritated.
As an example, say you just got diagnosed with COVID. Obviously, you have to stay home for 10 days. It will be noticeable to others that you’re sick because you will be coughing, tired, fatigued, and you wouldn’t be your normal self. This is because you’re sick. Your body is telling you to rest, so you rest your body. That’s what you do to help “cure” or speed up the recovery. You would then tell your teachers you have COVID, and that you won’t be in school. The teachers wouldn’t question it, because you’re sick. You can’t come to school when you’re sick.
Here’s a different example. Say you just got diagnosed with depression. You get super irritated, mad, sad, you isolate yourself from everyone. Your brain is sick, your mind is sick. But, you still have to go to school. I mean, if you told your teachers you can’t go to school for a couple weeks because you were diagnosed with depression, most would laugh. Maybe not laugh, but they would be a little thrown off guard. They might say tough, or you have to deal with it. You have to come to school, even though you’re sick.
Telling someone you’re sick is a very vague description of your feelings. You could be physically sick and have symptoms like cough and a headache. You could be mentally sick and you can have symptoms like irritated, sad, tired, no desire to do anything. All of the symptoms of both illnesses are relevant and allowed. If we are feeling sad and just mentally not with it, we should be excused just like we would be if we had a headache. There’s really no difference.
I think we should normalize mental health days. Just like adults get their number of “sick days” and kids can take a “sick day” if they’re feeling under the weather. We should be able to have a mental health day. If we aren’t feeling our best and we need a day to just relax and be alone, we should be able to do just that. We shouldn’t minimize mental health and the effects of it. If we take these mental health days, to rest our brain and mind then maybe we can lower the rates of people suffering from different mental disorders. Maybe taking days to decompress, we can lower the rates of suicide. If we’re more aware of mental health, we can notice it in people sooner. Therefore, give help to people that might not have gotten it if we didn’t reach out. Maybe, reaching out to people will save their life.
So many people are affected by mental health and they hide it because they don’t think it’s as important as COVID, or a common cold. Society has made us believe to hide our feelings. To not complain. However, we should complain. If something is going on, we should speak up. Talking about it will go a long way.
Next time, you or someone you know is having a hard time with their mental health, let them know that we are here for them. They deserve to rest. Their health is just as important as everyone else’s. So you can take a sick day if your mind is sick. Because there is no difference between physically sick and mentally sick.
Lexi is a junior at Sweet Home High School and previously wrote for the Panther Press where she was the editor for the News section for two years. Lexi is now the Opinion section editor of The Panther Eye. She plays volleyball for the Varsity team at Sweet Home.