DISCLAIMER: I don’t work in HR. I’m not a lawyer. I’m not a doctor. I don’t know the rules at your workplace. These are my opinions, and you should probably dig deeper on your own sick time policies before taking my advice (this is so hard for me to qualify, I can’t even begin to tell you). I feel incredibly strongly about all of this, and given the current state of public affairs, I definitely think some self-preservation is in order. However, the responsibility is on your shoulders to look into the laws that protect you.
There is a stigma deeply embedded in using sick time for the sake of mental wellness, so please allow me to say this directly to you: If you are struggling from symptoms resulting from a diagnosed brain condition (depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar, OCD, etc.), you should not feel guilty for staying home from work if you need time to recuperate. You should not be required to explain what symptoms you have when you call in. You should not apologize for not having the mental fortitude to stiff upper lip your way through a depressive episode. There are laws in place protecting you from sharing your health history. You DEFINITELY should not feel ashamed for being incapable of burying trauma in order to be able to put your nose to the grindstone, particularly if your job is in a negative work environment.
Being aware that your mental health requires extra attention early on is huge. It means you’re listening to your body, and potentially, you’re saving yourself (and your company) from losing significantly more time down the road in the event of a full blown mental health crisis.
Growing up, I developed the belief that sick days should only be used if I’m essentially on my death bed. If there’s a fever or I’m not keeping anything down, I should stay home. The end.
As an adult, I find that worst case scenario sick time to be limiting and potentially dangerous. Trust your intuition. Be kind to yourself - both your body and your brain. According to the World Health Organization, over ONE TRILLION US Dollars are lost annually worldwide from depression and anxiety, and the resulting lost productivity. This is not a small problem.
I’ve been sleeping like crap lately, so let me say to you what I’ve been saying to myself: Be gentle with your heart right now. Treat yourself as you would your best friend, or your daughter, or anyone else you love dearly. Be fiercely protective and allow yourself to feel your feelings. These are hard times.
I believe you.