Article by Wendy McCance
When I used to work at our local auto plant, I would take the occasional “mental health day.” The days in the factory could be gruelling. In the summer, the place felt like a sauna with nothing more than some unproductive fans swirling the stale, hot air around the plant. The winters were fairly chilly. People would wear heavy layers, hats and everyone was thankful for the wool gloves we were required to wear on most jobs.
Your days at the plant were filled with small breaks that did nothing to re-energize your body or your spirit. You were constantly bombarded with the stress and boredom of those around you. By the end of the day, you would drag your lifeless body out of the plant. Filthy and sweaty you made your way home only wanting a shower and a bed because of the exhaustion of the day.
These were rough days for my family. I was a shell of myself. I was just so tired and rundown. My social life was barely recognizable. Keeping up a solid family life and staying on top of the chores of running a household were hard to manage with the energy I had left.
All that being said, I took the occasional “mental health day.” Sometimes that meant hanging out in pajamas all day as I alternated between sleeping, eating junk, drinking some wine and watching back to back movies off the playstation. These days were reserved for the days when my children were off at their dad’s house for a few days. On days when the kids were with me, I would take advantage of playing catch-up with the kids as a mom who was alert and anxious to immerse herself into their lives. It wasn’t uncommon for me to do some volunteering at the school in the library or in a classroom during a class party.
The bottom line is that I needed a break. I needed an opportunity to reconnect with the kids and give myself a breather Sometimes I just needed that chance to lie around without a thought in my head. Taking these days off kept me sane in an insane environment. The plant is like a city. Trust me when I say that working in a plant is like walking in a not so wonderful part of town. You never know what you will run into and your guard is up much more than at a typical job.
These days the plant is well behind me. It served its purpose at the time. I was in the midst of reestablishing myself as a single mom and the money and benefits from working in a plant saved me at the time. The plant is closed and I have moved on. I have a career I love, an active life with my kids and a wonderful husband. The days of feeling like a zombie are well behind me. Even so, I still take the occasional “mental health day.” there is nothing like a day taken off to recharge the battery, take care of the minor details of life and celebrate some uninterrupted time with the kids.
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