For many people, a day of sitting at home, in your pjs, with a blanket and some films sounds like a luxury; a great way to take time out from a hectic schedule, and to recharge those batteries. Yet, for those who are recovering from a mental health condition, a day spent being curled up is often seen as a failure.
It sounds silly. If you feel an old ankle injury flaring up, you will rest it. If you have a heavy cold, you will spend the day resting to let your body fight it. Yet, if you are recovering, or have recovered from, a mental health condition, then having a duvet day when you feel in need of some time to yourself, can be frowned upon by not only yourself, but others.
The problem comes from poor internet websites. There are often too many people out there who think they can say that people are being lazy rather than depressed, for example. One of my all-time favourite was an individual trying to explain the difference between being lazy and depressed stated that lazy people choose not to do things they don’t want to do, but are happy doing what they do want. The example they gave was in not going to work, but happy to go out for a walk.
This one example, easy to find replicated, is also one of the biggest reasons people with depression hide away.
When I was at one of my lowest points, I was signed off work. I’d already been calling in sick, and knew I needed the GP to support me. Part of the advice, however, from the GP, was to still ensure I get out the house.
Now, that was fine, the advice made sense. I’d heard the endorphin release from exercise could help raise my mood. The only problem was, I lived in the same town I worked. I did as the GP said, and saw people I worked with, giving me judgemental stares. It would even be mentioned by my manager that I had been spotted in town that day.
So, instead of taking my GP’s advice, I stayed at home after that, not wanting to be subject to their judgement. This led to an even further spiral into depression, and the things that followed.
Now, I would like to say that I am in no way blaming these individuals for the worsening of my condition. I have no proof that if I had kept on going out, that I still wouldn’t have fallen further. However, what I am saying is the judgement passed by these individuals did not help.
It also means that I often beat myself up mentally for wanting a day of just watching films, eating rubbish food and generally not doing anything. Others may call them fat days, or say they are days where calories don’t count. Duvet days give the impression of a nice relaxed time. Yet, when someone suffers depression, or has suffered from, they know people will be quick to label them as lazy. Even more so, they will label their selves as lazy first.
So please, if you know someone suffering from depression, do not label them as lazy because they avoid situations which make them feel worse. Do not judge them for needing to take time to recharge and look after their selves. Instead, tell them to take the time, in the way you would someone who has a sprain or fracture. Ask them if they want company, but don’t be offended if they say no.
And, most of all, whether you have suffered from a mental health condition or not, whether you are currently suffering or not, do not ever worry about taking a pj day. Enjoy them. Relax. Unwind. Take time to look after number 1.
Stay strong. Stay you.