Image: Woman with a red face and short dark curly hair tied back, wearing a purple and orange patterned shirt dress. She’s standing at the front of the State Library of Victoria, learning on a pillar, hands clasped, smiling. Photo by Aaron Francis.
I had a sick day on Monday.
But twenty two years in the workforce, and I still can’t shake the guilt.
That morning I was texting with my manager about possibly rescheduling a meeting, and I admitted to still having guilt.
It definitely started from having parents who placed big emphasis on a strong work ethic; and not being treated any different because of my disability. I am glad for the values they instilled but it has led to placing enormous pressure on myself.
I also worked in the public service , and many years ago – and my colleague asked, “who’s going to do your work when you’re in hospital, Carly?” I won’t ever forget.
Of course this external ableism leads to internal ableism.
Who’s going to do my job when I’m away? Why did I *look* ok on the weekend/in my freelance work, but not well enough to work today? I shouldn’t have gone to dinner last night if I can’t front up at work today. Surely I can just work through the pain. Maybe I’ll feel better when I get up and shower? I’ve been sorer, it’s not that bad.
I constantly have to prove myself – in a state of overachieving.
I’ve done job applications from hospital and also interviews. I push myself to ridiculous levels, and I know that so many other disabled and chronically ill people do this too. My best friend used to work from the hospital frequently, despite her incredibly understanding and compassionate workplace.
(One thing about working half salaried and half freelance is that I don’t have to do 9-5 x five days a week, and I really like this.)
Disabled and chronically ill people are forever proving our worth in the workplace, despite loyalty, productivity and lower sick days.
Anyway, while texting my manager about my guilt that morning, he said he understood, and also suggested to reframe the “sick” day as a “personal” day – which is what it is in our HR system. And that really shifted my thinking.
While I called in to an hour meeting because I wanted to, I also managed to relax (apart from when Adam called me three times to see what takeaway order I wanted but I was napping!).
Maybe you’ve experienced this too. And maybe this post helps you ❤️
PS: the only non genuine sick day I’ve had was in 2007 when I booked a doctors appointment on the same day as a Darren Hayes concert. 😉
Has this post helped you? Will you use it in your workplace? Please consider buying me a drink.