Sickness – reason or excuse?

One thing I tend to struggle with a lot is distinguishing between genuine need for rest and laziness. I’m constantly second-guessing myself whenever I decide to call in sick from work for instance, because there’s nothing physically wrong with me. I know I could technically go to work and get it done, although not as well and I’d be exhausted and utterly miserable. On top of that, I’d usually be looking forward to an even more miserable time the following day.

Eventually, if I kept pushing myself, I’d reach a point where I can’t make myself do anything at all. That’s surely not a healthy work ethic. I certainly don’t think it’s very constructive to push myself to the breaking point. But when is it okay to stop up and take a break? And how long should that break last? At which point does need for restitution become plain laziness?

I’ve been on a very long sick leave from job-hunting and even though I don’t at all feel ready to go back to that particularly unpleasant rat-race, I felt more or less forced to. It was either that, or stay in an internship I felt entirely unsuited for and found increasingly more stressful and confining.

I didn’t want to drag myself out of bed and either spent most of the day twiddling my thumbs, waiting for customers to service, a task I’ve always despised, even if it’s really just scanning in wares and accepting payment. Most of the time. That is when there was a bar to scan and it showed the right price. Then there was the greens. At the store I worked, we sold surplus goods, so the actual wares tended to wary and the greens varied a lot in type and quality. Often times, the prices could even change throughout the day, depending on quality, quantity and how well they sold. It was confusing and I hate that kind of uncertainty.

It’s the weirdest things that can wear you down. Simply standing around all day wears on the feet and back like you wouldn’t believe. Doing nothing at all tires and stresses and simply not knowing what to expect from a workday can, when you’re not the sort of person thrilled by surprises, really, really drain your energy levels.

Then, when you’re spending all your energy out at work, you come home to dinner that needs cooking, dishes, cleaning, laundry and all the wonderful elements of being a responsible adult. I consider myself very lucky I don’t have any children to look after on top of all that. Sometimes I wonder how anyone can manage all those things. My parents have both done a pretty decent job of it for decades. In my dad’s case all alone for most of my youngest little brother’s life.

For them, simply pulling yourself together and get the job done seems to do the trick. Most of the time anyways. But for myself, I find that approach absolutely miserable.

If I can make work and chores fun on the other hand, it’s so much easier to get done. And taking lots of breaks tends to make things much easier and more fun. Trouble is, breaks can take hours, even days. And then the work piles up to epic proportions, to the point where I’m exhausted just looking at it. To the point where I feel I need to take a break before I’ve even begun.

It’s so much easier, to sit down and disappear into my own, little world instead of with all the things I should, but really just don’t feel like.

It’s understandable that when you’re sick, you can’t do as much as when you’re healthy. But in my experience it’s maybe not so much a matter of whether you’re sick or not, but how sick. For longtime sickness, you tend to have good days and bad days. It’s not like the flu or a cold, where you’re sick and then get over it. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell if it’s a good day before I get out of bed. Most mornings, I’m tired but otherwise feel okay. Most days the mood will generally hold throughout the day, other days, I can suffer a major panic attack right after breakfast or on the way out the door.

In reality, the panic attacks aren’t something that come straight out of the blue. None of my symptoms are. It’s usually a slow build-up where I feel maybe a bit stressed, a bit down, but otherwise okay. I think it’s better to alleviate some of the strain while it’s nothing but that. I just have a hard time figuring out a way to properly do that without taking the whole day off. And it feels so incredibly wrong to call in sick when I’m still more or less okay. It’s much easier to justify staying home, when I can barely get out of bed or the mere thought of stepping out the door sends me hyperventilating. It’s either one extreme or the other. Neither’s a good solution. Life shouldn’t be a choice between working yourself to death or be dismissed as lazy and selfish.

I started this post intending to write about whether or not I might be using my diagnosis as an excuse to work less and play more. Instead it became a bit of a rant about how much I dislike work. But they’re sort of connected. Work sucks, play’s fun. I’d much rather play than work.

So then, do I feel like crap because I’m actually sick, or because I’d really, really just rather stay home and play, and just can’t find any better excuse besides making myself sick? Or maybe do I dislike work so much I make myself sick to avoid it?

Thinking about it, it’s possible, isn’t it? When you’re sick, you get to stay in bed. Exactly what I most feel like doing most days. Then it feels more like a reward than a necessity. If you’re sick, you can’t be expected to work, which we’ve already established I’m not exactly a fan of.

Am I so lazy that I’m making myself sick just to have an excuse to laze about?

2 thoughts on “Sickness – reason or excuse?

  1. I can relate so much to the “lazyness”. Sometimes just the thought of doing something stresses me out. Lately, I feel like I’ve gotten better. I try and do a little bit everyday, instead of doing it all at once. That seems to do the trick for me for now.

    In regards to work, I really do believe that it depends on how much you like what you’re doing and how good you fit in + the work environment. During my internship, I had periods where I had nothing to do other than to sit around and wait, and I hated it. When I moved to another department with a lot of stuff to do, and stuff I enjoyed, I could hardly wait to go to work and hated leaving.

    I hope we both find good workplaces that will make us happy to get up in the morning.

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  2. Thanks for your blog and being so open about your – and my disorder. People often regard us as lazy, i try not to bother, they dont know better. Im at bit older than you are, and living in Copenhagen. I manage to finish my master, i have a job (fleksjob) and besides my moodswings i think i managed good considered my STPD. We are not doomed to eternal anhedonia! I have a lot of experience living with STPD, and a lot of bad, and good, experiences with the drugs typically used to treat our disorder. If you ever want an advice or have a question about our disorder, feel free to contact me. It’s a lonely disorder. Bedste hilsner her fra og tak

    Like

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