I work a full time job and if you are reading this then you know I have a chronic illness and with that comes sick days. When I’ve made the decision that I can’t go into work I then have to call work and let them know, usually I call my boss (or text). Without fail I always feel guilty.
When I’m in pain or not feeling well you don’t always hear it in my voice. How am I supposed to sound when my bowels are inflamed? I’m not coughing or sneezing, I don’t have a cold. I may sound a little tired, but I pretty much sound the same, just not as happy as I usually am. There’s this feeling that we have to “act” sick to convince people we aren’t faking it, which sounds absurd.
Part of the reason that I feel I have to convince someone I’m sick is because I have what is known as an “invisible illness.” You can’t see my internal turmoil. Crohn’s Disease is autoimmune, which means I’m being attacked by my own immune system. My body wages war against me every day and it is EXHAUSTING. You can read more about this in a post I wrote for The Mighty.
Back to my original point, feeling guilty. I don’t know why, but it never fails. Here is what goes through my mind on mornings when I decide to call out sick:
- Is it really that bad?
- Can I make it out of bed?
- What do I have to do today at work that can wait?
- What if I get up and shake it off?
- What if I just go in until lunch time and take a half day or leave early?
- What if this is all in my head?
- What if they get mad that I’m not at work?
- Will I get into trouble?
- How many sick days do I have left?
- Is this just a one day thing?
Having all these thoughts run through my mind on top of feeling like shit is physically and mentally exhausting. These are all things I shouldn’t even think about, but I do. I once had a coworker tell me, “You’re not that important, we can survive without you.” Ouch, but context. The point she was trying to make was, no one is going to die if you can’t come in, stop worrying about. The only thing I should be thinking about is my health.
Easier said than done.
I don’t think I’ll ever make any progress on this, but I will try.