Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A break is a beautiful thing

Especially when it comes to managing an illness like depression and anxiety.

When I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety in 2009, I ended up on leave for 14 months while we figured out the right medication cocktail for me, and while I worked with a therapist to develop and improve my cognitive and behavioural coping mechanisms.  It made me more assured than ever before that everyone needs a sabbatical at some point.  Not a week here or there, but a full on sabbatical where you fully unplug, explore other passions, learn something new and totally refresh and reconnect with your self and your soul.

Even when I went back to work then, I wasn't really ready.  I probably could have used more, but then again, maybe they (the world) were right, and there comes a time when you have to bite the bullet.  Reality was that it went as smoothly as it could.  I was bored stiff with my new responsibilities, and I was definitely treated "differently" because the grounds for my lengthy absence were tainted and well known.

BUT, imagine if I'd been able to return after a real sabbatical that accounted for the goodness I was bringing back to the work environment.  Imagine the goodness my family would get from me being able to unplug for a month, and for my husband to unplug for a month.  Just like we once did when we were in university.  Imagine if one of the benefits of working anywhere in the world; for profit or not for profit; union or not union, that you were guaranteed 1 consecutive month of holidays paid (even at a lower rate), what new fresh ideas and learned skills you could fuel your soul with.  The quality time you could spend with your family, your kids, living at the pace "God" intended you to.
I could totally get behind that, and I believe whole heartedly with that kind of social structure, that you'd see a huge shift in the statistics around mental health and wellness.

I took a week of vacation last week, and to say it was busy would be an understatement.  But I also closed the week feeling as refreshed as I have been in a really long time.  Day 2 back into my regular routine, and I'm already feeling as gloomy and grey as the weather.

The hubby and I spent a weekend in Niagara on Lake and had a most exquisitely relaxing time.  We did an incredible amount of driving, and I know that hubby was pretty tuckered out from that aspect of it, but I was cool as a cucumber and completely unplugged.  I can't tell you the last time I was that relaxed.  We stayed at the Three Forty Gate B&B, and soaked up the fresh fruit at breakfast and the ambiance of a really beautiful space.  We hit some of our favourite vineyards (Crown Bench Estates) and some brand spanking new ones we'd never been too before (Hillebrand, Stoney Ridge, Tawse and Thirty Bench), and hit up a great little cheese place (Upper Canada Cheese Company).  Ate some great meals at the Irish Harp Pub, and the Grill on King.  Yeppers, that's how relaxed I was.  On the Monday we picked up my daughter and my 10 year old niece and did lots of stuff, including a road trip back to Niagara to visit MarineLand which was more disappointing than even I had anticipated.  You would think a place called MarineLand would have more than a 5 dolphins, 3 sea lions, a walrus, a few baluga whales, a killer whale and a carp pond.  I kind of expected they'd have almost any variety of sea life you could fathom, but I was waaay wrong.  They had plenty of deer and 3 bears you could feed (which someone must have forgotten to tell them were all wildly available in our Canadian wilderness and which could be just as easily fed at any rural garbage dump).  I've seen more fish at the Toronto Zoo.  Both the hubby and I left and talked on the way home that we could totally run that place better.  This is notable only because there's not a chance in hades we'd be offering to do that, and it's the first time the hubby has shown that kind of inspiration.

After all that chaos I was just as refreshed as the day I left the B&B.  Just as refreshed as you could imagine.  If I had only had more time off, I could have expected at least a whole week of being refreshed and re-energized after returning to my job.  The panic attacks started like clockwork at mid afternoon on day one, and I've had several more since.  I've not been back to work a full 48 hours yet.

Whose with me.  How do you start a movement to demand a mandatory sabbatical for all?

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