The Beauty of the Mental Health Day
I got an email this morning that the time has come for Barbara Meade to retire from Politics and Prose. I knew this was coming; that new owners were lined up to keep the store going in the same direction it has always gone, and retired doesn’t mean gone entirely — she’ll still need to buy her books somewhere. But it was a bittersweet message to read, especially after the death of her co-owner Carla Cohen a few years back (here is her fabulous advice). That bookstore shaped my childhood and adulthood and gave me a receptacle to pour in my love of books.
I love going to Politics and Prose, and the email triggered a memory of a day I spent wandering the store and then reading in the cafe.
A few months after the twins were born, I woke up one morning and Josh announced that I was to take a mental health day. No work. No errands. Just go out and take a day for myself, and he’d take care of the kids. I was so stunned, I didn’t really know what to do at first. Then I realized that something I really missed was going to Politics and Prose as if I had all the time in the world. So I drove downtown, ate lunch at a favourite restaurant, and then went to the bookstore to browse, buy, and read.
Best. Day. Ever.
We stay home and nurse ourselves back to health when we are physically ill. We take vitamins and vaccinations to stop ourselves from becoming ill in the first place. We exercise, eat right, get sleep. We take care of our physical bodies. And then we completely ignore our emotional health. We force ourselves to go to work even when we’re miserable. We don’t make time for therapy. We keeping racing along without break even when we’re stressed beyond belief. And all of that is because we suck as humans. We place a value on one part of our body over another. We somehow collectively agree that brains are only important when something is affecting them structurally such as a tumour and cease to be important when something is affecting them chemically such as depression. We shouldn’t let ourselves get to breaking points; to get to tears of frustration. We should just stop every once in a while and read.
So Josh, I’m going to take a mental health day soon. And give you one as well.
What would you do on a mental health day? Read? Sleep? Eat out? Spa? Go to an amusement park?