Some of you may have seen a story, which is now making the rounds, about the response that one employee got from her CEO when she let her coworkers know that she was taking a mental health day off. Software developer Madalyn Parker sent out an email to coworkers that read, “Hey team, I’m taking today and tomorrow to focus on my mental health. Hopefully I’ll be back next week refreshed and back to 100 [per cent].”
Her CEO took the time to thank her for her transparency about needing to put sick days toward mental health:
The whole exchange went viral on Twitter, leading many commenters to gratefully acknowledge workplace cultures in which the importance of both mental and physical well-being are prioritized.
I love the fact that this dialog is in motion; it brought to mind so many days and weeks last spring and summer, when I hadn’t yet learned that my depression and anxiety demand physical rest just the way colds and stomach bugs do. I’d try to push through, thinking that normal or even heightened activity would make me feel better. More often than not, I wound up feeling worse and having to take days off anyway–probably more than I would have needed if I’d been able to slow down in anticipation of getting overwhelmed. The fact that my depression manifests physically, with fatigue and malaise, made the whole pattern worse.
Nowadays I’m better at accommodating and managing mental health struggles. Sometimes depression demands that I slow down and treat myself gently; sometimes going about my normal routine is grounding. Only I can know the difference, and I’ve developed a capacity to tune in and figure out what I need in order to bring my best self to my work, relationships, and everyday living.
Much as I appreciate that we’re tearing down the stigma that surrounds mental health struggles, I think we should exercise some caution in likening mental and physical illness too literally. This article makes the point that there is a danger in “medicalizing” mental illness in the same way that we might treat broken bones or infections. “Depression and its ilk are not worthy of attention, care, and compassion because they are medical problems,” writes Laura Dattaro. “[T]hey are worthy because they cause human suffering, because emotional pain is just as real as physical.”
Dattaro goes on to note that mental illness tends to resist standardization and easy diagnosis:
Her last point reminded me of what I’ve observed time and time again with eating disorders, which is a great many people don’t speak up about their struggles because they feel that they aren’t “sick enough.” In trying to associate a complex mental illness with precise physical symptoms or diagnostic criteria, we create the false impression that ongoing suffering isn’t cause enough for seeking help.
I’m glad that women like Madalyn Parker and Laura Dattaro are bringing more awareness to the topic of mental health. Parker is doing it by calling attention to her health-supportive workplace culture, which is probably—and unfortunately—still very unusual. Dattaro is doing it by inviting us to treat mental and physical illness as similarly urgent and worthy of attention, but not necessarily the same.
Hope you’ll enjoy the links, along with a probing article about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and graded exercise therapy, good news about the benefits of dietary change at any age, and finally, a heartwarming story about elephant rescue. First, food.
A beautiful, fruit-laden summer salad from Jackie, drizzled with a blackberry vinaigrette. I can’t wait to try her recipe for almond ricotta.
I’m not the biggest fan of jackfruit, but I’m always ready to change my mind about ingredients, and Evi’s pulled jackfruit summer rolls with sprouts and crispy veggies may be the recipe to do it.
Thomas’ vegan caponata with garlic yogurt sauce has me excited that eggplants are just now showing up at my farmer’s market! This would be a great appetizer, or a perfect light lunch with some pita.
Lilia’s cauliflower alla Siciliana has to be one of the most delicious whole roasted cauliflower recipes I’ve seen. I love the idea of roasting the cauliflower with raisins for a sweet note.
Constanze is one of the most accomplished and meticulous vegan bakers I know, so when she labels a recipe “the best,” I believe her. She’s given these vegan brownies superlative status, and I can’t wait to try them.
1. First, a recap of Madalyn Parker’s exchange with her CEO about mental health and work.
2. Laura Dattaro on the non-simplicity of mental illness.
3. In the last year or so, a number of health journalists have uncovered the unraveling of evidence for graded exercise therapy, known as GET, for those suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Good evidence suggests that the approach may even set patients back, causing them physical harm and lasting emotional damage. This is one of the most comprehensive pieces of reporting on the topic that I’ve seen so far.
4. One of the most inspiring parts of working in the nutrition space is witnessing again and again that it is never “too late” to experience the benefits of healthful eating. This is especially true, it seems, among those who make a switch to plant based eating patterns. This article says more, focusing on red meat reduction in particular.
5. My friend Paul shared this article on Friday, saying that it’s an example of humanity acting humanely. I totally agree. So heartwarming (and the video is pretty cool!).
On that happy note, I’m wishing you all a really lovely start to the week. Look forward to being back here in this space with new food for you!
In the week since I wrote about heartache here on the blog, a lot of kind people have taken the time to share their own stories with me or simply offer up goodwill. One longtime reader directed me to this address about learning the healer’s art. It’s written from a religious perspective, but I think it touches on truths about the healing process that are universal, and I wanted to share from it today. The speaker, Elaine S. Marshall, was dean of the BYU College of Nursing. I’m not surprised…
Hello friends. As you can see, the Thanksgiving recipe roundup I promised for yesterday didn’t come to pass. I got hit like a ton of bricks with a nasty stomach flu on Thursday night, and I’m still in rough shape, though things have taken a turn (I hope) for the better this morning. So, no blogging for me yesterday. I’m going to do a nice little Thanksgiving recipe roundup on Monday in lieu of my regular menu plan Monday post, though, so it’s still…
My current DI placement is at a nursing home that offers both long- and short-term care. I’m learning a lot about what and how people eat when they’re recovering from surgeries or in the process of rehabilitation. And I’m gaining a better understanding of food choices and habits toward the end of life. Not surprisingly, much of what people ask for are simple, familiar, and comforting foods. This echoes an insight that struck me when I read Being Mortal a year or so…
True to my promise, I can start this post with the following statement: it’s really good to be home. There’s so much to say about how nice it is to be back, but I’m staring out at a sea of boxes and belongings, and time is of the essence if I’m ever to get settled into the new digs. So, let’s skip right ahead to Weekend Reading, and I’ll say more about my homecoming later. Let’s begin on a high note: avocado sea…