Being ill as a child, you lay on the sofa or in bed snuggled up in a blanket, get food made for you and brought drinks and are generally felt sorry for. It’s horrible feeling rubbish, but at least you’re looked after and have a chance to get better.
Oh how that changes! Today I’m off work ill, and as a 20-something, I can confirm that being ill as an adult sucks!
Not only are you dealing with the actual feeling of being ill, but adult life gets in the way of resting and getting better. You still have to feed yourself and make your own tea (pfft!), but often, you have to go to work as well. If you have children, it’s even worse because you still have someone else relying on you to make sure they’re okay.
This may not be the case for everyone, but this is how I feel when I’m ill. I can’t speak from a parent point of view, but I can speak as a full time employee.
If you do brave it and take a day off work, you spend your entire day of ‘rest’ feeling guilty or worried that you’ve had a day off. No amount of rest takes away that anxiety. The pressure to get better and get back to it means you’re treating being ill as an inconvenience for work rather than for yourself. Not only is it disheartening that this is how life is now, but when stressed, it’s unlikely you’ll feel better any time soon. However, if you do go into work in order to relieve yourself of this feeling, the illness is often extended as you haven’t had any rest. It’s exhausting!
Another reason it’s horrible being ill as an adult is having to prove you’re ‘ill enough’. No longer does saying you don’t feel well merit a day of rest. You have to be ill to an extent that resting is justified. Have you ever been asked ‘What’s wrong?’ knowing that the person needs to hear you’re on the way to dying before they’ll feel sorry for you? Maybe they’ve done more whilst more sick than you, maybe you’re needed in work, or maybe they just don’t believe you. I find it mad that even today, people are having to explain their illness to others. Despite people being advocates of wellbeing, despite mental health awareness, and despite the fact that an adult can bloody well decide when they’re well enough to do something.
People also ask if you’ve been to the doctor as soon as you complain about being ill. Most of the time, we’re perfectly capable of helping ourselves out of sickness given the opportunity. By this age, we know that a doctor can’t take away most standard ailments or viruses. They can give advice on what you need to do, which is mostly to take a trip to the supermarket, stock up on products and rest. However, without a trip to waste a doctor’s time, you’re often deemed ‘not ill enough to go to a doctor’ so fine to get on with things. I’ve genuinely had that said to me by the way.
I am lucky in that I’m quite healthy, in body and mind, but even I don’t want to divulge all of my medical information to others. You shouldn’t have to tell everyone what is going on with your health. ‘Just a bit of diarrhea mate, didn’t fancy shitting myself at work, how are you?’ No. By the way, internet, that’s not what I have!
Just because somebody doesn’t necessarily suffer with mental health issues, it doesn’t mean that their mental health doesn’t need looking after. Just because someone isn’t sick all day long, it doesn’t mean they weren’t earlier in the day. Just because someone isn’t moaning all day long or making a scene of themselves, it doesn’t mean they’re okay. Just because someone looks healthy and seems okay, it doesn’t mean that they are. Why is that STILL so difficult to get through to people?
So yeah, my day off has mostly consisted of being worried, likely a pointless trip to the doctors (we’ll see), getting annoyed with how I feel and writing this post, eating rubbish, effortless food because everything hurts, watching rubbish TV and lots of tea. I know all I need to do is rest more, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be up first thing tomorrow, holding my throat and chest, coughing until I’m sick, getting dressed, and getting to work.
Just to confirm to anyone who still lives at home, enjoy this time! Being ill as an adult sucks!
I hope you’re all okay and have either avoided or gotten over the winter lurgy.