I discovered the need to take time out for myself long years ago when I was a young mother feeling overwhelmed and lost in the day-to-day efforts of caring for my three babies. One day when my then-student-husband was home (a rare event) I had a chance to run some errands by myself and then took a drive to some nearby towns where I had grown up. Remembering past events, both happy and sad, reminded me that I was a worthwhile individual, not just a wife and mother. It also helped me put my life in perspective and was instrumental in working through debilitating postpartum depression. Even though those years of young motherhood were painful for me for a number of reasons, I learned a lot of coping skills that have come in handy. Taking a mental health day has been an important part of surviving hard experiences over the years.
I know I need a mental health day when I start feeling irritable and resentful. Sometimes I take a whole day, sometimes just a few hours. On occasion I tell David about my plans, and spend the day with him. Most often, though, I don't tell him because he wants to be a part of it, or he comes up with tasks that he thinks I should do, which defeats the whole point. The only rule I have is that it must be something that I really want to do. I know that I am very fortunate to be able to do this because I can take an occasional day off from work and my coworkers are understanding and supportive. Even if it's only for a few hours I come home from these days with my emotional batteries recharged and ready to jump back into everyday life.
David's moods have been more or less stable, but he's having an increase of noise and voices in his head; it takes a real physical as well as mental toll on him. We're a bit worried about the effect it's having, including a desire to self-medicate, so he's going back to his doctor for another visit soon. Hopefully this week.
We took a long walk together on Sunday that helped him feel better, at least temporarily. Walking and exercising seem to lift his spirits, especially when he's not feeling well. I like walking with him, enjoying the dogs, the area where we go, and lots of companionable quiet. Sometimes those walks feel like mental health days for me, too.