Consider Having a Mental Health Holiday

gifts sitting on a bed of pine leaves with round ornaments The semester is almost over already! I’m still trying to process the fact that I’m graduating from college in a few days. I got my tickets for the graduation ceremony in November, and now it’s finally starting to really sink in.

I had a really, really rough week early in November. It was one of those weeks where everything that could possibly go wrong did and where the universe just wanted to throw every accessibility issue it could at me just to see how long it’d take before I lose my sanity. The answer: I took a “mental health day.”

I’m not going to say that people with disabilities need more mental health days than those without a disability, but what I will say is this: in my opinion, those of us with disabilities are used to pushing ourselves. We’re told — or at least, I was told — that I’d have to work twice as hard as the average college student, and they weren’t wrong.

We have to push ourselves because sometimes we have to wait to get things done until an accessibility issue is fixed. Tests take longer. Assignments take longer. Some professors aren’t understanding. There are a variety of things that occur in the day-to-day life of a college student with a disability, and it can take its toll. That was the case during that really really rough week I had early last month. I’d planned to catch up with everything by having a productive couple of days the following weekend, but by the time that weekend came around I was exhausted. That rough week sucked every ounce of energy I had. I desperately needed to recharge.

Mental health day to the rescue! I started the day at Dunkin with my best friend Jenny, and after a medium hot coffee, Jenny and I came back to my dorm room to watch Atypical on Netflix.

If you haven’t heard of the show, Sam Gardner, the main character on Atypical, is on the autism spectrum. Keri Gilchrist (the actor playing Sam) does not have autism, and I think he does a fantastic job. It’s a fictional show, and it’s nice to see autism portrayed in a realistic and thoughtful way, and I think it’s so cool that a popular show like this features a main character who has a disability. Watching it with a friend and sharing our thoughts, opinions, and impressions while the show was going on brought the enjoyment to another level.

And guess what? The mental health day worked! The next morning I was up and getting ready for the day by 5:30 a.m., and by noon I had already gotten a lot of studying in.

My mental health day taught me a very valuable lesson. It made me realize that I really need to make myself more of a priority. We all do. Productivity is nice, but we can’t be productive unless we take care of ourselves first.


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