December 12, 2011
I’m going to go out on the limb and guess that you’ve probably heard someone complain about having “a case of the Mondays” already today. If not, pull up your Twitter feed, browse for 30 seconds, and then meet me back here.
Okay, now you’ve seen someone complain about “having a case of the Mondays.” Easy enough.
What exactly does having a case of the Mondays entail? Simply enough, this weekly illness is the sudden and inexplicable bout of mild to severe depression that results due to being the day furthest from the weekend. This symptom is also enhanced by the stark contrast between the subject’s office setting and the momentary relief that he/she had been experiencing in the days prior.
“Doc, cut it with all the fancy medical jargon. Tell me what’s really going on with me!!”
“Son, I’m sorry to say it, but you’re suffering from a case of career contempt.”
That’s it. That’s all the Mondays are.
When you despise the cold, odds are you’re going to dread the winter. When you hate paying taxes, odds are you’re going to dread April 15th. Similarly, when you don’t like what you do for a living, you’re going to dread the day that is furthest away from the next day you don’t have to do it.
The Mondays do offer a silver lining; a consolation prize, if you will.
Heat Stroke and Your Mental Health
For analogy’s sake, let’s take a look at what a Chicago marathon runner goes through in order to accomplish their goal.
Over the last few years the heat has taken its toll on this race’s participants. Many push themselves far past the point of discomfort. They experience severe muscle cramps, headaches, dizziness, even vomiting; all symptoms pointing toward heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. In the face of these symptoms, however, they continue to push. They do so because they have convinced themselves it’s what they must do. They’ve spent months training for this one day, and nothing is going to hold them back from achieving their goal. Unfortunately, for some, they push themselves too far. In 2007, 400 of the Chicago Marathon’s runners sought medical attention, 30 were hospitalized, and one runner died.
In the face of the warning signs from their bodies, these runners took a mind over matter approach to the race, to the detriment of their own health. They ignored the warning signs, and unfortunately one person paid the ultimate price.
Symptoms serve their purpose. It’s your body’s way of saying something is not right, please stop. Symptoms preempt more serious consequences. In other words, symptoms are your internal warning system.
The Mondays are a symptom of career dissatisfaction; it may be a mental health symptom, but it is a symptom nonetheless. Your mental health is every bit as important as your physical health and arguably more so. True, you probably won’t die from working in a career you don’t like (although due to stress and the negative lifestyle behaviors it induces, it’s not impossible). Your risk factors include depression, anxiety, and a whole host of other debilitating mental health diseases. Despising five out of seven days for 40 years should have it’s own entry in the DSM.
And unlike a marathon, your finish line is a lot further than 26.2 miles away. With the current state of the economy and the continual uncertainty of social security, the average retirement date keeps sliding further and further back. In the face of heat stroke symptoms, would you continue to run a race that didn’t end until the age of 65? I hope not. Consider the Mondays to be your heatstroke.
Take your cue. Start looking for your race.
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