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A mental health day — good, bad, odd

October 2, 2011
By JANICE R. KIASKI - Community editor, Herald-Star , The Herald-Star

I took a mental health day to stretch last weekend from two days off into to three days off in a row.

Everyone needs a mental health day now and then, and everyone generally knows when it's time to schedule one.

If you don't, someone will drop a hint. In my case, Better Half thought one might be in order. "I think you've inhaled too much stable dust" is how he so eloquently argued his case.

The eve of my mental health day began with the much-anticipated viewing of the second season opener of "Boardwalk Empire" and the dastardly doings of Enoch "Nucky" Thompson.

I got hooked on this HBO series that centers around Prohibition, organized crime and a lot of interesting, onion-layered characters. Thanks to HBO on Demand, I watched all the programs from the first season so many times, I practically had all the dialogue memorized, much to Better Half's chagrin. He watches it with me but isn't quite as enthusiastic about it.

My mental health day on Monday began around 7 a.m. when I sat on the couch with my laptop.

Beside me was a folder swollen with odds and ends that I'd brought home with me from work to catch up on, or so I had threatened myself on Friday when I'd left the office.

But I turned on the TV and flipped mindlessly through the channels, stopping on of all things "Planet of the Apes," the 1968 version starring Charlton Heston.

How I got engrossed in that, I don't know. Maybe it was Heston riding his horse down the beach at the end.

Whatever the reason, I "monkeyed" around the rest of the day, the folder just as full as ever.

Or as Better Half would say, I once again celebrated a "Me-Fest," a day devoted to yours truly, a day that's all about me, me, me. A day of doing what I want to do ... pretty much.

I say pretty much because no mental health day, no vacation, no long weekend, no holiday is ever, ever, ever a time that's free of frustrations of one sort or another.

Forget that pipe dream.

In my case, for instance, a harmless attempt to tidy a room I call my office - a name for what is really a place in our house full of stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else - turned tense when I tried to move an older model desktop computer from one tabletop to another.

Better Half "assisted" as this "Me-Fest" merriment continued, and I made the unfortunate discovery that all the wires behind and around a computer generally serve a purpose, connecting you to electricity and a router and the Internet and all that jazz.

My tidying, sad to say, screwed things up, and it being Monday, all the computer savvy preschoolers on our street were in school, unable to immediately assist me.

But I didn't let it ruin "my" day.

I sat on my back porch and admired all the flowers I know will not be lingering long, given the forecast.

I went for a run.

I went for a ride, too, even though the black clouds gave way to rain after I'd only left the barn 10 minutes. Any time in the saddle, I say, is time well spent.

And I breathed in some more stable dust, if only to justify a future mental health day.

(Kiaski, a resident of Steubenville, is a staff columnist for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and community editor for the Herald-Star. She can be contacted at

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