Taking some time off (the Sheridan Smith debate)

Oh man how this ‘story line’ in the press has got me mad.

Here we have an actor. Her dad is dying of cancer (it’s even weird that we know that much isn’t it?). Since this news in her life she’s not done her job some days and now is on what seems a more official time off. That’s it, right? I haven’t missed anything?

What has actually been said, written and publicly joked about, is way beyond the above. A mixture of accusations; a drink problem, a mental breakdown, unprofessional. Really?!

How many days off work have you taken in the last year say? Ever been faced with a life event/troubling personal news that maybe led to a few more than 1? because really, it’s not that unusual an idea is it?

There’s 2 issues for me in this ‘story’ that have me ranting on here.

  1. That judgement is passed on individuals for taking time off.

I struggled recently with my health; 3 bouts of tonsillitis in 8 weeks. It was horrid and made so much harder by this ridiculous stance we take in our culture that days off are bad, that giving into illness is weakness, that we should place a priority upon our (paid) work over anything else. Its so ironically unhealthy. I reckon I spent a significant amount of time during my worst bout of tonsillitis worrying about work, all that I was missing, worried what my colleagues and boss might think. I’m pretty certain that this worry didn’t support a return to health.

I have talked in this blog regularly about this idea of balance in life. I see in my relatives with BI-polar how important it is to staying well. But the older I’m getting, the more I have on my plate, and I’m learning that balance should be for all of us. Why do I think I got so ill so often recently? I’m pretty sure stretching myself in all sort of directions had a part to play; not putting myself first.

If Sheridan Smith has needed a day off or longer, who are we to judge this? Why can’t we get to a place that we applaud individuals for putting health and balance first and saying “I understand you need some time. I appreciate you taking some to get better. See you on the other side”.

2. Someone taking time out has to be having a ‘Breakdown’.

Firstly; if someone IS having some kind of mental health crisis the last thing they need is the world shouting it out in such a derogatory way. Idiots. If Sheridan herself had cancer, for example, it would probably still be announced for the country to see but she would have sympathy and support thrown her way wouldn’t she? Because having a  physically illness is acceptable, because its not seen as the fault of the person.

Well neither should a mental health issue.

Secondly, lets not pretend that we can diagnose someone from such little information. And lets not belittle those living with mental illness by suggesting that everyone having some time out through a negative life event is in similar turmoil as someone diagnosed with a  life long illness that can need medication and or therapy and or a significant change for the rest of their lives.

When I heard about the Sheridan Smith news cycle it made me think of my husband. He sadly lost his Father to cancer. At the time he was employed full time in a  city a long way from his parents home. His boss and colleagues rallied round and supported him in being back at home with his dad as much as possible in the last months, helping to care. This allowed far less stress in what is an unbelievably stressful time. I know that in this situation they went above and beyond but really it was simply the humane thing to do.

I recently shared an article about the Sheridan Smith ‘story’ on my social media accounts. It was an article in a similar vein to this. Someone commented  “Well you’d feel differently if you’d bought tickets”. Would I? Spending money on something and not getting what you expected (an understudy); yes, that would feel frustrating. But if you find that the person is affected by personal troubles or ill health, really, we are angry at them?

A famous person opens themselves up to much public scrutiny and I think they should be prepared for it. I don’t though, believe that any person should be judged and attacked for suffering with bad news or ill health, physical or mental.

Find something better to be pissed about; we live in a time with plenty to choose from.



One thought on “Taking some time off (the Sheridan Smith debate)

  1. You rock, and I couldn’t agree with you more. I Went to a west end show once and got ‘the understudy’ and she was amazing, didn’t even cross my mind that I was being ‘short changed’. X


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