How many times have you attended post-work drinks with friends when all you wanted to do was curl up in bed?
Gone on a night out to celebrate a friend's birthday with a banging headache?
Or forced yourself to go to work, dosed up on pain killers to ease the agony of period pain?
Unfortunately, many of us push ourselves to 'keep calm and carry on' in the face of illness, so as not to appear weak, let anyone down or be judged for having succumb to the natural human ability to become ill.
So, imagine Lena Dunham's shock this weekend when a fan called her out on failing to make a book signing appearance because she was 'under the weather'.
In a post to Instagram yesterday, the Girls creator – who suffers from endometriosis – posted a screen-shotted message she received from one fan who tweeted her to say, 'No offense, but you're too sick to sit and sign books? I was back at work 6 days after a c-section [sic]'.
Dunham told her followers:
'This was a response yesterday when I said I would be cancelling an appearance at a bookstore because I was sick. At first it made me laugh a lot- like, oh, I'm sorry, I left your award in the car. But then I really contemplated how dark it is that our culture prizes these speedy recovery narratives because guess what?
They're actually ways to keep women from feeling fucking p*ssed that they don't have proper maternity leave or medical and family care resources.
'We may not have an imminent policy change on the way, but we can change the way we talk about this stuff, and treat childbirth (or fatherhood! Or illness!) as the serious and personal journeys that they are,' she concluded.
It's great that this woman felt well enough to return to work after giving birth – at least, we hope she felt she was able to and didn't feel forced due to a lack of parental leave or financial responsibilities. But, there is nothing to be ashamed or competitive of when it comes to one's recovery period or health.
While Dunham might be fortunate enough to be able to afford to take time off for illness – a privilege far few women have when it comes to child care and financial obligations – she is right to call out such blatant prejudice from a fellow woman who deems it acceptable to lambaste someone for putting their health and well-being first.
We shouldn't be judgmental of another's vulnerability. No one should feel obliged to go to work when they're not feeling up to it.