mental health, medical leave, associated stigmas 

So next semester, with the help of super supportive colleagues, I'm taking a break from teaching to FINALLY finish my book, and, while I'm at it, recover from the Actual Worst Year of my life.

In truth, this year has been so spectacularly bad that I would defy anyone to get through it without needing some kind of break. Mental ill health comes for us all at some point or another, previous diagnoses or not.

mental health, medical leave, associated stigmas 

(What happened? 2 deaths in the family, 1 death of a friend/my department chair. Unearthed family secrets and my mother divorcing my stepfather in the way of her mother's death. An insecure housing situation with unreliable hot water, clean water, or sometimes any water at all. Moving house due to all of this. Advocacy on behalf of queer and mentally ill students in untenable situations. And my father was hospitalized last week as a bonus.)

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mental health, medical leave, associated stigmas 

So my book didn't get written. The extent to which my publisher can be flexible about a second deadline extension is... limited, but they're trying. Still, I'm absolutely at the end of my rope, and something had to give. I decided that something was going to have to be teaching.

I am SO FUCKING GRATEFUL to the colleagues who stepped in to help me out, at the end of the semester, with scheduling already in place for next term.

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mental health, medical leave, associated stigmas 

But you know, it also absolutely stings to get the reprieve and the focus that I need? I feel so guilty. Like I'm letting my department and colleagues down. Like they'll think less of me from now on, like I've proved unreliable, like they'll never think of me the same way.

Kind of feels like I'm ruining my career, like I've accrued debts I can never repay. My partner, bless him, insists that this is going to save my career, if anything.

mental health, medical leave, associated stigmas 

But I'm writing all this out just to illustrate how deep all these stigmas go, and how profoundly internalized they are.

This is classic Foucauldian stuff: Here I am, a self-disciplining workaholic, steeped in all the toxic modes of academic work and dreadfully embarrassed to have discovered I am, after all, only human.

How unreasonable it is all round.

And how amazing it is that knowing all this doesn't make me feel any less guilty and weird.

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