Maybe this will help.
I write this after consulting widely and with a heavy heart. But the truth be told, there isn’t another viable option.
I have a severe mental illness.
In Australia I was diagnosed with (severe) clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder.
I am not at liberty to divulge the familial associations, but truth be told, there was a not insignificant chance I might suffer from depression and/or anxiety. But, if familial history is anything to go by, not until my 60s. Unfortunately certain issues – which I am unable to refer to for legal reasons – during my time in Australia caused me to suffer from severe depression and anxiety early, in my 40s.
I spent several years seeing a psychiatrist, trying every SSRI, SNRI, TCA, MAOI, atypical antidepressant and every anti-anxiety medication there is. Largely to no avail. I thought I had a combination (SNRI + pregabalin) that solved both problems when I moved to Sweden. I thought I was A-OK and ready to hit the ground running again. Alas no.
Both problems reappeared pretty quickly after moving here in early January 2015. Plus I seemed to cycle between depressed and elevated states…..classical indicator of bipolar disorder. I had ruled this out as I never (and have never) experienced the classic “mania” of bipolar. But it turns out that there is Type 2 Bipolar (of which I hadn’t been aware) in which instead of full blown mania the patient experiences “hypomania” (“sort of but not complete” mania). I found one of the main clinical questionnaires for this and I almost definitely suffer this – so when I troll on Twitter or my Blog, have 15 brilliant ideas during a half-day, accept 10 major reviewing tasks, or simply be an argumentative sh!t, then the chances are you have caught me in a hypomanic phase.
Plus hypomania causes risk-taking behavior. Yes, some of you have seen me do that too. It feels exquisite at the time. But it is simply me pulling the trigger more slowly.
So, I am simply making some observations and requests.
(1) Accessing adequate mental health services in Sweden has not been easy for me. I have had to being honest about my mental health to people I would otherwise not have done so.
(2) Please bear with me, when it comes to all the “unpaid but unspoken” bits of academia, like refereeing. I will probably have to refuse all of these. It is hard enough doing my day job.
(3) To those who think I have been a sh!t to them on twitter. Sorry. Maybe I was hypomanic. Or maybe you are actually a moron. If you make the effort to attend one of my courses you can learn which. I put 200% effort into those and people love them.
But finally, I just wanted to say I am very very scared, and have no idea whether my career goals are still possible. I know I am bloody good at my job, but I also don’t know if that means much when I often spend 2 days in every week lying in bed virtually comatose, when episodes of Grey’s Anatomy make me cry uncontrollably, and when I find myself nodding vigorously at that article explaining that the leading cause of death among men in their 40s is suicide.
So please bear with me.