I can relate to this so much. A zombie-like existence in a dystopian reality only I could see sums up nicely my 12 years of academic/work life before I crashed completely and left. I often wonder what sort of support and outlets could have helped me to stay on. This is a wonderful post and a beautiful painting by Fibronacci about the struggle of a chronically ill person trying to keep face and survive in the competitive and ableist culture of academia and similar fields of work.
Graduate School is full of overachieving people who care a lot about one thing – their research. That, and their perceived image with regards to their ability to face difficulties.
Crying or any expression of disability or needing accommodations to overcome disabilities (aka not always being 100% self-sufficient) is considered “weak” and people who engage in such are often considered as “not being suited for graduate school.”
Recently, I even talked about it in medical terms with one of my committee members, who was fairly nice and curiously to learn more about the disease – I was proud of this because I wouldn’t have been able to have this discussion a year ago, but I didn’t have a choice now as we had to climb stairs and I was slow. Yet, we talked about fibromyalgia as one might talk about a badly infected tooth that needs a root canal job.
Nobody can truly understand what it is like to live with a chronic pain condition unless they either have it themselves or know somebody very close who does (a spouse/partner, for instance).
Read the full post at Saving Face with a Chronic Illness – Pain(t)h.D.