Mental Health and the Academy

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the psychic/emotional/spiritual effects and affects of working in the academy. I’m hoping to write more about my experiences soon. I might even turn it into a digital story. For now, I wanted to document a few of the things that I’m reading as I think through how unhealthy being an academic can be (for some people, but not all?).

1. An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison (book)

2. On Quitting by Keguro Macharia (article)

3. Depression: A Public Feeling by Ann Cvetkovich (book)

One of the hardest things I’ve had to realize in the last few years was that being an academic was unhealthy for me and for my mental well-being. Academic approaches to engaging and endlessly critiquing ideas and theories, combined with the relentless pressure to produce and the constant reminder that you will never be good or smart enough at thinking, teaching, researching was turning me into an unhappy and anxious person who felt disconnected from the people I cared about most (including myself).

What do you do when you realize that the thing you thought you loved and wanted to devote your professional life to is bad for you? When I confronted, and really took seriously, this question a few years ago, I decided to stop being an academic and to explore other ways (beside/s Academic) for being an intellectual and engaged thinker/learner/teacher/scholar.


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