Now that it’s out in the open, I’ve a few more thoughts.
Before anything else: thank you all for being so supportive - most of you who’ve expressed support to me are people who I deeply care about, and people who I look up to, very seriously. I want to address some concerns a few of you have raised, and I want to talk a little more about why I chose to be public about this. I have had the chance to reflect on my current state of mind, and I want to offer some perspective.
It’s true that I’m burned out about work, but I want to be clear: it’s not local circumstances that have burned me out. UA has always been and continues to be a great place to work. I should have made that clearer in my post - the department has been nothing short of stellar towards my being here so far, and I see no reason why this would change in the future. (In fact, part of why I choose to write about this is to reconcile my positive feelings towards my work environment with my negative feelings towards the work itself. I’m sure there’s a lot of unpacking to be done here.)
To put it differently, what I’m going through is pretty much self-inflicted. I might be partly a product of the time we’re all living in, but if I’m being true to myself, I have to admit that I should have seen this coming. I am as much “stop lifting with your back, already” as I am “oh no, you broke your arm”. I do appreciate all of you telling me to be kind to myself. That I haven’t done so is certainly part of how I’m here. But I also want to be true to myself. In acknowledging my role in the burnout I find myself in, I’m hoping it will be less likely that I’ll repeat harmful patterns.
Second, I think my tone might have implied that I think what I’m going through is somehow special to me. It might not have been in my mind at the time, but I didn’t mean that at all. Everyone fights their own battles. My intention is, rather, to force myself to confront the image that “mental health issues happens to other people - I have my stuff together”; clearly, this is just not the case, and I owe it to myself to acknowledge it.
Finally: if you’re reading this and thinking “but he doesn’t seem burned out”: well, different people process things differently. When things get overwhelming for me, I retreat into a pattern of “if nothing else gets me out of this funk, then let’s do a whole lot of research”. This is, of course, the kind of behavior that is rewarded in my field. But if I’m being honest, this pattern comes at least in part at the expense of people around me, who pick up emotional and service slack for me. That’s neither sustainable nor right. At the same time (and possibly partly because of it), I have been reasonably successful at research, and at least part of this success has been at the expense of other things I shouldn’t have neglected. Part of coming out is acknowledging this social debt, even if I can’t pay it off right away.
So, if you think you might be going through something similar: know that you’re not alone. If you want to talk about it, do send me a note.