I’ve finally decided to start a blog that will chronicle my experience of having a bipolar diagnosis while working on my PhD. In addition to posting updates on my progress, I want to use this space to start a conversation about stigma, disability services, breakthrough symptoms, crisis management, and other issues that are likely to emerge when trying to complete a graduate degree with bipolar. Being a grad student is precarious enough without having to manage a mental illness, especially a recently diagnosed and until now not fully managed one.
As the blog posts unfold, I’ll be going more deeply into my personal history, but for now here are the basics. I was diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder following a med-induced manic episode in February 2015. Since then I have dealt with a subsequent manic/mixed episode and two depressive episodes. In the past few months, these episodes were severe enough to require back to back hospitalizations.
I’m currently – hopefully! – crawling my way out of crisis mode, and am getting ready to start a new academic semester. I’m working on registering with disability services and on reducing my course load to maximize my chances of recovery.
I hope you stay tuned! I really think that having bipolar, or any serious mental illness, as a PhD student is a uniquely challenging experience, and I’m looking forward to being part of the conversation about it.