No longer an academic.

No longer an academic.

Earlier this year I came to a realisation – I don’t have the brain capacity to do academia anymore, at least in the capacity I’ve always been used to, and that realisation hurt.

The realisation that I’m no longer the academic I once was came to me when my partner, who knows me well enough to know when I’ve forgotten, nudged me to take my medication … for the fifth time.

Due to my illnesses, my disabilities, and my medication, any energy I have I spend it being in pain, which leaves little to no brain capacity for anything else. On any given day I estimate around 70% of my brain capacity is spent processing pain, and on some days that number reaches around 95%.

I’m no longer a person that can look at text and think critically, I’m a person that looks at the text, and struggles to read it. Jokes take longer to click, words don’t make sense like they used to. Processing everything takes longer. Occasionally – usually during therapy, when I’m trying to one up my therapist, a complex word springs to mind. It pops up into my brain as though I’d never forgotten it, but my therapist and I both know that’s not the case.

I have reminders in place for everything, I have to, otherwise I’ll forget. I apologise for forgetting things all the damn time, and usually it’s the simple things that should be instinctual. It’s always been that way, and I’ve had friends … ex-friends, use it to undermine me, ridicule me, and hurt me.

Even before everything kicked up a notch this past year, I had a poor memory. I needed to be reminded more often than not about times, dates of occasions or important events. Back then I still had chronic pain, and only parts of my brain was taken up and exhausted by pain. Now, there’s a whole new level of fatigue, and pain to battle with. Now, I have to be reminded to do simple things, like eat, take my medication, shower, and so on. Even when I’m reminded, I forget. Usually it takes a few reminders, some prodding, and even then I can have my medication in hand, and still forget to actually take it until I’ve split it down myself … true story. My brain is so consumed by pain, and fatigue that it’s embarrassing sometimes.

All this is to say that my brain doesn’t work the way it used to, and I have to get used to that. Asides from the practical aspects of my disabilities, I have to be kind to my brain, and not put myself in situations where I’m destined to fail, aka pushing myself to take on a degree just to prove to people that I can.

However, next year I plan to go back to University to do a part time course, not a full time one. I plan to get every single academic allowance, and adaptation so I can attempt to do a degree I’m actually interested in, and I plan to stand up for myself a little more. This time, I’m not letting a Uni kick me out because I’m disabled, but don’t have a label they like.

My brain is no longer suited for intense academia, and studying for hours upon hours until I don’t know what words mean anymore. Though sometimes I’ll struggle to admit it (good old self pressure), that’s okay. I’m still me, I still have interests, I still have some smarts, and even though I might not be able to make the contributions to academia for quite some years, I can still make contributions to society as a whole.

I have to change academia to suit me, and not the other way around.

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