Before I was a scientist, introverted and always thinking of the next experiment. My goal, my only goal was to cure disease. I went to work did my job and took home extra reading when I was especially excited about the project. We did actually find the cause, at the level of ion transporters of the diarrheal disease we studied. There was a review in nature microbiology reviews and a couple of book chapters and other articles. I suppose it should be enough, most people never find the root cause of a disease but I wanted to cure it. I suppose I should have taken up one of the pharmaceutical sciences, perhaps medicinal chemistry. I always did love chemistry, but the path was never entirely clear in the sciences, I didn’t care for p chem so any higher level chemistry seemed out of the question. I was a nerd’s nerd in my love for science. Sure I also dabbled in art and cooking and had a pet cockatiel rounding me out as a person but on the weekends I had no friends aside from family. I would speak to my mom at precisely 6pm on Sunday, telling her what plants I had bought and what new dish I had cooked. Technically it was living but there is so much more to life.
After my illness I was still a scientist for a while but it’s a self sustaining type of job where you have to be incredibly devoted to succeed and I just wasn’t anymore and little did I know my mind was slowly slipping away. After the psychosis I became less and less interested in helping people through science and more and more interested in helping people through direct intervention. I joined an online support community both to give and receive help. I got cbt to help with the psychosis and some of the social anxiety. I started looking for friends and found my bestie as well as my bf. My life became more defined by those around me and less some internal drive to succeed. Right now I’m working as an adjunct training the next generation but soon I’ll leave science entirely. Not just because of my cognitive issues but also a fur allergy that blocks 99% of jobs in my field. Yet, after I feel happy, after I feel fulfilled, after is the best I’ve ever been. So my life is a study in contrasts, from smart and driven to loving and little lazier tbh. I feel incredibly lucky to have experienced this change but also somewhat horrified. It seems that in the best of worlds I could have had both.