I've been recommended for tenure. Sure, the decision still has to climb through some levels of administration, but it's basically over for me. The weight has lifted. It lifted a little when I began my tenure-track post, but now I feel almost ..... normal.
I sleep better, I eat better, and I want to exercise. I'm looking forward to the post-tenure body, a healthy body. However, in all my privilege and good fortune, I pause for a moment of bitterness about the damage my career has had on my health, both mental and physical, and what my case seems to indicate.
During my graduate career, I've had periods of good physical health, when I didn't have chronic headaches, backaches, yo-yo weight, and anxiety. I worked on them all and, as on everything, worked extremely hard. I looked forward to greater "balance" in my life when I started full-time. But this hope was short-lived as the spectre of tenure review came closer.
Why be optimistic now? Academic training is designed to make us workaholics; the system depends on it. However, my old friends from grad school have turned around their health post-tenure in ways they assure me were impossible before. So, I believe that with tenure I can be a higher functioning workaholic.
This raises the issue, however, of the accessibility (not just the desirability) of academic jobs. My health is generally pretty good, and I live in a country with (still mostly) socialized medicine. If my struggles are in any way representative, then anyone with health or ability challenges may have their professional potential undermined by the rigours, no tortures, of the educational and employment system. (And all this stands without even beginning to address how sessional or adjunct faculty are exploited.)
Philosophy and science careers may not be attractive to women or other marginalized people because of the various ways we are given the cold shoulder. Yet, perhaps more than that social discomfort, however, we need to consider people's health. More than concerning ourselves with individual people, we need to consider how to make academic life more healthy.