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While I was doing my PhD in my previous position I was diagnosed with a mental illness. I started medication however as a result I could not concentrate very well and it made me quit my previous position. I continued my medication and recently have reduced it. Now I think I am able to concentrate again.

Soon I will have an interview for a new PhD position. I was wondering if I should bring up the matter. On one hand, I think I should be honest to my future supervisor. On the other hand, I don't want to lose the chance by scaring them.

Would you please help me with your opinions?

If I shouldn't bring it up myself, what if they asked me about my previous position? Should I tell everything then?

1 Answer 1

My personal opinion is that I'd rather you tell me right away. It doesn't scare me to know that there is an issue, but it scares me if there are issues I don't know and that I don't know how to handle.

In the end, you and your adviser are going to spend a lot of time together, and you need to be able to work as a team. As an adviser, I'm going to find out one way or the other at one point, either because you're going to tell me once we have built up a relationship of trust, or because we come upon issues where you find yourself not being able to work at the level you are supposed to and where I will start to suspect something. Better to talk about it up front so that both sides know that there are constraints within which the adviser-advisee relationship will have to operate.

(As a postscript: I don't expect to get a complete description of your illness. It is sufficient if you say something of the form "I would also like to mention one issue that I believe is important for you to know: I have some medical issues that I think I have under control now with medication. However, they do impose some constraints on me; in particular, I cannot do X and I will need accommodations for Y.)