The Gremlin’s Library: “I Have Placed My Sickness Upon You” by Karin Tidbeck

“Then came that Thursday in February when I stepped into my psychiatrist’s office and was presented with a goat.”

-“I Have Placed My Sickness Upon You”, Karin Tidbeck, Strange Horizons 2013

This is a lovely, bittersweet little story about mental health treatments, hell, bipolar disorder and scapegoating. The narrator is given a Sadgoat to help with their depression – a goat who will absorb their depression while she keeps it as a pet – and at the end of the treatment, she releases the goat. However, what happens to the Sadgoat afterwards?

I think part of why I loved this so much was how it started with the bizarre and led into a completely sincere ending. It’s hard to take goats as a depression treatment seriously, and I was stifling a smile for the first part of the story. But Tidbeck’s writing is deft and clever as it tips the scales into full seriousness. It’s also a story that is completely realistic about the difficulties of depression/bipolar treatment; the narrator actually lists off all the treatments she’s tried before the Sadgoat. It feels good to read about somebody who actually reflects my experiences, instead of a watered down version of them.

One downside: this story apparently predates SH’s trigger warning system, so here’s a few big ones. TW for: depression/bipolar, animal death, animal abuse and uncooperative/semi-antagonistic doctors

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