A bit about uni and a lot about mental health.

My transfer seminar is on Monday. At the risk of sounding like a six year old: I just don’t want to. I know my project is going to work, I just don’t know that I can convince a bunch of strangers, especially when one of them failed my last bit of paperwork and now probably thinks I’m a complete moron. It also isn’t particularly helpful that it’s right at the beginning of term so I haven’t really had time to see my supervisors about it.

Oh well, nothing I can do to change it. Just need to stop whinging and crack on. At least I’ve finished the powerpoint and notes for it now. I’m going to go over it a few times alone and meet with fellow transfer seminar victims on Friday to rehearse together.

This week I found out what teaching I’ll be doing this year, which is quite exciting. I’m doing Intro to English Studies this term and Intro to Critical Theory after Christmas. I’m more looking forward to the latter. The guy in charge of the modules is lovely, I’ve met him briefly before and look forward to working with him. He just seems like one of those really cheerful, crazy smart, non-threatening academics. We’re meeting him next week to go over this term’s module. I’d like to read the module texts before then, but we’ll see how Monday goes first.

As I think it’s important that we as a society discuss mental health more freely, I’m going to admit that I’ve been having a tough few weeks. I ran out of pills while I was away, purely out of a lack of preparedness, and had fully crashed by the time I got back up north. That meant that I struggled to leave the house, which meant that I didn’t immediately go to the doctors. When I did work up the gumption to go, their system was down and they couldn’t do repeat prescriptions. So, of course, I then had another week where I fully embraced the crazy –  insular, sitting in a dark room staring at nothing for hours trying to work up the energy to get dressed – crazy. I then remembered that I had a packet of my old pills – the ones that gave me bruises – and started taking those, but because by that point I was really low, I was almost too depressed to take my anti-depressants, so I was a bit hit and miss about taking them. I’ve been taking them properly for about a week now and I’m vaguely starting to perk up – but they’re not a cure-all. I tried to get an appointment for the doctors today, but I didn’t get through in time, so I’ll try again tomorrow. So yeah, this has been happening over the past few weeks, which is why my posts have been short, late or entirely absent.

Beng a PhD student is really insular, so if you’re the type of person to get depression then it’ll probably happen while you’re doing your PhD. You spend a lot of time alone just thinking, you feel out of your depth, you judge yourself by others’ achievements, you get imposter syndrome, you get frustrated with your progress and you probably won’t leave your house for days at a time. If that’s not a recipe for depression, I don’t know what is.

I was speaking to a friend about mental health, and we both decided that it was probably a positive thing that we’d both had depression before we’d started the PhD. It means that you’re more able to recognise that there’s some nonsense happening in your brain. Saying that, if you go back to my first post, you’ll notice that it took me four months to realise that I wasn’t just a bit sad or overwhelmed or lazy, I was really sad and drowning and without hope. Depression is the inability to deal with situations that you’d usually work out a way to handle, it robs you of your positivity and your desire to act.

Self-awareness is key. Cake doesn’t hurt either.

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