How I did a PhD with a broken brain

In 2015 I had a severe reaction to an antidepressant. Overnight I went from someone who had never experienced any physical anxiety symptoms to major panic attacks, agoraphobia, and constant general anxiety. I no longer had the capacity to do my PhD and took temporary withdrawal for a year where I had to learn how to function as a human being again. Upon returning to my PhD, a major achievement in itself, I realised the stress of even half an hour’s worth of work rendered me not only incapable of functioning for the rest of the day, but potentially the day after too. How was I supposed to do a PhD if I couldn’t even manage half an hour? If I was to complete my PhD, I needed to figure out how to work a stress-free day. Over the course of a couple of years I learnt and refined a routine that helped me to achieve this. It wasn’t much fun and I still struggle a lot of the time. I fall out of the routine and take shortcuts. I am human after all. But I sit here with a finished thesis and time to spare. This is how I did my PhD with a broken brain.

And That’s OK

By Zakiyya Adam

Doing a PhD is demanding at the best of times, let alone amidst a global pandemic. Zakiyya discusses why productivity should not be the priority for PhDs right now.

What have you found to help you cope during the global pandemic? Tweet us at @ResearchEx, email us at libraryblogs@warwick.ac.uk, or leave a comment below.

On dealing with Anxiety in a highly competitive environment (Part 2 – Confidence)

By Alice Cuzzucoli

One of the most challenging aspects we face in academia is how to measure our self-worth. On top of the constant amount of work we deal with, this further burden can make us feel like we are misinterpreting what we have to do to be “that exceptional”. So, when it comes to comparing ourselves to others, it is natural to feel inferior, or inadequate even. Ultimately, our confidence is what suffers from it, both from an individual and a collective point of view. In the second part of her series of essays, Alice discusses how her relationship with self-worth and competition affected her confidence during her PhD.

How do you deal with feelings of worthlessness or inadequacy? Tweet us at @ResearchEx, email us at libraryblogs@warwick.ac.uk, or leave a comment below.

Fallow Fields, Seeds and Academic Gold Rush in the Corona crisis

Planting, harvesting and the stolen time of rest. Can farm life provide a metaphor for academic life? Is the current COVID-tunnel finally creating an occasion for rest and nourishment or did it leave many researchers in even more pressure to perform, in a new virtual world, having to pay the costly interests of time debt? Do you feel the need to find golden productivity before your peers? Our author reflects on the many challenges faced with planting and sowing, nourishing your land, a waiting for your crops to yield results, be it your plants or your ideas.

In search of more time

“Are there any other tricks you know which will reduce the amount of sleep I need each night, so I have more time during the day?” an old friend asks me. With only the slightest hint of a wry smile I respond: “That is not really how it works…”

Christmas and Your Mental Health

In this post Sophie shares her thoughts on looking after your wellbeing over the Christmas period. Christmas time can be full of food, fun, parties and spending time with your loved ones and family. With this in mind, Sophie offers some tips on how to look after your mental health during the festive season.  …