An honest and vulnerable share…

Yes, this is my second post in as many days.

I sat down to write this post late last night after having dinner with a friend and only a few hours after my last post – which was all about non-negotiables and self-care. It feels kind of ironic in a way.

I was unsure whether to publish this post, but I decided to, and sooner rather than later – before I changed my mind. Because it’s always easier to talk about past struggles once they have been overcome and things are feeling better. It’s much more difficult and vulnerable to admit in the moment that things are hard.

I decided to post this because I am a huge advocate for mental health and I am always banging on about how important it is to share our difficult and challenging experiences in order for them to become accepted and so that we can know we are not alone – and I feel nervous about posting this. I feel like maybe I shouldn’t. But that isn’t what I aspire to, I want an open conversation and I’m going to have it. I believe that it really should not be a big deal to say you are struggling or that you’ve lost your way.

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We’re all human in academia

This is not the post I had intended to write and send out this week, but nonetheless I felt inspired and like this was what wanted and needed to be shared on this occasion.

I recently requested for members of staff within a university department to complete an informal, anonymous online questionnaire about their experiences with mental health, both during their own PhD studies and also now as an academic. What follows are some of the insights I have had as a result of being privy to these experiences, ultimately, we are all human and though we may put others on a pedestal, they too have their own issues and difficulties to manage and cope with.

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How do you cope?

“How are you coping?” we might ask a friend.

What do we really mean when we ask this? Do we want to know how they are doing, or do we really want to know how they are coping? Perhaps in a friendship, it is the former. But in my research, I am asking the question literally, that is, what things are you actually doing to cope with the situation you are facing? Coping is a bit of an ambiguous term, and it’s not always easy to know how it is being used.

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