So as I mentioned before last week I had my annual progress review and I passed (woop woop!)! One of the comment-questions that I got as part of the review related to my self-care during the project, and although I have got some plans for self-care it’s got me thinking about how effective these plans are, and ultimately how I could make them more meaningful.
So this week has been one that I’ve been building up to for a long time – the annual progress review. Some people have described it as an ‘upgrade’ it’s basically the review meeting where your university decides that you can a) continue seemlessly into your second year, b) be fired, or c) somewhere in between.
Fortunately (??) I had booked a bit of holiday and two conferences just before it. This meant that I couldn’t overly focus on my own sense of impending doom because I needed to enjoy the holiday I had booked, attend a wedding with my partner and their family without convincing everyone in the surrounding area that I was about to be imminently fired, and network at conferences without coming across like an emotional wreck.
I channeled an old colleague and took a ‘fake it til you make it approach’ with the emotional stability, and actually had a lovely holiday and learned a lot at the conferences. When D(oom) Day came around I arrived in my review room with all my neatly written revision notes (I only know how to prepare for things like they’re an exam apparently), and it actually was far less painful than expected. The review was not without administrative glitch, but once we got to the academic part I could mostly answer the questions or else they were issues I was already considering and had a good reason for not yet having a conclusive answer (such as I haven’t read enough yet). There was one particular point which is really interesting and I’ll write about in another post because it’d be handy to get some minds together on it, but for now, the point is I passed!
Walking into my department on the day of my annual progress review I texted my partner with my sudden realisation that if things didn’t go well it could be the last time I walked into the department as a student. But it went as well as could be imagined for a pretty stressful life event, and I passed, and I am super grateful that my reviewers had some faith in me. Having the review behind me has been both settling and energising: I had felt somewhat like it was hanging over me, and getting it out of the way has meant that now I feel able to move forwards with my work and that I am trying to go back to doing some extra-curriculars – exercising, going for coffee with pals, ocassionally being still without the feeling that there is revision to be done and I am so excited for the next phase of my work.
Watch this space!
Guilty is a feeling I feel a lot of the time. Sometimes guilty for specific things (like getting a funded PhD when there are lots of people out there who are cleverer and better placed to do it, or hopelessly killing plants with wild abandon because I forget to water them) and sometimes as a more generalised feeling that I am not doing all the things that I should be doing.
Ethical dilemmas are part and parcel of a PhD. I get it! But sometimes when I sit down and think about my PhD topic, I feel like mine really is fraught with a number of really complicated ethical dilemmas that are built into the fabric of the subject matter.
Suicidal thoughts and behaviours
I’ve finished my first annual progress review and sent it off into the abyss! So now I have time to have feelings again… Obviously the primary feeling is terror about the prospect of having an annual review meeting, but there is a little space for some other feelings too…
Note: this post is pretty much all introspection and reflection.
So last week I was trying to juggle things: I was writing up my proposed methods and methodologies, whilst also attending an awesome one and a half day conference, whilst also feeling poorly at the beginning of the week, which meant I did not have enough time for task number and resulted in quite a late night on Friday night, and not the fun kind! I got it finished and sent off on Friday at about 3 minutes to midnight: win!
So this week I have been trying think and read about methods and methodologies, and as per usual when I start a new mini lit review I am confused.
Currently I am working with two research questions:
1. Why do LGBT+ young people have heightened rates of suicidal thoughts and behaviours when compared to their cisgender, heterosexual peers?
2. Does social connectedness, isolation, and broadly a sense of community influence those suicidal thoughts and behaviours, and if so how?
And a kind of whispered third question which goes something like this:
3. What kind of prevention and/or intervention work might help?
I’m wrestling with a question right now:
what is the difference between personal connections and a community?
And the answer is:
I don’t know!
Every four weeks I write a mini literature review for my supervisors, they read through it, give me some written feedback, and then we discuss it. It’s been really helpful for getting me to write and research in the way expected in public health (which I had no clue about). Mostly the mini lit reviews have been about me working out what topic I want to focus on, coming to common understandings of topics with my supervisors, and finding away to justify my focus and my definitions. But I am really excited at the moment because I am getting to focus on theory and methods, and starting to think about what I am going to do for my field work.