Learning to Accept Your Own Mental Illness by Lucy Arkinstall

For as long as I can remember I have always been a worrier; however, when I left the family home in the summer of 2012 to go to university, I do not think anybody (including myself) realised quite how difficult it would be. I suddenly went from being surrounded by a large support network whom I had shared all my worries with to being alone and bottling-up all my thoughts. This, alongside a doubt about whether I was good enough to be at university, led me to obsessively throw myself into my studies, an obsession which soon became out of control. Family members became increasingly concerned and eventually convinced me to reach out for help from the University Wellbeing Service.

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Surviving Isolation as a Grad Student by Nancy Yuan

It’s 5am, the sky still shrouded by darkness. I feel the cool, crisp air and smell the damp earth beneath my feet. A few cars pass by underneath the overpass. A block ahead, glowing in perpetual wakefulness, the building where I work stands calmly. I always trust its light to guide me through the last stretch of an otherwise dimly lit walk. Still, I carry pepper spray in hand. It’s unwise to assume that every shadow is harmless at this hour. 

I reach the building and put on a hand sewn mask that Ma had made for me. Ma and Ba live several states and two time zones away. It’s already past dawn there, and Ma must be preparing breakfast. I press the handicap door opener to avoid touching the door handle, walk into a spotless foyer littered with colorful ergonomic chairs. My shoes echo through the silent halls. Motion sensor lights pave the way to the elevators. I scan my badge to the fourth floor. Time to start another day working alone

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Mental Health and Irritable Bowel Syndrome by Aniqa Khaliq

I’ve been working in Higher Education as a lecturer for 13 years now, and have thoroughly enjoyed every part of my journey from class teacher, to senior lecturer and senior fellow of the HEA. My love of mathematics, and researching the effectiveness of how mathematics was being taught in secondary schools, made me question how much of an impact I could make as a classroom teacher or as a Head of Department, and so when the opportunity arose I decided to move into teacher education and training. 

I have suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS-D) for just over 10 years now, which is a condition that affects the digestive system, causing stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea (IBS-D) and constipation (IBS-C). Despite this being a lifelong condition there is no cure and the exact cause of IBS is still unknown (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs/). The two main triggers of IBS are food and stress, and for me the trigger was being trapped in a failing marriage with an abusive partner, and then moving abroad where things only became worse.

Nine months after the move abroad, I managed to return home, and thankfully had started working again as a university lecturer so found some solace in that. However, trying to keep my marriage from falling apart, and being in denial about the situation I had ended up in, took its toll on my health and my symptoms worsened. Foods had started to became triggers too, and I decided it was time to consult with my GP and find out what was going on, who immediately referred me to a specialist as my quality of life had deteriorated significantly.

As time went on I learnt what my trigger foods were, and managed to reduce the frequency of my IBS-D symptoms, I had separated and subsequently divorced by then too, and I finally felt in control of myself and my life again.

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Rediscovering Your Worth after Quitting Your PhD by Sophia Upshaw

Graduate school orientation feels like you’re a freshman (first year student) all over again. You look to both sides, gathered in an auditorium, realizing that you all are collectively about to embark on a particularly challenging journey: obtaining your Ph.D. You sign forms to receive tuition waivers and your monthly stipend, scramble to interview with faculty members and settle within a lab, and fight to reserve your spot in the most intriguing lecture courses. With fresh eyes, you view your graduate education as an opportunity to extend beyond the bounds of what’s already been published. 

With a bachelor’s degree in an engineering discipline I wasn’t quite fond of, and a few years of research experience on my belt, I hadn’t even considered pursuing a career in industry. Academia seemed to be the most obvious path to extend my learning capacity and switch to a new and intriguing field.

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