Reflections

So I am preparing to return to university on 01/04 following a 10 month leave of absence. The last 10 months have been a real roller coaster. Over the summer I was more poorly with my mental health than I have ever been before and I attempted to take my own life. I felt so hollow and empty and didn’t know who I was anymore. Depression had robbed me of everything I loved and everything that made me me.I had this vision in my mind of who I used to be, who I wanted to be again, but it seemed so far out of my reach.

A long slog of medication, well being classes, slimming world, values based CBT has finally got me feeling well again and better than I can ever remember feeling before. I have so much energy and am being so productive, though am terrified of falling down again and returning to where I have come from.

I am excited about my research and university again in a way that I didn’t think I’ve ever feel. I wake up on my study days looking forward to hitting the books and have even applied for voluntary redundancy at work to enable me to focus more on my studies and hopefully move towards getting some teaching experience too. – I find out about VR next Tuesday so fingers crossed!

I am even more involved in my activism then I have been for a long time. Spent International Women’s Day at the city museum with friends and am going out tomorrow to a ‘Women’s Work’ gig organised by a good friend. I have also decided to return to LSFN on Monday. I have been talking things over with a friend who goes and is taking over as co-ordinator and there are now plans to create a safe space policy which will hopefully address my (and others’) concerns around LSFN’s attitude to trans and non binary fol and sex workers.In addition I have started the early planning stages of an event for Jan 2017 around feminism and self care as a political act.

Yesterday I set out to write an abstract for a paper I am proposing to give at a conference on feminist activism at CWS in May. The paper is called ‘Rebel Girl: Activism, Identity and Me’ and is about my experience of growing up as an activist, feeling that activism is part of my identity and the relationship between my activism and mental health. I had intended just to write the abstract – about 300 words, as the CFP deadline is 14/03 and I’ve a) never written a conference paper and b) never written anything reflexive/autobiographical. I actually ended up writing the whole paper!!

It was quite an emotional experience, I wrote about my time in Oxford, my realisation that my anxiety issues had been present since adolescence and my struggle with depression over the past few years. Getting it all out on paper was so incredibly cathartic and really helped me to cement my renewed  commitment to my academia and activism.

That said, I had weird, horrible and graphic dreams last night, so writing the paper obviously stirred some tings from my past & in my subconscious, but maybe that’s a good thing and part o the process of healing.

I’ve decided to include some reflexive writing in my thesis around the process/experience of doing a PhD with mental health problems but am currently not sure what this will look like. My supervisor has advised me to read the thesis of a former CWS student as she did something similar so it’s on my Kindle and ready to go!

I sent my supervisor the first draft of ‘Rebel Girl’ last night ad she replied almost instantly saying that it was ‘almost perfect’. I was so happy I couldn’t stop smiling all evening. Am wondering about getting it published – not sure it’s suitable as its not strictly ‘academic’ in the traditional sense and I also have no idea where to start. A booked in for a class with the RDT team on getting published so hopefully that might be helpful.

Pixie (my cat) is asleep on my legs, the sun is shining and I feel at peace and eager to crack on with some research!

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