My mom and her three young kids fled their country out of fear to be murdered by their government. We lived in refugee camps for five years before we finally were allowed to stay in the Netherlands.
I developed anxiety on a very young age, which I still suffer from. Growing up in the years after, I had three different (illegal) jobs while I was still in high-school. We needed that extra money. during my entire bachelor’s and first year of my masters, I was working part time on a permanent contract in hospitality business. We still needed that extra money.
During those times, a severe depression was added to the list of my mental health disorders. I finished my studies without any delay. I don’t know how I did it but I know I won’t be able to do it again. It was a terrible time.
In university, I’ve heard so many times that I wouldn’t make it, I’ve never failed for a course but my teacher told me I should focus on myself instead of aiming for career that I probably will never get. No one really understood that my goal was the only reason I was still standing. It still causes me anxiety when my superiors tell me to work on a plan B.
I still don’t know why everyone keeps telling me to give up on my goal and I actually don’t want to know. I keep going, with all my mental health issues, to become a clinical chemist one day.
Call me delusional, but the first big steps are already made. I’m a 3rd year PhD-student going through another challenge that affects my mental health, a toxic supervisor that is now under investigation by an external part because of the many complaints the department has got. My supervisor also has a big affect on my mental health but I need to be strong and go through this. I have a goal, and that goal is the light at the end of the tunnel for me.
During my time at university, my mom got diagnosed with cancer. That contributed to the depression. She passed away 2 months ago.
I am so sorry you are going through this, about your mom, and not having support from your supervisor. I also suffer from depression and anxiety, and completing my PhD was very tough, specially because my supervisor was also toxic… but you know what? Like you, I focused on my goal, I graduated and got my PhD. So I made it. And you too can do it, despite your mental health issues. Now I am a postdoctoral researcher in another lab, and despite I still struggle with my mental health issues, my postdoc supervisor is very kind and supportive and understands whenever I need time to take care of myself. I just want you to know this: it is possible to be a scientist and have mental health issues. We have the right to a career in science, to follow our passion and finish our goals. There are good people in academia that are compassionate and understands that we are only human, like my current supervisor. So keep going, don’t give up. I will be cheering for you from wherever I am. If you allow me to give you an advice: get professional help for your mental health issues. I did and my life has improved so much since. Psychotherapy is a life-changer, totally worth it.
With love and support,