I remember that a few years ago a colleague from my research group presented a paper about the mental health crisis in graduate students. By that time I was in the middle of my master’s degree and I didn’t feel like I was in that state to suffer stress and anxiety because of my studies or my job. Now I can say that this phenomenon is currently taking place in my life as a PhD student. I have anxiety, stress and a lot of tension in my body, in particular in my cervicals and my back.
I started my PhD working in this very challenging project in which I always have faced different frustrating and exhausting problems along the whole process of research. I was feeling anxious and stressed whenever I accepted participants that I shouldn’t have, I made errors in the code of the MATLAB script to create the experimental protocol or to analyze the data, I had a blocking phase with the black page when I had to start writing the paper, I had to re-do over and over different exploratory analysis and reality checks, I had the re-check and re-write thousand times the paper… I got such saturated of all of these that really got into my mental health.
After summer, I left the project aside and I could tell that I recovered my motivation to do science by starting another project, retake again the willing to write here, and teach at the university, among other things. I learnt a lot of things from my first project that really helped me not to do the same mistake again with this second project, and I got released of the saturation that I had.
However, two/three weeks ago I had again the paper of the first project again on my desk and with it a heavy mental health crisis. I had severe cervical and back pain together with painful headaches and low-energy levels. I feel the block that I have with the paper/project in my body, in particular in my cervicals and back. It’s exhausting and frustrating. I feel stuck one more time. Surprisingly, we are at the very end of the road and we just want to submit the paper to a journal. I “just” have to check the whole paper that it’s already written and re-do some figures to make them nicer. But I cannot make any movement. I feel blocked, and the more blocked I feel the more back pain I have. I just want to scape and don’t look back.
Feature image from Pexels – CC0.