According to the World Health Organisation, disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. This is quite a hard sentence to digest with loads of jargon and technicalities. So, let me be a bit more clear! Impairments refer to the dysfunction of one or more parts of your body and also includes malformations. Activity limitations refer to the inability to carry out normal daily activities. Participation restrictions include all the conditions that prevent people from living life to the fullest. Often, we recognise disabilities as physical disabilities, for example, a person in a wheelchair or missing a limb, deafness or blindness. But, actually, you might be surprised to know that people affected by cancer, diabetes, HIV and even mental illness are included in this umbrella term. 
February was a busy month if you remember I started it with a to-do list. I had to deal with loads of stuff on top of my research. I organised an OutReach event, had loads of training on career development and CV writing, I went to the doctor a few times. I always promise myself to be less busy but I always find a way to do something. I started forgetting to get my medications, had headaches at work and decided to slow down and rest. I know very well all the signs that my body gives to me and forgetting to take meds is one of them. I made sure to sleep enough, up to 12 h a few consecutive nights and went for a one-day gateway to the spa.
As my public profile increases more and more, I get loads of question from people about my research, what’s my range of expertise and if I am a real scientist. I am a 4th year PhD student in Sustainable Chemistry. I started my PhD in 2015 and I will finish this year, hopefully! I am on a fully funded research project and I started my PhD with a master in Green Chemistry. I designed my initial research proposal and pitched to a panel of academics and industrial folks but it didn’t go very well, so I am working on totally different stuff now.
I have been a student for almost 10 years now, I have little savings, no money for my pension and I am almost 30yo and currently live on a student salary. Like many of us, we decide to do a PhD for passion not definitely with the ambition of becoming rich folks. Many of us suffer from chronic anxiety, tend to burn out easily and have little time to rest and put their wellbeing as a priority. There is always this misconception that self-care is expensive because the idea media and social media portray about self-care is a weekend in fancy and expensive resorts, hotels and spas. In my opinion, self-care is more about the little things that you do every day to feel better about yourself and release all the stress after a long day of work. How did I do that?
I decided to put together this blog article after a post I made an Instagram post talking about my recent struggle to accept my body. I gained a significant amount of weight over the last few months due to my poor mental health and this is badly affecting my mental health, self-esteem and confidence. I have been dealing with eating disorders as far as I remember and I got to be aware of this only recently. Eating is a way for me to ease my depression and to hide from people during social occasions (welcome social anxiety!) Coincidently, this comes close to the Eating Disorders Awareness Week which will run from the 25th of Feb until 3rd of March.
As part of my PhD programme, I have to take part in, at least, one OutReach event every year. We get paid to do that! How cool is it? Science communication is something I discovered during my PhD and I really recommend it to everyone who’s training to become a scientist. It really gives an additional value to any PhD. I am really super busy trying to get my stuff done in the lab, but I didn’t get to do any OutReach event signed in this year, so I decided to volunteer for the Festival of Science and Curiosity held in Nottingham Central Library on Feb the 16th.
Last year I applied for and successfully won a scholarship to attend the first IUPAC Postgraduate Summer School n Green Chemistry. (1) The event was held in Venice from the 11th to the 18th of July. It was an incredible experience that allowed me to learn more about sustainability, green innovation, monetise your scientific breakthrough and networking from people from everywhere in the world. In fact, I was pleasingly surprised to see so much diversity, every continent was represented, and loads of loads of students with the common goal of changing and challenging the current state of things.
Today, I woke up and felt happy. This is a strange feeling as I spent most of my San Valentine’s days alone ruminating why everyone was off celebrating and I was home on my own. I guess all the meditation and several boxes of antidepressants are really helping in keeping my emotions under control. Considering the unusual and strange feeling I decided to dress up and come to lab this morning because you really don’t need a partner to celebrate love.
The LGBT month was instituted to increasing visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (“LGBT”) people in every layer of society. It’s a celebration of their history, lives and experiences. The aim is to raise awareness and advance education on matters affecting the LGBT community creating safe spaces for all LGBTQ+ communities. One wanted to promote the welfare of LGBTQ+ people, by ensuring that the education system recognises and enables LGBT+ people to achieve their full potential, so they contribute fully to society and lead fulfilled lives, thus benefiting society as a whole”. Source lgbthistorymonth.org.uk
Isabel Torres got her PhD in biology at the University of Cambridge and a postdoc at the MRC Laboratories of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. She has four kids and had her first pregnancy while doing her PhD. After her postdoc, she decided to leave academia to make her own things. Her transition from academia to industry wasn’t easy but she made it a wonderful career anyway. She works as a self-employed science editor and freelance science writer. You can find Isabel on Instagram and Twitter. She just launched her blog prettysmartscience.com to support women and especially mamas in science, make science more accessible and address the problem of fake news.