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.
Meditation and mindfulness are buzzwords nowadays. Be in the moment, stay in the moment, be present, wasn’t I present enough before? As far as I remember, I have been suffering from depression. It didn’t start with my PhD. Graduate school made it worst. At the end of my second year, summer 2017, I reached one of my lowest points. I failed my annual review exam, I was breaking up from a difficult and toxic relationship, I had to move out of my old house and move to another lab. The situation was really bad and I was seriously thinking of dropping out of the programme. Despite the anxiety, I was wise enough to reach out to the counselling service at the University and took a break to visit my family in Italy.
Bookmark science available to purchase from my Etsy shop click here
I woke up this morning with a to-do list as my first thought. Since I started this PhD, I feel that I am always behind everything. This is not the person I used to be. I used to be punctual, finishing tasks well before the deadlines etc. As I was getting busier and busier and couldn’t manage things anymore, my time management skills needed to step up. I am better at making plans now and, honestly, writing down stuff really helps in keeping track.
Plastic is becoming a global threat. This is not because of the material itself but its inappropriate use. I am not writing this post to demonise plastic. It’s an incredible material, robust, hygienic, resistant and easy to handle. Researchers are struggling to find alternative materials with similar properties. Unfortunately, plastic isn’t biodegradable and will persist in the environment forever. Much worse is that its degradation consists in the formation of tiny pieces of plastic, known as microplastics, which are a far more dangerous threat to the environment. In fact, due to their tiny dimensions, it’s really hard to remove them from water. So marine animals eat them with deadly consequences to their survival. (1, 2)
Crocheted brain wall decor available to purchase from my Etsy Shop, check here.
Over Christmas, I went back to Italy to see my family. It had the best time ever as I was finally anxious and depression free. Months of therapy, meds and permanent changes towards healthy habits really made the difference. Some negative thoughts are still there but I am doing much better at dealing with it. I took this time to tell my parents, in sciency words, a bit more about the neuroscience of anxiety and depression. I apologise if there is some inconsistency, my background is in chemistry.