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Support is Essential - Talk to Your Partner

Originally posted on PhD Balance social media platforms on 02/14/2020.

I started my PhD one year and 2 months ago, and my nerves are getting more and more tense since I started.

Picture of Jessi wearing a lab coat with a lab bench in the background

My whole family and friends always tell me that I’m doing great, but I don’t think they understand what a PhD is like. If I have a lot of work, I get told that I should just relax and stop, to start over the next day if this is too much.

I had some fights with my boyfriend who told me that he thinks my work is more important to me than him. Which was not true at all.

I was anxious at home since I knew I still had work to do, but I couldn’t work because my family and boyfriend would think I don’t want to be with them.

And I was anxious at work since I was thinking of my family and when I should leave to be home at the right time.

My work commute is about one hour by car, which is more expensive than the train but half an hour less per trip. Time is more important to me than money.

It was a tough year and I struggled with my work-life balance. My mental health suffered under all the pressure.

During the summer (when I had my first experiments), it got unbearable. I had many fights with my boyfriend and felt I wasn’t doing my job right. I decided to be honest and talk to him about my anxiety and that I felt I was falling into a depression under all the pressure.

We had a long talk and he finally understood (at least a bit more than before) that a PhD is not an 8-5 job where you can just leave when you want.

After my experiments, we made a break and had an amazing holiday in Los Angeles where he proposed to me. I started my first analysis afterwards.

Even though I still have 2 experimental phases in front of me, as well as organizing a wedding, I now feel more comfortable in achieving all this because I have a great support at my side! I also talked to my family and closest friend and they are more supportive now.

I’m very happy that I have those people around me, and I hope even though it will get harder over the next years we are strong enough to get through it.


We thank our author Jessi (@jessis_science on Ig) for sharing her story!

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