Blog Archive

Saturday, 28 January 2017

I've Come a Long Way, and I'm Only Getting Started

I'm 24. A PhD student, spending every day doing research I love, and in the evening I chat to friends, watch Netflix, skype my wonderful girlfriend Ciara, or go out for a walk on the seafront. Sounds pretty perfect, right? What could I have to feel down about?

Three years ago my mental health was deteriorating rapidly. I was about a month and a half froom being diagnosed with severe depression. But my situation then wasn't too different, on the face of things. Good friends, good course at uni, I was even a lot fitter and stronger, even winning trophies and stuff. So why was I in such a desperate situation back then?

The answer is that depression doesn't care. It doesn't matter how happy you 'should' be, or how great things seem on the surface, because depression doesn't care about the surface, or about rational evaluations of how good things seem. It is not sadness. sadness is a response to negative things happening. Depression makes everything in the world seem negative, twisting reality into a hideous dark version of itself where the idea that happiness could ever happen again seems impossible. And that is terrifying. A pit of despair with no light at the top or any visible way to climb out.

Anyway, the point of me saying all this, is that there is a way out. Not a quick one, or an easy one. My diagnosis was nearly three years ago, when it actually started is closer to ten years ago, and I'm still not 100% yet. But it can get better. Friends and family can help you find handholds in the wall of the pit. Medicine and counselling sheds light on the path and slows your fall. And my beautiful cat, who is sat on my knee right now, made the pit feel less lonely.

I'm nearly back to the surface now, and light is shining in. I can see the handholds for myself now, and my friends, family, Ciara, and Hollie the cat are waiting at the top encouraging me onwards. I'm nearly there, which makes me so proud.

One in four people experiences mental health difficulties in any given year. One in four. I am going to do everything I can to help those people. I went through a horrendous time. But if I can help others get through the same or similar things, then it will have been worth it.

Tomorrow I'm off to Oxford to the Student Minds Story Sessions training day for Press Ambassadors. I'm going to start on a new path, to using my experiences to promote awareness, fight stigma, and most importantly help other people who are going through their own mental health struggles. I'm scared, it's a big thing, but I honestly can't wait to get started.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

EXCITING NEWS! Well, it's not that exciting, don't get your hopes up, that's a bit clickbaity, sorry

Exciting news, you can now  Follow my blog with Bloglovin, if you're into that sort of thing :)

I only just really found out about it, if you have any suggestions of blogs to follow on there give me a shout!

Additional exciting news, I'm away this weekend at a workshop for training to talk to the press about Mental Health! I want to use my bad experiences to do some good for people. I'll write a proper post about it and pop it up on Saturday at the normal time. That's right! I'm going away for the weekend but have actually planned ahead and will still write a post! I'm in danger of becoming organised!

Thanks for reading this, I'll let you get back to your day! I hope it's lovely!

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

#MeetThePhD 4: Sam Rowe; Shining Light on Bacterial Chemical Production


The idea behind this is to showcase PhD students, give a bit of an idea of what’s going on out there in PhDland, and show to the world what PhD life is like! Perhaps they are thinking of doing a PhD themselves, or just generally want to know more about it. Or they’re already doing a PhD and want to see that they’re not alone in their struggles or successes!

While Friendly Bacteria is a vaguely microbiology-themed blog, for this series of mini-interviews I’m wanting any PhD student no matter the field! I think it will be a fun way to connect with other PhD students we wouldn’t normally be able to get to know, too.

If you’re a PhD student and want to get involved with this, leave a comment here, send me a DM on Twitter ( @friendlybugblog ) or shine the Bacteria-signal into the skies above Aberystwyth and I’ll send you the questions!

Previous ones are here:
Today we have Sam Rowe, using bacteria to tackle the fuel crisis in his PhD! Tweets to @samfrowe (or @friendlybugblog if you want me)

Monday, 23 January 2017

Like a Blog, But With Sound and My Face and Stuff

I take loads of pictures and videos, I love it. It also helps me remember the good times! Especially now when my memory isn't back to how it used to be. I also do some pretty awesome stuff; I'm very lucky to live in a beautiful place with lots of special things nearby. In the last six months I've played with Marmosets, traveled to Brazil to learn Science and see Coatis, and generally gone out and about having fun. The problem is that I've always taken more pictures and videos than I have time to edit into usable, viewable formats (hence over thirty gigabytes of pics and vids from Brazil being shown to the world as... like five instagram photos). So as I don't plan on stopping my fun adventures, and in fact have many more planned for the future, I'm going to force myself to spend more time organising them all. This is going to take the form of short vlogs every week! I've already started, because I don't tend to do things in a logical order, so here's what you've missed so far:

I'll try and be interesting and informative, and maybe even entertaining too! So if you like that sort of thing, and wish to see more of my lovely face, head on over to YouTube and have a look! 

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Step Into The Science Kitchen

I like analogies. They're great. I use the excuse that they make things easier to relate to and understand, but really it's because I find coming up with them really fun!

I love Community so much
My go-to analogy for the laboratory is that it's like a kitchen where you can't eat anything without getting horribly ill (like my parents' kitchen when mum's making cakes for people, #coeliaclife). I wanted to explore that today, with pictures from a real lab (my one) to help! Also because I don't have much time for the blog today and pictures each contribute 1000 words to the overall word count, or something like that.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

“Do Your Research”, Scientist Style

A while ago I wrote a post on how Science and Scientists use their own language (, how we have our own words, and how this puts up barriers to people going to events or reading up on things themselves. I’d like to add to that.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

2017; Withdrawal, Freedom, and a Bottle of Lilt

Happy New Year! Plus about a week, I've been ill and busy (starting 2017 the way most of 2016 went, then!). I hope you had a lovely winter break, Christmas, New Year, all the lovely times associated with trying to pretend it's not miserable outside.
What are your resolutions, aims or goals for 2017? I have one big one; one that I've been setting my sights on for years. One that I am determined to achieve, and that I'm going to be so proud when I have done so.

This year, I am going to drink a bottle of Lilt.

This isn't a sponsored post, I just love and miss Lilt