Final thoughts on blogging

Today, sadly, is my final day as the SGSAH blogger. It has been an absolutely rollercoaster past 6 months, but I wouldn’t have picked a better time to have the blogging role in my life as I now have a paper trail of my progress over that time, as well as the proof I can still press on with things when the going gets tough.

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I started this blog with a few goals, some of which I accomplished, some I tested, and some which didn’t work out for one reason or another. I aspired to add a multimedia element to the blog, something which I experimented with through my video posted here on World Mental Health day. The challenges of using multimedia in WordPress and the usefulness of a video versus a blog post for people all pointed to it being more hassle than it was worth, so I did not continue down that road. Another post that I really enjoyed but for logistical reasons had difficulty repeating was the collaborative interview-style piece on Developing Groups or Associations during the PhD. In this piece, I was able to hear from other PhD students and recent graduates about their experience creating or running groups and associations during their degrees. I loved getting the different viewpoints and advice from fellow PhD-ers and I personally learned so much from the advice they had.

Some of the blogs I am most proud of during my time are the ones I had a hard time writing because the topics were so personal, and I was afraid it would show I was weak or dramatic or unable to hack it here in the land of book stacks and imposter syndrome. In particular, my posts on Taking a Break During the PhD, Asking for Help, and Doing What Makes You Happy, really put me on edge when they first posted. I was willingly exposing my vulnerabilities in the hopes someone else would not feel as alone as I did at times, or realise that it was okay to feel these things, and if I could get past it, hopefully they could too.

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In addition to exposing my academic vulnerabilities, I became extremely candid with my health. I thank the bravery I’ve seen from my peers about their own health struggles on Twitter, and their own blogs (in particular posts on PhD Women Scotland) for the courage to do so myself. My Invisible Illness and the PhD blog was one of the hardest bits of writing I’ve ever done, but it’s because I wanted to get it right- for myself and for every other invisible illness/chronic illness sufferer who doesn’t feel they have a ‘right’ to be upset and complain because their symptoms are not as apparent to the outside world.

With all the challenges of the past 6 months- my husband living and working abroad, taking a suspension of studies from my PhD, hospitalisations and surgery for my Endometriosis, general ‘life’ challenges…there have been a number of amazing things going on as well. I adore my cat I got not long before beginning my blogging post, I got married, my first published piece of writing came out, I received funding to go on my research trip to New Zealand, I was accepted to a summer school in Finland…

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It is easy to block out the good with the bad when the bad seems so overwhelming and impossible to deal with. However, just like when writing your thesis and you his a bit of a wall, you need to set it aside and keep pushing forward elsewhere. Some issues you can address head-on, usually with the help of your supervisors or peers (so ask!), but some issues will take more time to get through, but it doesn’t mean you should stop progressing entirely. It has taken me some time to learn this, and listen to my own advice. Even now I struggle to jump back into daily writing or even reading my own writing- sometimes it makes me feel ill. From the experience I’ve had this past year though, I recognise that sometimes, Life Happens, and you just need to keep moving forward.

Now it’s time for me to keep moving forward in my life without the SGSAH blog. Although I will always be an avid reader and supporter of the blog, it is time for it to pass into the very capable hands of your new SGSAH blogger, Elizabeth Marshall! I am thankful for the growth the blog has allowed me, and the invaluable experience of working for the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities as an international self-funded student. There are so few opportunities for those in our position to gain some real work experience during our PhD because of visa restrictions or just monetary reasons, but SGSAH has done an incredible thing for us by making this opportunity available to us, as well as the AHRC-funded or UK/EU-resident students. I hope to continue blogging in the future, but for now you can still find me on Twitter or contact me by email at b.leysen.1@research.gla.ac.uk. I encourage anyone even slightly interested in this post to guest blog for us…you might find you’ll be hooked!

We are always seeking new guest bloggers! If you have an idea for a blog post or would like to informally discuss writing for the SGSAH blog please get in touch with Brittnee via email atb.leysen.1@research.gla.ac.uk or connect with the blog on Twitter

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