Research can be a dark place

In the last few days I’ve seen the pressure that self-directed study and research can put people under. One was someone just a few weeks from submitting their thesis,  the other had just embarked on their PhD. Both just seemed completely overwhelmed by it all. They were in a very dark place.

It made me think what sort of consolation and comfort could I offer? It’s easy to say, just get on with it and write. I said that to one of these people a couple of months ago. It might have been the right answer, however when you are down at the bottom feeling depressed such comments were perceived as a kick in the guts. So what else could I do or say?

On reflection, I think it’s just about being supportive and providing encouragement. It’s not possible to know if they have done enough work, answered their research question or even asked the right question, even if you think you do know. It’s  important to stress that there is no value looking back as this just wastes valuable time and energy, rather encourage them to look forward. Maybe cooking them a meal or even doing their ironing could be a genuine help. Above all else,  just check-in and see if they are OK.

Research can be such a luxurious place if you have the time but when you don’t it or you for some reason lose your perspective it’s just plain horrible!

Footnote: I wrote this post a few weeks ago as a reflection.  It seemed also appropriate for today’s 

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