Please Welcome… Dr Nessie Monster! aka Post-Viva Feelings

Hello my dears, how are you?

I am exhausted but relieved. I passed my viva, emerging with minor corrections, so you may now address me as Dr Nessie Monster!


I slept for 11 hours straight last night and feel somewhat more human today, although I am yet to get out of my pajamas and red fluffy dressing-gown.

I can’t believe the viva is over and went so smoothly. It was difficult at first and there was a bit of scrabbling for answers to the more general questions at the beginning but once we got into the specifics of my text and experiments, it was fine. The first thing they did was congratulate me on producing one of the best written theses they’d read in years, that was also clearly structured, which is high praise from such experienced examiners. Their biggest criticism was a lack of illustrative diagrams for the signalling pathways and cross-talk mechanisms, and that, as with many students, I hadn’t spent enough time in “fantasy land” in the Discussion Chapter. I could have been far more explicit and specific about what I would do next if I had all the money, resources and time in the world, and if I had the opportunity to start over, what I would do differently. However, as I was able to talk about that at length in the viva, it wasn’t a major stumbling block. Continue reading


How Christianity Damaged my Sexuality, Part 1: Sexual Assault

This post is further to a post from a while back about a dream about church. I’d had some songs by Delirious? rattling round my brain for weeks so I decided to listen to the tracks again and see what that did for me. It had the anticipated effect of removing those songs from my brain but it had some un-anticipated effects as well. This is a personal post about how Christianity fucked up my sexuality and is part one of two.

It describes various sexual assults and victim blaming thoughts. Content Note for everything after the cut. Please take care of yourself.

In listening to those songs and recalling how I felt when I listened to them as teen, and in paying actual attention to the lyrics, subtext and implications, feelings were aroused. Anger mainly. Fury and Rage. Pain and Regret. And finally, Heartbreak. Sorrow for my teenage self and disgust for the adults who had care of said teenager. Continue reading

100th Post! Dealing with Overwhelming Feelings

So! This is my 100th post! I was intending to do that fun post with pictures of ships and boats and other exploits but that will have to wait. I haven’t even rescued the photos off my camera yet.

Also, and more importantly, I need to blog about feelings right now. I’m feeling quite overwhelmed.

*deep breath*

The Introduction Chapter of a Thesis is a big deal. It sets the tone and the scene for the everything that follows, and without a good Introduction, your examiners will question everything else much more critically. A poor Introduction will make them doubt you, while a good one will put them in a better mood for reading the rest of your weighty tome. It has to explain the background and context, and describe why you chose to do this particular work. It sets out your hypotheses and gives them a guide for what’s to follow. It positions you as an academic within a particular field, and if you are crossing fields (as I am), it has to cover each of those fields in enough depth for you to make your case. The Introduction also has to be clear and concise, whereas I am a wordy mofo in general. I will have to pick and choose carefully to ensure what I include is relevant, while also not leaving out some key detail they need to follow my train of thought.

I’ve been looking over my Introduction – the one I wrote in Second Year – these last few days, and oh dear God, it is a disaster. Or that’s what my brain’s telling me. It’s following up that thought with: There is so much to do! You’ll never get it all done in time! You don’t even know half the things you need to know in enough depth to be able to talk about in the Viva! Your referencing was TERRIBLE! Where are the original sources? These are all mostly review articles! It reads like a list! God, I thought you had more to work from! Continue reading

Favourite Female Artists Friday – Halestorm

I’m aiming to stick to a fortnightly fun feature called Favourite Female Artists Friday (FFAF). It’s pretty self-explanatory, don’t you think? My sole aim is to share my list of musicians and authors whose work has meant a lot to me. It just so happens that they are also all of the female persuasion.

So without further ado, first up is Lzzy Hale of Halestorm. I had the pleasure to see her band perform live about a month ago and they put on an amazing show. Lzzy’s voice is absolutely killer and her lyrics are interesting to say the least. Oh and in some cases NSFW if you have people around who pay attention to the lyrics. They do an excellent line in euphemism and double entredre so don’t say I didn’t warn you!

My favourite song is “Rock Show” because it captures the joy of being in the audience and finally getting the sense of being where you’re meant to be. It also has some brilliant guitar riffs. When they performed it, Lzzy dedicated it to all the young female musicians in the audience and told them to go for it.

Continue reading

“Let It Go” – Frozen

I finally got around to watching Frozen and yep, I think it’s as good as everyone said! “Let It Go” moved me to tears. There’s so much in the lyrics that resonate with me and ugh, all the feelings.

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see.
Be the good girl you always have to be.
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know.

I’ve spent all my years feeling this. Inside, I feel like a mess but the external façade has always been of the perfect good girl. My terror is that the mask will slip and those ever-present them will see.

Can’t hold it back any more.
Let it go, let it go!
Turn away and slam the door.
I don’t care what they’re going to say.
Let the storm rage on…

And the fears that once controlled me, can’t get to me at all
It’s time to see what I can do,
to test the limits and break through.
No right, no wrong, no rules for me.
I’m free!

But this? This freedom from fear and shame? Is where I want to be.

The shadow weight I carry whispers “you’re not good enough“. Without ever specifying what “good enough” even is. Except that it’s never how I am right now. There’s always more I could be, more I should be doing.

Elsa sings “I don’t care what they’re going to say”. If only it were true. I do care, so very much. I fear judgement and rejection and although no-one has ever said anything as harsh to me as the things I say to myself, they might and then what would I do?

Where do I want to be?

In a place where I am enough. Where I am okay, just as I am. Where, fundamentally, who I am inside is all right, is aceptable.

I want to be able to sing this love song to myself and to believe it.


Where even the darkest parts of me hold no shame for me any more so that I can rise, courageous, like the break of dawn and say:

That perfect girl is gone
Here I stand, in the light of day.

Authorship and Voice

In writing the first chapter of my Thesis I decided it would be a good idea to read a few books about how to write a good thesis. A lot of the books cover only the basics – IMRAD structure, how to produce informative clear graphs, how to do a literature review etc. Now I could improve in all these things but none of them were new concepts. Apart from one new idea in one book, “Surviving Your Dissertation” (2nd Ed. Rudeston and Newton) which concerned authorship, Voice and their importance to the writing process.

So what are they and why are they important?

Authorship is the confident ownership of your written words. Voice meanwhile is Continue reading

Blogging to End Mental Health Discrimination

Damn, almost missed this:



Today was a day to take time to talk about mental health. So here goes. I’ve been depressed twice in my life so far, each time for about 6 months. Neither of those times did I realise how bad it had become and it was only after I got better that I was able to look back and see the depression for what it was. I only realised I had been having suicidal thoughts (TW!) after a period of time had gone by without them. I expect it may happen again in the future but I hope that I will be able to spot it earlier and get diagnosed and treated. I hope that next time those close to me will notice when my health is taking a nose-dive and more importantly – will say something about it.

I’ve also been so chronically stressed I had to take two months off work. I’m still recovering from that and trying to build better habits so that I can lessen my chances of it happening again. Given that I’m in the end game of my PhD, this is not going to be easy.

The stigma surrounding mental health prevented me getting help when I was depressed because I was convinced I “wasn’t that nuts” and that I “was stronger than that”. I was too embarrassed to seek counselling the first time round. The second time round, it helped a lot but it wasn’t enough on its own. When I was off sick with stress, it was something I couldn’t talk about with everyone because I was afraid that it might colour their opinion of me, especially those at work.

These are just some of the reasons why mental health discrimination sucks.

What’s your story?

Family Boundaries. How not to do them.

I wrote the following on a Captain Awkward thread about supporting parents who are separated/going through difficulties/actually divorced while maintaining your own boundaries. It was at the forefront of my mind at the time because Christmas was coming up and I knew it was going to be awkward. In fact, I had a difficult moment in a mindfulness session when, in paying attention to how my body was feeling, my heart welled up. I was most definitely NOT looking forward to Christmas. At all. I was outright dreading it. Yay holidays! </sarcasm>

Onwards then to what I wrote before Christmas, and after that, what actually happened when I was at home and how I feel about the whole thing.

My parents are trying to work out a divorce settlement after being separated for three years. They’re arguing about the value of the house. The difference in valuations is about twenty grand. That is a lot of money here in England. It’s more than I earn in a year for starters. It’s worse because Mum is keeping the house by buying Dad out with the help of her mother, and as he was the one that left her, she’s expecting recompense. I, obviously, want to smack their heads together and tell them to grow up but they aren’t going to do that any time soon. As it is, I’m in the situation of trying to maintain the boundary of You Do Not Chat Shit to Me about the Other Parent. I do not want to hear about their money troubles. I don’t want to know who they blame for the divorce dragging on (the other, obviously, clearly they’re not responsible at all and they’ve done what the other has asked!) But I also want to support them because I am sad that they are sad. It is HARD.

Also, since it is Christmas, Mum’s mother is coming to stay. Unfortunately she’s recovering from a serious fracture and is the most emotionally manipulative person I know. In other words, she’s going to be demanding. Continue reading