It’s #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth and this year it’s taken on an extra level of significance. Not only has the global pandemic exacerbated underlying mental illness and made it more challenging to seek help in traditional means, but it has also strained the mental health of people without pre-existing mental health problems. From economic uncertainty, to social isolation, to worry about the wellbeing of loved ones, the coronavirus pandemic has LOTS of us struggling with mental health. And it’s nothing to be ashamed about. And you shouldn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed for seeking help. There are resources available, including a couple I will provide info on below. 

I really hope that all of you are staying as healthy and happy as possible, which I know is quite a job all to itself. As a PhD student with secured funding, I’m incredibly fortunate to be in a good position “real job”-wise, but being a “wet-lab” scientist (I do experiments “at the bench” in a lab as opposed to “dry lab” work on a computer) on lockdown has been really emotionally and mentally draining. The last few weeks have been especially “roller coaster-y” as I’ve never felt as useful yet as useless at the same time – useful because my coronavirus #scicomm has reached a large (global!) audience and (I hope) helped people in a small way. It’s also been great for connecting (virtually) with friends and family who are all on the other side of the country and whom I worry about constantly. I finally can talk their ears off about science that they’re actually interested in! 

I’ve been balancing this #scicomm work with work on my PhD research, which, since I can’t do the actual experiments I need to do, makes focusing on it too long quite a “downer.” But I’ve been working on preparing reports, presentations, etc. – so I’ve definitely been working – but I can never escape that constant feeling that I’m not doing enough. Yesterday I had a great thesis committee progress report meeting – my advisors are pleased with my progress – so I decided to try to push aside the guilt and treat myself to a day off. 

So today, instead of researching RNAi (see yesterday’s post for more ) I’m going to focus on doing some self-care “work” – which includes stress-relievers like jigsaw puzzles (Periodic Table!), LEGOs, socially-distanced + masked walks, and trying to catch up on all the new coronavirus research that’s coming out because I have some cool post ideas I hope you’ll like. 

Whether you are struggling with underlying mental health conditions or are finding yourself needing help for the first time, there is help available, much of it anonymous. The exact numbers to call will vary from country to country – and many states and even cities have confidential help lines set up. 

If you are in an emergency, call 911 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255) (the national suicide prevention lifeline)

You can also text the Crisis Text line (24/7) to get connected with a Crisis Counselor: text 741741 in the US & Canada, 85258 in the UK, or 086 1800 280 in Ireland. 

The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) has a HelpLine, 800-950-6264, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m., ET

And if you’re in New York state, like I am, you can call the New York Emotional Support Hotline: 1-844-863-9314 for free & confidential help. 

The pandemic has also led to a rise in domestic violence. If you need help with this, call the national domestic violence hotline 1-800-799-SAFE(7233)

Even if you don’t need professional help, it can still be incredibly beneficial to talk to friends, family, etc. Because, although it’s hard to talk about, you are not alone!

Sincerely wishing you all the best.


the bumbling biochemist

Now, more than ever, as we face an international (and biochemistry-related) crisis, I am incredibly grateful to be able to serve as Student Ambassador for the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB) that has helped me recruit translators and share the translated versions around the world. This post was just one in my series of weekly “Bri*fings from the Bench” which, for a while, have been “Bri*fings from the Bedroom…”

If you want to learn more about all sorts of things: #365DaysOfScience All (with topics listed) 👉  

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