Here is my story:
I am a 21 year-old, third (going into fourth) year undergraduate at the studying physics. It has been my dream since I was 13 to become a research scientist, however the route has been mottled. I grew up as the only daughter of a single parent suffering from alcoholism and an ensuing array of related medical conditions, for whom I was a carer. Those suffering from addictions oftentimes attract people with similar problems; sadly my mother fits into that bracket. Marrying one and dating others she gave her money to keep them happy and turned a blind eye to their treatment of myself. More than once we were on the verge of homelessness and more than once I have feared for her life. Her illness reached a peak when a week before my 17th birthday, in a confused and drunken rage I was thrown from our home. I was lucky enough to find housing, however there was no aftercare to deal with the psychological problems that often arise once the individual has been removed from the circumstances, resulting in my suffering from untreated depression and PTSD throughout my A levels. While my first year of university followed with little incident, during my second, multiple family deaths and a relapse on the part of my mother left me torn between family and home and more than ever suffering flashbacks to the past. My January exams were postponed until August while I was dealing with the family issues, however by the time August had come, my new housemate and then boyfriend had a breakdown as a result of depression for which he was arrested due to the events that took place and from which I have a facial scar. This brought back a lot from my past and worsened my PTSD and self-confidence. Further, it damaged my exam performance under a fortnight later, dramatically damaging my attainment, putting me at a disadvantage; my current percentage will be averaged with this one, making the pressure to achieve even higher, which with my current disposition has been neither ideal or helpful.
In an attempt to distract myself from the circumstances and in continuation of the work I had already started, I continued with casual voluntary research I had undertaken, my part-time job to pay my rent, alongside planning my own science festival in conjunction with ‘Pint of Science’, my work as a committee member for the institute of physics, work as a STEM ambassador, Physics in the Field Volunteers, Science Grrl (starting a new initiative for science in the university community), York physics outreach and with the Yorkshire Philosophical society (aside from during the revision and exam season fir the August exams). This work continued into this year, retaining my committee positions and heading up fundraising and publicity for Pint of Science York. I am extremely passionate about science, its perception by the public and the access disadvantaged children and mature students have to it. It is my hope this work will not only make a difference but show my passion to prospective PhD supervisors. To make a difference through my work in science would be incredible.
Due to the living circumstances being unbearable, I had to move house to temporary accommodation during term time and again to a permanent room, leaving me feeling uncertain, scared and alone. This left me with little money, resulting in the need to get a job; throughout term 1 with university and a job I was averaging 70 hours a week. I am lucky to have the friends I do, who helped me through more than I can say. Out of naïveté I allowed my old house mate to try and be my friend again, from which I have had a year of emotional abuse and manipulation, both from him and my friends in an attempt to protect me. Muddling my way through this year I managed to find the area of research I wanted to specialise in for my MPhys project and self-proposed both a summer project and MPhys project to fit what I wanted to specialise into.
However, with no family support and my only home being my university room, alongside my student loan not covering the summer, I would normally get a job. However now, with my counselling that I need more than I can say, full time research to make up for my academic achievement being on the low side from having so much time away from university to care for mum, my mother’s health and summer exams (I have been given resits as first attempts if needed) I couldn't see how it would be possible to do it all. I have now done these exams but in having had so much happening around me, including the recent suicide of my cousin, I do not even have the overdraft left for next month's rent; my next instalment of student loan will leave me with less than £25 a week to live on outside of rent now. While I have done casual work all summer, I am now genuinely concerned for my well-being and my ability to continue; and if I am not well, my mother will need additional support too. My issues from the events of this year have resulted in a return of my PTSD for which I need some help. I have been offered counselling and classes to aid in the control of my nerves which can making living particularly challenging. I have never been treated for anything that has happened and it is now truly taking its toll. Therefore any money to help manage living costs and therefore allow me to complete this research would be game changing for me. Were this to aid my PhD application I could achieve the job of my dreams and any financing would aid in allowing me to study sufficiently, while ensuring I did not have to worry about affording both food and rent; I have applied for grant money and heard nothing and I have little of value left to sell; this truly is a last resort.
Further to this all, I would be able to receive the help I have found hard to admit I need and still ensure the well-being of my mother; and to be able to live without my crushing anxiety, without flashbacks and without being near reduced to tears when I take my make-up off, no matter how small the scar is now and to have the strength to stand up for myself with a self-belief to fight past every hurt I have received would truly change my life. But for that I need to be centred and to fix my head and my degree while still being able to support my mother,without it causing me more emotional distress than I can at times handle. Any help would allow me to start to do this and would be appreciated more than I know how to express.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and for understanding my wish to stay anonymous.