My seas became rough and my depression storm intensified during the first year of my DPhil. It takes courage to admit difficulty but I’m glad I sought help. Oxford University responded well and offered me a chance to go to their Student Counselling Service. I felt less alone in my difficulties by the fact Oxford would fund their own Counselling Service. Depression and other difficulties must be quite common amongst the students (and staff) at Oxford, as in the general population. It is nice Oxford recognise this and provide the resources, despite any difficulties, for you to be successful. There is no shame in seeking help!
I was apprehensive before my first session but the therapist I met there, Ruth, was reassuring and compassionate; she obviously cared and wanted to help. I learnt that counselling is a neutral place where you assess your automatic negative thoughts and patterns of behaviour; it is an act of overhearing yourself that enables more helpful thoughts to replace the depressive ones. Ruth introduced me to mindfulness and the philosophy of Heidegger. Together we built a solid foundation of understanding that has lasted to this day. Indeed, I have started to build upon these foundations with my equally brilliant, current therapist Angela.
I am very grateful to Ruth, the Counselling Service and Oxford for helping me to take the first steps to understand my depression and to finish my DPhil. I now sail, both internally and externally, in calmer seas.