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Adelaide9216

Accomodations Requests - COVID-19/anti-racism protests

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Posted (edited)

Hello everyone,

I feel affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the anti-racism protests that both disproportionally impacts black people. The pandemic also led me to spend three months, out of town, without seeing any friend or relative in person (I live alone). It wasn't bad a first, but it's starting to affect me. Everything that is happening also makes me recall a lot of racism I have faced as a black woman/teenager/girl throughout my entire life and that I have never really called out and felt able to call out until now. I've also experienced different forms of violence throughout my life due to the color of my skin, and it kinda resurfaces now.

I am strong, and I've always been able to cope and rely on myself because I realize I can't really rely on anyone because I am known for being strong and a leader. I feel like everyone is letting me down in moments where I most need support.

Plus, I was (finally) in a relationship in May after being single my entire life, it felt like everything was going alright but it ended after a month without me really knowing/understanding why. Once again. To be honest, I feel angry, bitter, disrespected, undervalued and tired. I can't focus. I feel like I'm a 50% of my usual productivity (and I'm known for being very organized and productive) but I have days where I just wake up and am not able to do anything. I can't do the dishes, do the laundry, do the groceries, or clean my appartement. I just feel overwhelmed although I am able to go out and take walks. I don't eat much and I don't eat as well as I should've because I'm too tired to cook. I have a research assistantship, and I literally am not able to commit to the hours I must work (I asked not to have a RA in the fall). 

I think I am going through a mild depression. I think mild because I've experienced a lot more severe depressive symptoms in my teenage years, so it's absolutely not comparable. But I don't feel at my best. I feel discouraged a little bit. I was in a very dark place in 2019 but it definetly got better in early 2020 to be honest, so I'm not at my lowest. But still. 

My thesis director told me multiple times that my health is my top priority, and that if I need accommodations for my comprehensive exam (an extra semester), it may be possible to ask for one. But I'm kinda ashamed to ask for that, I don't know why.

Has anyone here go through a process like this during COVID-19/anti-racism protest as a student of color and how was it? Was your university supportive? 

I feel like I am breathing through a straw (not literally, but you know what I mean). I'm tired. I can't breathe. 

 

PS : I have zero problems with my thesis director, I love my doctoral thesis topic and definetly feel I can rock my comprehensive exam, I've got straight A+ during my coursework (first year of PhD studies). I just need to breathe a little bit. I also want to mention that I had zero vacations between my master's degree and my phd program, so maybe I'm also feeling the effects of that as well.

Edited by Adelaide9216

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Posted (edited)
22 hours ago, Adelaide9216 said:

My thesis director told me multiple times that my health is my top priority, and that if I need accommodations for my comprehensive exam (an extra semester), it may be possible to ask for one. But I'm kinda ashamed to ask for that, I don't know why.

Why is your thesis director offering this guidance repeatedly?

What are the benefits and challenges of taking an extra semester to prepare for your exam?

What can you do to focus more on preparing for the exam and to put aside temporarily your other concerns?

Edited by Sigaba

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Just now, Sigaba said:

Why is your thesis director offering this guidance repeatedly?

What are the benefits and challenges of taking an extra semester to prepare for your exam?

What can you do to focus more on preparing for the exam and to put aside temporarily your other concerns?

1) Because I told him I was not feeling well.

2) There's no major consequences to be honest after speaking with him and to an upper-year PhD student. I am going to make the official request in September. 

3) I have re-worked my reading calendar and gave myself more breaks and free time. 

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9 minutes ago, Adelaide9216 said:

3) I have re-worked my reading calendar and gave myself more breaks and free time. 

Please do what you can to monitor yourself during your breaks and free time so that those intervals are truly free. 

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Have you considered checking out the counseling and psychological services offered at your school? Usually your university should have free individual therapy sessions you can attend (they will likely be given via telehealth due to COVID) as well as group therapy services, where the group is centered around a topic (I know my school had a group on race issues and another group on trauma, maybe yours does too?). It may be helpful, and I certainly benefitted from individual therapy at my school when I was going through some major stressors.

It may also help to get an official diagnosis and help with obtaining accomodations from your school's office of disabilities.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/7/2020 at 10:37 PM, dr. bubbles said:

Have you considered checking out the counseling and psychological services offered at your school? Usually your university should have free individual therapy sessions you can attend (they will likely be given via telehealth due to COVID) as well as group therapy services, where the group is centered around a topic (I know my school had a group on race issues and another group on trauma, maybe yours does too?). It may be helpful, and I certainly benefitted from individual therapy at my school when I was going through some major stressors.

It may also help to get an official diagnosis and help with obtaining accomodations from your school's office of disabilities.

I see a private therapist already and have been for multiple months. I don't have any disabilities that hinder me from doing my work and I would feel very fraudulent to use that because I'm very high functionning. I excel in school and work despite the mental health struggles I've had in my life. I never felt the need to ask for accomodations because I have never had any type of academic problems in my life, ever.

I just had a lot happening (a lot that I won't mention here), it's the first time in 10 years that I was not as productive as I used to be. Things have settle down now, I'm feeling much much better and happier and at peace. A lot of positive things have also happened since.

I am getting back to work in September because I am moving in 2 weeks. However, I was offered to do my comps with an extra semester which I will gladly take because I haven't been able to work this summer because there was just too much going on. My thesis director told me he has zero concerns in terms of my ability to do my exam and succeed at it. I just have to sit down and do it. But I've already drafted entirely and began writing the first question to the two I have for this exam. I've read a 25-30% of what I needed to read, and I need to re-do a calendar for the Fall and Winter term. It's truly a no big deal. I've looked at previous exams from advanced students and I don't feel worried at all about my ability to pass it.

Edited by Adelaide9216

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hello,

no practical advice here. just wanted to say--i feel you. please take care of you. despite the very real pain of what some of us are going through right now, this will also pass and we will have survived. as black people, the capacity to turn pain into joy is in our very dna, indeed what makes our current existence possible.

as i said, no words to satisfy a pragmatic need, just a small reminder.

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Posted (edited)

I'm very saddened to hear this story.  It's understandable that this time would be very difficult; if all of those things were occurring to me, I would also not be as productive as I would like and would be struggling emotionally.  It's not a problem with you -- it's a problem with our society.  

Do you have a Black mentor or an ally that you can talk with?  I've had to do a lot of personal reaching out with my Black students to help them through this, and some of them struggle with the same assumptions about being a burden or somehow feeling like they need to be "the Black student that has it all together" because they know that their reactions will be judged differently (unlike their white peers).  (BTW, one of my students had similar reactions after the George Floyd murder: couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, couldn't focus, was losing weight.)  It's not their responsibility to handle this on their own even though that's what they have learned throughout their entire life. 

I hope this encourages you to reach out for--and accept--help.   

Edited by RyanS

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Yes, I have Black university professors in my community that I am asking for advice. I have coffee with one of them next week.

On top of the emotional burden, I am overwhelmed by all kind of requests from well-meaning White people who want to become better allies. They all ask me to be part of their committee, for advice, to write articles, etc. All Black people I know who are in academia or are activists are dealing with this. It's very intense. 

I got an extra semester to complete my comprehensive exam. I think I will be okay.

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I just want to mention that I feel much much much better this Month. Other very positive things have happened in my life. 2020 has been a very intense year for both (positive and negative) but the positive is taking over).

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