Engstrom S (2018) PhD: Pivotal Heart Development. In: Black A & Garvis S (eds.) Women Activating Agency in Academia: Metaphors, Manifestos and Memoir. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 157-163. https://www.routledge.com/Women-Activating-Agency-in-Academia-Metaphors-Manifestos-and-Memoir/Black-Garvis/p/book/9781138551138
When I set out to take on a PhD, I knew it would be hard and that there would be a lot of unexpected learning throughout the process. What I did not expect however, was that the process of completing my PhD would be a healing journey. Previous to my PhD there had been some significant events in my life centred on loss, grief that had not only affected my mental health, but my physical health as well as I developed an eating disorder to cope. Add a chronic illness diagnosis and it was a time where I truly had to focus inward in order to keep my head above water. This chapter will describe how the journey of the PhD was a grounding and healing experience for me. How in order to complete my PhD I had to go through a process of becoming and unbecoming, moving from one phase to another, transforming from one self to another, a truer version of myself. How going through this, far away from family, actually allowed for more reflective time and focus with my own thoughts and allowed me to find my own voice again. As an early academic, this process is still in motion, what is certain though, is that my PhD was a turning point on my journey.