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Disability Narratives

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Interview excerpt: Stella describes some of the benefits she found from extending her social support networks.


Image representing Stella

So yeah, I mean, I used to play [sport] back home. And kind of had to give it up to finish my PhD. And then I moved, and I didn't start in a new team. And it's like 'oh, I quite enjoyed that'. So one of the reasons I like [sport] is it's good to sort of - It's obviously good to play sport.

Exercise is - Well yeah, I suppose, yeah - yeah, no, that's what the doctor said. "Exercise is good for, for depression." So I think when you have some sort of organised thing, it makes you more likely to go. So knowing that, you know, I go to training, to like you know - that's good for you, you get a bit of physical exercise. And it's good to train with other people, because that's a kind of social aspect as well. And again, you meet other people, you don't know who you're going to meet. And also as, as women as well, it's - it's good to socialise with other women, and to play sport with other women. You know, that's kind of an empowering experience, and all these sorts of things.

I had this realisation that with moving about, and being on temporary contracts, you can feel very like you're passing through. And then I think knowing that I was going to stay here for, for three years - even though that's not permanent, that's a long time. And it's like okay, I can't - this is my life, and I've got to make it as good a life as I can. I can't hold off my - yeah. I can't hold off my life for this mystical period when I'm going to have a permanent job. Like I can't - Like what if that never happens, and I'm just like [laugh] single, and no friends, and no hobbies, but I've got a publication list, like that's fine? So it's sort of like there's more to life than work. And I've got to actively make this a home, or as homely as possibly.

[Also] I think over summer it feels like the university almost shuts down, and just everyone - you know - buggers off. So, yeah. I mean, even maybe over summer if there's just some sort of social thing. I mean, one of the things I do like, and that I wish I'd known about earlier - so it's the OxRSS, it's like Oxford Research Staff Society. And they're quite good. So it's mostly - quite a lot of scientists, but people who've come as researchers, postdocs, and who don't really have a college affiliation. But just sort of so research staff aren't quite so isolated. And I'd say it's a mixed, mixed group of sort of some older and some younger. But I mean, that - that does help. You know? It's one of those things - you know - it depends who goes. But you know, they do sort of daytrips, and wine tastings, and dinners, and stuff like that. And that's - that's quite nice, just to sort of get out of your - you know - get out your faculty even, and just sort of meet other people. 

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