Today I submitted my PhD thesis. To mark it, I would like to share my acknowledgements section. From reading several theses, I got the feeling that this section tends to be an afterthought in most authors minds. Which is understandable. The process of writing one is brutal. Possibly the mental equivalent of the many who take on expeditions up mountains or across oceans each year. Since the acknowledgements are usually written at the end and are one of the few sections which aren't examined, the individual simply wants to finish. To me though, the acknowledgements were the most important part. It is the only section I am allowed to express how the process made me feel, and perhaps more importantly the influence others had on me...
Behind the words on the following pages is a story. It is one of desperation - to feel any semblance of peace, any freedom of thought; to recapture the mental gifts I once possessed. It is one of pain - the agonising wait for seconds to turn into minutes, days and months. It is one of frustration - at the whole situation, the culture of misunderstandings flying at you left, right and centre.
But most importantly it is also one of compassion. In the sanctuaries gluing the scientific community together, I have been met with kindness I did not think existed. The generosity from those within the physics and microscopy group throughout my time at Warwick. From the ear Reza lent me countless times on the bus ride home, the conversations over coffee with James and then Sam. From Susan and her determination to stand with me in my push for survival. Tom and his courageous actions without question. From the friends I have made in the physics social group, led passionately by the hard work of Will. The members of Mind aware and Korfball club. From Ali and Saede for their friendship and hospitality. The friendships I have made with James, Alex, Cantug, Mark, Liz, Rachel, Celia, Andy and Naomi. My sister for her continued love of life. My brother for his support from day one. My closest friend of all, Fynn.
When I was applying for PhDs, a piece of advice kept re-surfacing. The most important part of the PhD is the student-supervisor relationship. Oh my, were they correct. Over these tumultuous years Richard and I have definitely pushed each other's buttons. But in doing so we have grown together. His faith in my ability has been undeniable, especially during the dark days, when the vast majority would have immediately cast me aside. For that I cannot thank him enough. I can only hope this piece of work shows the extent of our fruitful partnership.
Every child needs their mother. If it were not for her love and seemingly boundless perseverance, for her fight when I could not, for her unselfishness and patience, I would not be here. Period. I do not think I will ever realise how lucky I am, that she never let me fall down inescapable paths. I am grateful to an extent I don't think she will ever fully realise. Every child needs their mother.
If I was granted one wish, it would be to see more of the compassion I have witnessed out in the open. In the daily workings of research life, the pubs and coffees. In meetings with professors and experts. In the pointless politics that surrounds a research career. In talks, reviews and papers.
I wish for compassion because, dear reader, we do not know the story behind the words.