‘Well done for standing up to the bullies by speaking out about it!

Their ignorance and lack of empathy towards you is astounding. I would particularly think that women in Academia would have more understanding of the pressures and challenges that come with pursuing academic study, as women often meet prejudice and are without any support or understanding for eventually balancing the demands of family and academia.

The only explanation I have is that they themselves had to experience what you experienced (not for depression, but for falling pregnant for example…) and the fact they are now doing the same thing is probably also the reason why they are part of the ‘club’.

To be accepted by ‘the club’ one must fully submit to it and rocking the boat, challenging and questioning practices (a sure sign for independent thinking I thought is the whole point of academia and a PhD candidate)- appear to be the worst thing anyone in close proximity to the ‘club’ could possibly commit.

As someone speaking from own experiences with bullying- trust your understanding of the situation. It is the toughest thing when so many around you are trying to make out you are the problem- while it is them who have a problem.

Be patient and show them your compassion, again often so hard to do but even if it is through gritted teeth it is disarming to any bully. For people to bully someone they often have their own insecurities and target their anxiety at the individual that is confident and comfortable with themselves. For them to feel better they think they have to destroy your confidence so you blend into the mediocrity like the rest. Anything that makes you different in their mind is a ‘weakness’ they feel they have to exploit to make them feel better about themselves- as in reality you being ‘different’ makes them question themselves and scares them if it challenges the understanding they have of themselves.

It doesn’t even require in my mind for another human being to fully understand a condition such as depression medically- we all have the ability to be perceptive about others well being around us and the reaction of ‘kicking someone while he/ she is down’ instead of making the time to listen and to look out for one another is a failing in any human being.

You haven’t done anything wrong, and that makes you very powerful. Keep this in your mind and be prepared for a long drawn out process where they will throw everything at you to make you look like the impossible problem…all to knock you down and keep you silent. If you get knocked down, get up again, trust your understanding. Keep telling people what is happening. What do you have to loose? They are the ones who are under the pressure of keeping this covered for once it get’s questioned outside the ‘inner circle’ they have everything to loose. Intimidation to silence people is the mechanism of discrimination and a fertile ground for manipulation, bullying and further intimidation.

They will ‘trip up’, probably even turning on each other (these people are very quick to throw their ‘friends’, accomplices under the ‘first bus that comes along’…) such elaborate attempts to cover up and silence so many people (it might feel you are the only target but I am sure there are a lot of others around you who feel exactly the same treatment and isolation) requires a lot of time and energy (and what a waste it is!). The lies become too big for their own good and once the cracks have started there won’t be anything left to cover them up again…

You are strong and compassionate, everything they are not’