Our NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow, Benjamin Perry, is focused on both trying to better understand and intervene in the seemingly inherent cardiometabolic risk attached to psychotic disorder. He also an honorary SpR Psychiatry at Cambridge and Peterborough Foundation NHS Trust.
My alarm is set for 6 am each morning, but whether I’m lucky enough to sleep long enough to hear it much depends on the will of our four-month-old daughter, Nina. Either way, at some point between 4-6 am, we’ll be woken by either the mobile phone alarm or the baby human alarm. This morning it’s the latter, at 5.30 am, and so it’s action stations. Michelle, my wife, gets Nina ready for the day while I take Pascal, our rescue greyhound, for his morning walk.
We adopted Pascal six years ago from the Greyhound Trust. He won’t mind me telling you that he wasn’t a very good racer – he was retired early after competing in two races and coming last twice. He’s certainly landed on his feet in his retirement, though he spends most of his time off them!
I really enjoy our morning walks together, particularly now it’s lighter, and the birds are in full morning song. It’s a great way to clear my head and run through my plans for the day.
Once I get back, I sit down for breakfast with Michelle and Nina. Nina isn’t weaning yet, but we’ve got her some baby-friendly cutlery so she can start to get used to the idea of food.
Usually, after that, I’d get ready to leave for the Herchel Smith Building, but given current world events, my commute is significantly shorter – a short walk upstairs to my make-shift office.
I spend a few hours preparing for a morning supervision meeting with my PhD supervisor, Professor Golam Khandaker. I see supervision as one of the most valuable parts of my PhD, and I’ve really learned a lot from it. I’m now in the third year, so our meetings have recently focused on my thesis. Today is no different!
After supervision, it’s time for a coffee break. I go to see what Michelle and Nina are up to, and, as usual, I return with a nursery rhyme stuck in my head!
I spend the rest of the day working on my thesis, applying the final touches to the discussion section. To break the day up a bit, I schedule a half-hour in the mid-afternoon to start sketching some post-PhD research plans. I enjoy doing this – it focuses me and puts fire in my belly to keep going!
Afterwards, I spend a bit of time checking on and watering my chilli plants, which will soon be ready to go outdoors. Each year I grow numerous different varieties you wouldn’t find in the shops, turning them into powders, pastes, pickles, fermented sauces, jams… You name it! This year I’m most excited about the Chilaca – a Mexican variety and a key constituent of an authentic Mole sauce. I can’t wait to try a homemade version later this summer!
Once the day is done, I tend to feel out of balance, with a tired mind but a restless body from being sat down all day. So, on go my running shoes for an hour through the countryside and even a forest carpeted in bluebells. I’ve never, ever returned from a run feeling worse than when I left, and I find running such a great meditative exercise.
Once I’m back, it’s time for Nina’s bath. Today I’m in charge of bath/bedtime, and Michelle takes care of dinner, and we usually take turns. Once Nina has settled to sleep, we eat dinner and spend the evening watching Line of Duty. We were extremely late to catch on and are working our way through the early seasons. I still have no idea who/what “H” is yet!
By 9:30 pm, as usual, we’re both shattered and it’s time for bed. I’m always amazed thinking back to my early 20’s when I’d just be getting ready to go out partying at this time… Still, anyone with a baby-human alarm clock will know that it can go off at any time, so sleep becomes the coveted priority!