No participants.
Thursday, 12.08.2016 - 3:19 pm.

I might as well update today instead of Saturday. Things aren't going well and I need to vent. Take it with a grain of salt, that comment, because I'm only complaining about my academic life. But as Freud said (or someone said he said), when your tooth hurts, your whole self is in that tooth.

From the outside it sounds silly, but to me, it is unbearable: I don't have participants for my studies, and I find myself in a position that causes me severe anxiety and reduces me to tears: talking to strangers to ask them to participate, and, worse, getting rejected or simply no reply at all.

I'm running a study with people who identify as transgender. I only needed 45 people and, as it was an online study, I was confident I could get them. I have contacted over 20 LGBT/Trans groups and associations over the last two weeks. I only got seven participants; the survey software says it's 25, but the rest dropped halfway through the study.

I write to trans forums and Facebook pages to ask for permission to post the invitation/link to the study. I write university LGBT groups to ask them to help me circulate the invitation in their mailing lists or social media. No response, not even a no. I understand most of them would pass, "oh, yet another cis person asking me to do stuff, just to spin what I say and turn it into bullshit". But I was hoping someone, 45 someones at least, would give me a chance, to see this study is serious and it's about their own experiences (without touching triggering subjects such as violence, sexuality, or medical/surgical themes). It's a good study, if I say so myself. I've educated myself. I'm trying to help. And I'm failing at it.

Today I went to my Uni's LGBT+ Lounge and asked for permission to leave a leaflet there calling for participants. No one from the committee was there but those who were said it was probably ok if I left the leaflet there. I don't think it'll make any difference in terms of getting new participants. I e-mailed three committee members weeks ago and neither responded.

It's taken me all that time, two weeks, to build up the courage to go to the Lounge. On my way there today, I got that uncomfortable gurgling I get from my throat to my stomach when I'm about to face people in unfamiliar situations. Here I was, on my way to talk to strangers, and also I'm aware of my own privilege and I'm scared I'm asking too much and in the wrong way, I'm terrified of saying or doing something ignorant/inappropriate to this social group that has been cruelly oppressed by social groups that I belong to (here, for all matters and purposes, I'm heterosexual. And cis).

The encounter didn't go bad, as I was able to leave the leaflet and the kids in there didn't care much for my request. But I left the Lounge feeling disoriented and got lost in the Union building. I was on the verge of tears. Nothing is happening in my research. I am not hearing from anyone that is remotely involved in it, from participants to the finances people whom I asked about the procedure to pay participants and never got a reply.

I'm not hearing from anyone for my study with transgender individuals, let alone for my study with non-trans people. That one is not online and I need "regular people". Not uni students, because I wanted to move away from a WEIRD sample, fuck me for trying to do the right thing. I need nearly 170 people for this second study, for individual testing.

I am fucking hiring someone to do the recruitment for me. I am not mentally nor physically capable of standing on a street handing leaflets, nor going after people in libraries, and employment and community centres. I already feel like crying and I've already sunk so low in my mood that I'm home on a Thursday afternoon, instead of at my office getting work done. Just the task of going to the Lounge today drained my energy whole. I woke up this morning at 4 am and couldn't sleep again, and my shoulders were so tight they hurt.

It's not just the Lounge, really, it's not having participants at all! It's seeing my efforts be worth shit. It's these two weeks of not getting responses, of seeing how time is flying and I'm not making any progress. It's that I'm exhausting my contacts without getting any data out of it. I'm angry, I'm tired, I'm frustrated! I'm stuck!

A few weeks ago, I did not feel stressed with my PhD. I guess I've been used to things being all breezy in it. This is the very first time I am stressed. And desperate, and going mad. The anxiety has crept on suddenly. I'm not an anxious person. Except for this kind of situations. In this kind of situations, I just break down and curl up in my bed, and I hate myself, and I hate everything.

See, I can take charge of any stage of a research project. Except recruiting. Recruiting drains me, it makes me anxious, it makes me self-conscious (much more that I already am). It kills me. I have so many hopes for both my studies, I think they're well designed and could be useful. And it feels they're just not happening.

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