I went to a friend's dissertation defense today and heard something really inspiring. In the introduction, his advisor said something about getting a PhD is a difficult quest, there will be times that one would feel helpless (totally agree), and if one can still treat people well coming out of this hardship, that is a heroic achievement in itself.
I feel these simple words are really words of wisdom. The reason that I found this interesting is because I just had a moment of self-reflection on this subject a while ago. While I have never refused to help a colleague upon request, my willingness of going out of my way to help others certainly depends on my perception of self-wellness. When things are going well, I'd go as far as insisting to help people who have no idea how much I can do for them. However, toward the end of my 4th year in graduate school I was very depressed about the way things are. There were even thoughts about giving up. Often I feel anger toward myself and many other things and had this feeling of total isolation. At that time I don't really feel anything that happens around me was really relevant. As a consequence, I guess I wasn't very helpful to other people at that time.
Fortunately things worked out well for me in the end. And when I finally got out of that terrible depression, I looked back and wonder how could I do better. Maybe if I can be kind to other people, I would be able to be kind to myself too.