Thank you so much for all of your kind and supportive words. I wish you all of the best as you start your PhD journey. It is so many things but I guess I would describe it as being a bit like boot camp for the military. It has its moments of feeling like it is going to be too much, but once you make it through, you are a stronger person for it. The feeling of triumph when your dissertation committee says your dissertation is approved and you are a PhD is indescribable.
I absolutely advise to hook up with a mentor as soon as possible. But vet the person well and don’t be afraid to move on to someone else if your mentor is not supportive enough of your work. A lot of academics have no qualms about running down grad students until they drop out. I learned that the hard way. I was lucky to get rescued by another mentor before I gave up.
Your fellow students will help you survive as much as your mentor, of course. It can feel like a team effort much of the time. You are all up at 3 am in the computer lab, because it would be too lonely to work at home. Yes, you get less done because you chat from time to time, but you need that social support.
My brother and sister were teens when I went to graduate school. Unfortunately, they were both behaviorally and emotionally disturbed at the time, too. My sister attempted suicide and went into inpatient treatment. My brother’s ADHD was disruptive enough to his classes that his teachers were calling me in for conferences at an age where he should have been well past such behaviors. Thankfully, a supportive mentor helped me through all this, too.
I am happy to offer any supportive words you might need going forward. Just ask :-)