In theory, the postdoc could have avoided some of her current commitments. But she doesn’t want to add to her suffering by blaming herself. So she imagines she is part of an alien race, and another (evil) alien race called THE FIELD has captured her and taken her away from her loved ones. THE FIELD is constantly moving her from one location to another. In each new location, they extract from her things she knows (and in equal measure things she doesn’t know), up to exhaustion. They tell her that if she complies, she may be allowed one day to stop the back and forth, and be called an Elder. She still doesn’t understand whether she’ll see her family again.
In theory, the postdoc could have said no a little more often and avoided some of her current commitments. In practice, things are not so clear.