I am currently filling out a few PhD applications for computer science, and I have noticed a strong pattern in Statement of Purpose (SOP) guidelines that try to incentivise you to discuss your economic background, and how that shaped your life. To be clear, I am not against this, I understand how overcoming poverty can be a huge part of someone's identity.
I grew up in a third world country, where my family was below the poverty line for a few years during the recession. My family's financial situation has since improved tremendously after my father immigrated to another country for work.
However, I can't help but be overwhelmed with extreme sadness when I think of that period of my life. I go to a therapist every week and I haven'd even had the ability to talk about that period without having an emotional breakdown. There was simply too many stressful and pitiful memories during that period.
So I am left in a dilemma, should I discuss this in my SOP? I've really only discussed this with my long term girlfriend, and no one else knows about it. I feel it can provide a better "context" about my achievements, but to be frank, I believe my application is already competitive given my research and publication background without that context.