Hate coming to "work", aka my PhD

posted
15-Sep-09, 13:46
edited about 9 seconds later
by babo9
Avatar for babo9
posted about 8 years ago
Hi,
I'm not even sure why I'm posting this, I don't think it'll make much of a difference, but its better than going back to work. I have no motivation to work, I hate reading papers and find it really boring, I'm about 6 months into my PhD but have only started to really feel like this recently, it also coincided with a change in my work, up until about a month ago I was doing mostly practical work and trying out ideas/new tools, I wouldn't say I loved that but I got through it with brief periods of depression. But now I have solved the problem I was working on, although it has changed dramatically as I'm assured happens in research... So basically at the moment I am just reading papers and thinking about its uses etc. and I have 0 motivation, I hate thrawling through papers and looking for stuff, I feel depressed about coming into my office, I often leave early, sometimes I get so bad I love when Friday comes around but start to feel bad half ways through saturday because I know I'm back to work Monday!
I have been reading this forum on and off over the last few months but never posted. I saw that one of the suggestions was take a break like a holiday etc. I have gone on holiday and since I came back I'm worse that ever, when I force myself to do some work I feel like I'm being crushed and so overwhelmed that I can't even concentrate...
I am seeing loads of people saying this is normal for a Phd but if it is, it's hardly a life I want for the next 3 years is it?
I feel helpless and all I do is think about quitting but if I did I have no idea what I would do...

I don't even know what to expect people to say to this post if anyone even replies but I just decided to write it, better than sitting here boiling up and feeling like I'm going to explode!
posted
15-Sep-09, 13:59
edited about 16 seconds later
Avatar for starshine
posted about 8 years ago
Hi,

I don't really have any advice for you, other than to say that this is exactly how I feel! And as you say, when you talk to other people they say this is perfectly normal for a PhD. I was talking to my boyfriend the other night about how much I'm not enjoying my PhD and whether I should quit, but deep down, I really don't want to quit. 3 years is a long time, but in the grand scheme of life, 3 years isn't that bad really. I keep thinking if I do quit, I'll always regret it. I also think back to this time last year having just finishing my Masters, and desperately wanting to find a PhD because it was all I'd ever wanted to do.
What I'm basically trying to say (in a waffly kind of way) is to think about why you wanted to do it in the first place. What did you love about your subject area? I think it's perfectly normal to not enjoy it all the time (well probably most of the time actually).
Obviously PhDs aren't for everybody, and it certainly isn't worth making yourself desperately unhappy for.
But I do know how you feel, totally x
posted
15-Sep-09, 14:21
by babo9
Avatar for babo9
posted about 8 years ago
Hi, thanks for the reply.
I think the reason I wanted to do it in the first place was I decided the only thing I could see myself doing in my area was teaching, so I decided I wanted to be a lecturer, I debated for some time whether or not I would pursue the PhD because I knew it would be a big commitment and wasn't sure if I would like it. Perhaps I choose to it for the wrong reasons, at the time everyone else was telling me it sounds great ( fully funded, payed to "be in college", no boss, make your own hours) and I didn't have any other options or plan and thought I def wasn't going to work in industry for the rest of my life. I thought I might of liked research too...or at least conviced myself I might. Now I'm totally regretting doing it in the first place, and I'm even beginning to think I'm in the wrong career , I just don't seem to have any passion for it!
I guess I should really have a chat with my supervisor about my feelings, think I'll wait another week or two before I decided to do that though, make sure I'm doing the right thing.
posted
15-Sep-09, 14:51
Avatar for DoWhatNow
posted about 8 years ago
I know how you feel too. A friend of mine told me that I would probably go through a "What the hell am I doing here? I want to leave" period but I didn't expect it to happen within the first nine months of my PhD. I agree that looking at what it was that made you want to do your research in the first place. Every so often I would read something, or chat about the subject with someone and I would get a flash of my original excitement for the subject. I am not going to tell you to think about whether a PhD is right for you as I found it very patronising when it was said to me (there was a gap of 6 years between my MA and starting my PhD, plenty of time to make sure it was the right thing for me - did they think I applied on a whim?!).

I have trouble with depression too, and since I've started my PhD here its been quite bad at times. Don't make my mistake of not getting help. I don't necessarily mean meds etc as that is a personal decision. I would strongly suggest that if you have welfare co-ordinator/student liaison within the department to have a word with them. Although my sup does know about my health probs and how they affect my work I feel more comfortable speaking to the co-ordinator as he can listen to my problems and then communicate them to dept, if I want to (this has been useful when it comes to departmental monitoring as the staff assessing the work won't necessarily know that your health is affecting your work). The advantage of them being dept lecturers is that they have an idea about your research area and could suggest a different way of approaching your PhD. I don't know what your area is but what I mean is if it's theory based perhaps practice based would suit you better.

I also get help from student support (I'm also dyslexic). They are good to talk to if you don't want deal with the dept directly. As the name suggests they are there to 'support' you, so it could be worth speaking to them.Actually, having re-read your post it sounds like its the nightmare trudge through the papers that made you feel like this. Student support will be well versed in alternative research approaches for students with dyslexic, Asperger's etc. Perhaps some of these methods may help you. It's amazing how breaking the tasks down into little bits can make it less stressful.

I have no idea if this is any help, but I hope you are able to speak to someone - don't deal with this on your own, and don't beat yourself up about it. I hope it works out for you.
posted
30-Jun-11, 16:04
edited about 23 seconds later
Avatar for Charlotte107
posted about 6 years ago
Hi,

I just wondered what you did in the end, as this post is a couple of years old now..? I ask because I'm in an almost identical situation now. I started a PhD six months ago, and to be quite honest, I just want out, as I really don't enjoy this way of life :( I'm bored, I hate the loneliness of it all, I no longer feel particularly interested in my topic, I have a very 'elusive' and unsupportive supervisor who is not able to advise me on anything technical relating to my research (which is where I would most need help), and I have no motivation which is so uncharacteristic of me! I think the complete lack of structure doesn't suit me at all.

I'm worried that I chose to do this for the wrong reasons - a good grant came up at a good university, and with jobs being tricky to come by at the moment, I applied. When I got it, it just seemed like I'd be silly to turn it down. I feel a bit silly now, as several people (some of whom had done PhD's) warned me how I might feel about it. But at the time, I felt quite positive and was just putting those concerns to the back of my mind I guess.

And further, I know what I want to do after my PhD (train as a clinical psychologist), and although a PhD can be a good way of getting a place on clinical training course, it's definitely not the only route, and not really the best (varied practical experience is probably considered better preparation).

I don't know what to do. I'm terrified of speaking to my supervisor about this - pretty certain it won't go down well. I saw his reaction when an undergraduate placement student backed out of a placement they hadn't even started and it wasn't pretty! I've thought of applying for other jobs, and seeing whether I get anywhere - i.e. find a better alternative before I jeopardise anything here. But then there's the problem of references, which would mean I have to tell my supervisor...

I know that everything I've written here is very one sided - it's just because this is how I feel. There are plus-sides to a PhD degree, and I'm aware of that, and I think they speak for themselves. However, I'm not convinced that they are that relevant to me right now - as I most certainly don't want to work in research (given this experience), or for a big corporation that might 'appreciate' the research and project management skills etc blah blah blah I have learnt.

Any advice would be appreciated...

posted
30-Jun-11, 17:09
edited about 18 seconds later
by Doodles 3 star member
Avatar for Doodles
posted about 6 years ago
Hi Charlotte,

It sounds like you're pretty certain you don't want an academic career so I don't think it's worth trying to do your PhD which is tough enough even if it's what you really want to do. If you don't have much interest in it, it's not really worth the hassle and stress. In the current climate I'd suggest trying to get a job first before you tell your supervisor so that you've something to fall back on. You don't have to let your supervisor know until you've got it as you can put on application forms "referee cannot be contacted until after interview" so I would think they would only contact him/her if you were successful. I'd be honest and tell your supervisor that you don't think research is for you and you want to do something else which is more suited to your skills. They should understand as not everybody is suited to doing it and it is a very lonely isolating experience so you have to be passionate about what you do as that takes over your mind, body and soul!!! If your project is part of a larger project they should be able to get another student to finish it. Good luck with everything. (up)
posted
01-Jul-11, 01:07
edited about 23 seconds later
by jonnyt
Avatar for jonnyt
posted about 6 years ago
I am also in year 1 of my phd and left a reasonably well paid job to do it. To be honest doing the phd has been tedious, boring and solitary and I have found anything to do but what I am supposed to do. A career in this area no longer appeals to me in various ways and I would advise you tondo what is best for you and don't worry about letting people down eg supervisors etc - ultimately they aren't that concerned about you.

I have decided to leave my phd and feel much better in myself now. The most important thing is to be happy and enjoy what you do. Though ideally stay in funded phd and collect grant until you get something else lined up but this is difficult as it's so difficult to do any work on it, but even for a while just do little and search for jobs. Keep me posted on how you get on and message me if you want more information.

posted
01-Jul-11, 09:02
edited about 26 seconds later
by babo9
Avatar for babo9
posted about 6 years ago
Hi Charlotte!

Eventually I got the courage to tell my supervisor that I didn't like the PhD and asked if I could do a masters instead. He was grand about it actually, said he had noticed I wasn't as motivated as others in the past so I don't think it was a surprise! Apparently a large number of ppl drop down to masters from PhD's, someone told me as much as 50%!

Anyway, I had planned on doing the masters by the end of my first year, unfortunately things didn't work out that way and it took me til the end of the 2nd year. But my supervisor was very meticulous and would only let something be produced if it was top top top quality, felt like I was writing a PhD dissertation by the end :p

I still didn't enjoy the work, but at least I knew it was ending! Towards the end I was working 12 hours most days to finish the write up, it was tough but I finally finished it! I'm now working in a normal 9-5 job and it's great, you really appreciate 9-5 after 6 months of 12 hour days :)

In retrospect I'd have to say I'm glad I stuck it out and got the masters, I can say I've done it now. However, if I knew it would have taken an additional 1.5 years from when I dropped down from PhD, then I'm not so sure I would have continued!

I think the other thing that changed for me when I was feeling bad about the PhD was my general attitude. At the time I hated the PhD, but I had no idea what I'd do if I quit, it was really getting to me and I didn't even know what I wanted as a career! After a while I realized that I was trying too hard to plan my life and just decided I'd do the Masters, get a job and in the mean time figure out what I really wanted to do! Life's to short to be stressing about the long term future, just focus on now for a while :) As it turns out I actually like the job I'm in for now!

Good luck with your situation.

[quote]Quote From Charlotte107:

Hi,

I just wondered what you did in the end, as this post is a couple of years old now..? I ask because I'm in an almost identical situation now. I started a PhD six months ago, and to be quite honest, I just want out, as I really don't enjoy this way of life :( I'm bored, I hate the loneliness of it all, I no longer feel particularly interested in my topic, I have a very 'elusive' and unsupportive supervisor who is not able to advise me on anything technical relating to my research (which is where I would most need help), and I have no motivation which is so uncharacteristic of me! I think the complete lack of structure doesn't suit me at all.

I'm worried that I chose to do this for the wrong reasons - a good grant came up at a good university, and with jobs being tricky to come by at the moment, I applied. When I got it, it just seemed like I'd be silly to turn it down. I feel a bit silly now, as several people (some of whom had done PhD's) warned me how I might feel about it. But at the time, I felt quite positive and was just putting those concerns to the back of my mind I guess.

And further, I know what I want to do after my PhD (train as a clinical psychologist), and although a PhD can be a good way of getting a place on clinical training course, it's definitely not the only route, and not really the best (varied practical experience is probably considered better preparation).

I don't know what to do. I'm terrified of speaking to my supervisor about this - pretty certain it won't go down well. I saw his reaction when an undergraduate placement student backed out of a placement they hadn't even started and it wasn't pretty! I've thought of applying for other jobs, and seeing whether I get anywhere - i.e. find a better alternative before I jeopardise anything here. But then there's the problem of references, which would mean I have to tell my supervisor...

I know that everything I've written here is very one sided - it's just becaus
posted
20-Apr-17, 09:57
edited about 22 seconds later
by snee8
Avatar for snee8
posted about 2 months ago
wow you have an office? I'm jealous! my dying PhD program doesnt give graduate students luxury stuff like that, we barely even have courses or access to the laboratory, anyone have any advice about how hard it is to transfer to another school after one year in a PhD program thats basically dead, how fast can it be done? I mean they wont even be admitting anymore PhD students at my current school in the upcoming year, I have to get out of here....
posted
21-Apr-17, 09:14
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 months ago
It does get better! If deep down you don't want to quit then I suspect this is just a phase and you will end up enjoying it later in the journey. I hated much of my first year but then things improved.

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