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PhD anxiety, low self esteem and inadequacy - HELP

Hi applepie, I think you are experiencing what is called imposter/impostor syndrome which is very normal in academia even for experienced researchers.

I would advice you try not to worry too much. You have the passion for academia and deserve to be there. Everyone started that way and no one expects you to know everything. Take things a day at a time giving your best each day and leaving the rest to God.

You may read Dale Carnegie's book "How to stop worrying and start living" for insights to help with the anxiety.

You really need to be free and let go of these anxieties in order to live a truly happy life. If you need a break, take it and go elsewhere for reflection. Life is more than academia and outside the university there is a whole lot of life so try to enjoy the university keeping in view it's just one facet of your life. if you can't enjoy it then maybe it's time to consider a less 'intimidating' and more 'fun' career.

I hope this helps. You will be fine okay? :)

Paralyzed by choice

Hi I would advise you choose happiness over what looks good for CV or to others. It's your life afterall. If you really think it would be depressing to stay another 2years in a fancy position then it would not be worth it. Academia is hard enough on its own so there is need to be in an environment you feel is right for your happiness. Whatever you choose, keep being positive. Try not to overthink. Make a decision and cultivate enthusiasm to see you through. You'll be fine okay? :)

Is your supervisor killing your self esteem?

Hi Shatha, sorry about the difficult time you are having with your supervisor. As someone who experienced bullying and harrassment during my PhD I would not advice anyone I know to tolerate it.

It is totally wrong. He is abusing his authority and he knows it. A supervisor among other things should be a mentor, and not a bully. Either you get out of that toxicity as soon as you can or you distance yourself from it. First off, know it has nothing to do with you. Bullies project their own insecurities and seeing you lose your confidence only fuels their narcissism. Please be strong and know that you will gain your confidence back.

Have you tried confronting him about it? If you haven't, try to do so and see if it will subside. Also record the conversation subtly and have some evidence against him. Otherwise you talk to a senior person in your school or a counsellor and see if they can intervene. Part of the PhD process is learning how to look out for yourself, and speak up, and speak boldly, defending yourself.

Finally I think 8years is too long to be in this toxic situation. I spent two years of my PhD being harassed by my supervisor unfortunately and it drove me crazy. I now realise it was my low self esteem that kept it going that long. I didn't realise I had other options of either changing supervisor or reporting him. Worst case I could have quit the PhD. It is really not worth it if it is eroding your confidence. Please fight for your happiness. No one should have that power over you.

You will be fine eventually but please seek urgent help and take action now. He has no power over you. There is a whole lot of life out there outside academia and we all need to know and see that. I wish you the best and hope everything goes well for you.

Lack of motivation to research or search for positions post PhD. How to address this feeling?

I understand that feeling. I've been there before. Perhaps you want to look inwards and check if there are any stressors wearing you down emotionally. For me it was largely lethargy and depression arising from a bad supervisor and later when my dad passed. I learnt to deal with my supervisor and mourned my dad though the pain sometimes still surfaces.

After my viva voce, I took a one-year break (I called it a mental break) during which I reconnected with myself, grew close to family, volunteered, gained more self confidence, published my remaining manuscripts and did a lot of public engagement in my church while also applying for jobs and deciding what I wanted.

The break was tough financially as no money was coming in but it was absolutely healthy and necessary for my sanity. I would have loved to start work elsewhere but my applications didn't scale through. Now I am back at my university as a lecturer, a year and five months after my defense. I feel much more energetic and ready to conquer the world. My plan is to run my own race, not compete with anyone, try not to let the work load stress me and hopefully impact lives positively through teaching and research.

So I'll advice you to take the postdoc opportunity and ignore the negative voices. Also explore the idea of an extended break to rejuvenate yourself and think about what you really want to do. Stay positive. A day at a time. You'll be fine. Best wishes.


Hi just reading this and my heart went out to you there. Very good advice have been given to you. I hope you made use of them.

You sound like a people pleaser if I can be blunt. You are trying to please everyone at the detriment of your mental health. Doing a PhD has enough impact on one's mental health let alone adding more to that, it will be overkill. I really think you need to prioritize your health and stop biting off more than you can chew.

Honestly without you that conference WILL hold, trust me, so delegate, be firm and make your life easier. PhD shouldn't be so stressful, it's a long journey and should be enjoyed amid the hardwork and grind, rather than endured. Take breaks, relax, ease your mind, balance life, do something fun routinely, live. I hope you made the right choices. You'll be fine. Best wishes.

Dilemma about working in same department with supervisor who sexually harassed me during PhD!

Hi guys, it's been a while since I was last on this platform. Been busy finishing and earning my PhD. Yes I finally finished after years of toil hard work and sadly mental torture from my predatory supervisor. I am happy to say he didn't have his way with me but the emotional abuse ran deep.

So how did it end: I eventually got some courage and confided in my family members. I confronted him and also later reported him to my most senior supervisor, a female. She advised me to be firm but unfortunately no penalty or punishment was metted to the man. She didn't raise the case to authorities which perhaps protected me but said she will talk to him and caution him. I felt free and have been healing since.I stayed far from him even though he never apologized for the way he bullied me I have forgiven him. I realised I lacked self esteem and confidence which led me to endure Two torturous years of his abuse.

My current dilemma is if I should remain in the same department with him. I was offered a lecturing position in the department to start next year. I am grateful for the offer because there are no jobs in
my country and if I miss this job it would be hard to get another. I wish I didn't have to keep seeing him and working with him but I don't think it's wise to leave a good job because of someone. If anyone should leave, it should be him. I am a Dr. now and no longer a student he could bully. I plan to keep staying far from him and only interact with him if absolutely necessary. I observed he has been respecting himself and is now cordial with me as though nothing ever happened. I just feel like I will be living a lie if I join the department and have to work close to him again - a sexual predator and pretend like he is normal. Pls advise.

Done with PhD, now what?

Thanks Amuttaa. Best of luck with yours!

Done with PhD, now what?

Hi friends,
I wanted to give a quick update of my PhD. After years of peaks and troughs, I have defended before the board of postgrad school and I'm officially a doc. Though I'm awaiting the viva voce but it's usually more ceremonial than the actual defense.

Anyway I wanted to use this medium to say special thanks to everyone who has been there for me especially when I was struggling with supervisor issues. I finally had the confidence to tell him off and felt much better. I realized I needed to take charge of my health and not let anyone manipulate me. I didn't have to tolerate the things I did but I'm happy I finally became emotionally mature. I still have struggles with letting go of past hurt but I am more excited about the future and hopefully getting a postdoc position abroad. I am at crossroads about whether I should take the lecturing job here but I don't particularly like the system here so I'll focus on the postdoc outside and hopefully get a job there too.

For those that have completed their PhD's, what path did you follow afterward?

Thanks and love to all.

My abusive supervisor has conflict of interest with my publication at the last minute. Help!

Quote From TreeofLife:
I don't think a change of title is a big deal and I don't see how this amounts to a conflict of interest. You could tell the other authors that you are thinking of changing the title to a more appropriate one and see what they think, then just ask the editor to change it.

Thanks for the suggestions but my point is I don't agree with their suggested title. They are correcting style not substance. I think the title is fine and depicts what the paper is about. Also, I have submitted DNA sequences to Genbank using that title. I know he is suggesting a change now to rattle me, so I would probably just ignore him on this or ask the other authors and see what they think.

My abusive supervisor has conflict of interest with my publication at the last minute. Help!

Dear all,

So I need your advice and perspective again. I am currently in a dilemma with one of my supervisors. I have posted before about how he abused me and how I have been coping with the situation. I am now in my last year of the PhD, close to finishing and have been working directly with my female supervisor now instead of the male one and basically only communicate with him on work related matters via email mostly.

My latest worry is that I have been working on a publication, there are many authors including those I did most of the work with abroad. The paper has gone through revision and I am awaiting their decision. But lo and behold this supervisor decided at this last minute to say he is not okay with the title of the paper, that I should change it to something he suggested and write a letter to the editor before it is published. He got backing from my female supervisor so it is like out of 7 authors only two now have a conflict of interest.

My concern is he had all the time in the world to make his input but he didn't until now knowing fully well that it is close to publication. If I go ahead and attempt changing the title, it would hint at a conflict of interest and the paper might be delayed or withdrawn which means starting afresh. On the other hand, if I decide to disobey him on this, he might either try to 'punish' me by affecting my progress with my thesis or escalate the matter to the editors and maybe have his name withdrawn from the paper.

Now I know the problem he is having with this paper is as a result of his personal conflict with me and not really because the title doesn't read well as he says. This is someone who subjected me to two years of sexual and emotional abuse before I broke free from his stranglehold and took charge of my life again. Obviously he is trying to frustrate me and is looking for every avenue to thwart or delay my progress.

The bottom line I am confused about what to do here. The paper title cannot change right now, I think it's too late for that and I am fine with it but if a co-author is in disagreement then there is a problem. I also don't want to discourage my overseas professor who worked with me painstakingly and guided me throughout the paper writing process.

It is quite clear that I made a huge mistake slogging through this program without reporting him early. I thought it was best to manage through the program before reporting him. To think they want to retain me in the department after the program and I would have to keep working with him, makes me cringe.

Please advise!!

Advice needed on way to go with my supervisor who has/had romantic interest in me!!!

Thanks for the advice guys but it wasn't exactly easy to just change supervisors because there weren't other professors working in my field of interest and i felt i had gone far with my work. I'll talk to someone about it and seek support/advice. Thanks. And yes he has other students but they are married though i wouldn't put it past him.

Advice needed on way to go with my supervisor who has/had romantic interest in me!!!

No i am sure he is not on leave. He is doing it on purpose to spite me. That's most likely the explanation. Thanks

Advice needed on way to go with my supervisor who has/had romantic interest in me!!!

Now my worry is i will soon return home and since he is no longer picking my calls or even asking how my research is progressing, i don't know how the situation will be when i get back. i know it will be pretty awkward and i worry he won't want to supervise me any more which i will even be grateful about. It's just that he has really helped me in my programme in terms of getting opportunities like this stay abroad and some funding so it might not be easy to do without his supervision.

Anyway i just wanted to ask for advise about what way to go. I have other committee members but he is the main advisor, so i don't know if i should start dealing with them directly instead but of course they will ask me if i have passed it to him. Now i want to turn in some of my thesis chapters, but since he isn't replying my email, i wonder if he would acknowledge my email let alone read my work. I don't know if i should send it to my other advisors. The worst part is if i report him i don't have any evidence except my word and he may lie against me.

It has not been easy dealing with the silent treatment but if that's what it takes to set things right, i'm willing to deal with that. I wish i could change schools but i really want to finish and get out of that environment. I don't intend to apologise to him again and i'm sure that will cause problems. I have gone far otherwise i will dump the entire program because i am not getting good supervisor support. I really don't know what the future holds and perhaps i should start applying to other schools it's just i like to deal with problems rather than run.

Sorry for the long read. Please help!!!!

Advice needed on way to go with my supervisor who has/had romantic interest in me!!!

Hi guys, so it's me again with the supervisor issues i shared sometime last year. I am now in my penultimate year of my PhD programme and so far I have been managing my sup well as far as i could.

I have been patient and putting him off, even telling him i have a boyfriend just to keep things at bay and he actually seemed to back off but the emotional manipulation continued. He would accuse me of the slightest thing and complain about everything i did. For example, last Easter i was so busy i didn't wish people happy Easter. After the holiday when he saw me, he accused me of having poor relationship skills, that i didn't wish him Happy Easter, I was one of the few people on his social media and i didn't send a message. I started apologising again and that was settled. Now i travelled abroad and have gained more exposure and know better now that he is just being a bully and would do anything to torment me because he didn't have his way with me.

So in order to really put up professional barriers as much as I could, i deleted him from all my social media that he was on and decided to use emails or phone calls to communicate. But it appears he is now 'keeping malice' with me because for the last 4 weeks, he has refused to pick my calls or return them, he has also not replied the email i sent weeks back. Now i know he must have noticed i blocked him off social media and he must be angry but shouldn't he get over it. I mean it's my right to select who i want on my social media and i don't regret deleting him because i just have had enough of his BS. I am no longer a child and I am done with the emotional abuse. It's not healthy. Now I look back and i'm grateful i didn't fall victim to sexual abuse by him. He is indeed wicked and shouldn't be in that system but i am just waiting till i finish. I have confided in my mum who has encouraged me to be strong and is proud of me.



Hi Satchi just going through your blog posts, nice pieces. thanks for your post on my post the other day, very helpful advice you'all gave, i appreciate. anyway just dropped by here to say hi.