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Thursday, 8 November 2018 at 12:45pm
Thursday, 8 November 2018 at 12:45pm
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Thread: Thoughts of a PhD student at his wit's end

08-Nov-18, 12:51
edited about 3 seconds later
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posted about 9 months ago
Hello everyone,

I am about to enter my 3rd year of a well-funded, "prestigious" PhD programme in life sciences. On paper the project is going reasonably OK, could be better but not a disaster. I like the city and am in a great relationship.

Over the past two years I have struggled almost on a daily basis: my suitability for lab work, my place in research, and my overall mental wellbeing.

This time last year (heading into year 2), having reached almost breaking point, I reluctantly started a course of anti-depressants for about 9 months. During this time I was forced to take a leave of absence for about 3 weeks in the hopes that I could recharge and find out if I was to continue.

Today I sit in my kitchen, not for the first time, unable to face going into the lab. Unfortunately, bouts of severe low mood are becoming increasingly frequent again. Some of the thoughts that have been entering my head can be terrifying. My life-long passion for sports has dwindled and I'm finding it difficult to get enjoyment from exercise, instead I am reverting to smoking and drinking.

I'm wondering how I got here. I like science and was initially attracted to medicine, but I was never fully comfortable in the lab environment. Being honest, my reasoning for doing a PhD was not purely research-based, but perhaps more career-orientated. The old adage rings true "getting into a PhD is far easier than finishing one".

All at the same time I feel stupid for feeling like this, like a failure for not grabbing life by the bullhorns and pushing through.

I'm afraid if I leave the PhD I will eventually feel the same in another environment. Sometimes I have the feeling that I am not cut out for life.

Is this pain and hurt a necessary evil in the pursuit of a PhD title? Am I just not approaching it the right way?

Will 2 more years of struggle be worth it?
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