A Word Of Encouragement To Those Discouraged


I figured I would share a bit of my story, being I am moving toward the end of my dissertation, though it still seems far away.

To begin with, I started my PhD almost 5 years ago, and it has been rough from the start. You see, I have bipolar disorder, which means I have my ups and downs, which can be triggered by stress, which we get plenty of in a PhD program, along with an addiction that crept up on me. I had to take time off on a few occasions due to my episodes and addiction, which left me unable to do much of anything.

Following that, I failed the first section of my first comprehensive exam, but I passed the second portion of my exam with flying colors, which saved me from sudden PhD death!!

From there, I proceeded to my thesis which has been not been smooth sailing; slow data collection, lack of cooperation from research sites and from my advisory committee, which has delayed my progress significantly. Then, alas, another bipolar episode and more time off.

On several occasions I considered walking away, but I persevered, which I think was due to my stubbornness and probably lack of common sense.

Despite the fact, that I face a weak job market upon completion, I do not regret undertaking this feat. It has tested me on many levels, but I have also learned so much about my self.

That being said, for those of you currently struggling, you can pull this off!! You have made it this far and can make it the entire way. Believe in yourself, and consider this a long and winding journey, that not many individuals will have the privilege of undertaking. Things will work out in the end, no matter which career and life paths you choose.

Avatar for UsySharif


It was a pleasure reading your post. I like yourself am in a similar position. Started my PhD in 2010 and looking to finish by the end if the year ( god willing). I have to admit it has been a slog with many ups and downs but I guess this is the nature of a PhD .

I am under a lot of stress and everyone around me can sense this. To be honest until I receive my PhD pass I will never be in peace and I will continue to stress until I have reached my goal.

I recommend fighting the uphil battle and continue to reach for the brass ring. Nothing comes easy in life.


Good stuff, it's great to hear some short accounts of against adversity type situations. Keep them coming everyone, it's a massive boast to people like me that are battling onwards. Thanks for sharing.


I started a funded PhD in October 2010. I developed depression in during my 3rd year which severely affected my work and my life. All the other students who received the same funding as me received a 6 month extension. I was told I hadn't made enough progress so would not receive a funding extension.

So, I started job hunting. I was really lucky that, within the same department, a Teaching Fellow post came up, initially for 18months at 50% time. I applied for the job and got it. Fantastic!

I started the job in September 2013, straight after my funding ended. Working part time and doing my PhD full time made my depression worse. I ended up taking a Leave of Absence from my PhD in February 2014 for 9 months. I continued to do my teaching job throughout, because although I suffer from severe depression it seems to be unaffected by the teaching aspect.

I am now back working on my PhD in earnest and am hoping to submit by the end of June, or perhaps with a slight extension to my 4 years of registration which I should receive due to said period of extreme depression.

This morning I was interviewed for, and offered, a full time Teaching Fellow post in a different department for a period of 2 years.

I know not everyone is keen on teaching. But so many people have repeatedly told me you can't make an academic career out of teaching. Well, I beg to differ. Hopefully at the end of this 2 years I will have a) passed my PhD and been awarded my doctorate and b) developed enough experience of both teaching and research to get me onto the permanent job ladder.

It's been a struggle. It's literally almost killed me. But, I love my job. And it's absolutely 100% worth it.


I have much the same story. I have PTSD from years in the Ambulance. I had enough of the depression and cloudy thinking/paranoia which comes with this disorder. I went to a wonderful specialist who helped me get better. Now the dissertation is not traveling in circles but heading in a clear direction. A part-time job would be nice at the moment but I'm traveling ok. My PhD is concerned with health knowledge acquisition using OWL ontology.