Feeling lost and depressed after thesis submission


I submitted my thesis on September 13, which also happened to be my 26th birthday, so double celebration, but now I am feeling the post-thesis submission blues. I try hard to snap out of it, but I can't.

I had a great PhD overall. My supervisors and the research group are great people, and I have really enjoyed and been passionate about the research I have been doing. 90% of the time, I felt happy at work and had plenty of passion for it. I guess I wasn't prepared for the feelings I would get after the thesis submission. It was a great feeling submitting but then, about 2 days later, I realised I didn't have a job lined up and would have to live off my savings. My supervisor says I have done a great job with my PhD, so I will likely get through with minor corrections. Still, I'm starting to get negative thoughts about what the future holds and if all will work out well. It is affecting me to the point that I feel depressed and don't have the energy or motivation to do much, which has been building up for the last two weeks. I have booked in to speak to a counsellor, and they will probably contact me today or tomorrow.

I think I do have plenty I can feel proud of. I've had three publications so far out of my thesis, submitted a paper to a journal yesterday, and am also attending a conference next month where I will be presenting along with 5 others in the new investigator session, which is a significant achievement in itself. I will soon be a doctor and have had many other achievements throughout my candidature. Still, I can't stop feeling crap, knowing my future is uncertain. I am applying for jobs hoping something will come up, but it has only been a few weeks, so I probably need to be realistic and give it some time.

I guess because I am on the autism spectrum, that plays a part in why I often feel the way I do. I have an illusion that everyone is constantly watching me or thinking bad things about me and get paranoid about that, and I also find it very hard to stop comparing myself to others. When someone has an achievement of some sort, I feel jealous and like I am inferior compared to them, when in fact, I most likely am not, and I should be feeling happy for them.

Indeed, I can't predict what the future holds for me, and I know deep down I can handle anything as I have always been triumphant through difficult times in the past and have much resilience. I guess I am looking for advice from people on some strategies I can put in place to change my mindset and get rid of all the negative thoughts so I can be my usual happy self again and feel like I did while I was working on my thesis. After submitting my thesis, I am going through a major life change. Before submitting it, I had a goal, a routine, and a set social interaction with peers who respected and admired me. There was predictability and comfort in my life.

Does anyone have advice for me to change my way of thinking, so I don't feel depressed about things? Thanks.


Hey Jesse - I get it, and have had similar experiences. Have you tried to get any external support? I also used a therapist at times. I had a PhD coach who really helped me get through the Viva and my final pushes! I can make recommendations if useful?

The fact that you've published 3 times means you are going to smash your minor corrections, if they happen..


Hi, Jesse1309

You were on adrenaline, go go go for the many months. Suddenly it's all done and you are coping with the loss of purpose and routine.

I suggest you go on a holiday to properly unwind. Then if you feel ready, plan your day. Maybe set aside x hours thinking/looking/applying for job, if routine and predictability are that important to you. Then rest for the rest of the day.

Congratulations on submitting! it is a huge milestone.