How long does it take to heal?


I'm interested to know from PhD students who passed. How long did it take to heal afterwards? Do you become the same person you were before, or different?


Heal?! That sounds very dramatic. I didn't heal in an injuries/illness sense. I was the same person during the PhD and afterwards. Well maybe a bit more confident in academic terms. Passing the PhD viva gave me quite a boost of confidence when it came to going for my own post-doc papers. But I wouldn't use the word "heal". That makes the PhD process sound truly dreadful :p


======= Date Modified 08 Jul 2011 17:57:37 =======
Well, my PhD process HAS been truly dreadful...


Well to be fair I did have some healing involved with the first PhD I had to leave due to falling ill with a progressive neurological disease. I grieved for my lost full-time PhD. It took me years to recover - not fully - from that.

But the second successful PhD was fine. I was part-time, battling increasing disability and brain damage. But the PhD side of things - even at just 5 good hours total a week for my part-time PhD - was fine.

Hope you come out ok the other side. Sorry you've had such a bad time.


I don't think I ever will. My experience of academia has been so bad, looking back at my super's past behaviour when he just wanted me to work for peanuts for him and was jovial and flattering while squeezing my brain and competence dry, to his current behaviour when the work he 'gave' me to do to relieve my own financial problems is now being touted as his own work.

I thought he and the Uni were trying to support me. But a senior Admin staff member very close to him said to me, ' Don't think of them as friends. No one here is a friend'.

This unethical and brutal careerism has totally altered my view of what goes on in ivory towers. He's a taker, and there are too many of them, on tenures of one kind or another, demanding that others (usually students) prop them up

I've never loathed, during my entire 35-year career in media/publishing/broadcasting, anyone quite so much. And I don't do loathing as a general rule.


Sorry to hear about that. Halfway through I realised essentially what you are describing was happening, and so I decided to fight. With just under 6 months of funding to go I am in a position to finish but only after fighting like hell for two years.


I think that it depends on how difficult a time you had during your PhD.  It does get better afterwards and less painful but sometimes when you think about it too much it all comes flooding back but it's good most of the time. Funnily enough that was one of the first comments my friend who had completed their thesis a few months before said after I had submitted. 

Doing a PhD is a very emotional roller coaster so it's hard to say how long it takes to heal as it's Permanent head Damage ;-) but I think that depends on your individual circumstances and how good you are at letting things go and moving on. It's essential for your own sanity to do so.  I think it also depends on what you want out of your PhD and whether you achieved it.

I want a career in research so I did a PhD to get into academia though unfortunately there are no jobs in my area at the mo!  I don't think I'll be "healed" until I get a post doc/position in academia as that is what I want to do and I would like to think that it was worth it as I put up with a lot to try to achieve my goal!

As to whether you stay the same or become a changed person that is hard to say as it depends on your experiences.  Basically I think I am the same person but in other ways I have learnt a lot so perhaps I have changed. I still have the same drive/passion for my research topic but I am more receptive to other ideas/areas of research as I am aware that to stay in academia you have to be flexible to make the most of the opportunities available!  It has also been an eye-opener as I have learnt a lot about, people, academia, how they interact and the effect academia has on people. I am glad I survived my PhD and I know that I can cope with almost anything (I hope) in the future!  I'll have a new baseline to compare future experiences to which hopefully will be a walk in the park after my PhD! I know for sure that I have come out of this stronger and know where my breaking point is if nothing else and confirmed that I have loads of motivation and determination.

I hope this helps.  Good luck with the rest of yours! The end is in sight! (up)

Avatar for Mackem_Beefy

======= Date Modified 09 Jul 2011 20:18:56 =======
Answer cut, paste and slightly edited from another thread.

Firstly, you need to get the 'mind still racing feeling out of you before you can think straight. I stayed in that state but slowly coming down from it for 8 days after viva. I suddenly realised I'd been in that state for about two years (stress of write-up) and it had really peaked on the last few days before the viva.

I'd gone for a long walk one lunchtime I think 8 days later (final corrections done, hardbound copies in and documentation signed off the previous day) and suddenly realised I had nothing more to do. I found myself thinking "Now what?" I'd throttled down to normal for the first time in two years and realised I needed a quiet period to get my life back in perspective. A holiday to South Africa followed a couple of months later.

The wisdom of needing a quiet period was made clear to me when I started a second post-doc at another University and the girl who was my (de-)mentor was clearly in some sort of hyper mode. She'd gone through 5 years before, but had never taken a breather following her own PhD launching herself with apparently the same energy into her post-doc work. I found her Prof in one of his more civil moments towards me was worried about her fragility and looking back, I can see why. You have to throttle down for the sake of your own health.

A old computing lecturer of mine said you need a quiet two years to follow (women seem to recover more quickly than men, though).

Even now back in the real world, I feel I need to be of some sort of help to others in the post-grad marketplace. Bar 'Delta' (I truely repsect his / her point of view), the stresses and frustrations that many face during the process have to be shared. You cannot keep that level of stress bottled up inside you.

Ian (Mackem_Beefy)


A quiet period would be great. I've just realised that for a large part of my life I've been in this racing mind state. It would be great to have a break but the only problem is I really really don't want to go back to live with my parents, and can't afford to go on holiday anywhere without getting a job which would put me straight back into the racing mind state. I also feel like my social skills and confidence have been almost totally destroyed by the PhD experience and it's difficult to think positive. As it's a science PhD I feel my relating to people has really suffered and I don't want to hang around with people in the office, none of them seem to be interesting to me as all they talk about is science.

Really needed to vent.


======= Date Modified 21 Jul 2011 14:16:21 =======
Also, I don't really know where my breaking point is, because I have suffered from anxiety to the point where physical symptoms have appeared. I'm concerned it's setting me up for a pattern in the future of just ploughing on through instead of taking the healthier and happier choices. Reading 'The Joy of Burnout' by Dina Glouberman puts this into some perspective. At least I haven't burned out, I guess.


======= Date Modified 21 Jul 2011 14:59:02 =======
Also, my supervisors have been very unsupportive during my PhD, including one who was an intellectual bully.


Heal's interesting here. I certainly know what you mean. I had my viva yesterday. It was very thorough, detailed and rigourous. At the end I hardly knew what to do. Despite passing, it didn't sink in until the following day. It sounds daft, but today I've noticed that I feel taller and more confident in myself. The viva certainly builds you up. Maybe that is part of the 'healing' process.


Gosh, you slipped that in quietly Apostrophe - many congrats on successfully passing your viva (up)


Gentle and apposite. Well done, Apostrophe! May I wish you well-deserved and successful healing.


Thanks all for answers. I get the picture now :-)