So... What to say...
I haven't done any work since the 7th of July.
I can barely get out of bed in the morning.
Last night I got really desperate.
I don't know what to do.
I've lost so much time. How am I ever going to get back on track?
I just feel desperate.
I can't see any way out of this.
(Please don't worry though - I would never do anything silly).
What can I do? How can I ever face my supervisor again?
I'm not sleeping properly or eating. Nothing seems to help.
I just want to scream.
Sorry - this is a very self-centred post, not really helpful for others. Sorry.
Since the 7th of July - that isn't all that long. I'm sure many of us have downed tools for much longer than that. But why are you feeling desperate? Is it just that you've got behind in your work or is the work itself or something else? Ask to see a uni counsellor and talk to your supervisor - I can't imagine he will be shocked. Getting a funk mid-PhD is so common - as you can see on these boards!
I've only put in 1 day since the 6th July, as the children are on school hols and I cant focus when they're around, and not back till 9 sept - but with me thats just the way it will have to be. What stage are you at? As the previous poster said, you wont be alone. My supervisors are not worried and have put off our monthly meetings until oct, to give me chance to start producing work again. Can you think of this as just a summer vacation and start doing a bit of work tomorrow; or are you having more serious problems with your phd? You need to break the cycle of not sleeping and eating properly, try going for a 30 min walk every day, get your health back on track, hopefully the work will follow. All the best :-)
Florence - First things first ... get some medical advice! Conciously take some time off and see a doc. You need to get back to full strenght i.e. sleeping right and eating. Then worry about the PhD. Say it to your supervisor that you are unwell and just need a bit of time off, which is true. The mind gets tired and injured so needs time to recuperate and if you are not sleeping/eating, you cannot be thinking properly.
You are not the first person that this has happened to, but unfortunately, when you are going thro' it, you think that no-one else can possibly know what it is like. The feeling of guilt is compounded the longer this goes on. Admitting that you think that you have a problem is the first step and don't worry, it will come together.
As for the work, so what if you had a few quiet months. Why don't ya just sit down with a blank paper and a pencil and do a mind-map of what you have done and what areas of your research actually interest you. It is surprising how much you actually have done and know.
A PhD is about perserverance - not originality! And if you can't sleep, get up and make a cuppa tea (Barry's is yer only man) and don't in any way feel guilty about catching up on sleep during the day. But please, go and talk to your doc - I was in a similar situation and my doc really showed why he is ace in turning the ship around.
Last thing - you probably read several similar stories on the forum. We are all here to help so if you need to rant/let off steam, by all means do!
Florence this sounds a lot like me. I really recommend seeing a G.P and/or a psychologist. Doing a PhD with depression is very difficult; low motivation, constant feeling of guilt everyday, feeling behind which only makes you feel more guilty, stressed, less motivated and ultimately more down. I also find myself sleeping much too much and at the moment not doing any work at all. It's a vicious cycle.
I can relate to your feelings of desperation, sometimes I think that if I just quit this stupid degree I would be a lot happier and the depression will go away. But that's probably not realistic, I guess I would feel better for a few weeks and then feel really bad for quitting.
I just hope that I will get there eventually - you've only been off since July, which is barely anything and very much recoverable. A lot of people take time away for longer than this.
Remember that you are not alone! If you had any other kind of illness you would see a doctor, and this is no exception. No wonder you are feeling so low - you're not eating or sleeping! I hope that once you get some help you will slowly start to feel better.
Florence, so sorry to hear you're going through this rough patch but please do take the excellent advice below. Take things a step at a time and try not to panic - you will be able to get back on track but not until you've dealt with the underlying problems that have brought you to this point. You will be able to catch up the time but it sounds like you should be considering taking some official time out until you've seen a doctor or counsellor and started making some progress with your own well-being. Put yourself first, and the PhD will follow in due course. Best of luck.
first of all, don't panic. Easy to say and hard to do. I expect you see a mountain of stuff that you ought to be doing, but there is so much in that pile that you have no idea where to start, hence the panic. The first thing to do is to convince yourself you are allowed a break, and you are. Productivity is not always linked to the number of things you have actually done for your PhD, a fellow PhDer who has just completed said she had the cleanest house in the world whilst doing her PhD, it was all displacement activities, but it was also 'thinking time', regard this time as just that, a break, a recuperation, a change. All valid reasons not to consider this as a negative thing. Your supervisor will understand the need for a break, your 'not being able to get out of bed' is probably due to thinking you haven't done any work and you have this pile that you must do - bit like when you hadn't done your homework :$ - only this time you can't get the answers from your mates. Not getting to sleep is probably panic about not having done your homework! You need to be less hard on yourself, if you feel you must set yourself a goal, set an easy one. say reading a chapter, or a journal article and write notes and give yourself, say, a week to do it. If you do it earlier, that's fine, if you take a week, that's fine too. Ease yourself slowly back to where you need to be. - I gave myself the target of getting two chapters into shape over the school hols, needles to say, I'm just finishing one now - a couple more days should see it in a fit state to send to my supervisor, but the other one is not even really started, owing to the fact that reading up stuff to write this first chapter has made me realise that a complete revision of approach is called for, so you are not alone with not keeping to your self imposed targets, I think we all do that one. Think of your supervisor as Shrek (If when you see him next he looks like Shrek, back away, he has something nasty :$). Keep calm, you can do this.
You need to discuss this with people. Start with your supervisor, tell them your concerns and worries; the impact it is having, etc. They are there to help you and between the two of you will work something out. If you don't keep them informed they may just assume you are being lazy and behave accordingly. Once that is done and dusted, you can start to make plans.
hi, just wanted to reiterate all the advice you've already been given, and also to say that 7th july wasn't all that long ago, so don't panic! try not to think of it as 'lost' time, otherwise you will feel that you will never catch up and the situation is hopeless. instead, start fresh from now, and forget about the unproductive period. we all go through these periods, i have ahrdly achieved anything in the last 3-4 weeks and was starting to worry about it, but then i figured that there was nothing i could do about it so i just had to get on with it. i took this week as a fresh start, clean slate (not beating myself up and making myself feel guilty!) and already today i have achieved a few small things (and i mean v small!!) and am starting to feel more positive.
so don't dwell on what you haven't done, focus on what you will achieve in the next few hours/days/this week, break everything down into little achievable chunks, and take it slowly until you get back into the swing of things. good luck :-)
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