Due to my life-threatening anxiety, I could not check emails for the past 9 months. I knew that I had important dates during that period, including my review and expected thesis submission date. I knew it was better to do something, ask for help, but my anxiety was so so enormous that I just couldn't face it. I've been house-bounded for the past 9 months. Because my visa is expiring soon I finally had the courage to open my email, just to find out that potentially I had already been terminated.
Now, I'm thinking of going to the university to find out the details, but I don't even know what to ask.
I have been having mental health illness since 2015, I have previously took 1year leave and I have been a part-time since then. I have submitted to the university more than handful letters from the doctors, but not this past 9 months. Since I could not check emails, answer the phone, leave the house, I could not see my psychiatrist either. When I was depressed I could at least check emails and see the doctors, but with anxiety it was impossible.
My thesis is about 80% complete - all the experiments are done, analysis is done, I just need to write up the rest of 4 chapters. Even if there is no way to get back to this university, I want to finish my PhD thesis somehow. What would your advice be? What help should I ask tomorrow at the university? I've been a bit suicidal the past 9 months, so I'll be really really grateful if you would kindly refrain from making a harsh comment.
I'm sorry to hear about all you have been going through. My suggestion would be to speak to the doctoral academy and the student union. The doctoral academy might have a different name at your university - but I mean the people who deal with postdoctoral support in your faculty/school. They should be able to give you confidential advice, and also they will have had similar situations before. The student union might offer different advice and support - informing you about your rights and such. It would be good to connect with them so that they know your situation. They will also be able to support you if you want to make an appeal against the decision.
Your university probably has systems in place to deal with situations like this. I have put my PhD on hold due to problems with anxiety and viva phobia. I've heard from a friend in a similar situation that I can ask for permission to submit when I'm ready. At the university where I work, the best thing to do would be to make an appointment with the counselling service (now called wellbeing) because they can help you navigate the system, but I'm not sure if all universities offer this. Basically, you just need to explain your situation and ask what need to do in order to be able to submit your thesis. Easier said than done when suffering from anxiety, I know!
I'm sorry that this has happened. I would prioritise two things. Check in with your supervisor and ask where you stand with the uni. And talk to the university visa team asap- if you're on a tier 4 visa you really need to know if you've been reported to UKBA for non-attendance, so if necessary you can get legal advice.
Thank you so much, your replies have provided me with an immense mental support and practical tips. I went to the disability support appointment today, where the officer kept smiling while I explained my difficult situations of the past 10 months. I felt like a sobbing idiot or a little kid making up all the excuses. I have always felt like an imposter with my mental health.
She kindly informed me that there is nothing that she can do to help, I just need to check the email by myself and talk with the admin team by myself - even though, if I could do that, I wouldn't have been here to begin with...
She helped me to identify the most critical email and the person I need to talk to the most urgently. I did send this email and the response I received was "1. in order to apply for re-reinstatement, fill the form in the link," "2. you might have bleached your visa condition: get in touch with the government department." I was rather hoping to have a conversation with someone to find out my options.
Anyway, I did state that I'm looking for someone who could assist me with the situation, while CCing my supervisors in. I'll make an appointment with the student union, to see if there is anything I could do. My family is visiting me for a week knowing that I'm falling apart. With their help I am now somehow managing to do the above tasks, but to imagine doing this alone after they leave makes me very upset.
I know that I cannot play the victim knowing that checking emails are critical for managing my candidature. I still wish that university was more supportive of student who was having a difficulty.
The most worrying aspect of your post is where you talk about being suicidal. I know the termination and visa problems seem serious at the moment but all of these things are fixable. Many fellow posters on here have gone through incredibly difficult PhD journeys and have come through.
The suicidal thoughts are much more serious. Have you been able to talk to family or a doctor about this? I think this is a bigger priority than anything else you are facing.
pm133, I am sorry to have worried you. I felt the worst when I was absolutely unable to check emails and absolutely unable to go out for 10months. I didn't know how to ever get out of my vicious anxiety cycle. But ever since I practiced my first exposure, I am feeling a lot better. It took me months to be ready for the first exposure, and it felt like hell going through it, but it's been a big relief. I just made an appointment with GP today. I'm not sure what will happen to my PhD, but with every step of exposure, I get liberated from the anxiety. I can finally feel that my life is so much more than the PhD.
Have you talked directly with your supervisor? They might be sympathetic and will want you to finish. A lot of the admin departments will see you as another student who needs to follow the process but your supervisor should genuinely want to help you. Depending on the situation your supervisor could possibly pull some strings so that you get re-accepted. So I think the person you should be seeing is them, as they will want you to finish.
Absolutely, and I was also thinking do you have an academic advisor? This is supposed to be someone separate from the supervisory team but fully in the know and able to mediate and things if needed. Just another option if you aren't comfortable meeting with the supervisors.
It sounds like you are taking lots of positive steps. And it's so true about life being so much more than the PhD.
Great to hear you're moving forward. Can I suggest in addition to the disability support, you also see if you can get an appointment with the university counselling service? They may have a more specialised understanding of mental disability than the disability service.
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