Mental health difficulties



I'm in my write up year and to be honest don't know how I got here. But because I seem to be only able to work approximately 2 weeks out of every month when you take away the days where mental health problems block my ability to concentrate/leave the flat/wake up etc I'm very much behind.

I'm going through a blip, yes, but it happens rhythmically. Although I am on medication which helps a great deal, it cannot prevent these cycles of ups and downs.

I'm looking for advice on breaks, allowances for mental health problems, switching to part time after you've already registered for your final year etc. If anyone has any wise words it would be much appreciated.


I had to take three six-months breaks throughout my PhD, and then went part time after the last bad bout. Although going part-time was the year before the final year, I don't see why you couldn't go part-time. Have you spoken to the graduate office (or whoever deals with the admin side of your PhD)? Gather as much info as you can, because then you can make decision on what would be best for you.


I think you'd need to work out what's best for you in your circumstances as you'll definitely know yourself best. I've always found both the uni and the sups very supportive with everyone's issues but people have normally approached them with 'this is my problem, I think doing bla bla will help, so can I do it?'.

If you're able to build a strong case for it, I doubt they can say no as it'd probably be considered discrimination.

On a more practical level, have you tried to do small goals? (These needn't be uni related 'I'm not going to be in bed past 11am' or can be 'I'm going to read this paper/chapter/write 100 words') Personally, I've found the one goal thread really helpful but you could just do it by yourself.

Utilising the uni's counselling service has been helpful to some as well.


Hi there! I finished my PhD quite recently (Aug this year) and throughout my years at university I frequently had to take time out as I was hospitalised many times for bipolar. Sometimes I had to restart the year the following September and sometimes I was able to fight through it and carry on. One thing that I did learn to do was to get help early on and to make sure that I was looking after myself rather than forcing myself to do work that I really wasn't making progress with and that was actually making me feel worse. aybe go to the doc first to see whether there is anything they can do with your medication? A simple change might make a big difference. I also attended the uni counselling service for 7 years- i.e throughout BSc, MSc & PhD- and that was a fantastic help. If you're not already receiving this kind of support I would storngly recommend it. The other thing to do might be to speak to your supervisor/chairperson and let them know you are having difficulties. Mine were very supportive and understanding, and helped me get back on track when I was returning after a period of ill health. In short, get help and don't beat yourself up about will get there one way or another. Best wishes, KB


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Thank you for all your advice.

I'm afraid I've left it a little too late. I did spend three years forcing myself to work and hiding the majority of my problems. I just wish I had taken time off throughout when the low periods were really bad. But hopefully with one final push I'll get through this year!

I did see my supervisor yesterday and she was very understanding and supportive, she even lent me a book written by an academic who suffers from bi-polar about academia and manic depression.

I'm just going to take my time now, it really helps to know others are in/have been in the same boat and come out the other end. Thank you so much :)


Hey Frequentnoise,

have you tried practicing yoga. I find that daily yoga practices help me cope with mental issues. I know it's hard to keep it up, but its a case of forming the habit. I still find it a challenge to do every single day, but it is my goal - It really does focus the mind and help you de-stress. I don't know what it is about yoga, but i'd give it a go!

By the way, you might want to try Bikram Yoga or hot yoga, it's my preference.