My PhD destroyed my life.
In the end I did not complete it. But I end up having depression, severe anxiety, lost my husband, the opportunity to have kids and to enjoy the life.
I had a beautiful home, a loving husband, stable house hold, no financial worries. Now I just wanted to kill myself over the horrible situation I am in. I lost everything that really matters. Please don't do the same mistake.
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I myself have experienced several mental health problems over the course of my life and I know it is not possible to overcome that by yourself, it requires professional help and a supportive environment.
Please, look for help and do it now!
My best wishes to you.
I understand all too well how you feel. The stress and anxiety that comes with graduate school is too often unconscionable to others. The feelings and thoughts of suicide is the ultimate state of burnout. It's NOT selfish - in fact, the thoughts of how it would make the ones you love feel, the devastation your parents would feel, weighs most heavily on your heart. For me, it's like I no longer wish to burden others with my failures, that I want to take away the stress I lay on others by talking about my reality. Sure, you can seek help - but in my experience there is no way for others to help. For others to so easily dismiss you by saying "get help" really drives home how little others understand your situation. I do not want drugs that will dull my sense of very real feelings. The fact that prescriptions are the go to for mental health "professionals" is also dismissive of what is really going on. Like you, I experienced suicidal thoughts, and an attempt, in graduate school. Like you I feel like a failure - that I wasted my life and let other opportunities to pursue happiness pass me by because I had these noble fantasies of saving the world and curing cancer with my PhD. Now, after 12 years of schooling, a piece of flimsy paper that says I have the Dr. prefix ahead of my name, no one will hire me or take me seriously. I am unmarried after a troublesome 10 year relationship, no children, no friends, no family, no job - the list goes on. What I find that helps me is reading books for pleasure instead of study, taking a few days off of the job hunt, exercise every day with my dog (this one is so, so important), avoiding substances like alcohol and mj, and writing a journal about my feelings. Since no one except you understands how you really feel, then I think talking to yourself in writing can be very productive. It sounds tacky, but meditation can also help. I am an atheist, so it might sound weird, but going to church just to be around nice people and fun music can also be an avenue of momentary joy. I'm not sure if my words will help, since I can only speak to my own experiences. I did register an account on this forum just to reply to this post - so your words and thoughts matter, ok?
I am so sorry for what has happened to you.
I have experienced several health problems during my own PhD. I was recently hospitalised with hypertension, amongst other things.
Does your institution provide counselling and support services? I encourage you to seek out support from people who have experience with your particular needs.
I hope your doing OK now, I know this post is a year old, but in my experience, 1 year isn't enough time to recover from all the negative things a PhD brings into your life. I've seen your story play out in at least 4 cases around me, all involve divorces, therapy and extreme burnout....you're not alone if that makes you feel somewhat better, although it doesn't fix anything of course. I found myself in a situation for the first time in my life where I am deeply unhappy through undertaking a PhD. I still try and remind myself of the good I have around me, but the PhD is a dark cloud that has involved doctors visits, arguments at home, terrible finances and multiple extensions, I yearn for my old self and am so angry at the fact something so stupid as a thesis document could derail my happiness in such an extreme way. I've seen figures that state over 50% of PhD students have clinical depression and based on those around me as a sample size, it seems very apparent in my everyday life. I am still writing up, but I work full time now, it is the only thing actually that made me feel better (if not more pressured for time). Leaving the toxic world of academia in my opinion was a great decision that you made, it's the only way to rebuild your life. Journalling and joining walking groups I've found are great ways to start healing.
Im so sorry. I feel like it’s ruining my life too. I’ve been on my PhD for 7 years now. No papers, only one and not as first author. The first 3.5 years were a disaster. I hated my project and didn’t get any of it, except a figure in the above mentioned paper. Then two years later my mom died. We were really close, everything to me. I came back to the US (I’m an international student), and the year after that was completely lost, I don’t even remember what I did in that year in regards to work. I got a divorce, and I tried killing myself but it obviously didn’t work. I took a 6-months leave of absence and came back with a new project I actually enjoy, I was excited. But next year is the last year I have to defend and I got nothing. It has been 3.5 since I started this new project and nothing… I feel like such a failure. I KNOW that I am and my PI constantly reminds me that I have no data and that I’m not doing great. I can’t complain about him, he’s a great person, just not a great advisor. I’m so far away from back home and I miss my family so much and I feel so lonely here. I can’t drop out - if I do I gotta pay 4 years of scholarship back (I had a scholarship from my country’s government). I thought I was doing better but I honestly think about how miserable my life is and how much easier it would be to end it all everyday. The only reason I haven’t done anything is because it would hurt my family so deeply. But besides that… I feel like I’m a fart in the wind. I can’t do the only thing I thought I knew how to do, which is research. I wish I could just drop out and get a normal job, but I can’t. And how shitty it would be dropping out after 7 years with nothing in my CV anyways. I don’t even think I’ll be able to defend… anyways. I relate to you a lot. I’m too old now to have kids (I’m almost 40), so chances I ever will are minimum. I hope you’re doing better.
I'm so sorry this happened to you. It's important to remember you are not to blame, you are a victim of a system that at the very least enables abuse. Please don't feel like you have nothing to live for or it's too late for anything. All experiences in life are valuable even if we cannot see it at the time, there is no time limit for relationships and as for kids, some will never be able to have biological children regardless of age, there are other options such as adoption, even if that wasn't what you originally envisaged. Just because you have had a traumatic experience that doesn't mean it gets to define you or your life, you are more then your CV or transcript, what your life looks like compared to anyone else's timeline is not important, because you can still make your life whatever you want even if it feels bleak now. Value yourself and don't give up on yourself or let yourself be defined by this, you are worth more then what you have been made to feel.
Hi all, I signed up to reply just for validation. I did complete my PhD after many years but it took a huge toll on my life, relationships and mental health, even after completion it takes some time to get back to ‘normal’. I do think the process changed me too. Just know you are not alone in this! I heard from others that it can take a while, at least months if not a year or more to feel calmer. Still in the process myself. Wishing everybody here strength to keep going.
I am not sure I will complete mine. Went through so many problems in every area of my life that would make anyone want to give up. Now I have got major corrections.
I innocently thought it was OK to approach my graduate schhol to question the examiners's judgement. I had no idea how badly my supervisor and the university would react to this. I am now in terrible circumstances and without hrltp from the university. Am trying to do the corrections but impossible to get time to concentrate due to various circumstances. I had no idea quite how toxic my university could be up until now. But will try, don't have a supervisor at present. University as unsupportive as it gets. No one told me that it was some kind of crime to question what happened at my viva. But I contacted a solicitor for a one-time consultation and he was extremely helpful and made me realise that I had to really insist the university acknowledged my mitigating circumstances, that they provided me with a supervisor, and also demonstrated that they broke exam regulations and that I could appeal.
So sorry to hear about this, it sounds devastating. I am suffering too mentally and I am just 6 weeks into my PhD, regretting joining and moving to this far remote location for the role.. I am tempted to quit but I never quit. But then again, no previous job has made me break down into tears as much as this one and its just been 6 weeks. I am doing a research assistant role with a part-time PhD attached to it but expected to finish it in 3 years. I am working on a topic that I have no experience on and my supervisor has a "philosophical" way of supporting me; "learn yourself". For the first 4 weeks he would not even meet me, stood me up on the first 3 meetings, said how he hates meetings and how I should just ask other PhD students for support as he is too busy. I don't know why I am typing this here, but reading through your post and the replies made me feel as cliche' it sounds "seen". I was not ever passionate about this topic but I got enticed with the better salary package as its a research assistant role attached with a part-time PhD. I am doubting all together if I want to work in academia entirely now but that would mean taking a paycut, disappointing my family (partner and newborn, wider family).
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