======= Date Modified 08 Jun 2012 12:16:33 =======
Just wanted to know if anyone has came through a PhD without having a mental breakdown?
I have just submitted, my PhD Viva is on Monday (which I know is not going to go very well from mock vivas). However, i look back over the past 3.5 years and think of the many, many lows I have had. I'm startled that I am at the end (even if I do get a resubmit in a year). Think I'll be proud that I have came through so much mentally even if I don't pass and have to resubmit!
Think this could be a phd topic in itself lol!!
Agree - I think it would be interesting to study the effects of doing a PhD on mental health! I'm not finished yet but I would say this experience has definitely pushed me to my limits! Having said that, it's also taught me a lot about myself so it's a bit of a double edged sword!
Totally agree. Four years back I was someone (something) else: happy, young and healthy. I look at least fifteen years older, have so many health problems, had to had an organ removed, being transfered from one doctor to another, each finding 'new' issues in each illness I have. Had I known it would cost me my health- and not only time, money and energy - I wouldn't have gone for it!
On a slight tangent: there is a possibility that your viva may go better than you think :$ As evidenced by various posts on this forum, different people can have radically different judgements on the same material; your external examiner just may not see your thesis in the same light as your sup/whoever did your mocks. Show your pride in your work and perseverance and go for it (up)
I've not finished yet but beware confirmation bias. On this web site people will generally post if things are going badly. I'm over a year and a half in and things are going pretty well, you won't hear too much about it though because people don't tend to post on a forum about how well they are doing and how wonderful stuff is because it comes across as insensitive and arrogant.
Having said all that, a PhD can be very stressful!
Congratulations on submitting and I hope the viva goes well!
Don't go into your viva thinking you will do badly just because had a bad mock - that is what a mock viva is there for! To dig out all those points you hadn;t thought of and weren't prepared for so that when you're preparing for the real one you cover all of those things. I've seen a few occasions on here where people have had bad mock exams and then found their real viva was plain sailing in comparison!!
I have to agree though that PhDs are bad for your health - the run up to submission/viva was one of the most stressful periods in my life and I thought at one point I was just going to implode ;-) I think by their very nature PhD students are perfectionists who put a lot of pressure on themselves to do well, and so the thought of your entire 3/4 year PhD coming down to how you perform on just one day can seem completely overwhelming.
Thanks folks!! Have to admit my first 2.5 years
were a nightmare with change of supervision and major writing problems. As a
result of this, I think I spent 3 months in bed crying, doubting myself and had
a massive crash in confidence. However, towards the end of 3rd year I secured
a full time lecturing post which I think was the best thing for me!!! Gave me
something else to focus on while slowly plodding away at the PhD. I can now
safely say that I started the PhD to get a job. I have a job now, so even if I
have to resubmit, I know i'll get there in the end!!! The job is amazing and I
can honestly say I have learned more in the past 9 months than the entire
course of my PhD. I have never been so busy but equally so happy. For me the
worst part of the PhD was the loneliness, I think the job helped to alleviate
this and I am slowing regaining my confidence because of the wonderful people
I'm working with. Whatever happens Monday at least I know I have tried my
best, gave it my all and I still have my job :-)
I completely agree with you although I am not near submission as yet - I was hoping to submit in Oct but that's now been pushed back to the end of the year/beginning of next year. I am due to start a job in July though and at first, I was really worried about juggling my time but now, I think it will actually do me good and make my time more structured. At the moment, I am tired of being on my own writing up for such long periods and its soul destroying when I get so little accomplished in a day. I think that loneliness, combined with the perfectionist in me makes tasks so much bigger than they probably are - I'm hoping that by being re-integrated into the real world in my job, something will click and I'll just get it done! Although equally, I am bracing myself for being incredibly busy!
I agree with Smoobles & Pootle - your viva may not be as bad as you think - think positive! :-)
Good luck on Monday
======= Date Modified 08 Jun 2012 21:44:00 =======
Smoothles and Pootie thanks. I have my fingers
crossed!! Hoping for the best but expecting the worst :-( so everything else
will be a bonus!! Dalmation thanks hopefully it will be ok! I do think we must
be all nutty to start it and actually finish it. But I really haven't met
anyone who has had a good PhD experience, wonder how we all get through. Is it
ambition, determination, stupidity, confusion? For me it was a fear of failure
(which I still have... even more so this weekend because of Monday lol). Busy
Bee, for me the job really helped me. I think it will help you too. You
realise that the Phd is just a process that we have chosen to go through. It
will not be your entire world anymore and you will see that there is so much
more to life!!!
======= Date Modified 09 Jun 2012 00:57:02 =======
I've also found this on a American website (though the abstract could be better written):
It's pay per view for the full version. I'll pass on that though.
In response to 'screamingaddabs', I'll comment it's hell whilst you're doing it but (for a while) feels great once through. Once the high of sucessfully finishing passes, reality sinks in as you begin to wonder what to do with everything you've learnt and how you can make the most of it. A few years later, I don't think I've truely answered that particular question. :-)
It's amazing how an interesting discussion can draw you back on here.
Hey! Well, I'm going to post a slightly alternative perspective to the effect of PhDs on mental health! As a lot of the forumites already know, I have bipolar disorder, and I've been in hospital many many times for it- I had to drop out of uni 3 times and restart the year each time during my BSc. Bizarrely, after 8 hospitalisations in 4 years (all for 2-3 months per admission) I had no hospitalisations at all during my PhD, and having finished my PhD last year I lasted 6 months and was re-hospitalised in February this year for 3 months! I had my ups and downs over my PhD (usually to do with my supervisor), but for me there was something about it that seemed to keep me well. I very much enjoyed my topic and made some very good friends during that time- I do like having something to focus on and something to work towards- so maybe that supported me well during the 3 years. I appreciate that for most people, the impact of the PhD on health is often a negative one, but I thought I'd post a different experience! Best, KB
======= Date Modified 09 Jun 2012 23:36:12 =======
======= Date Modified 09 Jun 2012 23:26:05 =======
KB, really sorry to hear about the experience you mentioned post PhD and hope things are much improved. Do you have a Postdoctorate at present?
And best of luck Donzy, with the viva and all that comes with your success.
I would echo the point made by some forumites on other posts and also pick up a thread of KB.s. I have a long way to go and am sure there will be some rocky points at times. There were for short periods when doing my Masters thesis especially during the write-up-although doing the Masters by distance made it harder for me I think.
However, what I do love about doing this PhD even when my workplace has major deadlines coinciding with the ethics application, etc is having something to really focus on and develop. Having an intellectual (and emotional as it impacts on people) problem in my life to explore and hopefully shed some light on, gives me a purpose beyond my workplace and family (though my family esp. grown children are very very important), and even just the usual things we do in life that we like. I find it essential for my personal well-being. It is sort of a part of who I am. And once the PhD is done, I may still work in my admin/teaching roles in secondary colleges being perhaps a little old to get the posts in academia nowadays (am in late 40's now), but I will be able to write and publish and explore these sorts of issues further. So I will always have an issue or intellectual or professional concern that I explore through consultation, research and writing.
And some people wonder why you can't just have that feeling about work-sometimes I wonder about it myself. But I found in my workplace that I was always trying to improve things and while this went well, I was pretty happy. But often I couldn't. People were not interested or could not sustain a project beyond the early funding and then they wanted to go onto something else, so the change or improvement was really superficial-a lot of the drive for change and improvement was fairly 'on the surface' and related to politics. This was/is incredibly frustrating to me and impacted on my satisfaction as a professional.
Now what I do is I see myself not only as a professional who often has to work within the constraints of her workplace and system but as a researcher, who wearing a different hat and perspective, can comment on the difficulties and tensions that occur at a system level, having some understanding of why this happens, as well as some tolerance and perspective about how tricky it might be for many people.
So the Phd helps me have that bigger focus and it is why it keeps me sane even though I do get overworked and pick up more bronchial infections, etc and people in my workplace think I am crazy at times. We have to have some passion that goes beyond ourselves I've found and for many the PhD is the beginning (or the end! :) ) of that passion. Hopefully the beginning...
I thought I might add also, that my children, from also thinking I am crazy, now are in complete support. And my daughter, who carried off a brilliant first in her field about three years ago, has decided to go for a scholarship and complete her full-time PhD at a top university here with a great supervisor. She followed me into teaching (her own choice-not my advice) but has now rethought her plans (am very happy about this myself). So it isn't all bad by any means-but it is tough and it does test you.
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