Second year blues or time to quit?

L

So, technically I am not in second year yet, but I will be in a month. I’ve recently hit a bit of a wall where I hate my research, I hate my field of research, and I’m incredibly unmotivated to do anything. I’m constantly stressed out and haven’t been sleeping much because of it. I feel like I’ve made no progress in the past year and all I can think about is how little time I have left and how little I’ve done. I genuinely can’t see why I would want to keep working in this field for the rest of my life since I’ve completely lost my passion for it.

Is this normal ‘second year blues’? Or is this maybe a sign that this isn’t the right path for me to be taking, and I’d be better off quitting?

F

I feel exactly the same and i'm in the middle of my second year.
I feel lost
I feel stupid
I feel this is pointless
You are not alone

A

I'm starting my third year technically and I Feel the same however I have had similar thoughts throughout. I think the main points to think about are:

1- Do you need to the PhD for life goals?- if so seek counselling, ask for a break from your studies and see how you feel. If the PhD is still required for your life/career goals then come back and try again refreshed. I think this is common to do, one person I know took 3 months off!


2- Do you still find the general field interesting? It may be worth finishing the PhD if you still want to work in the general field (e.g. biology or whatever), if you want to stay in research then a PhD is needed.


It helped me to google other potential options for jobs, this can help to give you some perspective of what you would do IF you did quit.

R

I will be a second year PhD student next month as well, and my confirmation exam is due soon.
However, I truly feel the same, I don't like my area and research at all. I do everything with terrible pressure and have felt sleeping/ eating disorders past few months. Also, I have problems with my department and supervisor which made the situation even worse.
I am not sure what to do and what is the right decision to make :|

T

Second year PhD depression is real. Your initial euphoria of embarking on a novel PhD is gone. As you reflect on your progress or lack of and think of the mammoth steps needed to complete the PhD, you begin stressing and doubting yourself. It is made worse if the project and supervisor are not what was promoted in the beginning.

During these times, it is important to reassess why you do your PhD and objectively see if the situation is truly that bad. I ran these questions when I was in my second year blues too:

1) Am I wanting to have a career in academia after my PhD?
2) Am I loving my subject area despite all the challenges?
3) Am I able to negotiate more resources to overcome the challenges I face?
4) Am I supported by my supervisor/ mentor/team? Should have at least one or you are at higher chance of failing
5) Am I only having a temporary down time that can be resolved by taking time off to clear my mind?
6) Do I absolutely need this PhD in my future role?

If your answer is no to any of these questions, perhaps it is time to think deeply and have a conversation with your supervisor or graduate school to come up with a plan of attack to successfully finish the PhD or downgrade to MPhil and get a job. I am a strong believer that if your supervisory team is shit, change your supervisor or get out. It’s not worth it.

My suggestion is for you to talk to as many post docs or companies in your area to understand which life after PhD/Mphil is really what you want.

Good luck

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