suffering from nervous exhaustion


Hi everyone. I had a scary experience yesterday. I was walking up the steps to my uni, and collapsed. When I woke up, I was in hospital. Apparently, I'm suffering from nervous exhaustion. I've been feeling lethargic for the past month or so, have been having trouble sleeping, was feeling sick all the time, and was suffering from constant headaches. I've been winding myself up so much about this particular assignment my sup set me, and wasn't getting anywhere with it, complete block. Well, it was having a much stronger affect on me than I realised. I can't believe I actually fainted. I can't let the PhD get me into this state again. Now I'm beginning to wonder if the PhD is just too much for me to handle.


Get a sick note. Take 4-6 weeks off. See how you feel then.


eddi, so sorry to hear you are not well.

but do not give up to easily. i mean, if you sit down in a calm, relaxed, healthy state, and think about it carefully, and come to the conclusion that it is not for you, then by all means do quit, rather now than later. BUT probably right now you are more like exhausted, in an emotional turmoil, half-sick... not the best situation to make important decisions!

it seems your body is telling you that you REALLY NEED A BREAK. you should listen to your body. it is usually right! then you can always make the big decisions after that (extended) break.


hey there! hope you are feeling better. I think you should give yourself a good chance find something to absorb your mind completly away from what is stressing you and try to relax.. your health and happiness are the most important things you can have!


Wow that is crazy eddi!!! Hope you are ok... I think you most certainly need some time off to begin with! I found that my stress levels were hard to handle last year but then I decided to try and relax a bit and not take everything so seriously... there is no point in working yourself into an early grave! Don't know if that helps but I hope you feel better soon!


Wow, Eddi, that IS really scary. Hope that you are doing OK now! I would not take this as a symptom of whether or not you are capable of doing a PhD, this could happen for all kinds of reasons and in all kinds of settings. What has your doctor said? Your supervisor?


Definitely get a sick note and take some time out. Then only you can decide whether to keep going or not, taking your overall health, mental and physical, into acount. There must be a limit to the cost to yourself. Perhaps if you could just resolve/change this one task from your supervisor you could move on and things might be easier.


Take some time out if you can, get away, again if you can. Hope you get to feel better soon!


Thanks everyone! I'm so shocked that I arrived at such a dramatic moment. I certainly never saw this coming. I'm not going to abandon my PhD, just my attitude towards it. I was taking it much too seriously. It's quite ridiculous that I let myself get so wound up about this ridiculous assignment. It's not an upgrade or final submission, it's just a piece of writing! I need to let go a bit with the PhD, and be a bit more detached from it. I have invested too much energy into it, energy that has been drained from other areas of my life. It's amazing just how much it takes over if you let it! Thanks again


Eddi I was so shocked when I read this. Nervous exhaustion is very serious stuff, the consequence of chronic stress and anxiety. It's your body telling you that it can't cope anymore with the stresses being placed upon it. My mom suffered from it when she was getting a divorce and losing her house. It's definitely not to be taken lightly so I would listen to the advice that the others have given and take some time out. I've been feeling despondent and unmotivated recently--sounds like you and I are suffering the extremes, you've cared too much and I too little!


Eddi - hope things work out. Finding myself getting into something of a state but really do need to get perspective (if you do actually manage to drag yourself away from work for a day or two, it helps and be confident that the world won't explode if you do!). Sure, I realise the PhD is a matter of surviving the process rather than getting the actual piece of paper, but this should not be at a huge price. Take the break, regroup and when ready sit down and work out logically what can be done with your supervisor. Keep the boat afloat!!!!


Gald you're OK: sounds like you body is telling you to chill for a while. Spend a few weeks doing things that make you happy


probably you should try dealing twith he "blocking" situation more confidently. In most cases, all challenging tasks can be "divided and conquer", so be confident that the problem you have will be solved! then try ask yourself: what is the thing that blocks my research? who can help me? In almost all cases, you can get these help from available resources, just try asking for help on line.
You will be fine!


eddi, I had a chat with my mom this morning and asked her about her spell of nervous exhaustion and what helped her through. She told me that she had to take some serious time out after her episode. Apparently, she had wound herself up to such a state that she couldn't sleep at all, and was running herself ragged trying to do too much. She suggested natural remedies like camomile tea, valerian, Bach's rescue remedy, and to avoid (if possible) caffeine and stimulants for a while. Basically, your nerves are shot, and need time to heal. She told me it too her a good six weeks or so to feel settled again, but apparently it varies from person to person. Hope that helps?


Oh, I left alcohol off the list of things to avoid, though apparently it wouldn't hurt to have a glass of wine or two