Will I ever get through it?


======= Date Modified 07 Apr 2011 10:23:02 =======
CathS, you post really is very true for me too. This really summaries how I feel at the moment too. It's a strange feeling, I feel good that I have the chance to make a difference and at the same time increase my knowledge. The problem is at the moment I can't see how I will pass the PhD, even though I daily coach myself to believe it will be a success.

Also, does anyone feel like the things they are stuck on are easy and they feel they should have passed it all by now, or is this a research illusion?


Hope you got there Pineapple.

I passed my Viva less than 48 hours ago. AM SHOCKED!

It would be nice to hear back from anyone else on this thread where they're at.


Quote From cplusplusgirl:

Hope you got there Pineapple.

I passed my Viva less than 48 hours ago. AM SHOCKED!

It would be nice to hear back from anyone else on this thread where they're at.

Hey cplusplusgirl :) Congratulations on your viva!!!

I'm working on my thesis corrections and rewrites at the mo following from my viva. Not fun at all! Hoping my examiners accept my thesis changes :S

Hope you have fun celebrating!


======= Date Modified 09 Nov 2011 21:32:44 =======
Hi Cath. I completely understand what you are going through. My advice is just stick with it. Easy to say, I know. I'm already in my fifth year and struggling to finish the thesis, which I have to submit by the end of this year. I keep working on my chapters, but they never seem to be good enough. Yesterday I went back to work on a chapter that I've been working on for weeks. It was a horrible experience. As soon as I thought I knew how to fix it up, I got stuck. Really stuck. So, I thought: well, there's no point sitting in my office being stressed, I should go for a walk. Get out of here. Clear my mind. I sat under a tree at the university lakes, and I couldn't believe it, but I just started crying! I couldn't stop. At that point I said to myself - QUIT! But then, I realised, this has happened before. I've cried many times over my thesis. I can pull through this. I decided not to work on the thesis yesterday and went to watch a movie instead. Alas, I couldn't help it, but I sat in the cinema - crying, again.

So, with puffy eyes, I write this message now. I guess we need faith in our own abilities to push us through the thesis. There is a reason why I wrote this chapter and the thesis in the first place. I just need to work out and explain what that reason is.



======= Date Modified 09 Nov 2011 21:58:14 =======
Hi Alan,

I can really relate to your post! I'm in my fifth year as well and REALLY struggling with keeping up the momentum with my literature review chapters, so I've taken a break from it for a few days. It's difficult seeing people passing their vivas with minor corrections and seeing other PhD students who started the same time as me graduating and moving onto bigger and better things, whilst I'm still chained to my thesis working on thesis corrections following from my summer viva....I know it's a bad idea to compare myself to others, but it's difficult not to draw comparisons.

I haven't reached the crying stage yet, but I feel like I'm on the verge of it!  I'm going to start again with it tomorrow.

You're not alone Alan.

Just hope I can reach the finishing line someday. Just can't see the finishing line today.

Big hugs xx


Dear Caths
Absulutely right whatever ur feeling in ur Phd journey, but PhD is a part of ur professional career, apart from alot of things are there in ur life.So dont frustrate by seeing ur work and other things, Regularly do meditation, yoga, and exercises, watchoing TV, Chating with ur friends. Smiling face is always Subside ur stress and angry. so be cool
all the best


I'm in the same boat guys. I'm coming up to the end of my 4th year and had to apply for extension as my supervisor has decided to go on leave a month before my initial proposed hand in date !!! I'm half way through writing the dreaded thesis and I alreday think I need to rewrite the lil review and the more I look at my results the crappier they are :/. I have this insane fear that I will fail miserable and end up with an MPhil :(.

Hang in there Alan I totally understand, the past two weeks I have cried pretty much daily....this PhD thing isn't exactly dignified is it?

And smile Pineaple we can all make it!(up)


Thanks Pineapple and Andreea. It's comforting to know that other people are going through the same thing. I also worry about not passing this thesis. Over the past few days I've done some thinking about my anxiety attacks and my future career plans. I've decided that even if I do get an MPhil and not a PhD, it won't be the end of the world. Although my goal has always been a PhD because I wanted to become an academic, is following one career path worth my sanity? In fact, in some ways, getting a MPhil is still good because it allows me to start at the bottom of the career ladder and gain experience. I'm in museum studies, and from what I've heard, getting an MPhil and then working in a museum is pretty normal. I've come to accept that so long as I come out with a higher degree, then I'll be happy. And if I don't come out with anything, then I'll survive. It may take me awhile, but I'll pick myself up eventually and sign the last 6 years off as life experience.

I'm an ugly crier and I'm sick of feeling like crap about myself. Sometimes, we have to give ourselves a break. We give ourselves a hard time for not finishing soon enough, for not being smart enough, for not writing well enough, and for not being strong enough. ENOUGH. My plan is to just stick with it - one step at a time. I'm going to give it my best and not feel guilty or depressed if I get stuck or if I re-read my work and think that it's crap. There is an 'I' that the PhD process seems to squeeze out of students. Under the barrage of criticism and deadlines that we get, can we blame ourselves for our anxiety or depression? I will probably continue crying, but I know, deep down, that I will survive and that I will come out of this process stronger.

Here's a poem by Derek Walcott that helps to remind me to not lose sight of myself and who I am, and to know that I will always be here and that I can pull through this, one step at a time.

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.


WOW museum studies sounds soooooo cool. I'm in chemitry :(. I have come to the realisation taht I don't want to do research and although I love lecturing (I hold a part time lecturing position) I could never be a true academic as I hate research so.....PhD for me is pretty pointless BUT since the only thing I need to do is write it up I may as well and see what happens. If I get the degree than good, but if I don't no big loss (except for 4 years of my life....but I guess that counts as experience).

Anyway I think it's important to not lose track of what's really importat in life like family and friends and being happy. I've always said "if the cost of happiness is success f*** success". :P

When are you planning to submit Alan? I'll keep checking in for emotional support!!!

And Pineaple what about you? How YOU doin`?


======= Date Modified 14 Nov 2011 23:13:48 =======

Quote From Andreea:

And Pineaple what about you? How YOU doin`?

Hey :) I'm doing fine thank you! (I like the Joey reference if intended!)

Seem to be enjoying some productive days on my literature review chapters at the mo- just hope it lasts.
I actually made myself sick with worry and suffered from numerous panic attacks over fearing a failed viva and leaving with an MPhil, so I know exactly how the pre-viva stress feels like. I think if I redefined the whole situation differently (ie not the end of the world if I received an MPhil) and continued seeking counselling etc, I probably would have been in a better state of mind for my viva. Anyway, happy to be on the post viva side of the fence and working through corrections for PhD award. Never ever for one second believed I would get through a viva in one piece with a relatively good outcome (considering the state of submitted thesis anyway!).

Just keep swimming folks (aka Dory the fish stylee!)- well that's what's helping me through at the mo anyway! :)


Thanks for your support Andreea. I'm glad you're on a roll Pineapple!!!

I'm due to submit end of December this year. This is my 5th full draft that I've been working on. I get depressed thinking about it and thinking about how much work I've done and yet, each time I look at it I feel like I haven't achieved anything. I had an appointment with my counsellor today and he suggested that I write down my anxieties on paper and put a mark next to each of them every time that I get anxious. Then, I should read them and have a time everyday to have an anxiety attack. I'm going to give this a go, because I'm desperate at the moment.

Each time I get stuck with a paragraph or chapter, I've decided to move on. This is not the time to have regrets, but I do regret starting the PhD and not quitting when I could have. If I lost 1 year or 2 years, I wouldn't have a problem. But losing 5.5 years, makes me incredibly depressed. I mean, I could have robbed a bank and went to jail and I would have had a better time than struggling with this thesis. I would probably be out of jail by now as well. Anyway, there's no point holding onto these regrets. I just have to forget about them and do what I can.

It is exhausting to get up and go to bed everyday feeling sad. I just want this nightmare to be over. Sorry about the negativity, but on days like today, I just feel so helpless and trapped.



======= Date Modified 15 Nov 2011 09:20:39 =======
============= Edited by a Moderator =============
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Well done Pineaple much love being sent your way!!!! xox

It seems like we're all at different stages. Pineaple is post Viva, you Alan are coming up to submission in dec and I plan to have my first FULL draft end of Jan.

Now I am speaking from experience when i say this, I think you are overthinking things Alan. I came to this realisation on Friday when I had another major meltdown/freak out. Started freaking out that I couldn't answer this one question and then a PostDoc I have collaborated with on anotehr project said "who's posing the question? You?" and I said "yes" and she said "then don't". At the end of the day the thesis is what you make it to be. If you don't think your results adress a ceratin question then....well don't bring it up. Your thesis is your interpretation of the results. What I found helpful was putting every result I had down into chapters and then writing around them. How does the literature explain THAT? And if it doesn't the can you come up with the next best thing? And so on.

I came to realise that most of my freak outs are self induced so I have resolved to write what I have the way I see it and hope for the best. I was so angry at this post doc in my group who's always so chilled, even when he was writing his thesis 2 years ago he had no care in the world. And then a few months back he asked me if the fridge is colder than the frezzer. So my epiphany was "he is so chilled and relaxed because he doesn't think" :). So try not to over think it and you'll be more relaxed....worked for me :). Also try to get some exercise if you can. I run as much as I can...as a matter of fact going for a run right after I post this, after a whole day spend plotting graphs LOL.

I know what you mean if you fail now it's 5.5 years lost....it's exactly what I was freaking about too but the way I see it is if I flunk now I still have learned so much. I learned 1) research is not what it used to be and it no longer is about what you know it's al about who you know (my field anyway) 2) there are much much more important things in life than a high powered career 3) high impact papers don't keep you warm at night so as long as you have a happy personal life you're a winner no matter what else in life you think you have failed (there's a post doc in the same department as me and she is 40, lives alone and has no personal life. She's a very angry spiteful woman and I pitty her.).

Keep your head above the water. I'll be here for more ranting as needed ;)


You're so right Andreea. I do overthink things - all the time. I know I end up working myself up to the point where everything becomes too overwhelming to deal with. And there is life after the thesis whether we fail or not. I think it's been pretty hard for me to discover that undergraduate success does not always translate into postgraduate success. The formulas I was using to do well as an undergrad - work hard, read a lot, attend lectures - just don't cut it for thesis writing. At the same time, I have to remember not to make my ideas and arguments too complicated because I get confused and so does the reader. My mantra is: whether I pass or fail this thesis, if I try my best, I won't regret the past wonderful years I spent teaching, going to conferences, travelling, and making new friends. And you're right about having a high powered career. It's not for everyone. I think I would be a terrible researcher and writer in the humanities. But, I would be a good museum worker and report writer. Even if I don't end up working in a museum, I still think that I have learnt things through this process about my strengths and weaknesses. My writing has also definitely improved, which is a really good skill to have.


PS Pineaple yes Joey ref WAS intended. Keep on smilin` everybody it will all be over soon!!!!!!

Yep I'm all self-motivating and s*** today hehe