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melodie
Tuesday, 9 January 2018 at 9:49am
Monday, 23 July 2018 at 1:28pm
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Thread: Struggling to manage illness and PhD supervisor

posted
09-Jun-18, 19:55
edited about 13 seconds later
by melodie
Avatar for melodie
posted about 2 months ago
I have had some slightly similar experience in having serious medical and personal issues mismanaged by people that just dont get it. My advice would be to go higher up, such as to your funding body or various leads at your uni. Perhaps apply for sick leave? As it seems that unless it is made official your supervisor is just deciding to make a diagnosis for you, which is ridiculous.

Thread: Advice wanted - Feeling hopeless in PhD and wanting to quit

posted
09-Jun-18, 09:38
by melodie
Avatar for melodie
posted about 2 months ago
Hey guys,

It's been a while since my original post...but I'm still clinging on! Little progress has been made on the medical side, given how slow the NHS works nowadays, but there has been some good news!
I discovered the official guidelines about my PhD funding, and was quite shocked to discover that it looked like I should have always been entitled to 13 weeks paid sick pay per year. I inquired directly with the funding body with my specific case, and entered yet more additional limbo while waiting feeling confused and angry.

Family problems also elevated, with one of my parents sectioned and the ensuing chaos for the rest of us dealing with that. So very recently I was at the very end of my tether and preparing to leave. However, I got confirmation yesterday that I was indeed correct on the funding front, and so will be getting 26 weeks further funding after September! It's a bit crazy that I had to fight for what were clearly my basic working rights, and so an official complaint is going in to find out why on earth the administration was such a shambles and why I was messed around for a year and a half. But of course the upside is finally some acknowledgment of the fight i've been fighting, and some help to actually get a veritable PhD at the end of this saga.

So not at the finish line yet...and in fact even further away from it I guess haha, but at least I'm back in the game!

Thread: Advice wanted - Feeling hopeless in PhD and wanting to quit

posted
24-Jan-18, 19:43
by melodie
Avatar for melodie
posted about 7 months ago
Hi Newlease,

Thanks; yeah its taking some time to let it all sink in, but I went to see my supervisor the other day and told him about my thoughts on leaving or writing up an MPhil. He took it pretty well, as I think he already knew I'd been thinking along those lines for a little while. He's very busy with teaching etc atm so has asked me to wait a little bit before any final decisions so he can think of any way to get a phd without pursuing this second failed experiment which will just take too much time for someone to develop at my late stage of the PhD. So I guess I am indeed just letting the dust settle waiting for that, and have more doc appointments etc to sort out al the medical business. I guess it feel good that I'm taking the steps forward to sort everything, but from here on in I have no idea what my future will be!

I guess it's time to just carry on and see as I go. It feels better than I was feeling very stuck and in limbo before at least!

Hope you guys are all finding ways forward too,

Melodie

Thread: Should I see a counsellor or psychiatrist?

posted
21-Jan-18, 20:23
by melodie
Avatar for melodie
posted about 7 months ago
Statictraveller, try not to torture yourself with thinking you are suffering from earl Alzheimers or that theres something wrong with you. My own father has early-onset Alzheimers, and so of course I also believe in getting yourself checked out if you have serious concerns, but I have also suffered from the same convicition as you that there must be something seriously wrong with my mind due to my sudden loss of eloquence in talking about my PhD. But, no doubt you can still chat with friends and talk about things in more casual settings, and so I am sure that this is more about your self-esteem and fears of not being as smart as those around you, (basically classic imposter syndrome).

It is not easy, but I think if you found a way to calm down a bit you would suddenly find that your mind was a bit more at peace and that you could then process your thoughts and words a bit more easily. It's often a neglected aspect of depression and anxiety that it really does impact your thought processes and speed of thought, and its basically because your mind is juggling the science alongside a thousand other thoughts running through your head. So please try to be kind to yourself and give yourself a break, as it sounds like you're just overwhelmed by everything at the moment.

Thread: Advice wanted - Feeling hopeless in PhD and wanting to quit

posted
21-Jan-18, 20:06
by melodie
Avatar for melodie
posted about 7 months ago
Thanks again guys, it helps a lot to have some sort of advice in figuring my way through all this mess!

Tru, yes exactly , we're on the same wavelength :) Naturally i'd love to get some result from the last few years in the form of writing up, or writing up to MPhil, but I really do think I need to move onto something else as my current situation is only making everything harder. Of course I also need to stick around longer for any surgery etc, argh! I have spoken to the graduate studies director about options, but this week I intend to tell my supervisor of my need to wrap things up faster. So fingers crossed!

Jamie I'm glad things are getting a bit better but I realise it often still feels like such an uphill struggle with the impact on one's self. Remember to also prioritise your own well-being, as life is short and full of possibilities, so try not to find yourself prioritising things that are detracting from your life. (Of course this is all easier to say than do!).

Thanks, you too!

Thread: Advice wanted - Feeling hopeless in PhD and wanting to quit

posted
20-Jan-18, 22:34
by melodie
Avatar for melodie
posted about 7 months ago
Thankyou Jamie. I had my scan at the hospital which unfortunately confirmed it was as bad as feared which has been quite a lot to deal with and process, but oddly, if anything it has cemented my determination to find some positive way forward to lead a life i find rewarding, as at the moment i feel stuck in a lot of unnecessary pain out of obligation, but truly think my future lies outside of academia. So i guess im still in a state of flux and so of course trying not to rush decisions, but also feel determine to see if I can find a better way.

Yeah, and i can definitely empathise with that regarding your supervisor problems. I normally get on really well and find him very understanding, but they are currently in their busiest time and have said some pretty callous things at the moment which disappointed me, but reminded be that its only me that can understand the reasons for any decisions i make . (The supervisor does not yet know of my plans to leave).
Well done for complaining, it was the right thing to do as a lot of these things only occur on the basis of the power imbalance, which allows for a lot of injustice on a human level. I hope things may have improved?

Thanks again, and I hope so for you too.

Melodie

Thread: To stay or to go?

posted
15-Jan-18, 21:17
by melodie
Avatar for melodie
posted about 7 months ago
Hi justagirl,

I think I can empathise with your frustrations as I have also been attempting labwork in a situation without a labgroup to ask for advice. My project is based on novel and new experiments where i had to set up a whole mini lab for myself for my work in a different department. I was however shown some basics by the lab manager in that department, so is there no equivalent where you are? Regarding my specific experiments, I just looked at literature and adapted.

I can't really offer much more advice than that as my own PhD is in a bit of a mess for other reasons, but I hope you find a way forward!

Thread: Advice wanted - Feeling hopeless in PhD and wanting to quit

posted
15-Jan-18, 21:01
edited about 6 minutes later
by melodie
Avatar for melodie
posted about 7 months ago
Jamie I'm so sorry to hear of your circumstances as they sound incredibly tough and you've done really well to continue on as you have! I can definitely empathise with the difficulties regarding your mum's sectioning due to the similarities to my situation. My own mother is also worrying my brother and I currently with her behaviour being similar to the last time she was sectioned, making it hard to know what may happen next both for her and therefore also for the situation with my father and his care for his dementia. So Christmas is always just a trauma to get through, not a break.

I'm really quite shocked at your supervisor's response. Does he know the full picture? And if he really is that callous, are there no academic administrators or graduate study directors you could speak to instead? It sounds like your treatment has been incredibly unfair.

I also really think you should make the effort to access the counselling. If I didn't have that, along with good friends, I don't think I'd be here now.

Your last point is certainly true, but as I'm sure you know it becomes increasingly hard to know what the right thing is that's important. I certainly have spent times not knowing if my family, PhD, or personal survival are the right thing to prioritise, and each one has sadly been damaging to the other at some point.

Thankyou, and I really hope things get easier for you. Remember that the PhD isn't everything you are.

Thread: Advice wanted - Feeling hopeless in PhD and wanting to quit

posted
15-Jan-18, 11:26
by melodie
Avatar for melodie
posted about 7 months ago
Hi again Newlease,

True, and I know I'm lucky to have a positive supervisor that I have got on with. The issue there, is that this experiment that has not worked so far, is in a a different field to my supervisor's, and when I have spoken to a range of people in that field, there is a lot more dubiousness on whether it is a viable thing to keep pursuing.

There is also an issue that is my own failing, which is that to use the results of the experiment data, a large model is needed, which I would need to do around all of the other work, and i think this is where it is not appreciated how large that combination is as a work-load at this point. And with my suspensions and delays, I've even less time left to tackle something that really is big. I also have not done proper coding since my undergrad, and this would still be a massive step up, and so that is basically another large obstacle that another researcher could do, but I am lacking in the skills. Embarrassing to admit, but true. And of course this model only has a purpose if a way is found to make the experiment work, which could take any amount of time, or just not work.

Therefore I really do think the viability of the phd working out to be completely uncertain given the above and everything i've mentioned before, and the fact that I really am not coping very well.

As always the advice is great and makes so much sense, I just wish I was more able to follow it! Though so true about walking in nature, I went for a long walk with a friend on Saturday and it was incredibly calming.

Melodie

Thread: Advice wanted - Feeling hopeless in PhD and wanting to quit

posted
13-Jan-18, 11:07
by melodie
Avatar for melodie
posted about 7 months ago
Yes, I think it is definitely wise to finally sort out exactly what the situation is regarding the second so-fair failed, and I do already have a fair amount written down about it. I think sometimes it's easy to expect people to give you the answers so I think I was just a bit too overwrought yesterday to think clearly or sensibly in the meeting or afterwards!

Yes, I will do that over the next few days, and thanks again everyone as I really appreciate the advice!

I think I don't have enough data yet, but I can at least see the full picture of what would be needed if I do as has been suggested and outline the current state of thesis. So I'll start there :)

Thread: Advice wanted - Feeling hopeless in PhD and wanting to quit

posted
12-Jan-18, 22:35
edited about 28 seconds later
by melodie
Avatar for melodie
posted about 7 months ago
Hi Pjlu, thanks for your message. I have indeed attended counselling, and the counsellor actually promoted the idea of changing to getting an MPhil or the like, as with all of the personal and professional pressures and the impact it is having on me, they are encouraging me to escape before I become even worse in my health, through conversion to MPhil etc. It has definitely been helpful and I would be even worse without it,but I am dealing with a lot of conflicting messages on whether to soldier on or cut my losses, while finding it hard to know the right path. I suppose a point is reached, where even with support or encouragement, the brutal facts of circumstances can't be changed, and that is why the right decision may well be to just prioritise my health and life over the PhD. But of course, trying to convince my supervisor of that fact is very hard as the data and results mean more than my wellbeing, frankly, and that's quite heard to deal with.

(sorry if i'm being a bit maudlin. As previous posts indicate, I've had a tough day)

Thread: Demotion from PhD to MPhil

posted
12-Jan-18, 17:39
by melodie
Avatar for melodie
posted about 7 months ago
amen! I am also in a very similar situation, though still agonising on whether to downgrade from PhD to Mphil as my supervisor is very much against this due to the results of my PhD being wanted for his work and his other new students. But I am really reaching a crisis point in my mental health which was plummeted to severe levels during the course of the strain of the PhD, family illnesses and my own mental and physical illnesses.

I am afraid as someone who is less along the process of conversion than you, I don't know the answers, but I can assure you you are not alone in this sort of dilemma.

Thread: Advice wanted - Feeling hopeless in PhD and wanting to quit

posted
12-Jan-18, 17:04
edited about 13 seconds later
by melodie
Avatar for melodie
posted about 7 months ago
Okay so I had the meeting, and it was a bit of a failure, or at least felt that way. I tried very hard to explain how the 2nd experiment is reeeally not working (with more oomph than last time), and how much the road ahead feels harder because of all my personal problems. I think because I was trying very hard not to cry, I wasn't able to go the whole way into details as much as I would've liked to, such as mentioning changing to MPhil if necessary, but it also just didn't really end in much of a solution or feeling I'd got all the facts across. Sup now wants me to write up a document specifying what has been done so far for the experiment and what's exactly the problem and possible solutions. They also ended it with telling me the immortal words "cheer up!"...which I can't say helped. I guess knowing the severity of anyone's depression is hard, and of course as my boss I feel very awkward having to say such things.

Thread: Advice wanted - Feeling hopeless in PhD and wanting to quit

posted
12-Jan-18, 11:38
edited about 44 seconds later
by melodie
Avatar for melodie
posted about 7 months ago
Thanks a lot Dunham, that is very kind to say, and believe me when I say I've been trying to keep going as well as I can, but I do feel like I've hit some kind of limit.

I am indeed on a 4-year programme (initial year involved broad training and choosing the project) but due to the suspensions I am not as near the end of the tunnel as it may seem. I think it would take at least a year of painful further perseverance to try to get something together to make a thesis, with a lot more labs to try and make an experiment work. But that's also complicated by running out of funding this summer and not having time to use the day for the analysis,in addition to the fact that with all of the extenuating circumstances I may don't think I would make it through that.

Sorry for the pessimistic response, I am indeed going to have that honest conversation with my supervisor though and how some sort of thesis work a chance of passing may be possible and if not whether making an mphil may be possible.

Thread: Advice wanted - Feeling hopeless in PhD and wanting to quit

posted
11-Jan-18, 10:57
by melodie
Avatar for melodie
posted about 7 months ago
sb0070, newlease36, thanks to both of you, as those are very wise words regarding writing up the failed experiments alongside being honest with my supervisor about the need to finish up in a way to try and get the project finished, not necessarily to take it as far as they would ideally want.

I get on quite well with my supervisor and so I guess this has added to my feelings of being a let-down and a bit of a rubbish PhD, but even more so than that I have indeed been demotivated and made incredibly anxious by having no clear idea of the way ahead or how to address these problems. I have a supervisor meeting coming up and so I will broach these issues come what may. I had in fact attempted to tell of the failed 2nd experiment once already, but it was somehow written off as that the method just needs more refining, but this is from a supervisor from a completely different field. Talking to those in this field (a field I also did my masters in), they have all agreed that it is really not working. So I guess I need to argue my case a bit more, but to say I feel unconvincing and ignorant is an understatement given all my psychological weights I've previously mentioned. I just feel like I have been running on depleting strength for over 3 years, and just can't seem to get it back.

Thanks for the advice tough guys. I keep hearing such encouraging sensible words, but my mind goes off and does/tells me something else!
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