Signup date: 15 Aug 2011 at 3:01am
Last login: 01 Mar 2012 at 6:04am
Post count: 36
I work in a department where although I am responsible for my own project, there is frequent interaction with other people. Many on this forum are suffering from anxiety and depression, do your colleagues know what you are going through? Not friends in the office, but people who work with you.
I moved to another country for my PhD so I don't have a lot of emotional support face to face. And I don't reach out to other people because they'll think I am making excuses for not being productive enough. Also I am very afraid of judgement and office gossip. I have seen it being done behind other people's backs, and absolutely hate it, which is probably why I have slowly withdrawn from being social at all with officemates. They are not bad people per se, just that I want to finish this process without having to make the effort to befriend them. Even if I talk to someone about it, since we are not close, I expect they wouldn't know what to say and a lot of awkwardness will ensue.
My supervisor knows that I am going through some stuff, but thinks I should get over myself. I haven't taken any concrete time off since I started 16 months ago, so my loved ones ask me to take a few days off and go away. But this is out of the question as I know I will get even more stressed due to the guilt of not working hard enough, I have fallen behind already. I have never been confident of my abilities and unfortunately this PhD is bringing out the worst in me. Earlier in my career I have always got positive feedback academically and personally. This is the first time I found people around me who think I am as bad as I believe I am, resulting in me losing even more confidence and paralysing my work.
There is very good advice on this forum for all kinds of problems, so I'm wondering if anyone with social anxiety has dealt with depression and imposter syndrome?
I would say I was ok in school, top 10-20% but hardly ever top of the class. I should also add that I was (sadly, still am) a master procrastinator. I would muck around during the whole year, reading random books and doing extra curriculars. I'd start studying one or two days before the test, and do reasonably well, although under a lot of anxiety ;) Then I would promise myself I will start applying myself more next year, but end up doing the same thing again! I guess subconsciously I knew I could get by with a few hours of study.
PhD decision moment: interestingly I had no interest in research whatsoever, probably because I had really bad teachers in school and uni. I realised I wanted to do research during a job I had started just after graduating. Somehow I landed a job in one of the best companies in the field, and really started to enjoy work. Then I started to love it so much that I wanted to do it all the time, and be responsible for my own project, guide it the way I want and not worry about the company making profits off each penny.
Then quit job and started PhD, and sigh, motivation levels have been dropping ever since :( Always been jealous of those consistent hard workers who would always be top of the class :p
I'm quite introverted, and am thinking that living with others may help me open up. On the other hand it could also shut me up completely, because my home is now my sanctuary, where I leave all problems outside. I'm worried i may not get the same comfort when people are moving about in the house, makes me anxious (social anxiety much?)
Arghhh my ideal living situation would be like in FRIENDS or Sienfeld. A place for myself but across the hall from my best buddies in the whole wide world :D
Yes I've heard those horror stories about flatmates too, its basically a gamble to find one you can get along with. I am also thinking if having a flatmate would make me more accountable and motivate me to cook more often (assuming other people are better than me). I look at my bank statement at the end of the month and wonder how bad could it be to share.. But I can't bring myself to do it just yet, and not sure if the extra money is worth the loss of freedom, I guess the holiday in Peru can wait :)
Just curious, Do most students like to live by themselves during their PhD or share accommodation?
Have heard both ways for this one. I love living by myself and enjoy the flexibility it gives to my schedule, but lately I'm starting to realise I have become bit of a hermit, with no social interaction for days on end. I think of the money I would save if I share and hopefully have people to talk to. But then again, I have become so used to living alone (letting the place get messy once in a while, listening to bad music, cooking in the middle of the night) that I wonder if I would hate sharing a flat. I wish I could experiment for a while, but the lease terms are one year minimum and I don't want to be stuck in a bad living situation during the most important part of my PhD...
What do you guys think? Anyone who lives alone in an overpriced house but hasn't gone insane?
Thats a good tip Timefortea, I am going to try it out right away.
I too have given up using my kindle for reading papers, although that was my original reason to buy it. I found it was too much hassle to email pdfs and then keep scrolling all over. Also I think my attention span is very less, and if I don't read a paper right after I find it, I probably never will. So I end up with a bunch of papers on my kindle that I don't even want to look at when I want to read a novel. So now, the only scientific paper I have on my kindle is Watson and Crick's discovery of the structure of DNA!
Since I don't travel much, I'm sticking to my laptop and getting by with minimal printing. After a lot of effort I have made a folder system that works, and Im finally able to find what I am looking for..
Ipads seem to work for a lot of people in my department though.
Thanks Dr. Corinne, those are really good tips.. my yearly assessment hasn't been done yet, maybe that's why I am so nervous!
Yes Laney and Keenbeen, now that I think about it, even in companies profits are not expected in the very beginning.. its just that when I remember this is the taxpayers money, I feel guilty of not putting it into efficient use. I know it sounds lame but for a person who's not even comfortable taking a loan from someone, it feels like a huge burden. If not anything else, I need to make this liability my motivation for doing a good job!
I would say I stumbled into research after having enjoyed a few projects during my bachelors and masters study. But now I am suffering from the what's-the-point-anyway syndrome, where it doesn't seem like my work would save mankind from a deadly disease like I imagined.
One thing I have gathered from this forum, the journey is not easy, people get out the other side with a sense of accomplishment. Since you said you wanted to teach, try and think of this as just a stepping stone.
A research coordinator at my uni says that even though the phd is a long hard process, it is for life. Once you invest three years into this, you'll get the title and the degree for the rest of your life. There are people on this forum who are doing it just for the degree or for the lack of any other opportunity but doing just fine. Even those who came in with a passion for research find that their expectations have been very different from reality.
I for one, have lost complete interest in my project, and now I'm doing it just to prove to myself that I can undertake a daunting piece of work and finish it. Also the opportunities it will give me to do what I'm really interested in. So for me it is an exercise to build my credibility (and to live up to my family, where every-freaking-one is a phd!)
Don't worry, you have a lot of company 8-)
======= Date Modified 11 Oct 2011 04:57:13 =======
This thought has come from a fresh panic attack, this week it will be one year since I joined my phd.. and I realised I have accomplished next to nothing :( I went back to my offer letter and saw the tuition fee that's been waived for me, and suddenly feel so guilty, in addition to feeling lonely and worthless of course. The government is investing so much taxpayers money in me and I haven't delivered anything of value, which is normally not like me.
I guess the best thing for me is to buck up and make sure my next two years are productive, but I was wondering do students feel the same way even in their 3rd or 4th year? I have been told that science projects like mine need a lot of groundwork in the beginning and get more results later, but I feel like I haven't even done that properly.. Like someone mentioned in the other thread, poor regulation of the program may be to blame.. but I wish someone taught me how to be disciplined when there are no immediate deadlines, and your supervisor doesn't particularly care if you exist :(
I have been thinking about this a lot too.. some days I work long hours in the lab and go home satisfied for having done some good work. But on most days I find that I'm trying to just get through to bedtime. What is worse is when I do get motivated it is not remotely related to my thesis topic! The idea of doing my PhD in an area I don't even find interesting gives me the creeps! And I feel people around see me as a slacker with no passion, and though this is true this bugs me, leading me to try and avoid interactions and slacking off even more..
Sorry for going off on a rant of my own. I guess what I'm trying to say is don't be too hard on yourself.. You can't be expected to produce consistent work everyday for years. Some people are better at coming up with a system than others.
Have you tried having an accountability partner? Is there one person in your department who you can talk to about your goals and can put gentle pressure to complete?
When you have deadlines, mytomatos is a good help.. my problem often is sticking to it when I don't have deadlines. I think it is a skill we need to learn because our undergrad studies are so much more structured, and jobs have high accountability, thereby motivating us to work hard regardless of our feeling for the topic. PhD tends to have neither, which makes is such a unique experience.
Another thing that works for me is dumbing it down. Take one goal at a time and break it into tiny, ridiculously easy steps, and check them off with a big flourish when you are done, reward yourself appropriately
With my depression I have noticed, though it creeps up suddenly, it only lingers when I am giving attention to it, does that make sense? So when it seems like it is dragging me down, I pop an antidepressant and try to distract myself.. even though laying in my bed wallowing seems like all I want to do, I have always felt better when I faced a fear and got something done...
Sorry for the drone, but I hope you feel better!
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