Venting stress

02-Jun-10, 13:55
edited about 29 seconds later
Avatar for PrettyPollicy
posted about 10 years ago
Hi there,

I've not posted much before, but often check these pages in hours of academic isolation....often helps to feel i'm not alone in my situation. Basically, I'm another MA student trying to cope with a dissertation while working full-time (and more) in a challenging job, where they don't make any affordances for my study - and also trying to keep my Bipolar under control with meds that often dampen my creativity and determination, it seems. Maybe that's just an excuse...

Anyway, I just need to vent...I'm scared I won't cope through juggling all of this. I'm a naughty girl, having not disclosed to my new consultant that I'm studying as well as working full-time as I knew in my heart of hearts that I'd be advised against it. I also have to play it down at work and pretend the MA isn't as high a priority as it is to me, and that I won't stress myself out or let it affect my work (as they know about my condition, and would also say "it has to go"). I guess I'm too stubborn to accept any limitations...I really want to do a PHD after this and my tutor is keen for me to apply.
So although - yes- I could just accept my present circumstances and just 'get through it' with a middle-of-the-road pass, I can't bear to allow that. Its just so frustrating!!!! AAAGH.

ANyone have any wisdom to offer...or just shake me into a less self-absorped/ procrastinatory state...either/ both would be much appreciated. And sorry for the negative vibes - I know there are many others in these circumstances who would be much more positive and proactive about it


02-Jun-10, 14:52
edited about 25 seconds later
Avatar for Keenbean
posted about 10 years ago
Hey there Prettypollicy! I think what you're feeling at the moment is quite common for people trying to balance work and study and aiming high in both. Although I have never been in the position of balancing both at the same time I do have bipolar and know how hard it can be to stay on an even keel with so much stress surrounding your daily activities. My meds also cause me problems (I don't think there are any side-effect-free meds for bipolar!) and I have had to develop a routine that allows me to cope with this and to be productive. Is it not possible to reduce your hours at work at all? The last thing you need is to end up getting ill- I have had to drop out of uni and re-start several times in the past before I got my condition under control- and it takes a lot of patience and perseverence to do it. On the plus side my insight into mental illness has been beneficial to me in terms of my PhD subject (in clinical psychology), so there is a silver lining around the dark cloud of bipolar. What are you hoping to study at PhD? And don't beat yourself up about about finding it difficult and feeling as though you should be coping better (or others would be coping better)- we all need to vent from time to time and this is partly what this forum's for! Best, KB
02-Jun-10, 18:45
Avatar for PrettyPollicy
posted about 10 years ago
======= Date Modified 04 Aug 2010 21:23:22 =======
Hi there Keenbean,

Thanks for your kind words and empathy...much appreciated. Just a quick response as I'm in transit, but in answer to your Q, I really don't think reducing my hours is an option - there are only 2 people in my dept, including me and my manager, and we're absolutely until people start throwing cash at the cultural sector for us to get more staff, I think it'll stay this way. I'm lucky to have this job as well, so I count my blessings.

In answer to your Q, my PHD would be on some aspect of museology and education, which is really my 'thing'. I have promised myself that I won't juggle this much again...I will have to work part-time through my MA, but am hoping that the difficulty I'm putting myself through now will pay off in terms of the kind of p/t work I can get, hopefully as related as poss. to my PHD area to reduce the impact of working. We'll see...

I really sympathise, and feel I relate to, your having to start/ re-start uni several times. My journey's been bumpy too. Got a completely polarised (v appropriately for bp) outcome in my BA with a fantastic grade for work I did while hypomanic, and an appaulingly low one for the pount when I crashed, right at the end of my course. I was heartbroken, and averaged at a 2:2 overall. This would have been fine had I not taken for granted that I was on track for a 1st. All history now. I also had to interrupt my MA, so its taken me a little over 2 years, part time. Not awful considering...certainly helps that its medicated now, where wasn't before.

Am at my bus-stop now,s o must sign-off, but thanks again for your support!

PP x
04-Aug-10, 21:40
edited about 23 seconds later
Avatar for PrettyPollicy
posted about 10 years ago
Back to my 'venting stress' page again for no surprising fact, its amazing I've gone a whole two months without it!

I'm in that final crunch phase now, within the last 4 weeks of completing the dissertation. I had to cancel one of the two weeks of annual leave had booked to get this done, because of overload at work (not my choice, tbh - I was asked to by boss!). One of our SMT at work caught me trying to cram some dissertation writing in my lunchbreak and offered to write a validation note to my uni asking if I could have an extension. This is a nod in the right direction, on they're part, as they haven't been very supportive given that my topic is completely tied into my work and has resulted in me doing much longer working hours etc etc FOR THEM!!


Although my life would be a little more bearable with an extension, I have read some of the threads in this forum re: the frequency with which students at BA/ MA level apply for these for 'extenuating' (but actually quite normal, often) circumstances. So, my question is this:

Do you think my potential PHD supervisor within my department will look more favourably on a good, not amazing dissertation or a better dissertation thats come out of an extension that isn't strictly 'mitigating circumstances' (since I chose to take on MA and F/T work) -? I think I recall her saying she did her PHD while working, so not sure she'll be bowled over with sympathy.

(Anecdotally, the rest of assignments mainly As, but at least 1-2 Bs - not sure of second yet, so I wanted this to be A to make me look more like a PHD candidate on paper. I don't know percentages, or the university's system for awarding distinctions as I wasn't so bothered about the actual marks until now).

Sorry for the whining....and thanks for any advice xx
18-Aug-10, 13:29
edited about 8 seconds later
by Pjlu
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 10 years ago
at my university in Australia, the postgraduate advisor said that it was really common and quite normal for Master's thesis students to have a few weeks extension. By this I understood about 3 to 4. She also assured me this did not affect grades with examiners.

However my own supervisor is now treating my thesis as if it were part of a pure Masters by research rather than a course work/research unit + thesis degree and will not let me submit until she is completely happy with it. So I will have gone 2 to 3 months over deadline (not my choice) I imagine by the time I ever do get to submit it. But she does not seem bothered by this, nor does anyone else. In fact the only person who is bothered is me...and to some extent my family and some friends who are bored with the whole process.

So I don't think it would be the end of the world if you went over and I don't think that you have to have huge issues or crises to ask for an extension. Don't apologise for being negative-it is just a part of this process. You can't avoid it every time something comes back with a "what does this mean...can't you see that..." sort of comment. But you probably need to have this discussion with your supervisor-I know that can be difficult but in the end they are the one batting for you and who will help you through this-albeit with a whip at times.
18-Aug-10, 13:51
edited about 2 seconds later
Avatar for queerface VIP
posted about 10 years ago

I have just read your latest quandary and it really does sound like you are under pressure, what with this and your word count horror. when is your deadline? towards the end of a dissertation things always get fraught. you have to let yourself off the hook at this stage and take pleasure in your small achievements which contribute towards the final product rather than beating yourself up about how much you are/not doing.

It is a shame that you do not have more support from your employer given that your work seems to touch on their work. The problem with extensions is not so much that they reflect badly on the student, I think, because in theory people get extensions because they could not possibly have coped without them due to matters arising outside of their control, but that, it is actually quite hard to get them. In every uni I have ever been a student at it has been difficult to get an extension, and usually would have to be for something major such as sudden death of a close person, severe illness etc etc. If you reckon you need an extension, I would lay the ground work now with your supervisor and test the water.

If you get an extension and subsequently write an amazing piece of work, I doubt that the fact that you had more time to do it would reflect badly on you, especially if it is a matter of weeks not years, and I would be really surprised if a PhD application assessor would even be made aware of this. Good luck!
18-Aug-10, 15:54
edited about 26 seconds later
Avatar for PrettyPollicy
posted about 10 years ago
Hi Queerface, Pjlu

Thanks so much for your thoughtful responses! I have until 6th Sept, so the friday before technically due to binding. I feel it should be doable if I manage to focus myself in the early mornings...I never get much done after work, as my day is usually to full-on and I need the down-time, mentally.

I may ask for an extension if I come really unstuck. Its reassuring to hear that this would not be the end of the world as far as my reputation etc. I just get very embarrassed about things where I seem to be unable to cope, as I imagine people (who know about it - i.e. only supervisor, uni DS team and my boss/ HR) automatically link it to the label I have, and see me as someone that's therefore "not able" or even "disabled" at least in terms of complex mental tasks. I know that there's more to it than that, of course, and I am capable when I want something enough, like everyone else... The reason I mention this is that the DS team said months ago I would be entitled to an extension if I felt concerned about the pressure mounting. Therefore, in the eyes of the uni system its now hard for me to separate the pressure-related extension request from the BP-related extension request, which I would not want to make in these circumstances...

Lol - rambling again...but, Pjlu, as requested I won't apologise this time!!

18-Aug-10, 22:14
by Pjlu
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 10 years ago
Hi Pretty Policy,

I understand why you feel the way you do. If it is any consolation, I don't have bipolar or any other mitigating circumstances for my going over time (apart from the fact I took on a really challenging role at work in the Middle of the thesis) and usually work isn't regarded as much of a reason anyway because there is an element of choice.

I could have chosen not to go for this role when it came up last year and wisely focused more on completing the thesis with an aim for the doctorate. So saying work is tough (with my university and supervisor doesn't really wash). Look I know that Australian and UK universities are quite different in some ways-so I really don't understand why my supervisor just says ' forget about that stuff-that's not important' when I bring up deadlines because I would prefer to submit to one. It means the pressure has an end date-my goal posts keep being moved every time I think I've reached them.

But having Bi polar should not be a matter of shame or mean that people can discriminate against you. And the first person that needs to stop discriminating against you is YOU. Don't be so hard on yourself-you are doing something extremely challenging and it is normal to have all of these feelings and the self-doubt, etc. I really would chat to the supervisor about whether a short extension would be regarded in a negative light. You might be surprised to find that a couple of extra weeks is the normal process even if it doesn't say this in the rules.
25-Aug-10, 20:03
Avatar for PrettyPollicy
posted about 10 years ago

Just impulsively pressed 'SEND' on the draft email to my tutor that's been sitting in my inbox for a fortnight. I've attempted to test the water re: getting an extension...though, to be honest, I feel I've downplayed how difficult things are/ have been...

I also took inspiration from Natassia's post in another thread, and cited that I wanted this work to be in a more resolved state than I can get it right now as I want to develop my PHD proposal in the same topic. Hopefully, she'll respect that as a reason, and empathise with my point. So, thanks Natassia for stating what I needed to put into words!

Now, I've just got to wait and see...can't take it back now ;-)
26-Aug-10, 22:01
Avatar for PrettyPollicy
posted about 10 years ago
Woohoo. Got a 3 week extension! This will make life much easier!!!!

Only thing that left a slightly bitter taste was the tone of my sup's email, which made it sound like "you shouldn't be flailing around with 'too much data' as your research design should have accounted for this..." - or, basically an implication that I was stressed because of poorly-managed research, making light of the fact that the main problem has been having to cancel my booked leave for doing the data analysis/ write-up. I hope I'm just being over-sensitive - probably am - cos, otherwise, I've given her the impression that I don't know what I'm doing, which doesn't bode well for the PHD transition...

Oh bother.But YAY-EXTENSION! maybe will see it in perspective tomorrow...

PP (up)


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