health issue

posted
17-Sep-13, 01:36
edited about 13 seconds later
by marasp
Avatar for marasp
posted about 6 years ago
Two months before resubmission and I am experiencing poor health. Yesterday I collapsed. I fainted in a coffee shop and I was in such a mess that the ambulance came to pick me up. Most likely the reason of fainting was fatigue (to the point I raise temperature), lack of sleep and plenty of stress (due to stress I suffer from insomnia). The A&E doctor asked me to see my doctor for an evaluation of the problem and to get proper treatment and possibly stress management counselling. I have booked an appointment but I am afraid that the doctor will ask me to switch off or work fewer hours (which means that I have to apply for an extension) - and I really want to get done with the PhD as soon as possible. I am so close, yet so far.
posted
17-Sep-13, 08:02
edited about 12 seconds later
Avatar for BilboBaggins
posted about 6 years ago
If an ambulance picked you up then that's a big red warning sign. You're overdoing things, and if you keep going like this - even for a short time - you might do yourself serious damage.

See your doctor, see what he/she advises, and apply for an extension if need be. You will have no trouble getting one on medical grounds given everything.

And don't work yourself into the ground. Nothing is worth that, and you can get an extension.

Also if you carry on past the PhD into academia then you're going to have to find a way of working that isn't so hard on yourself. It isn't necessary to overwork to ill health. And you can get help with stress and insomnia.

Good luck!
posted
17-Sep-13, 11:24
edited about 5 minutes later
by marasp
Avatar for marasp
posted about 6 years ago
Hi Bilbo

Yes, an ambulance picked me up. It was a very scary experience. I was drinking coffee with friends and all suddenly I went completely unconscious. My friends say that I was unconscious for at least 2 minutes. Paramedics came round, gave me first aid (needless to say I got sick and embarrassed myself even more) and took me to the hospital, but I did not stay overnight. They wanted to keep me there but I signed a paper to go home. The paramedics of the ambulance also gave me a sick note stating what happened, and I am also seeing the doctor soon, so that I get some treatment and they send me for counselling. I am currently doing nothing, trying to get as much sleep as possible, as the hospital doctor recommended. I feel guilty for not working. How stubborn am I! I will have to discuss my options with my doctor and then with my supervisor.

All I am saying is that long working hours and in fact, the commitment of a PhD, aren't for everyone. PhDs should come with a health warning.
posted
17-Sep-13, 12:27
Avatar for metabanalysis
posted about 6 years ago
Sorry to hear you are having a tough time. Best to follow whatever the health professionals advice. Note that taking a couple of weeks out might actually keep to your PhD deadline, because a rest might help recharge the batteries and help you work more effectively.

Get well soon :)
posted
17-Sep-13, 13:14
Avatar for DrJeckyll
posted about 6 years ago
Hi marasp,

I am really sorry to hear about your troubles...
I also had a similar experience a few years back. I overworked myself: didn't sleep or eat properly; many days I was feeling exhausted but I would just force myself to go to work. I was admitted in the hospital for a week because of persistent fever, abnormal blood tests and very very low blood pressure. They didn't manage to find out what is wrong with me, and finally I was discharged. It took me a long time to recover, as I was feeling weak for months after that. During my recovery, I was also very depressed and isolated myself from friends and my partner at the time.

Having this experience, I realised that the way I was working was not sustainable. As BilboBaggins says, you need to find a way of working that doesn't endanger your health if you plan to stay to academia. There are simple things you can do to improve your quality of life, such as not working one day per week, working 9 to 5, and giving yourself plenty of time to wind down before going to bed. (and of course exercising and eating properly).

Please, go back to the hospital and have a complete health check up, as it might be something more serious.
posted
17-Sep-13, 13:18
Avatar for bewildered
posted about 6 years ago
Definitely go to your GP and do what they say! You're right to say the long hours culture in academia filters down to PhD students and it's not healthy for anyone. But if your body is sending out this type of warning then you need to listen. A doctor's note will get you an extension, I'm sure. And you might find being forbidden to work by a doctor liberates you from the guilt as it's not your decision.
posted
17-Sep-13, 13:38
edited about 22 seconds later
by marasp
Avatar for marasp
posted about 6 years ago
Thank you for the kind wishes. Yes, I don't think academia is for me after all. But since I am getting there, I am determined to do my best to finish the course. I have decided not to work in academia after I complete my PhD (crossing fingers). Hopefully I will be working in the law industry after that (again crossing fingers). Simply put, working in academia would kill me. We need to prioritize in life and health should be our number one priority. Dr Jeck, your experience sounds very terrifying... I am pretty sure that my doctor will send me for further tests. I knew that there was something wrong with me but I ignored the signs. Wrong!
posted
17-Sep-13, 14:55
edited about 18 seconds later
Avatar for bewildered
posted about 6 years ago
Marasp it might be well be something easily sorted out. Don't panic! And don't go looking on the internet or you will self-diagnose with all manner of unpleasant things (yes been there done that...).
posted
17-Sep-13, 16:23
edited about 7 seconds later
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 6 years ago
Quote From BilboBaggins:
If an ambulance picked you up then that's a big red warning sign. You're overdoing things, and if you keep going like this - even for a short time - you might do yourself serious damage.

See your doctor, see what he/she advises, and apply for an extension if need be. You will have no trouble getting one on medical grounds given everything.

And don't work yourself into the ground. Nothing is worth that, and you can get an extension.

Also if you carry on past the PhD into academia then you're going to have to find a way of working that isn't so hard on yourself. It isn't necessary to overwork to ill health. And you can get help with stress and insomnia.

Good luck!


Bilbo Baggins is spot on with her advice as I found myself in a similar situation way back during Masters. I was told to take 3 months off and was restarted on a new project enabling me to complete my Masters. I took what I learnt into the PhD a few years later and although there were periods were I was putting in serious hours, I tried not to allow the PhD to overwhelm me. It is about time management and allowing yourself time away from the PhD (especially during write-up) to be able to function properly. In my case, it was drinks with friends or even going out for a few miles run.

Apply for the extension, give yourself time out and develop ways of having PhD-free time just to be able to rest.

Ian (Mackem_Beefy)
posted
20-Sep-13, 12:45
by marasp
Avatar for marasp
posted about 6 years ago
An update: doctor gave me blood tests, prescribed me sleeping and anti-stress pills, and he is writing a sick note for the university. With my application for an extension I will provide the sick note from the ambulance / hospital and the doctor's sick note. The doctor is also sending me for counselling, so I manage my stress levels.
posted
20-Sep-13, 14:45
by Nick1
Avatar for Nick1
posted about 6 years ago
Quote From marasp:
I don't think academia is for me after all. But since I am getting there, I am determined to do my best to finish the course. I have decided not to work in academia after I complete my PhD


I think that's a valid decision. Ideally (if not always practically) career choices should be about personal fulfilment. In simple terms, if you don't like your job, or if it's making you ill, it's time to consider alternatives.

Reaching the end of the process myself, I've concluded that I don't have the intellectual and emotional resources for academia. (I arguably have a deficit of both.) As painful as this is to admit, I feel pursuing an academic career would tale a toll on my physical and psychological health. That's not to say this would be true for everyone. Rather, it's an acknowledgement of my personal limitations.

Having worked in the "real world" for more than a decade before returning to academia, I have experience of a career outside of the academy and, while very demanding, my old job was never as all consuming as studying for a doctorate.

I hope you can take some comfort from the fact that you're near the end of the process; and I agree with other contributors that your health must take priority. You can't complete a PhD thesis from a hospital bed.

In other words, rest up, don't worry about what your supervisors will say, and try to put yourself before the thesis for a period.
posted
20-Sep-13, 15:11
edited about 7 seconds later
by marasp
Avatar for marasp
posted about 6 years ago
Thank you Nick. Thank you for your kind comments and I understand the points you are raising. I am determined to finish the course because even though I have ruined my health I can see the finishing line - I was brushing up my conclusions when my health deteriorated. If that incident had happened on year 2-3 maybe I would think twice. It's a pity to stop now.

The PhD is a mental and emotional roller coaster that may consume several years of our life. Day and night! We even dream of our thesis! Academia is the same. The constant need to maintain a strong academic presence, the terrible academic bulling, the publish or perish... the, the, the... I see other people in my age, they come back from their 9-5 work, they do their hobbies, they have a personal life, they go out, they meet their friends, they have families. I don't say they are happy, but they certainly look happier than some of us. To put it straight, they look happier and have achieved more in life than myself.
posted
20-Sep-13, 15:58
by Nick1
Avatar for Nick1
posted about 6 years ago
Quote From marasp:
I see other people in my age, they come back from their 9-5 work, they do their hobbies, they have a personal life, they go out, they meet their friends, they have families. I don't say they are happy, but they certainly look happier than some of us. To put it straight, they look happier and have achieved more in life than myself.


They presumably have time to switch off. I miss weekends, and family, and friends. I've lost touch with the human race as I agonise over aspects of theory that have swallowed what was conceived as an historical project. I've concluded that observation has no value in academia unless it can be refracted through theory. (Obviously my PhD is in the humanities.)

If the objective is a proliferation of theory, that will need revision when applied to a new study, will be of interest only to a handful of scholars, and of no interest anyone else, at great cost to personal relationships, I'm struggling to justify chasing an academic job.

I could spend several more years struggling on little to no money, working more hours than I could possibly count, striving to build a list of publications that might prevent job applications from being binned at first sight, but I don't fancy that much.

Excuse the negativity. (I've hit one of those points in the process). If nothing else, I understand where you're coming from.
posted
20-Sep-13, 16:06
edited about 13 seconds later
Avatar for Pineapple30
posted about 6 years ago
To put it straight, they look happier and have achieved more in life than myself.


Sadly, the above sounds familiar......

Get well soon Marasp! Supporting you all the way x
posted
20-Sep-13, 16:12
edited about 3 seconds later
by satchi
Avatar for satchi
posted about 6 years ago
hi marasp
good to hear that your phd is going fine

sometimes we get into a state of "high" when our phd is in the swing---and our minds go into hyper-mode as well--the thing is that we all need to have a very calm, clear and well-rested head and body to complete our phd---

--and even calmer, clearer, MORE well-rested head and body for our defence later....

so applying for an extension may be good after all :-)

get well soon

love satchi

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