I Am Struggling and Don't Know What To Do

posted
27-Feb-19, 21:17
edited about 10 minutes later
Avatar for lovelylisa83
posted about 10 months ago
I have just passed the one year mark of my PhD and had my Confirmation Seminar on Monday (25th February). Going into the Seminar, I was under the assumption from my Supervisors that I would be confirmed with corrections to be made (which is normal). However, the panel - which included a prominent American academic in my discipline, who has been relocated to my uni and a 'Distinguished Professor' in my School, along with my two Supervisors said that I am not confirmed and they have recommended for me to be downgraded to a Master of Philosophy. I have been upset this week - constantly in tears and I am going to be honest, feeling suicidal.

It is only a recommendation, and has to go to the Research Team in my Faculty for them to look over the Report and made a decision - but that has me worried as they may side with the Panel. I am hoping that the Faculty can see through this bullshit and deem me to be Confirmed with changes to make - as I refuse to do Confirmation again and I am not going Under Review. I have been to many Confirmations in my School, and each time the panel seemed warm, encouraging and supportive. If there were questions asked that the Candidate could not answer, the Supervisors would jump in and help - my panel were cold and my Supervisors did not jump in to back me up or support me at all. I feel so betrayed by them and I honestly do not know what to do. I have mental health issues (depression, anxiety) and I applied to have a month of leave a few weeks before my Confirmation Document was due to be submitted, however my Supervisor and I both declined it, as he told me that I would most likely be Confirmed with changes (which is fine). I don't know what to do, I feel so hopeless at the moment and just want to cry all the time
posted
27-Feb-19, 22:30
edited about 10 seconds later
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 10 months ago
I don't want to be harsh but you need to make the decision on whether you want the PhD or not. Your attitude sounds like you have already given up. You can complain about the process and lack of support but if you actually want a PhD you will probably have to redo the confirmation. I would not hold much hope in the review unless you have the full support of your supervisors. So I would make the decision.

I would highly recommend you accepting at least some of what they said, they are professors and you are a PhD student, they know a lot more. Fighting them probably won't work but accepting what they said and saying you will work hard to address their comments probably will work. Take it as a learning experience and try not to take the criticism personally, they were critiquing your work not you. You can always make them eat their words and get your PhD.

I would also talk with your supervisors. What are their opinions? Do they think it was a joke, you should do the corrections or take the Masters? Seriously they are your best point of contact and you may feel betrayed but in any situation you need some support. You would impress them if you go in and say "This is how I am going to solve the corrections" and I need to work harder/smarter. Be the bigger person, be positive and just win them over instead of critsicing. All hope isn't lost.

That being said a Masters might be an option if you have enough work for it and just simply write up. If you are done with academia this is an option out. A PhD is harsh on your mental health and it could get a lot worse.

PS: This is just one opinion and I don't full details
posted
28-Feb-19, 00:19
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 10 months ago
Given that you have told us that you have suicidal feelings I would suggest you forget all about the PhD, downgrades, confirmations, the opinions of your supervisor and anyone else and seek immediate medical help.
There is literally no point in any further discussion until you have done this.
Please get help now and feel free to come back when you have done this.
posted
28-Feb-19, 00:59
edited about 24 seconds later
Avatar for lovelylisa83
posted about 10 months ago
I just wanted to come here for some support from other PhD students and I feel like I am being attacked. I have not given up, I am just coming here for support - not to be judged and told that I basically need to suck it up. I want the PhD and that is what I am working hard for.
posted
28-Feb-19, 01:03
Avatar for LilyRachel
posted about 10 months ago
This sounds really horrible! And I completely understand the gut reaction you’re having to it. Definitely have an honest chat with your supervisors , if you want to do this PhD, there will always be a a way forward! Yes a PhD can be harsh on your mental health, but if it’s what you want , you CAN do it , you might just need a bit of support. I think you need to think about what you want and what you need, speak with your supervisors and let us know what comes of the conversation. It’s not easy , but you can do this one step at a time, we are all behind you.
posted
28-Feb-19, 01:12
Avatar for LilyRachel
posted about 10 months ago
Quote From lovelylisa83:
I just wanted to come here for some support from other PhD students and I feel like I am being attacked. I have not given up, I am just coming here for support - not to be judged and told that I basically need to suck it up. I want the PhD and that is what I am working hard for.


Sorry I didn’t see this message until I had pressed send on my message already! It’s good you haven’t been put off by this experience , I think a PhD is such a feat of resilience and if you have a will to finish it, as I said before , there will be a way ! Can you agree to do the corrections , but ask first if you can take some time off ? I think a clear plan forward and a break might be really beneficial. During which perhaps you can see your GP and put a bit more support in place for your return? Just an idea!
posted
28-Feb-19, 08:09
by eng77
Avatar for eng77
posted about 10 months ago
I am sorry for hearing you had this horrible cold harted experience. If supervisors are not to support their PhD students, then of what use are they?
Having a prominent academic and a distinguised professor in the panel was not the best idea. Your supervisors should not have done that from the first place. They are academics who rarely like any work and are very hard to impress.
I would recommend to fight for the PhD and try as much as you can to prevent the downgrade to MPhil. In the meantime, you could take a short break (a week or two). It is also not a bad idea to start looking for another PhD just in case.
posted
28-Feb-19, 10:26
by tru
Avatar for tru
posted about 10 months ago
Hi, lovelylisa83

I am concerned that you have suicidal thoughts. Please go and get help. This is more important than your PhD.

In addition, a PhD and an academic life is full of rejections. I am concerned that you have taken your first rejection very negatively and are feeling suicidal. Could you take a break and think if this career path is suitable for you?

On your Confirmation Seminar outcome, it is definitely shocking to be told to downgrade to a master. However, many times this is not because of the student. It could very well be that the project outline/ research plan does not have enough depth. This could happen when the supervisors are inexperienced. It may be possible to recognise this and incorporate new aims or ideas to lift the project to a higher level with input from experienced researchers.
posted
28-Feb-19, 10:46
edited about 28 seconds later
Avatar for orchid11
posted about 10 months ago
It must be really tough having to go through all these!! But I would suggest first thing is to talk to a counselor and get some help especially when it's taking a toll on your mental health. PhD can wait and if you really want to continue with it, there will always be a way to achieve it. You can perhaps talk to your supervisors or change the project direction if possible? Nevertheless don't hesitate to post here and get support.You can do it! :)
posted
28-Feb-19, 14:45
edited about 11 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 10 months ago
Quote From lovelylisa83:
I just wanted to come here for some support from other PhD students and I feel like I am being attacked. I have not given up, I am just coming here for support - not to be judged and told that I basically need to suck it up. I want the PhD and that is what I am working hard for.


Nobody is attacking you on here. I'm not sure where you are getting that from.
You mentioned that you are having suicidal thoughts. Under those circumstances there is only one course of help and advice open to you and that is to seek urgent medical help.
Nobody on here is qualified to give you any other advice until you have dealt with your immediate medical emergency.
posted
28-Feb-19, 15:30
by monkia
Avatar for monkia
posted about 10 months ago
Dear lovelylisa83, please dont do that, I do feel the pain you had, and I dont any one to think of suicidal thoughts, there is always light in the end of the tunnel, you can say my story and thanks I found another hope! What ever the reasons dont lose hope, I know it is hard so much, be strong, nothing is the end of the world, there is always a light. I wish I could help as much as I can as people here helped, please feel free to share and pull out what is inside you.
posted
28-Feb-19, 15:33
by monkia
Avatar for monkia
posted about 10 months ago
lovelylisa83, you have to read my story, however, why your are pessimistic, you still didnot get any decision yet, keep the best wishes! In worst case, if they recommended you masters, you can find another program, you spent only one year, right? so, you can find a new place, however, you have to wait maybe it will good result that you are going to continue. You are so emotionally involved and I am the same person and I understand why do you cry, I wish I can help and relief, but please wait and keep us updated about the results, fingers crossed!
posted
28-Feb-19, 19:19
Avatar for LilyRachel
posted about 10 months ago
Quote From pm133:
Quote From lovelylisa83:
I just wanted to come here for some support from other PhD students and I feel like I am being attacked. I have not given up, I am just coming here for support - not to be judged and told that I basically need to suck it up. I want the PhD and that is what I am working hard for.


Nobody is attacking you on here. I'm not sure where you are getting that from.
You mentioned that you are having suicidal thoughts. Under those circumstances there is only one course of help and advice open to you and that is to seek urgent medical help.
Nobody on here is qualified to give you any other advice until you have dealt with your immediate medical emergency.



I’m sorry to jump in here , but to just give my personal perspective on this... When you are feeling suicidal and this is in part due to external circumastances. practical steps as to how to deal with the matter in hand (the PhD) are very helpful to alleviate some anxiety there and bring back a sense of control. Simply saying “forget the phd and get help” whilst very well meaning (and obviously it is very important to seek help of some sort!) can seem slightly aggressive and dismissive.

“Get help” - what help? Where? How?
“get help” - but there’s no available doctors appointments until next week
“get help” - I’m on a waiting list that goes on for months and in the mean time what do I do?!

I’m definitely not saying you’re wrong in any way, just in my opinion telling someone to not talk about the issues they’re facing until they have got “help” (that might not be readily available and is most likely oversubscribed and underfunded) shifts a lot of pressure back on to that person, who is asking for some support. Sorry I’m not the most articulate today, I wonder if that makes any sense ?
posted
28-Feb-19, 21:05
edited about 6 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 10 months ago
LilyRachel,

I understand where you are coming from but you obviously understand that there are almost certainly no trained counsellors on this site. People are trying to give the OP some well intentioned help and it should be seen as that.
If someone is suicidal, talking about their PhD can do more harm than good. We are not talking about someone who is a bit low or struggling a little with depression. We are talking about someone actually considering suicide and so there is no sensible alternative than to advise the person to seek help immediately.

I am not a mental health expert but if the OP is in the UK, they could try phoning the Samaritans or other online or phone-based groups specifically setup with people who are trained to help them. That is the only sensible advice which can be given when someone talks about being suicidal. Any other advice can be potentially catastrophic.

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