PhD has made me nuts!!

posted
26-Aug-19, 13:55
Avatar for Dr_Crabby
posted about 2 months ago
Has anyone else found that doing a PhD has totally messed with your head?

I was a totally different person before I started this and I don't like this incessant worrier that I've become. I used to have confidence in myself, could recognise my skills, I was a go-getter, I was fun and always up for a laugh. Now I feel like punching anyone who speaks to me, I worry all the time, I have a constant nagging voice in my head telling me I'm not good enough, it's driving me nuts. I just want to feel like me again.

Does it go away once you finish your PhD or am I going to end up needing sectioned by the time I get to the end?

Anyone else feel the same?
posted
26-Aug-19, 17:36
edited about 2 minutes later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 months ago
Just looked at photo of myself compared to one taken at the start of my PhD.
In 6 years, all colour in my hair has gone and I've lost about 4 stone.
I look like I've aged about 15 years.

The feeling of not being good enough and additionally being overqualified (even though I never wanted to be an employee or an academic anyway) didn't go away. It actually got worse and has remained so.

I also feel that stress level has not gone away. I seem to go from 0 to 100mph in seconds. I was always pretty spiky but I can nip at those around me for literally no real reason other than my stress tank being so full that any pressure tips me over the edge. To this day I won't tolerate time pressures and actively seek to avoid them.

I couldn't look at any of my PhD level work until about a couple of weeks ago when I started to open a couple of technical books related to it. So far it's OK but I can feel the pressure in the background.

The physical illness which hit me at the end of the process is still with me more than 2 years later as has the constant insomnia. If I sleep overnight I feel great. If I don't I will be physically ill until I get my cycle back again. I get about 2 good nights of sleep per month. That will give you an idea of how often I feel dreadful.

I am pretty highly motivated and I believe in getting on with things rather than wallowing in self pity and can still get things done but I'd be lying if I said that the PhD didn't change me and that I'd fully recovered. I should also say that this is the state I got into despite my PhD going very well with no major problems. If things had gone badly, I'm not sure I would have finished.
posted
26-Aug-19, 17:42
by gcaiii
Avatar for gcaiii
posted about 2 months ago
This is my first post! I logged in just to tell you that you are not alone..

I feel exactly the same and I don't like the person I became.. I was always fun and light like a cloud, and now I feel so heavy all the time.. I am probably depressed..

I have been rereading Thomas H. Benton articles on the Chronicles of Higher Education lately.. He has this list of life circumstances that means you can go to grad school in the humanities without serious danger to their future.. I am lucky as they apply to me but I still feel messed up in my head.. I can't imagine what it's like for people that don't have the financial or family support they need..

I have two small kids under three and one needs early intervention because there is suspicion he is on the autistic spectrum! It is hard not to beat myself and wonder if the stress during pregnancy and early years somehow caused this.. probably not but still the idea bothers me..

My relationship quality with all my loved ones is not at its best.. I am distant and I don't have energy for social interactions.. I was hospitalised three times in the last couple of years and that is not counting when I had my kids!

What really bothers me is that I have been through some really serious things in my early life but nothing messed me up like this PhD.. Absolutely strange!!!

This is why I am submitting an okay thesis next week and understand that it is a huge risk.. I discussed my options with the my supervisor and department.. I am hoping for major corrections.. If I go on like this I will simply go crazy or my body will literally break down from the stress..

The first thing I will do after I submit is book an appointment with a therapist!
posted
26-Aug-19, 18:48
Avatar for Dr_Crabby
posted about 2 months ago
This sounds just like me!! Only I've gained 3 stone in comfort eating, as opposed to working through my stress on a daily run like I used to (can't run now due to a back injury).

I don't sleep either, not unless I drink vodka or take something to help me which is not ideal, and with no sleep, I have no energy and no motivation which increases my stress and decreases any chance of getting a good night sleep.

My PhD has been a nightmare from start to finish and I genuinely wish i had never bothered with it. I really don't like the person I have become since starting it, I hate being a stressy person and not feeling good enough and feeling like I have spent my life at uni and I'm still doing a dead end job with no prospects, I applied for a job last week and had to take all my qualifications off my CV to have any hope of getting it, it's a joke.

I have major corrections to do and I would sack the whole thing off today if I thought for a second it'd make me feel normal again but I know it wouldn't be as easy as that. It would just make me feel like more of a failure.

How long has it been since you finished your PhD? Did you think it was worth doing in the end?
posted
26-Aug-19, 21:33
edited about 16 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 months ago
I finished just over two years ago.
I went into it for very specific reasons and I got out of it what I wanted. It was definitely worth it but I am having to cope with the aftermath which is taking longer than I thought it would.
If I was to go back I'd still do one but I would do it differently. I'd certainly resist the temptation to get as many papers out and would focus more on taking bigger risks after I got the first 2 or 3 published.

As for you quitting, maybe you should make the decision to do so but don't tell anyone for 2 months.
Then see how you feel. Honestly if you hate the process, don't care about the certificate, don't want to use the qualification and it's affecting your health and your relationships to this degree then I'm struggling to see the value in continuing. Alternatively, you could list 3 good reasons to put yourself through this absolute hell. Not wanting to feel a failure is not a reason.
posted
27-Aug-19, 09:20
edited about 15 seconds later
Avatar for Dr_Crabby
posted about 2 months ago
Quote From gcaiii:


What really bothers me is that I have been through some really serious things in my early life but nothing messed me up like this PhD.. Absolutely strange!!!


Sorry I never saw this post when I replied yesterday.

I'm exactly the same, stupidly I decided to research traumatic childhoods which maybe wasn't the best idea considering my own childhood experiences but I was fine before I started this PhD so I didn't think it would be a major issue.

I can totally relate to just getting it done and take what comes next, that's what I had to do by the end before I totally lost my mind.
posted
27-Aug-19, 09:27
edited about 14 seconds later
Avatar for Dr_Crabby
posted about 2 months ago
Quote From pm133:

As for you quitting, maybe you should make the decision to do so but don't tell anyone for 2 months.
Then see how you feel. Honestly if you hate the process, don't care about the certificate, don't want to use the qualification and it's affecting your health and your relationships to this degree then I'm struggling to see the value in continuing. Alternatively, you could list 3 good reasons to put yourself through this absolute hell. Not wanting to feel a failure is not a reason.


I know it seems absolutely crazy to continue and I'm not fussed about people knowing I've quit, none of them have been in my situation so they can keep their opinions to themselves.

I just feel that to quit now, so close to what could potentially be the last hurdle would be a bad decision and would mean the past few years of putting myself through hell would all have been for nothing. Plus I am really excited about the findings, my external examiner said my findings have been found before (in dogs) so are not novel but she can go to hell because dogs don't count lol.

I am considering making an appointment with my GP but I know he will only offer me anti-depressants and I don't want that.
posted
27-Aug-19, 20:51
edited about 38 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 months ago
Quote From Dr_Crabby:
Quote From pm133:

As for you quitting, maybe you should make the decision to do so but don't tell anyone for 2 months.
Then see how you feel. Honestly if you hate the process, don't care about the certificate, don't want to use the qualification and it's affecting your health and your relationships to this degree then I'm struggling to see the value in continuing. Alternatively, you could list 3 good reasons to put yourself through this absolute hell. Not wanting to feel a failure is not a reason.


I know it seems absolutely crazy to continue and I'm not fussed about people knowing I've quit, none of them have been in my situation so they can keep their opinions to themselves.

I just feel that to quit now, so close to what could potentially be the last hurdle would be a bad decision and would mean the past few years of putting myself through hell would all have been for nothing. Plus I am really excited about the findings, my external examiner said my findings have been found before (in dogs) so are not novel but she can go to hell because dogs don't count lol.

I am considering making an appointment with my GP but I know he will only offer me anti-depressants and I don't want that.


Tell your GP you don't want antidepressants and you will be offered alternatives.
Don't delay making the appointment thinking this would be a problem.
It might take a few weeks to get this setup so I would recommend that you go ahead with that. At least for your family if not for yourself. This must be pretty hard on them.
posted
23-Sep-19, 21:40
Avatar for AlphaOmega
posted about 3 weeks ago
I have found my people! Another one who has been steamrolled by their PhD. My supervisor was really harsh and offered no praise. I published like a lunatic whilst writing, I passed with only a handful of typos .... and the whole experience has completely broken me! I have applied to a couple of post-docs and not got anywhere (I am in a really competitive field) and now working an industry job but seriously thinking about quitting and applying for admin jobs so at least I will get my life back, myself back. Honestly I had a better paid job before my PhD - Thought a doctorate would be the push towards career advancement but has been anything but. Frankly I wish I had not bothered with it.
posted
23-Sep-19, 21:48
edited about 21 seconds later
Avatar for AlphaOmega
posted about 3 weeks ago
Oh and I am also going to see my doc next week to tackle the depression and anxiety that I have developed since that wretched day in 2014 when I decided to do a doctorate.

Honestly, I do not want to sound dramatic but my life has gone downhill since.

I blame my doctorate even for Trump and Brexit. ;)
posted
07-Oct-19, 14:39
edited about 27 seconds later
Avatar for Dr_Crabby
posted about 1 week ago
AlphaOmega

I totally understand, I was in a better paid job before I started it too and I am now working for a total maniac of a boss in a dead end receptionist job which I hate!! I had my viva in June and I have still not managed to get up the courage or motivation to go back to my thesis yet. Time is ticking away and all I keep thinking is tough, I need to make time to sort myself out right now.

I honestly think the whole PhD has been a total waste of my time and sanity.

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