PhD, parenting and mental health

(8 Posts)
PerpetualStudent Sun 03-Apr-16 00:35:43

OK, I am in my writing up year, back from maternity leave with a 10 month old DS and (so as not to drip feed) lost my father unexpectedly 6 months ago. I've had bouts of anxiety/depression before and think I might be in one now - I'm supposed to be tackling my data analysis, and somehow day after day nothing happens, I feel increasingly paralysed, guilty and inadequate.

I know the key advice is to get help, and I guess that's what I need to do, with GP as the first point of call (But I'm pissed off with myself at being here again - I'm not a mental health novice, I've had CBT before, and feel like I know a lot of what any Dr will say, I'm just shit at implementing it)

But any hand-holding would be great, or if anyone has similar experiences to share? I feel like other PhD/academic parents I know are just getting on with things, whereas I am indulging in these histrionics and self sabotaging.

The PhD process is such a great opportunity in so many ways, but in others it seems tailor-made to induce anxiety and isolation (not helped by the fact I live away from uni and my supervisor is V hands off) when in comes to the ephemeral process of qualitative analysis I'm starting to feel like what I'm doing has no meaning or connection to the real world...

ToastyToasty Sun 03-Apr-16 14:44:46

Hi Perpetual
No advice to offer really but just some compassion (hopefully). Am also writing up (in theory) with a small DC. My PhD has been interrupted countless times by work (in academia), periods of ill (mental) health & maternity leave. I feel like it will never be done but desperately want shot of it so I can move onto other things.
I constantly chastise myself but then when I actually do sit down to write it is, as you say, lonely unless you have the time to really join in with the seminar series, social activities & other stuff young and full time (child free) PhD students seem to be up to.
I keep trying to focus on the fact that the end IS in sight & that also I have to accept working towards just a 'good enough' PhD rather than the world's best grin
I'm currently getting a lot of anxiety & panic attacks when I sit down to write. I'm trying to do small bits of work that make me still feel as if I'm making some progress (e.g. Planning sections, reading, organising stuff) but none of these actually get the dreaded writing done.
Like you, I've had CBT & know what I Should Be Doing but have a real block with this. And I'm not an undisciplined, in-motivated person in every other aspect of life!
Keep looking at a postcard I put up that says "I can. I will. End of Story" shockconfusedsad

I am sorry to hear about the loss of your father, 6 months is not very long ago.

When are you trying to write?
Do you have a submission deadline or anyone that's pressurising you?

AimUnder Wed 06-Apr-16 09:49:16

Hi, it must be tough with a 10 month old & bereavement, you've got a lot on your plate.

Do you think taking a temporary break for a few months might help till you settle down? Do you have child care? Or how about going part time?

Lweji Wed 06-Apr-16 09:52:29

So sorry for your loss. flowers

Regarding the PhD, would it be too late to appoint a co-supervisor, or lean on your advisory committee?

Even with a hands off supervisor, you can pester them and try to set up regular meetings.

crazyhead Mon 11-Apr-16 17:38:35

Mainly I just wanted to sympathise. I lost my Mum last year when my sons were 1 and 3. It is bloody hard. I wasn't doing at PhD at the time but had other stressful work issues (manage a large team, work restructure). I have been struggling with endless viruses in the last three months and I'm sure it is delayed stress. So I know where you are coming from xxxx

Stupid question, but one thing about studying and having babies is that you never have time off. Have you given yourself that? Could you? I just wonder if a few weeks or months of just crying and having the chance to be a bit more self indulgent might help?

PerpetualStudent Fri 19-Aug-16 16:23:24

I feel pretty guilty returning to this thread after so long. I did read your advice and support back in April and it was helpful. You're so kind to share your thoughts and experiences.

I somehow didn't mention in in my first post, but a I was away on a research trip at the time (with DP and DS in tow) and in the logistics of moving back home, setting up childcare etc etc somehow tackling the anxiety issue got pushed to the background.

I even managed to make progress (all be it painfully slow) writing up a chapter. However, I think ignoring my mental health has now come back to bite me as I'm starting to have panic attacks. It feels so frustrating, like there's an airless fog around me stopping me from enjoying my life

I'm thinking a bit more seriously about taking temporary withdrawal to give myself a bit of breathing space. Anyhow, came across this while doing a bit of thinking today and wanted to update. Thanks again.

dylexicdementor11 Sat 20-Aug-16 07:52:42

I withdrew from a PhD program after having a baby. It turned out to be the best thing I could have done.

It's sounds like you really need to take your mental Heath seriously. Taking some time away might be a really good thing for you. Have you contacted your GP or the counselling services at your institution?

Good luck!

Miffytastic Mon 29-Aug-16 13:54:32

Hello OP, thanks for coming back and updating. I can relate to so much of your post, I had a break during writing up for similar reasons. The isolation and anxiety of PhD writing is awful but I'm handling it a bit better now (STILL not finished tho!). Best wishes to you, look after yourself x

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