Am I mad to go back?(5 Posts)
I'm on a 1+3 phd course and 4 months into the three year phd part. I was part of a new research group, one of 3 phd students and very little support from supervisor. I've thought about withdrawing as my mental health has taken a huge hit and I'm really struggling. I reached the point of making the decision to leave and then another lecturer suggested finding another supervisor. However this would mean starting a new project from scratch and hoping / praying I have no more blips as I'll have essentially lost 4 months. Would I be mad to consider it?
Well, you've probably learnt a lot from those 4 months about mistakes not to make again.
If the reasons why you ever wanted a PhD are still true;
If your mental health isn't going to be an issue again (as much as we can foresee anything);
If someone is offering a PhD programme you like...
then why not?
Thanks Med. Re my mental health, it only spiralled as a result of having no support from my supervisor, so I guess as long as my new supervisor (or their group) provides some sort of support it'll for the most part be okay. I don't really know what my reasons for doing it are tbh. I have no idea what I actually want and in some ways I feel like the PhD gives me the time and space to figure that out as it's something set in stone (as such) for the next almost three years and I actually get something out of it rather than bobbing around doing odd jobs here and there. I do enjoy the subject but I'm not sure it's where I want to be for the rest of my life...
Honestly, based only on what you've written here I'd suggest that maybe you should cut your losses. I think you've really got to want to do a PhD in order to have the drive to stick with it to completion -- & I'd never advise anyone who doesn't definitely want to be an academic to do a PhD now anyway because there's so much pressure on students to complete within time. A PhD is always going to be a massive strain on your mental health IMO & so you've either got to be sure you can cope with that, or you've got to be doing it for a very clear reason (I.e. career).
As for your supervisor, are you sure anyone else would be any more supportive? You may find yourself in the same situation even with a new supervisor. PhD students are often surprised (& confused/frustrated/alarmed) by how little guidance they actually get -- it is an independent project, after all. (Though I'm coming from a humanities perspective, it may be somewhat different for STEM subjects.)
I'd say that you should either stick with what you've got, if you can, or just go and do something else -- there are so many other really great jobs/professions out there. Academia is a tough life, the PhD is only the start of that.
Thanks for your take on things Margoony I'm not sure being an academic is the only option. I think the PhD opens door in many careers, I don't think it's unrealistic to say I know I don't want the hours that come with being an academic when I know DP and I want children within the next 5 - 10 years, something which in my opinion is not compatible with the ridiculously long hours of an early research career. Re supervisors, I can't be 100% sure somebody else would provide more support but I know that out of all my friends doing a PhD, not one has had such little support from their supervisor / group as me. I think it's different in STEM in that everyone in your particular lab is doing a similar sort of area and so can help with bouncing ideas around.
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