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to wish it was all easier?

(7 Posts)
stripeyjimjams Mon 29-Apr-13 10:54:02

I'm sorry, this is maybe not an AIBU as such, but I just needed to vent.

I'm so, so stressed and worried about everything. I'm doing a PhD which I need to finish by October (the uni would probably let me have more time but October is when my funding runs out, and I need to be earning). I've been applying for academic jobs but there is so little out there. I want to finish this PhD but I'm dreading it too, as I have no idea what I'll do when I finish.

For the past few years, I've had anxiety and depression. I've been on a variety of meds, but they all eventually seem to stop working. I had an appointment with a psychiatrist about 2 months ago and he said I should increase my dosage. But I'm so sick of this pattern of increase or change med, feel a bit better, but then crash and need another change/increase. I haven't increased my dose since we spoke because (and I'm ashamed of this), I've put on so much weight with the meds. I eat a healthy diet and I've never been this big.

I've tried to stop smoking many times but find myself feeling so bad that I'm suicidal every time. I wear nicotine patches at the weekends or on holiday because my DH really hates smoking (his DM had cancer but has recovered, thankfully). Sometimes they seem to work and I feel OK, sometimes they don't.

I had one on yesterday and was just feeling so anxious I was shaking. I'm sick of being this crap person who everybody needs to check up on. Me and DH really want to have kids, but I think I'd be a shit mother. I can barely look after myself. And what if I really couldn't stop smoking during pregnancy? I'd never forgive myself. I just don't know how I'm going to manage finishing my PhD, getting a job, fending off these episodes of mental illness and stopping smoking one day. I'm at a loss.

HighBrows Mon 29-Apr-13 11:19:48

I feel for you.

You need to focus on keeping mentally well and finish your PhD.

All the other stuff, smoking, getting a job and having kids will all fall into place eventually but for now your focus should solely on keeping well and finishing.

Would CBT help you at all, even just a fortnightly chat with a therapist just to tell you to put all the other stuff on the long finger.

I kind of feel your pain I'm finishing my degree at the moment, have to write my thesis and it's really hard I don't know how I'd cope with a PhD! My hats off to you. Take care.

violetbean Mon 29-Apr-13 11:22:44

Hi stripey

I can empathise with your story because I've been struggling to finish my PhD alongside anxiety/depression for a number of years now. My deadline is November.

Holding your hand; have some advice that you can feel free to ignore too.

Firstly, the smoking. Have you tried Alan Carr? Or cutting down your cig count each week, putting yourself on a strict schedule as if you were doing essays and meeting a certain word count each week? Does your GP surgery have a stop smoking support service? You must stop, imagine if you have DCs and can't look after them / see them grow up due to emphysema? (this happened to my uncle)

Secondly, the PhD. Have you been on Phinished? Google it if not. Big support group for PhD students, have found it invaluable for hints, tips and general support /hand-holding.

Finally, sounds like you have been great in getting help with the anxiety/depression etc. Does your uni have a disability support service that you could use for extra support? Mine have been pretty helpful.

PM me if you want to chat. Please know that you're not alone!

ElleMcFearsome Mon 29-Apr-13 11:27:04

Oh crikey, I've just posted about how easy I'm finding quitting using e-cigs. Don't read my thread! I'm so sorry you're struggling. It sounds like you're trying to do a lot all at once. Maybe concentrate on your PhD and worry about the rest at a later date? Sorry - not very helpful, but didn't want to read and run. try and be nice to yourself.

AutumnMadness Mon 29-Apr-13 11:58:49

Oh you ppor thing. It is just shit. What field are you in, if it's not a private matter?

Academia can be really shit. Finding a full-time job it in (and even a bloody post-doc, let's be frank) can be really-really hard. Especially now, when everyone is hoarding money.

Is you DH earning? Can he support you both for a bit? If yes, then just give yourself some slack. Focus on one thing at a time. You are submitting in October. This is six months away. You are not going to die of cancer if you smoke for just six more months or not be able to conceive if you delay pregnancy for six more months. Just finish the bloody write-up and forget about everything else for the moment. Not much point looking for jobs now either as we are in post-REF doldrums. All unis have just spent their money hiring people with publications before the REF. It will be a few months now before they start hiring again. So chill, chill, chill.

And you are not going to be a crap mother. Just look at yourself, fgs - you sound ultra-responsible.

stripeyjimjams Mon 29-Apr-13 12:44:27

Thank you so much for your replies, everyone. All your kindness has made me a bit teary.
HighBrows, I'm going back to see the therapist soon. It's just another one-off appt but hopefully I might get a more regular slot. And good luck with your thesis!! I hope you've enjoyed your degree.

Violet, thanks for the tip about Phinished - I'm going to take a look. And good luck with your thesis also - I guess I don't have to say I get how you're feeling. Someone once told me PhDs were total hotbeds of anxiety and depression. Sometimes I think universities need to take a look at how their PGRs are feeling in general.

Elle, actually, I just read your thread and I'm so pleased for you! Go on, that girl!

Autumn, my field is visual arts and French. Both totally oversubscribed, but part of me thinks I'd be happier in a more student services, less isolated role anyway. Thank you for your kind words. And I absolutely have so much respect for female academics like yourself. It's a bloody minefield...

I was just talking to one of my fellow PhDs about how I'm feeling, and she thinks a lot of it's to do with trying to be the best, trying to 'have it all.' You end up with so much guilt when you let one of those plates stop spinning.

violetbean Mon 29-Apr-13 13:17:00

Thanks so much for the thoughts, stripey. A book I've found quite helpful is 'mindset' by carol dweck. Got me to think a bit deeper about the roots of my anxieties and the ways to change how I see the PhD. Was recommended by a Phinished member! smile

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