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(42 Posts)
ocelot41 Sun 27-Jul-14 20:10:52

Is it normal to feel a little emotionally weird on getting close to finishing a PhD? Work is going well but I just feel really tearful and insecure...and I don't know why. It is like having PMT but all the time!

Plus my supervisor ( who was always quite light touch) is now very, very light touch indeed. Just when I could do with a cheerleader! Has anyone been down this road and can advise?

EBearhug Sun 27-Jul-14 20:17:43

It's been 3 years of your life (if not more.) Of course you're going to be feeling weird about it all. Even if it's going well, that doesn't mean it's not stressful. Is there anyone else you can have doing some cheerleading? Other PhDers, friends, family?

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 27-Jul-14 20:40:52

It's very normal. smile

Get yourself to your GP if it's really not going away - it's not unusual to end up with depression (cheerful point to make, I know).

ocelot41 Sun 27-Jul-14 20:43:27

Good point Ebearhug! It has been six as am p/t and it has been SUCH a long haul as have f/t job and had DC part way through

I am hopefully close to finishing first draft ( just got Conc to go) and I know there is probably still a lot of work to do but I just want it to be over now! I suppose it is too much to hope that he will read it, tell me it is bloody brilliant and I can go for a long lie down, isn't it?

Bit tricky on the support side - DH pretty good ( but doesn't really get it as he hasn't done one), all friends all seem to be having a difficult time of it for far more important reasons - second babies, marital troubles, money troubles, health worries, elderly parent worries. You know, PROPERLY IMPORTANT SHIT so I don't like I want to do a me me ME! number on them.

PhD buddies are early along the road so saying I feel so odd because I nearly have a first full draft looks an awful lot like bragging ( plus I don't want to put them off!) Guess I hoped some former PhDs might frequent this forum and offer me their pearls of wisdom ?

ocelot41 Sun 27-Jul-14 20:48:25

Thank you LRD. I promise I will keep an eye on that! I think its just emotions playing whacko at this stage. Could just be sheer thanklessness of totally busting a gut all the time. Any tips for making it through sane?

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 27-Jul-14 21:10:47

You do need a support group. Are you on twitter? There will be hundreds of other PhDs just finishing and there are hashtags you can follow to chat.

For that matter I bet there are other PhDs in their writing-up year on here.

I think setting goals with friends (doesn't have to be other PhDs or others at the same stage) is good. I get why you don't want to moan to your mates or boast to the earlier-stage PhDs, but it doesn't have to come across as moaning if you're just being factual about having a task to do this week and needing to motivate yourself.

ocelot41 Sun 27-Jul-14 21:42:48

Thanks LRD. Will check out Twitter!

msmoss Mon 28-Jul-14 10:07:38

Hello ocelot41 another PhD here I'm trying to finish next year, although this maybe somewhat of a pipe dream given the amount of work I have left to do and the speed at which I'm working. I'm fulltime but have had both my children since I started so it's taking me a lot longer than 3 years! Happy to join in with mutually supportive chat on here if you're up for it.

This week I am going to finish transcribing my interviews and finish a conference paper that is due in 4 days.

I think feelings like this are totally normal btw, someone said the word Viva to me the other day and I nearly burst into tears blush

Waves to LRD (Not sure if you remember me I haven't been around for a while but I occasionally contributed to the general academics threads.)

ocelot41 Mon 28-Jul-14 15:43:02

Hi MsMoss! Yes yes yes to mutually supportive thread! And I know a speedy and cheap transcriber if you want to go that route! Good luck for your conference...

LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 28-Jul-14 16:09:25

Hi MsMoss. I do remember! Good luck with getting to the end of it.

You have to keep in mind - tears relase a hormone to make you feel better (honestly, I know no science but I'm sure this is right). So crying isn't a bad thing when you're stressed.

I am scrambling like mad to get stuff written at the moment so need reminding of this too! grin

msmoss Mon 28-Jul-14 16:50:01

Thanks for the offer ocelot41 I'm doing what they describe in the text books as 'immersing myself in the data' hmm grin I also don't think I could bring myself to let someone else hear my line of questioning I've just spent the entire day cringing at my complete inability to ask a clear and concise question, what's worse is that I'd slowed down the recording, I sound like a Sloan on tranquillisers blush

Despite it being painfully slow though I do find it easier to listen to than come new to 20 pages, and I do quite enjoy noticing the patterns in people's speech such as verbal punctuation. You can also pick up when you're being fed a stock response and when someone is actually telling you what they really think after a couple of listens which is pretty useful.

I'm very impressed that you're nearly finished your first draft, but know what you mean about that really not being anywhere near the end of it. What is it about this whole process that takes so long? Even the very simple things become ridiculously drawn out and protracted when I really don't think they would be in any other situation (although that may just be me).

LRD Oh I know I love a good cry, just not in the office in front of proper academics grin. How did the job hunting go? Are you writing for publication?

LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 28-Jul-14 16:56:38

Oh, I know the feeling! Though I was once told if you've never cried in front of your supervisor, you're not working hard enough (I never did, whoops!).

Job hunting went fine. I'm writing lectures atm. But I am still in the headspace of just finishing the PhD and regularly thinking 'oh, thank god I'm done!'

chinamoon Tue 29-Jul-14 09:53:27

Ocelot really glad you posted. I'm feeling exactly like this. Really teary and unsure. Got one year left and am just staring at the page without a clue how to go about it. Seems my head could split with information but when it comes out on the page it reads like a GCSE essay.

Like you I have DC who keep me v busy and also, the PhD has made us fairly broke - savings used up though chances of a good job afterwards in my field are pretty high. Friends all have real problems and there is no one to go Waaaahhh!!! to.

ocelot41 Tue 29-Jul-14 18:14:01

Oh I have cried in front of my supervisor LRD! Hit a real wall in my second year when DC still not sleeping, work imploding and parents had to move to sheltered accommodation. He was kind but obviously ( and understandably) keen not to morph into a counsellor. So I have never done it again!

Good to hear from you Chinamoon. Waaaah away! Where are you up to with writing up? I hold to the principle of 'shitty first drafts: ie whatever you get down on paper is always rubbish to start with, but at least once you have got SOMETHING down. But it is REALLY hard though when you can't see the wood for the trees and I don't know many mum phd students who have the time to hang out with other PhD students to kick those ideas around and clarify stuff with...

ocelot41 Tue 29-Jul-14 18:18:49

Sorry Msmoss, I thought I replied to you but didn't post properly. I am VERY fortunate in that I already have a lecturer position on the basis on my industry credentials BUT my uni is fast going down the toilet ( can't name names) and I can't get to safer shores until this PhD is in the bag. I have a few journal articles to my name and was entered in the REF but always feel like I am behind those who are younger than me and didn't do a career change. It all took so much effort but looks so little when you write it down!

chinamoon Tue 29-Jul-14 19:00:16

Ocelot I totally agree about the shitty first draft. But I sent one to my supervisor the other day explaining very clearly that it was a SFD and he treated me like an imbecile who doesn't know the basics. I was so shocked. I thought he'd discuss the ideas with me, and how to develop them. But he was explaining really obvious stuff that he knows I've taught myself in the past. Got me thinking the supervisor really doesn't ever want to see the SFD.

Been at work all day and only wrote 950 words. Of which 800 are waffle. Hmmm. (Won't always be this negative - just really feeling the strain right now with the summer holidays and DC in and out asking qus and an AP deadline only days away.

ocelot41 Wed 30-Jul-14 20:10:44

Chinamoon I honestly don't think 950 words is bad! In fact I think that's my average speed! And virtually impossible to write with DC in the house...

I totally agree that supervisors don't want to see SFD - or at least they only tolerate it when you are in your first year. Mine even gets tetchy if its a 'nearly there but needs a chop' draft... [sigh]

chinamoon Wed 30-Jul-14 23:42:04

Glad you think 950 words is an OK pace, Ocelot. I just worry about getting it all in on time and having enough in a fit state for the AP, which has to go to supervisors in about two days and to externals in a month.

I started a general support thread btw so your thread didn't get swamped by other people's woes.

chinamoon Wed 30-Jul-14 23:44:10

Ocelot this is very naïve of me but I had no idea some unis were in dire positions. Is your field one where work is pretty much a given if you have a PhD?

ocelot41 Thu 31-Jul-14 07:11:45

I will go look for your thread Chinamoon! What's it called? And yes, some unis are having a bad time of it, esp the newer ones, since the tuition fees went up. Subjects where recruitment is down are experiencing redundancies and repeated budget cuts, subjects which are popular just take all the students they can get including very, very weak or troubled ones via Clearing. But there's no extra staffing provided and many of the support services are down to skeletons because of cuts so workload has increased dramatically.

Mine is by no means the worst - some are total slave ships! But the very high volumes of very needy students and the constant budget cuts are starting to wear me down - I have been doing this awhile now...

Fortunately I am in an area where I should have some options post PhD in RG unis if they have posts going ( although some of them have their own problems too, including recruitment freezes!). I don't want to put you off because I love lecturing - it is just worth checking out the grapevine about any uni you plan to apply to.

Guitargirl Thu 31-Jul-14 07:22:04

I hear you OP. My final submission deadline is next week. It has been a long old haul, I also work full time and I have had 2 children since I started the PhD. Very very nearly there, am planning on getting the thing to the binders on Monday or Tuesday but yesterday I nearly had a bit of a melt-down and am starting to think I will never feel 'normal' again.

msmoss Thu 31-Jul-14 10:35:26

Very impressed with all of you that also have full-time jobs, I just do this full-time and spend all of my stipend on childcare. Still don't seem to manage to make any proper progress sometimes though.

I keep waivering about whether or not I want to continue in academia or not, there seems to be quite a lot of negativity around the profession, that said very little of this negativity seems to result in people dashing off to other professions so it can't be all that bad. Although I really can't move location so there are very few choices as to where I could work so that is very likely to be a decision that is made for me, so all options have to remain open. Really not looking forward to job applications and interview though.

chinamoon I'm currently only showing my supervisor conference papers and the like, nothing else is at a stage that would really be of interest to him. He also has two other PhDs who will be submitting in the next month or two so he is much more concerned about what they're writing I think.

chinamoon Thu 31-Jul-14 16:49:03

Guitar please tell me you were doing yours PT. Two kids and a PhD in three years would have given me a nervous breakdown. Is it usual to submit now for final? I thought it was in October and then vivas in Jan. or is that just my uni. I quiver at the thought that this time next year it all has to be ready.

Ocelot thanks for the tip. We've had staff come in to us from a local Russell Group and we're a newer uni (ex poly) so not sure. My field is still quite buoyant but last place I worked had an enormous number of BAs like you describe. Students who could barely write accepted onto humanities courses, massively over subscribed.

The thread is just called PhD Support thread. my brain was not at its most imaginative!

ocelot41 Thu 31-Jul-14 19:41:11

Hiya Guitar. Coo! Submission! That must be quite a thing. Tell me - how long was the bit between first full draft and submission? ( crosses fingers not too long)

Guitargirl Thu 31-Jul-14 21:18:13

Oh yes, very part-time! It has taken me a whopping NINE years. I took a year off maternity leave for each child so seven years if you count those. In terms of the writing, oh God, I wouldn't recommend to anyone to do it the way I have done. I didn't have much of a choice though as I have quite a demanding job also with lots of deadlines. Put it this way, the last 3 months have not been pleasant! My supervisor saw a full(very ish) draft about a month ago.

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