Ground Control to Major Tom

It’s just over three months until my thesis is due. It’s a difficult time in any PhD student’s career, but I have not had a typical PhD. And yeah, I know there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ PhD, but there are certainly more typical experiences than mine. I’m currently struggling with depression and intermittent illness. I’m not sure why, but after riding me pretty hard last months, the Gods of Ill seem to have backed off a bit, and I am motivated to use this time, but my depression is not.

I’m constantly stopping and starting and it’s pretty hard to synthesise the tough stuff  when each time you sit down it takes a day to refamiliarise yourself – and that’s if I’m not so swamped by the depression that I’m simply unable to get any perspective on it.

I am trying THINGS. Today I signed up for Habit RPG, and it maybe helped? It’s a thing that gives you points for completing tasks, like XP in a role-playing game. I am much better at living pretend lives for which I receive points than my actual life. So. I suspect it’s faddy. We shall see.

I’ve also Googled various things. Like ‘thesis survival last three months’. A lot of it has advice that is clearly not tailored for me. Things like ‘Make sure you have an hour just for you every day’. Who are these machines who can take only an hour off per day? Full-timers with funding, I suspect. Another ‘tip’ was to not take a job unless you absolutely have to. LOL. I quit one of my jobs in January. I guess that’s progress?

I started this blog shortly before it all went to hell, I think. I was in a bad financial and emotional place, and I knew it was going to make my life difficult. I was trying to stay positive about it. I tried imagining it as a kind of bohemian rollercoaster ride. What I didn’t say, of course, is that I never liked rollercoasters. I guess the rollercoaster ride made me sick.

The one reassuring thing I have found in Googling are quotes from people who speak to something I recognise. So, I’m sharing them here (maybe because procrastination, maybe because it helps to externalise, IDK):

I felt like I was in a bad marriage with this alien thing, which was no longer bringing me any joy

Thesis Whisperer

Yes. This. Please, PLEASE stop telling me I should be enjoying this. It’s normal for people not to at this stage and you’re just making me feel worse for a sentiment that is natural.

I am tired of people asking about you: they always ask about you, how you’re doing, how far I’ve gone with you. To be honest, I want to see this through to the end, I want to go all the way with you, but then I want to put this relationship behind me.

Kyle Farley

The Thesis Whisperer associates such thoughts as these with a process of detatchment that is necessary in that final few months. I don’t know about that. It feels too demotivational. I have not gotten the anticipated benefit of just thinking that I can put stuff down and it doesn’t matter.

I guess it helps to know you’re not alone, though. I’m very isolated. The people who reach out to me are great, btu they aren’t the ones doing Philosophy PhDs. The vast majority of the people I know doing those are younger than me, working full-time, and driven by something I used to have that I now lack. They are not dealing with the things I am dealing with, and I can tell that they do not understand. And the consistent advice I have from my supervisor and my therapist is to talk to my peers. But no one is really in this situation, so, that’s hard. Harder, because then I am also a failure at finding peers.

I want to be on the other end of this. But that’s three months of really hard work away. And I don’t know if I’m up for it.

Why am I posting this here? I don’t know. It’s definitely not to solicit advice, so please do  not go there. I guess it’s because I need to say this somewhere, seeing as those ‘peers’ everyone keeps telling me about are not in evidence.

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1 Response to Ground Control to Major Tom

  1. redaugust says:

    I think I am a sort of peer, not that we know each other. I am on the so called last leg of my PhD and it is so hard. I have not yet set a submission date and hope to put off doing this until I can imagine being able to finish the thesis. This calls for a commitment-phobe categorization to further the marriage theme.

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