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The week I almost quit my PhD for the 5478721 time

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I am roughly 160 days from defending my PhD in biochemistry. All of my favorite post docs are telling me that I should try to resist counting down but at this point I can't help it. Grad school has been littered with ups and downs so you would think that at this point I'd be used to it. However, looming deadlines that only seem to multiple instead of shrink. I'm going to be working out of a collaborator's lab in Toronto for several weeks leading up to the new year which means that things need to be done before I leave the country. ( I know it's only Canada but with how difficult it is to get things done on different floors I'm not hoping out much hope for across international borders.) On top of all of this October is typically the month that my migraines flare up.

Let's recap:
-PhD defense less that 6 months away with no thesis written yet
-3 major projects that need to be finished for said thesis
-Leaving for Canada in 6 weeks
Plus migraines for everyone!

Is anyone surprised that my anxiety is up? This week has been especially bad. Insomnia, sleeping with the lights on, waking up crying, general paralysis of what to do next, doubt that I'll ever finish anything that's satisfactory, etc. The whole nine yards. My light at the end of the tunnel through the weekend and the first half of the week was that if I got my work done I would be able to go visit the boyfriend for the weekend. Tuesday afternoon it became blatantly apparent that the way things were (not) working, I would not be able to complete what I needed to make the trip. Crying, I called the Boy and tried to explain what was going on, all the while feeling like a terrible girlfriend and scientist for not being able to complete her work and letting it impact her personal life. How could this be worth it? How on Earth could those three letters be valuable when they're making me this anxious and miserable? The Boy listened and tried to console me. He did a good job at least pretending to understand that I can't get anymore behind, but I know he was also disappointed.

There was the option of going to visit even though my work wasn't done but I know that missing this weekend would mean more than waiting three days to do something. I work in enzyme reactions so once and start something it can't be stopped until it's done. Think of it as baking a cake, you can't bake it halfway then take it out, wait a while, and bake it the rest of the way and expect it to taste the same as if you had bake it once for the prescribed amount of time. I'd be at least a week behind if I went away this weekend.

In all of my disappoint and worry that things were not getting done, the decision to stay was somewhat comforting. I traded a weekend with the Boy for two 8+ hour weekend workdays but in doing that I didn't have to work 14+ hour workdays for the rest of the week. I suddenly have a few hours at night to tidy and cook. I went to boxing and got to do my weights/intervals. I despise working on the weekend and normal go to great lengths to avoid it but sometimes it is unavoidable. As of right now, I'm still not sure this degree is worth all the toil that goes into it but it just might be completable.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Sorry to hear you've had a tough week... If it's any consolation, you're definitely not alone with the "Insomnia, sleeping with the lights on, waking up crying, general paralysis of what to do next, doubt that I'll ever finish anything that's satisfactory, etc." - I remember having those feelings bigtime before my advancement to candidacy, but it totally does come and go sometimes randomly too, and I'm probably going to experience it again for sure if I ever get close to actually defending.

    Glad to hear you had a little relief deciding to stay so that you aren't overwhelmed with work, and that you were still able to do something for yourself in boxing and weights. Hopefully your boyfriend will understand and be supportive...

    You are SO close to finishing! You will make it. You're on the home stretch! It does seem like it'll be a rough schedule to the end with all that you have going on, but you've made it this far, so that shows you can do it. Hang in there!

    emoticon emoticon
    2051 days ago
    Oh my god, does it help you to know that in 160 days this will be over?! I can't even imagine being that close to done...sigh...
    2051 days ago
    I hope obtaining the degree delivers a great payoff. Good luck with your programs!
    2051 days ago
  • DRAK416
    sounds like you had a setback, and now have a plan to deal congrats, you can do it be well, and think how cool it will be to have the third stripe on your sleeve
    2051 days ago
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