As a science PhD student there are many things that you should do in order to be a successful researcher:
- Read: journal articles and critically evaluate them, textbooks for extra information to aid understanding
- Experiment: design, do repetitively to get reproducible results, analyse and interpret results, explain how they fit into the bigger picture
- Demonstrate in undergraduate labs, mark lab scripts,
- Write: quarterly reports, transfer (or upgrade) report, literature review, thesis chapters, journal articles
- Exchange ideas: attend conferences: attend seminars, present seminars or posters, network, talk to supervisor/other members of research group or dept
I would say that almost all of the above have proved challenging or impossible for me to do at one stage or another. I have put it down to my depression/ low self-esteem. Feel free to disagree.
When I was depressed, I couldn't always concentrate on what I was reading. I often felt stupid and useless, because I didn't know things.
I sometimes found it difficult to do experiments for more than an hour at a time. Couldn't focus, couldn't get motivated, found it difficult to troubleshoot when equipment broke down, gave up far too easily. This didn't mean I was incapable of doing them, but after have many 'issues' I started to lose hope and give up trying. Then came my fear of being seen as lazy. I would hide from other people in the department, so they wouldn't know if I was in or not. This was made easier by the fact I had my own lab room at one point, which was lockable from the inside.
Again thinking ability hindered by feeling stupid and useless. Especially affected my writing. If you have no good results, either because of bad equipment or low motivation, what do you write about? Bad for quarterly reports. Eventually got some results, I could write about, but by this time I'm pessimistic about whether this could continue. But publications in journals are out of the question. It takes all my time and energy to just do the experiments, and work with the results.
Demonstration vetoed by lack of results. Incidentally, I feel I might have been good at this. I've been told by various sources that I can be a good teacher... well we'll never know.
Conferences seemed pointless to attend, when you doubt your results, your ability to talk intelligently, and your ability as a researcher. All those clever people, all seem to know what they're talking about. I seem fuzzy-headed and stupid. Brain full of cotton-wool. Nothing sensible to contribute, just asking silly questions and giving stupid answers. Feelings about wanting to hide resurface. Don't talk to anyone about research, not even friends and family. Forget that I actually enjoy science.
Then: don't talk to anyone about anything, they ask questions. How are you? When will you finish? What will you do afterwards? How is that relevant in the real world? I don't have the answers. I made something up at the time.
Please feel free to tell me I'm just a useless scientist, who should have never tried to get a PhD in the first place. I'm sorry for making you read this far.