Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Introducing myself and my depression

I'm a just-finished, soon-to-be graduated, PhD-er in an interdisciplinary science subject. I feel that my depression had a very significant effect on my academic career as it crept up on me relatively soon after the start of my PhD. I'm not even sure a career in academia is possible now. I hope that by being a regular contributor to this blog, I might come to terms with this, or find a solution into breaking in somehow. I still  really enjoy my subject and enjoy thinking about it.

I'm currently looking for a permanent non-academic job but this is proving tough. As my research area was interdisciplinary I'm a jack-of-three-trades and master-of-none. Also, I think any potential non-academic employer sees the PhD qualification on the CV and tends to run a mile in the opposite direction. To fill time I do private tutoring and volunteer at a local museum, as well studying bookkeeping to expand my potential skill-set.

I started my PhD studies way back in October 2004 at a different institution to the one I had done my undergraduate degree, eager to work and study hard, make a good impression and make the most of what lief had to offer me. Two years in, I had lost the will to continue, not just with the PhD, but with any aspect of life. I remember sitting in the car with my partner of 7 months, parked outside of the department. I remember resolutely refusing to go into the building. I remember feeling this hopelessness about life, and wanting to give up. I remember feeling like I'd had enough. That was my breaking point.


  1. Welcome to the blog, Chantal.
    I recognize many of the things you talk about — the interdisciplinarity to a very large degree. That makes it difficult even with far fewer complicating aspects (I seem to be able to make it work, kinda, right now…) but combined with a debilitating depression it sounds very difficult.

  2. Hi michiexile, thank you for the comment. I think being interdisciplinary means that you have to learn from a wide base of knowledge and that makes it difficult to be an expert in one specific area. I spent a lot of my write up stage reading around the various subjects. In a way I preferred it that way as I found it more interesting... but if you don't have a focus on a particular area (or don't know what your specific focus is) it becomes very time-consuming and that in itself can be demoralising. Research too, never ends, and as such there doesn't seem to be any self-measure of success... I think you actually have to enjoy the process, rather than see it as a means to an end. Unfortunately the latter thinking dominated my PhD experience.


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