Getting through the PhD and its emotional roller coaster

I gave a speech about “Getting through the PhD” about a month ago at the University of Glasgow. It was intense to stand there, talking to PhD students in their first year and give them advice….more like slices of life and experience.

In this blog, I have written about my various struggles and tips to get through the writing up stage, as well as the data analysis, or the editing process. Here, I want to focus on one slide of my presentation about the psychological stages of the PhD, and how much of a roller-coaster this whole journey can be…just like this:

phd thesis psychology stages mental doctorate

It was really crazy to see how much the students, even in their first few month of the PhD, could relate to this. Because this is a fact: you go through ups and downs emotionally and mentally all the time during the PhD.

Now, this is certainly not characteristic of PhD life alone, but I think the confusion and isolation you might be in really reinforce these fluctuating states of mind. In the end, there are a couple of things that really helped me get through the rough patches, and among them the true support of my supervisors. I did learn to work  independently and make my own decisions, but I always kept this almost blind faith in them and in their advice.

And you, do you experience these stages, whether you are into a PhD or another long or though project? How do you cope with the difficulties?



Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Haitham Al-Sheeshanyreply
February 15, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Thanks for sharing Lau. I wish I knew about yr presentation!

I do not know, honestly, what my roller-coaster is like. What is the shape of its path. But I definitely “hear ya!”.

Self-doubt, time pressure (among others), lacking purpose altogether, feeling happy about small “victories”, biscuit dieting 24/7, missing “me” and my life are recurring (and lasting?) hallmarks 🙂

February 15, 2016 at 4:36 pm

Oh I “heard ya” so well too! I can’t believe they did not tell everyone about the 1st year phd event…or maybe it was just one of these emails you saw and deleted inadvertently lol I thought you could not make it 🙁 BUT my most urgent question is: which biscuits? :p

Haitham Al-Sheeshanyreply
February 16, 2016 at 11:18 am

Probably I did delete it *guilty*

as for the “type” = does it matter! 🙂

February 16, 2016 at 12:51 pm

Of course it does! Chocolatey everything always get me in the best mood for work 😋

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