It’s two weeks before Christmas and I’m struggling to get my PhD mindset in the place it needs to be. In November I finally limped over the line for my first draft. I can’t really describe what a terrible place I was in mentally and physically at that stage. I knew that the PhD was going to take it’s toll, and I’d been very fortunate to make it through 3 years with minimal pain. But the last few months have been a different story.
It’s not just the mental, and physical, challenge that undertaking this exercise has brought, but also the emotional and psychological toll on me and my surroundings. Combined with this, 2016 has just been such an incredibly sad year, culturally, politically, socially. Speaking to a few friends, we all agreed it was hard to bring yourself out of the well of despair.
For me, immersed in this solo activity that makes you doubt yourself every day, I lost all perspective as to why I was unhappy. Was it the PhD? Was it my marriage? My health? My choice to move back to Melbourne? World events? I questioned every part of my life (and found most of it lacking) despite being in an incredibly privileged position.
A few weeks respite, a trip to the beach for WARMTH, and some feedback on draft one and I was in a much better place. I’m still not sure I can do the PhD thing, every day seems harder than the last, but I keep putting one foot in front of the other. But I also have thrown myself into Christmas planning (I love Christmas), have forced family to visit me, gone out to see friends and have achieved a few physical milestones (I swam 1km in a 50m pool today for the first time in my life) that have made life seem just a bit better than in was 2 months ago.
I’m two weeks in to the second draft of the PhD. It’s not going great. Structurally my supervisor had some brilliant ideas (as always is the case) and I can see how changing things will make it better. Thankfully there was no feedback that the whole argument fails to stand up, which I was pretty concerned over. But, as always, I’m struggling with writing which I know is just not up to scratch. I need to keep pushing through though, get a second draft in by mid-January, one that is structurally and language wise very much an improvement on the first.
This post is an attempt to get my head in the writing game. I’m a day or two behind in my schedule and I know that next week will be lost to pre-Christmas delirium. I’m also looking forward toward 2017, knowing I’ll have a little bit of work (my research assistant job is ticking over) but that I can reasonably expect the PhD to dominate things for another 7 months or so. It feels like a long time.