I want to quit

10 days ago my supervisors told me to change the focus of my PhD. Change from the focus that we have spent the last year discussing. The focus that we have written up two separate grant applications on. The focus which was explored on my MSc thesis.

The focus that I spent the first month finding a theoretical basis for , so it wasn’t just focused around the equipment I wanted to use because I thought it was essential to studying this part of infant development. And when I finally found it and we discussed it in a meeting one of them said “this is really interesting but are you really the right person to do it? Do you think you have the skills?”. And I replied “I suppose not” and felt myself sink into that black abyss I always fall into when I meet with them.

It is not just that my mind seems to go foggy, my eyes seem to blur and all I can do is stare at the floor. I can feel my body giving up and my posture slacking, my shoulders slouching and everything giving up.

I know they see it. How could they not. And I think that’s why they want me to change. Do something simpler. Because I am not strong enough. I have problems they can’t even begin to understand. They want me to go part-time, but I can barely survive on a full-time PhD salary. What would be the point of working part-time on the PhD and doing something else part-time. It would have the same result. Except that I would be stuck in this hell for double the time.

The new topic they suggested is interesting enough. There are clear reasons for doing it. Clear theoretical backgrounds and lots of literature behind it. It is a good idea. A safer idea.

But the truth is that since that last meeting I have not been able to work. I wake up thinking that I need to start and have some good ideas, but then the depression takes me. I sink into my bed. Unable to focus on anything. All I feel is that dull, grey feeling. My back and chest feels like it is stuffed with foam. It doesn’t feel like my body and it feels like that’s where my tiredness is. Getting up is hard. Even though it feels like foam, it is heavy. Makes it hard to lift my feet. My eyelids are constantly half-closed. Opening them up fully feels like such hard work. It is easier just lying in bed, staring out at nothing and let the emptiness stay.

My doctors and physios see it. They try to help and they are amazing. The only time in the last few days I have actually felt good was when I asked for help (again, but this time from good doctors). Like there was a way to start feeling better. I got 2 days. Then the grey took over again. I can’t seem to stop crying. I just want to feel better. I am worried that I will bring my partner down with me.

I want to quit. I am not made for this. I should not react this way whenever I get negative feedback from my supervisors. Is getting to call myself Doctor really worth it? Right now it just doesn’t feel like it.


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