Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Sorry for yet another miserable post. Here goes:

My project has been crashing and burning in the last few weeks. the thing is, I probably have enough for a PhD at the moment, but not a good one, not an interesting one and the novel cool stuff I've been waiting to do is currently hitting a brick wall (the experiment is, I'm not planning on throwing lizards around in construction sites).

basically I've been organised and had everything planned, and now at the 11th hour I have been let down y pretty much every single person who had promised to help me. I'm talking "Sorry, this person spent all your research money, you can't order anything right now!" to 'Oh dear, this chemical costs R5000 per milligram and I seem to have lost the bottle! Don't worry, I know you need it this week, but it only takes 6-8 weeks to deliver if you order it now!" kind of let down.

So last night I lay awake trying to make a Plan C (A and B crashed and burned already) I began to feel the panic attacks as they came and went and I might have sobbed into my pillow a little bit more than I'll admit to. Add on that I'm exhausted and can't sleep and this level of panic makes me nauseous which doesn't help and I'm hitting hay-fever season so I have a cough and a runny nose and a sore throat... I made a plan and lay in bed on Google (I love having mini-google on my phone) researching the possibilities while trying to ignore the fact that tai chi has become really difficult and I'm not looking forward to it and the people I would usually go to for advice on this (i.e. my mentor, an older PhD student who knows her way around these things and Luke) are all off overseas and I felt REALLY alone...

When I realised a few things:

  1. I shouldn't have this much responsibility. While I've always been very independent, being totally alone at this level is ridiculous and I don't know why I put up with it.
  2. I need a supervisor. I need someone to help me and tell me what to do. I can't keep on doing everything by myself. It's just making me sick.
  3. If it doesn't work out, I'm still 24, as much as I want to finish next year, the world won't end if I don't.
  4. I can always do fieldwork later the lizards are active until March-April at least.
  5. Breathe in, breathe out. Breath in... breathe out...

So at 3am I got myself up, found a scary price-list for everything that I need and sent it to myself so I could handle it today, sent an email to my superV demanding a meeting and managed to get a few hours of sleep.

So maybe there's hope... either way I can sort of breathe again, as long as I think calm thoughts every few minutes!


po said...

The PHD blues! Arrgh I see people suffering from this all the time. Who would be a scientist? It is very impressive how you take on all that responsibility in the face of so much doubt and opposition.

Skinny Bitches in the Making said...

Shame, sorry for the tough times. Know you're tying to be all healthy and not skip gym, and I don't wanna be the devil on your shoulder but you need to get a chocolate milkshake. I think it will make things seem better, even if just for a couple of minutes!

Candice said...

Oh dear... For what it's worth, I've done 5% of my data collection (which, oddly enough, was supposed to be done 3 weeks ago). Hope it all gets better ASAP - failing that, I'll see you next year at Wits when I'm re-doing my research project! ;)

Jeney Peney said...

Although I have never done research as intense or expenive as this... I did have to do a thesis to get my Bachelor's. (Not many undergrads require that anymore. I picked one of the few colleges that does... go figure.)

A year of reasearch, several anxiety attacks, eighty pages crammed into an eight minute presentation, loosing my data twice, and a board review later, I was a college graduate.

I feel your anguish. It's never fun.

I do have to agree with Skinny Bitches, though. A chocolate milkshake is the best remedy for these situations. :-)

SuvvyGirl said...

It doesn't seem like they should be able to get away with spending your research money and just being total asshats. There are days where it is perfectly fine to say "it's not fair" and I believe you are entitled to that. :) I hope the meeting went okay and your plan C works out.

Kath Lockett said...

Your realisation is 100% correct, Helen. You should DEMAND a supervisor because it is not fair or appropriate for you not to have one.

Sometimes a good demand/tantrum/strongly worded 'discussion' is the only way to get things sorted.

Best of luck!

Tamara said...

{{{Hugs}}} Shame, Helen. That's kak.

I'm in a rubbish space too, although I don't think it's as hectic, and I deal with it by compulsively tidying things and fantasising about feeding certain people to a tank full of sharks. Wanna teach me some of your calming thoughts? Sounds healthier. Or we could go for a chocolate milkshake ;-)