Another day of post-PhD blues…

It looks like this is going to be a series of posts related to my post-phd transition and the depression that I have now come to know about through experience. If you have not already, you can read my previous post  Post-PhD life…when will this phase end? . I am writing about it as a way of coping with it and I also hope that this could inform other postgraduate students of its existence.

I am currently in the 4th week since completing my PhD and I did not expect to feel the way I am feeling. Nothing and no one prepared me for what I am going through now.  These are the signs of my post-phd tension (I don’t think I am in full-on depression mode just yet).

The not knowing what to do with myself

The first few days after my exam, I just didn’t know whether I should sleep all day or go to the office like I was used to doing for the past three years. Now, four weeks later, on some days I happily sleep in and  tell myself that I deserve the rest, but on other days I feel so guilty that I am not doing anything. A close friend of mine said that I just don’t know how to relax and that made me think, mmmh, perhaps! I wrote in my previous post about how I am trying to stay busy, but not all days are the same.

 The stress comes from not wanting to do anything, but feeling guilty when I don’t, if that makes any sense.

 Anxiety about the future

Because I am completely surrendered to God’s will for my life, I am actively trying to avoid any negative thoughts that might make this situation worse. You know those “you’re not good enough”, “you cannot do it” type of thoughts.  They are very unhelpful, but they do creep in from time to time. The expectations I might have had during my PhD about life after the degree might not be what I am experiencing, but I still have hope that I will feel that sense of accomplishment one day soon and it will not be fleeting or momentary.  Everyday I wake up, I remind myself of His promises about my future and his plans for me. I am sure you know which verse comes to mind:

Image result for jeremiah 29 11 niv

Comparing myself to others

Now this is a slippery slope, because we all have different life journeys and we will not all get the same opportunities at the same time. If one of the graduates in my cohort gets a postdoc or a job offer before me, I should not be discouraged. I am trying to fight the urge to look at how others are faring with their transition and the effort itself is draining. It is a conscious effort I have to make everyday.

Image result for compare yourself to others

The grass always looks greener on the other side, so I am trying to stay on my own journey and experience it for what it is and not based on what is going on with others around me.

Checking emails

I dread checking my emails now, but I kind of have to check them everyday in case something important comes up. The only emails I want to see right now are the ones where I am being offered an exciting new position, LOL. The rest are just causing unnecessary tension in my life right now and I cannot deal.

Image result for email anxiety
By Liss West for Hashtag The Planet 

I could not get out of bed today

Not from a lack of trying, but I just could not manage this activity today or interact with a single human being. I did manage to write this blog post, so I cannot say I have been completely idle, but outside of that, I really cannot be bothered to do anything today.  If this happens again tomorrow, then we might have to call this something more than tension. I am also dreading social engagements because I really am not in the mood to discuss what is next in my life when I haven’t even figured it out yet. The pressure to have it all figured out is what is causing all this tension in the first place.

The above may be completely normal adulting blues, but because I am experiencing this shortly after completing what should be a huge milestone in my life , it is making me reconsider if it is normal.

If you are reading this and you feel this is normal and it is just a phase which will pass soon, please drop me a message or send some encouragement my way. I will greatly appreciate it. Maybe you are also going through the same thing for completely different reasons, let me know what you are going through and how you are coping. There is strength in community!!

Till next time,

GG

17 thoughts on “Another day of post-PhD blues…

  1. Hi. I am sorry to hear that this is happening to you. But, I think it’s normal post-graduation blues. Worrying about what the future has in stock for us is a totally normal human thing to do, especially when you have a lot of expectations. Keep the faith and keep on keeping on. What you want (or need) is just right around the corner. Cheers!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. thanks for your encouraging words. I will remember that, although it is a conscious effort i have to make daily. I do agree that it may be normal for all transitions, doesn’t make it any easier to handle though 😄.

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  2. Dear,sorry about what you are going through now. Great to know you are not in a full-on depression mode, I pray it doesn’t happen.I think just as nothing last forever, this post-doc depression phase will also pass. You just have to keep on with the faith and do your best in applying for jobs. My experience is that I don’t worry about things that I have no control over, though the feeling lingers, I don’t let it last. Changing your usual routine to doing nothing or not knowing what to do alone is stressful. I had the same feeling after my thesis defense. I wake up asking myself what to do today instead of relaxing. However, I realized worrying was a waste of my energy and freedom.I decided to enjoy the free time by doing what makes me happy and having enough rest. Its good to enjoy the freedom now while waiting for a job than let your health and spirit suffer. “A spirit of enjoying the moment is more necessary than a desperate spirit”(Jonghyun)
    God brings time and opportunity to everyone, you are not forgotten.
    Stay healthy, happy and take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Evelyn, you have encouraged me with this. I particularly like the part about enjoying the moment and not having a desperate spirit. It is about trusting God, thanks for that reminder as well. You have blessed me with your reply, stay blessed.

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  3. “I did not expect to feel the way I am feeling. Nothing and no one prepared me for what I am going through now.” These words arrived in my head as, I do not know anyone, on a personal level, who has achieved what I have. Otherwise I would have seen their transition.

    “A close friend of mine said that I just don’t know how to relax” I dont’ understand. When you were working/studying, what did you do to relax? I am wondering if the word ‘relax’ is being misused in this case. In my mind, I work and stress and then I have fun. But if I do not work and do not stress, is there an activity called ‘relax’? Or do you consider ‘thinking’ about the future to be equivalent to working/studying which then requires a counterbalance of ‘relaxing’? Or do you consider ‘job searching’ to be work/stress therefore creating a need to ‘relax’. I won’t blame you if you don’t know what I am going on about, I don’t know what my brain is saying either.

    Uh, OK, this answered me. ” The stress comes from not wanting to do anything, but feeling guilty when I don’t, if that makes any sense.”

    laughing at this, “The rest are just causing unnecessary tension in my life right now and I cannot deal.”. I am looking for a job at the moment. My schedule is very accommodative, it says,
    Morning: ignore work emails and read all the rejection emails. Find one I like in case I am an employer in future.

    Afternoon: read work emails.

    Evening: send as many job applications as possible and look foward to my job offer and rejection emails.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always love to read your detailed comments 😄 thank you so much for your analysis of some of my words. It is a weird phase to be in but I like your interpretation of what I am saying. It’s nice to see if from a different perspective.

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  4. I feel the same way and I just have a degree.

    Nobody prepared me for the way I felt in the beginning, I think right now I have learnt a little bit how to adjust..

    I think we need to talk more about life after graduation…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you! I definitely agree that we need to have this conversation. Do you think universities should be responsible or outside interested parties?

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      1. I think graduates who have gone before us and universities… Cause they know the truth and prolly have walked this road before…

        What about you, what do you think dear?!

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      2. i agree, i think it should be a joint effort between universities and those who can share their experiences, especially success stories. We all love a success story to motivate us when we are going through something😊

        Liked by 1 person

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