Mental Health and Your PhD

I had not realized the toll my PhD had taken on my well-being until very recently.

As a PhD candidate you are always teaching or writing. Then, when you’re not you don’t know what to do with yourself and often, there is a sense of pervading guilt that you’re being “lazy” by not being involved with something.

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Because of this, completing a PhD is extremely isolating because you are spending your free time outside of teaching writing and/or reading which are solitary experiences. I also reached this point in my academic career where I realized I was in my early 30’s and if I wanted to be a mother, it was time to start my family. Being pregnant and then post-partum while I was entering my first quarter of dissertation was extremely taxing. I was dealing with all of the changes in my body and sleep deprivation as well as taking care of my son, it was a very trying time and one that I do not want to go back to.

Now that I at the end of it all, I am realizing how completely burnt out I am. I did a masters, a PhD, got married, bought and renovated a house and had a baby all within the last 6 years. I am exhausted. I am burnt out. And I have reached the point where I have realized that I need to unload something from my plate, I am going to have a full-fledged breakdown.

We are back from spring break today and for the first time in years, I actually took a spring break. I didn’t work on anything…not even a book review or dissertation editing. I hung out with my family and soaked in all the Logan time I could get and then balled my eyes out on the way into work this morning because all I wanted to do was stay home with my baby.

Years ago, an old boss told me that I should go into writing programming for organizations. She told me that I would be very good at that and would love working for myself. I keep thinking about that: getting serious about my own consulting practice. It really would be such an adventure and it would allow me to have more flexibility to be home more. I just don’t even know where I would start.

Published by

Dr. Katherine Kuzma-Beck Hart

A college professor and author, enjoying life at the Jersey shore with her tiny zoo and growing family.

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