On a certain night during my PhD, I remember well I had a packet of tranquilizers and a bottle of vodka next to me. I was so stressed with my PhD that I was tempted to give it all up and explore the unexplored, the other side of life. Unfortunately I even popped the poison down, but immediately repented it. Sanity prevailed and I called a friend soon after committing the blunder. It brought back to me the realisation of feeling like a loser which I never was. Both I and my friend realised that I need a therapist and here the next day, I was sitting in a counselling session at a therapist. I thought that was the end of my PhD journey and I would quit it halfway through because I wasn’t resilient enough to deal with the pressure it brought along.
Almost all scholars talk about the physical labour and strenuous working that a Ph.D. requires, but not many talk about the psychological draining it does to one’s personality. It is embarrassing to bring it into the open ad it shows you as a week person who cannot endure the challenges of life but after all the years, I feel completely comfortable to talk about how burdened I felt with the PhD and the way it made me feel little and unequipped. Statistics says that approximately 50 per cent of the scholars are victims of depression which is around 4 times higher than the percentage of depression patients found in people not associated with higher academics
The general perception goes as that the psychological problems are for the week and when one feels trapped in bouts of anxiety and depression, seeking help or admitting it becomes very demeaning for the self-esteem. When all the efforts to manage depression do not generate results, a lot of PhD students beat themselves up. Do not get weighed down by this surmounting pressure of being a scholar. Work around keeping your psychological health as upbeat as your physical health. Seek help when needed. Remember that it is only the brave who can admit their weaknesses.
In my case, therapy came to rescue, and I did not give up but completed my PhD before deciding to quit the academia. I chose to become a writer and draw inspiration from the inner strength that I developed during the PhD struggle days and got the courage to mould my life the way I wanted to. So what are you waiting for?