Monday, 26 November 2012

Dealing with Disaster

I'd like to clarify at the outset that I'm aware what I'm about to describe doesn't really fall under the same 'disaster' category as natural disasters or pandemics or anything like that.  But to a PhD student, it's still a pretty big ****ing disaster.

In May of this year, I wrote about the first blow to my research that I'd experienced.  To be honest, when I went searching for that post to link it here, I'd thought it was written a lot earlier in my first year.  Nonetheless, there it was.  I was depressed, fed up and frustrated.

I have recently discovered that that was a cake walk compared to what I'm experiencing now.

I'm not going to go into details because there isn't really much point, but I'll give you a summary just to clarify I've not gone mad.  The study I'm running at the moments requires participants to return once a week for three consecutive weeks.  They can't miss a session, because if they do I can't use their data.  It's taken a long time to set up and even longer to execute.  Last week though, one of the mobile eye trackers broke.  This wouldn't usually be a problem - I could just use the other one - but for this experiment I need to use both trackers simultaneously.  I was halfway through testing.  It basically means anyone who I'd started to test had to have the rest of their sessions cancelled and anyone who hadn't tested yet didn't even get off the ground.  There is no more time to schedule before the end of term and the eye tracker still isn't fixed yet anyway.  You're just going to have to trust me that we've tried everything, and there's no possible solution to this other than to retest in the new semester.

Basically, what this means is that the data collection and analysis I was on track for completing by the end of December, is now looking at completion by the end of March.  I've lost three months.

Really, I know that this just means I need to grin and bear it and get ready for a very busy semester after Christmas.  I'll be running both my studies at once and teaching as well.  I know it's not the end of the world or the end of my PhD.  I know all that, but it still feels awful right now.

When I found out I was going to lose all these data on Friday, I know that if this was just a job, I would've left.  I couldn't have hacked it.  Over the weekend I tried to forget about it, but it's Monday morning and I still would quite like to just hulk out and destroy my office, tear up my PhD work so far and quit completely.  It's fortunate my supervisor is off today, because otherwise I would've had to email him to explain I didn't feel up to a meeting this week because there's no way I can put how I'm feeling about the PhD as a whole politely just now.

There might be some of you out there who think I'm over-reacting or that I'm taking my PhD too seriously.  I've had that sort of comment before.  But the thing is, this is my life right now.  I am depending on this, it is my income, my day-to-day existence, it's the thing that keeps me up at night.  I hate to admit it but whenever someone told me "Oh the second year blues will hit at some point" I honestly thought I'd be one of the lucky ones who escape it.  

Apparently not.

Right now, it's a daily battle to not just give up.  To be honest, today it's even an hourly battle.  I am trying just to get myself through to the Christmas holidays so I can take some time completely away from everything.  Just now that seems a scarily long way away, with so many days in the office to endure first, but what can you do?  I know this will pass too, but right now, I am just hoping nothing else pushes me because I'm really not in a good place.

So, welcome to the Second Year Blues, PhD-blog readers.  Hopefully I'll be able to tell you how we get out of here soon.

1 comment:

  1. hey, how r u holding up? i think i can imagine what u're feeling right now.

    when i did my 1st phd, all my data got lost because someone at the office misplaced it to an unknown location due to renovation.

    i had to redo all the data collection again. taught me a lot bout patience n stuff.

    so just hang in there, 'cause eventually the storm would be over and there's gonna be sunshine again insyaAllah.