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Grotty Right of Passage (or the tail end of PhD writing)


I decided to write a blog about current PhD state of play, or state of mind. Mainly to avoid actually doing any more PhD work for half an hour.

For a visual, I feel I currently look like Bridget Jones as she imagines being eaten by Alsatians. Or Chandler in 'Friends' during the 'sweatpants' phase of a break-up. Or on really bad days like the Flukeman from the X Files, my skin has achieved the same grey pallor.

I am trying to get the PhD in for the mock viva by the end of May, with a view to final submission in July. Pressure is on, and I'm being kept on track by working with a professional proof reader (side: did you hear that supervisors PROFESSIONAL PROOF READER. A professional is correcting all my appalling grammar, so we can stop talking about it now.  Yes that's a risky comment but I think I'm allowed that one) Helpfully, my lovely proof reader prefers to do it chapter by chapter so I'm not waiting on her. This of course means I have to maintain a certain pace of work in order to keep her in chapters. This is all good. I'm getting it done, I'm also making sure it's of a good standard so I have to do the bare minimum after she's proof read it.What this does mean is a final push of living and breathing this.  But a final dash to the finish is better than a limp in last right? (and that is the only sport analogy I'm likely to ever use)

But I am exhausted. I am more mentally tired than I have ever been. Imagine how it feels doing the most revision for a really big exam, the intensity with which you concentrate in the last few days...except those last few days last a month or more without let up.

I have barely left the house. I go to the gym and to the supermarket just to feel I have been somewhere and get some air. I am letting myself out to have the odd coffee with people, I'm making myself go to choir and not skip it so I have some proper human interaction, but mainly I feel like I'm locked away. I am currently so thankful for the internet. The interactions I'm having every day with friends (or occasionally telling strangers on the internet they are wrong about something) is keeping me sane. Well close to it. One conversation yesterday did include the phrase 'I do apologise for the number of penis references today' but hat has more to do with me than it does my current situation...In all seriousness if I didn't have people able to talk to me online I'd have lost it by now.

Not to say there aren't moments when I think I have lost it. I was genuinely unsure what day it was for a while today. And actually, if it weren't for the presence of red underwear or male genitalia respectively on my Tumblr dashboard  I'd forget on other days (if you don't understand that reference, it probably means you are a sane normal person so ignore it). Still all the days blur into one endless stretch staring at my computer screen.

And physically I feel like hell. Not just generally 'a bit grotty'. Though I will say the window of each day where I'm not in a) gym clothes and a hoodie or b) worn out jeans with a hoodie is getting gradually smaller and smaller. I mean I feel physically exhausted by my mental exhaustion. I'm still getting out and going to the gym and getting fresh air by walking the dog, and I think this is the only reason I'm not really ill by now. Today I have terrible vertigo (something I get when I'm run down) and I've spent half of the last week feeling faintly nauseous most of the time. There's nothing actually wrong except general worn-out body and mind. Of course not sleeping isn't helping. This week's strange stress-dreams included: running, just running for ages,(I find running boring when I'm awake never mind asleep), being chased by Russians, and being Andrew Scott's girlfriend (I had to break it to myself that really wasn't going to happen for several reasons). All resulting in general zombie-like appearance.

It's not all bad. I was away for two days last weekend, and I have a couple of days out planned to save me from going completely insane. And it's getting there, it's almost, probably, very nearly, possibly close to being done. And then I'll sleep. Hopefully without running away from Russians and Andrew Scott.

But, as the esteemed and wise person who gave me the title of this blog said 'if you don't feel like that you're not doing it right.' All I can say is...roll on July.

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