Post dissertation stress disorder

by Lilia Efimova on June 10, 2009

Update Nov 2010. Surprisingly many search queries end up at this post. Whatever search brings you here you might be better reading this one – Preventing Burnout: signs, symptoms, causes and coping strategies – and talking to someone who has an idea how to recognise a burnout. Wish I did it when I wrote this post…

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Like my house right now this blog is loved, but neglected space: finishing my dissertation and being a happy mom doesn’t leave much energy for anything else. I’m almost there, starting to look forward to “after the PhD” life, like moving to an unknown country…

This is what I wrote a few months ago as a welcoming message of my weblog. Now, even more than when, I feel that my house represents the state of other things in my life.

While being busy with the PhD work didn’t take all my time, it occupied my mind and also sucked a lot of energy. While urgent things in the house and general cleanliness were taken care of (it’s not falling apart and in the state of “ok to have friends for dinner” ;), I feel surrounded by all kinds of unsorted things in wrong places and unfinished tasks that accumulated over time. I try tackling them one by one in the pockets of time between other things, but feel that that those are changes on the surface, that more is needed to turn the house into a place I want it to be.

I also feel burnt out physically, mentally and emotionally. When finishing the dissertation I thought that the worst was over. I did compare working on the dissertation to pregnancy, but didn’t realise that after the “birth” the parallels can go further:

Quote from: untenured on August 18, 2006, 10:42:02 AM

Perhaps there is an analogy to post-partum depression.  Instead of child, you birthed a thesis.   I bet your gestation period was a lot longer than nine months.

That is a good analogy, Untenured.  In fact, I experienced more weirdness and depression after finishing the diss than I did after the birth of either of my two kids.  I’m thinking maybe it’s because a 400+ page thesis is not at all cute and cuddly, plus you can’t breastfeed it.  :)

Some call it Post Dissertation Stress Disorder. Don’t think that I have the worst form of it, since I don’t have all the the symptoms (only those: Foggy brain, Inability to concentrate on anything longer than 10 minutes and Pure laziness :) Fun aside, wish I knew earlier that something like that should be expected after finishing the dissertation.

Ideally I would take a few weeks off right now, but I’m not done yet. So, I’m taking it (=everything) easy, starting to sort out things in the house and hoping that the rest will follow.

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{ 3 trackbacks }

A long due update — Mathemagenic
May 5, 2011 at 11:04
Post-Dissertation Blargh « The Grad Word
March 10, 2014 at 8:28
Pre-Post Dissertation Blues | Rebel Researchers Collective
July 29, 2014 at 3:33

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