Writing a thesis while being depressed, mission impossible?

If you read the title of this post and expect to find an answer for the question I presented, I’m sorry because I will disappoint you, I’m getting good at disappointing people. I haven’t excelled in writing my thesis, no matter what the high expectations everybody had on me, but once my dissertation was in the mix together with severe depression, that’s when I really lost sight of how to do what needed to be done to get where I wanted to go.  Some days I don’t even know why I keep trying. On the bright side, this is not happening every freaking day like it used to, now the really gloomy days appear to come less often than the grey ones. The bright, happy ones are still a gift I’ve yet to receive.

It’s funny I should be thinking of this issue today, writing about it, when I actually managed to get a lot of work done. Well, a lot compared to my other days, because it was nothing compared to what I used to produce when I was more functional. Maybe that’s just the point, I feel intellectually tired and ready to pop a movie and just relax, like I had an incredible amount of work finished, but the fact is when I looked at what I did, I felt completely miserable because of how little it seems, and it’s not difficult to go from there to self harm for me.

Today I had pretty strong thoughts of doing exactly that instead of going to therapy, fortunately it wasn’t like other occasions when I can’t think of anything else and I end up falling for what in that moment seems like the easy way out… in the end I dragged my ass to shrinky’s office. Maybe I’m not being completely straightforward, I was feeling miserable in the first place because I didn’t go to work. I have a deadline due on Friday and I knew there was no possible way to get my chapter finished and my pending stuff from work if I didn’t force my schedule a little bit (working as a teacher means you’ll always take a lot of work home). This makes me feel like a complete failure, like I’m failing all around my responsibilities, and well, that’s sort of the train of thoughts I was riding when I wanted to cut myself.

Shrinky told me some stuff that I didn’t want to hear and didn’t help much at that time, but now is making me feel a little better. He said I’m too hard on myself, verging on cruel, and that for me it’s always about being the best or being nothing at all. There’s no in-betweens, and when I dare to not be the best, my self-hatred is so strong that all I can think about is hurting me. He reminded me of everything I’ve dealt with in this past month and how it’s perfectly natural if I can’t meet my deadline…still feels like I’m an utter failure, but it’s helping me get a hold of myself.

Back to what I was talking about before I started rambling, I guess I’m just wondering out loud how I can deal with these two things that are eating me up. One is my Frankenthesis (a term coined during T, because my own creation is turning against me), and the other is my depression. Somehow, they’ve become bff’s, allies in putting me down and keeping me from moving on. And don’t get me wrong, I know I am doing just that, except that it’s not at the pace I’d like to, not at the pace everyone expected from me. Generally speaking, I am better than I was months ago, it’s just I’d like to be free from these plummets and get on with my life!

So if you have any thoughts as to how I can deal with writing a thesis while being depressed, do let me know! Pretty please?

Related posts:

If you found this post by googling key words such as “dissertation depression”  or “I am afraid of my dissertation”, these readings might help (thanks to @carmenmccain for bringing them to my attention):

14 thoughts on “Writing a thesis while being depressed, mission impossible?

  1. So, I write because I love to write and read, for fun that is, but working on writing grants, comps, and a first author manuscript feels like torture. My new tactic is giving myself a big general goal, graduate by Dec 2014, and then fill in with smaller more specific goals. Achieving the small ones make me think I might be up to the big one. Keep at it, and best wishes

  2. a couple thoughts…don’t worry about what others expect of you, they are not in your shoes, set really small goals instead of monsterous ones, as you meet the small goals, pat yourself on the back and be proud of it, that will give you the boost you need to meet the next small goal…i don’t know if that’s helpful at all. you are hard on yourself….it takes one to know one. 🙂

    • You are absolutely right in everything you say, I’ll try to keep in mind the smaller goals. As for being hard on myself, gosh I wish I knew a way to stop it, it’s hard being your own worst judge, do you know how to stop beating yourself up? xx

  3. Find the time when you are most free from your depression, when that moment arrives, run to frankenthesis and write when the D bigs big stop. Sometimes in life many small steps is much greater than one large one.

  4. Back when I could afford it, I dreaded going to therapy every week. But I went anyway and somehow it always made me feel better after.

    Try not to put too much pressure on yourself. You can only accomplish so much.

    • Well I can afford it now, though thanks to its cost it’s pretty much the only thing I can afford these days, it feels like I’m working to pay for therapy. Thanks for your comment, I can only say I’ll try to 🙂 xx

  5. Pingback: Smile like you mean it | not all about cats

  6. Hey. So, I know this post is years-old but I didn’t feel like missing the chance to say this. I’m going through more or less the same thing you described above, dealing with depression and a Frankenthesis at the same time, and I was just wondering how did you pull through. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Like you, I’m also very critical of myself, I don’t think anything I write is worth the paper I waste to print it and I’ve reached a point where I don’t seem to be able to look past that. I feel like everyone else writes these amazing things and that I’m simply incapable of reaching their level. My best thought on it runs something like “well, I’m young, it’s normal if I don’t have that much baggage on my brains” but that’s not the kind of positive thinking that would help anyway. My feelings seem to be quite in sync with those you expressed of yourself, hence my question: have you found a successful way out?

    Best regards,

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