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The part that you don’t see...

Updated: Feb 8

All of my blog posts are honest about my own experience of psychology, working with mental health and the doctorate, so I thought it was important to write about the part you often don’t see; the mental challenges of the course. I am often a person who likes to have their $#!+ together or at least feel like I do. However, I’ve come to accept that often that’s not always the case during a doctorate and actually, that’s fine too!

I remember on my doctorate interview being asked ‘how will you cope with the demands of the course?’ I remember thinking 'I’m a resilient, strong, determined person I’ll be just fine' however, the doctorate has honestly been one of the hardest and mentally challenging things I’ve ever done in my life so far (and I'm sure it'll get harder as the course goes on). Some would say 'it’s a doctorate what did you expect?' But that’s the thing, I expected the physical demand of tight deadlines and loads of work, but what I didn’t expect was the intense mental challenges it would bring.

35 hours of personal therapy across the year is a requirement on my course, again something at the beginning I didn’t think I would utilise. I questioned what I would talk about in therapy sessions each week and how I would probably watch the clock and feel a sense of awkwardness because I didn’t have anything to bring to the session. However the experience has been amazing, not only to see what it’s like from a clients perspective, but to discuss how I’m feeling each week and often talk about my stress levels, without feeling like I'm burdening my family and friends.

I’ve often joked to my family and friends and said I have a cry/ breakdown per assignment and so far that’s turned out to be true. The stress is something you really have to factor in when undertaking a doctorate, it often takes emotional time out of your study schedule to process things and get to grips with the expectations, pressure and constantly second guessing yourself.

One thing I will say is I’ve really leaned on my family, friends and wonderful boyfriend throughout this year. They have picked me back up off my bedroom floor when it all got too much, they’ve taken my laptop off me and told me to have breaks, they’ve proof read my work for me before submission and they’ve encouraged me throughout. They all deserve a doctorate of their own just for their ongoing support.

I didn’t write this blog post to scare anyone into thinking twice about undertaking a doctorate, I wrote it to be transparent with how demanding and mentally challenging the course is, and actually, that’s one of the great things about it because when you do complete the work you feel a great sense of reward, but sometimes the process of getting there is not smooth sailing.

I would advise anyone about to undertake a doctorate, PhD or masters to utilise their social support, talk to your friends, family or partners about how you’re feeling, check in with yourself, remind yourself that you don’t have to have it together every minute of everyday, and if you have the opportunity to take part in some personal therapy during your course, grab that opportunity with both hands and use it to its full advantage. I also hope this blog post brought some comfort for anyone reading this who is also undertaking a postgraduate or even an undergraduate course and if you’re feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed you are not alone... we've got this!

If you loved this blog post, be sure to check out this one -


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