Of Mice and (Wo)men…










Time is ticking away on my thesis deadline…

I had set myself the goal of finishing the annoying Chapter 6 as Sunday 14 September. And you know what? Sunday came and went and … I won’t have it finished until this Sunday.


Quite simply the excuse is interrupted sleep. Night after night, Gary and I were awoken by hoons, people knocking over our wheelie bin, and on Saturday night, by the people across the road having a drunken blokes’ AFL (Australian Rules Football) final party until 1.30am. I swear it took all the ahimsa I had to NOT call the police on my neighbours who are otherwise ok.

On Sunday morning, we had to be up at 5.30am because we had volunteered for the King of the Mountain fun run. After this, I was so thoroughly exhausted, I couldn’t think straight. So no finished Chapter 6.

 I have to do something about this. I really want my PhD finished. It’s getting me down. Which leads me into the other thing haunting me this week: depression.

 I’ve suffered from depression off and on since the birth of my daughter, nearly 19 years ago. I’ve had five major (longer than a month) episodes in my life – the longest of these lasted almost 4 years. I’ve also had recurring bouts of the ‘blues’ – which is where I am at now. 

There are triggers of which I’m aware: if three or more negative issues assuage me within 24-48 hours, then I find myself clinging to the side of the Black Hole.

 I experience depression as the Black Hole: a deep, circular pit dug into the earth. I end up in the bottom, and all the well-meaning people who love me or want to help me stand around the rim of it and shout down at me. In their minds, they are showing that they care, but to my twisted sense of reality when I’m in the pit, they are telling me that I’m wrong and that I’m a failure. Because I am depressed I am wrong; my behaviour is wrong, my thinking is wrong. I am wrong, wrong, wrong.

I am simply not good enough.

 So this week’s triggers: 

  • The slow progress of the thesis
  • Sleep disruption
  • Lack of time to myself
  • A new employee starting at my workplace has a PhD, and I feel so very inadequate 

Now, this is last point is really bringing me down. It’s so totally ridiculous – but I can’t help it. I feel really threatened and insecure. 

Which is dumb. 

I am good at my job. I know this and I am regularly told this by both my immediate manager and CEO. It manifests in the level of responsibility I have, the tasks that I am given and that my input is sought on a wide range of issues. 

I have experience in government outside the world of anthropology.

Years ago, I made the painful discovery that qualifications in anthropology do not prepare you for life as a manager or a bureaucrat. They prepare you for academia. The rest of the government looks at you as some kind of freak when you express the desire to stop and study every cultural artefact in minutiae before making a decision. 

This isn’t to say that there aren’t times when more in depth information is needed, but making changes to a simple office form hardly warrants five pages of convoluted waffle. 

Ok. So I have learned the hard way how to manage in the world of government bureaucracies. I nearly died doing this. I might write about this some other time. 

However, I have emerged and returned to an agency whose work is anthropologically based, but is also a bureaucracy focussed on rational productivity. 

I have been told not to worry about this new person by her old boss, who’s a very close friend of mine. I can write well and clearly (I’ve written a book, won short story competitions, have had a publishing contract). I’ve established an employment program for Aboriginal people that has employed over 200 people -from scratch. I’ve written policy documents, facilitated workshops, trained people … In other words, I’ve got a lot of experience outside of anthropology. 

But I don’t have a PHD yet. 

This makes me feel not good enough.

It crushes my self-confidence.

It paralyses me.


I’m not good enough.

All the other stuff I’ve done doesn’t matter.

Only the PhD matters.


And there’s not the luxury of time in my favour

Time is slipping away…


2 thoughts on “Of Mice and (Wo)men…

  1. You are good enough, just put one foot in front of the other. And breathe!

    I LOVE your blog, and I am so glad you found me!

    Must sort out my link page so I can find you again!


  2. Thank you, Nadine.

    Thank you for reading my selfish ramblings about my insecurities. Thank you for visiting my blog and taking time to comment.

    Thank you for your kind advice. It’s exactly what I have to do.

    🙂 xx


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