How do you survive a Masters thesis?

Higher education can mean a lot, even for a neurotypical person. It often drives you crazy when dealing with deadlines, work, and whatever it takes to survive. But what happens when you enter college if you’re already struggling to survive the battle against your own brain?

I started grad school the same year I foolishly promised myself to prioritize my mental health. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember, but I’ve always pushed it away and thought I’d deal with it eventually. When my mental illness had a major impact on my daily interactions, I knew I had to focus on getting that part of my life in order, even if it meant working on it while in college. This is how I am currently taking antidepressants for the first time in 17 years, struggling to find the right medication and the right dosage as I begin to unravel a life of trauma. Armed with two new diagnoses from my therapist, I constantly feel like I’m drowning. Getting out of bed, let alone going to work or study, is a feat. No matter how well I do with my grades, I feel like I’m barely succeeding and I’m letting everyone around me down no matter how much they say. I feel guilty for the impact of my mental illness on the lives of others who depend on me. I feel like a failure when I have to rewrite the article because my brain can’t focus on it no matter how hard I try.

I hate every panic attack that occurs when a task is due, and I should have pushed myself a little harder not to work on it at the last minute.

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My 15 hour days turned into junk food and soda fueled 18 hour days.

However, I wasn’t going anywhere.

My thesis experience.

I got my undergraduate degree in the US and didn’t have to write a dissertation or graduation project to get my BBA. This meant that when I was pursuing my master’s studies, the thesis was the longest academic text I had ever written (until now).

For my master’s program, we had to write a thesis of 12,500 to 15,000 words. Now, that might not seem like a lot. I know of some masters programs where you have to write 20,000 words or more. But, for someone like me who has no experience writing long academic papers, it was daunting.

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