Thesis Brain

I sort of hoped that writing a thesis would be like this:


I am finding out (the hard way) that writing a thesis is not like writing a long essay. It is another matter all together.  It’s a bit more like this:


or like this:


(It would appear that many people have been drawing cartoons instead of /in memory of thesis writing.)

What makes it harder is that the more I work, the more Thesis Brain seems to be setting in.

I have heard from my pregnant friends, family and over sharing acquaintances on facebook that sometimes when one is pregnant one has a tendency to get a bit fuzzy headed and forgetful… what we call “skatty” (short for skatterbrain) in my family.  Apparently it’s called “Pregnancy Brain”.

I would like to put forward that there is something called “Thesis Brain”.  [a thesis about thesis brain…oh dear].  Thesis Brain will mean different things to different people because we all react differently to sustained levels of stress. However, seeing my own life and that of those around me change I would say you have Thesis Brain if you are writing a thesis in a specific time frame (rather than spreading it out over a while) and have had any, all or some of these “symptoms” listed below in higher frequencies than normal:

Being even later for appointments because time is a foe, not a friend.

Eating more than one meal at the university because going to the shops requires far too much thought.

Living on peanut butter and toast (or something similar).

Diarising everything, because if it’s not written down, it’s not going to happen.

Trolling people on facebook.

Playing Farmville.

Getting (more) addicted to TV series.

Feeling like you are missing out on all the fun when you are working and then feeling guilty when you are relaxing with friends.

(If you are towards the introvert side of the spectrum)  Social engagements with people you don’t know, feel like you are climbing Kilimanjaro.

Going to the shops feels like the biggest inconvenience in life

Going to the shops feels like the biggest adventure in life

You have no clean laundry because that requires organisation

You have only clean laundry because everyday you’re inside, working in your favorite pair of comfy pants with a comfy hoodie.

Anything can become a distraction or a reason to procrastinate… recently I spent the day practice packing for when I leave even though I am only leaving in 2 months.

Einstein’s quote about a clean desk,

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

is your justification for everything, not just your desk.

You get very forgetful and you repeat yourself.

You get very forgetful and you repeat yourself.

Eating, sleeping and everything that keeps you alive might not happen at regular times.

Anyone beyond the thesis circle of trust may have to wait a while before they are called, emailed or met up with.

And so this is not an excuse, but rather an explanation for perhaps maybe why you or that person you know who is writing a thesis at the moment is a bit off. Don’t worry, it’s temporary. The thesis gets handed in and everything will return to normal… well, that’s the theory anyways.

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