PhD at 50 — “What a waste of time”

“What a waste of time, ridiculous” Unknown at the time, that was the comment neatly placed between my retreating shoulder blades when I proudly declared I was to start my undergraduate degree in the Christmas of 2011. Five years later that viperous in-law must be shaking their head at my folly as I embark on a PhD in Health Psychology research.

Who am I? Where am I? and Why am I?

As to the who?, The first decision is how honest to be. I’ll not be totally honest, but I’ll be good enough. A slightly broken dreamer, father, husband and soon to be grandfather. A colourful history, a mind battered by post traumatic stress disorder and a post chemo body. Different in many ways from pre PTSD me. A changed temperament tending to the obsessive, social anxious and emotionally fragile. All wrapped in a disarming smile and a confused countenance. I deflect with humour, often dripping in sarcasm, that I continually confuse with wit. My name is Mobius. The first lie, not to mislead the online sleuth, I just like Mobius and it and it ties in with my other online personas.

Where am I?

I choose the university for the lake, I wish this true but it didn’t harm the decision. It was a decision made last year to attend the University of Surrey, England to complete my Masters degree. Last year I commuted the 250 mile trip home every couple of weeks. This year, we’ve moved. Now living in the Surrey Hills. A new adventure, journey, challenge or sickening mistake. Take your pick.

University of Surrey

The university does have buildings. It’s just that before my journey into academia I imagined university as all about thinking stuff under a tree, so I’ll maintain that so unreal world.

Why am I? Oh the sarcasm just wants free rein. To the point. This is a, Why am I? in a more academic sense. 2011 was a year of regaining insight. Of the love and kindness of family and friends winning out. Of a forced end to a lifelong career. Of the PTSD slowly diminishing. A world of obsessive thoughts, visual and auditory hallucinations, self hate and night terrors. A year of clawing back from a deep dark chasm and my need for positive and non destructive liferaft. So began 3 years of undergraduate study of psychology. The structure and the positive mental focus all helped the healing process. I learnt my new subject with enthusiasm, revelling in how little I knew, made new friends, taught myself the coping skills needed to function the new more fragile MK2 me. Time flew, I healed. Not quite anew but well enough. A 1st class honours, a proud wife and daughter. The decision not to stop, a move away from safety, a Masters in Health Psychology and then. Well that was to be the end if I were honest. There is more to what comes next, but for brevity, the end didn’t quite happen. Instead an opportunity to continue research as I accepted an offer of the PhD in Health Psychology. A PhD at 50. It’ll be a different story I’m sure.

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