If a similar question has been asked before, then I'm sorry; it's just that so far I haven't found much here or elsewhere related to the specifics of my situation. Maybe I'm not using the right key words. Also, I'm posting anonymously because I don't want my university to know (yet) that I'm considering these options.
I'm a first year MPhD student at an English university and I'm considering either switching to the Master's degree or taking a Leave of Absence, all due to my mental health, if not dropping out entirely.
I've had First Episode Psychosis for a couple of years but it's under the control of risperidone, a drug that might be making me feel sleepy. It's either that or I've developed depression, since for the last six months I've felt fatigue, having lie-ins until midday and hours of naps in the afternoon most days, so I'm ridiculously behind on my studies. I've been referred to a psychiatrist (again) and I've been getting therapy via the university.
I absolutely adore Mathematics and I've wanted to do a PhD in it now for over a decade. Thus it's strange that it's gotten like this. I came in strong, having prepared for such a long time, but around January of 2018 my mental health started to decline.
I'm fully funded by a scholarship that was awarded competitively by dint of my academic background (but it's not ESPRC). This makes me feel extra guilty that I'm not doing enough.
My supervisor said recently that I should be doing at least five hours a day but I rarely do over an hour.
What should I do?
I know my health should be my number one concern.
I don't know whether I'm able to take a Leave of Absence with my funding situation.
Switching to the Master's degree is an option that might take the pressure off, meaning I'd get an MRes and graduate in 2019 instead. To be honest I kind of want to do that, since then I could apply for a PhD elsewhere; it's not that I don't enjoy the research project - because I do - it's that the topic was a compromise to start with: I wanted to do algebraic X but ended up doing combinatorial X.
I've had better PhD offers in the past, really, like from The University of St. Andrews, but I missed out on them because I'd had a panic attack during my very last exam, meaning I had to resit it the next year and they were ESPRC funded - they couldn't defer. I might get a stronger offer the next time round.
Then again, I might not get any . . .
I'm scared for my future. If I switch course or drop out, it might result in a bad reference and, in turn, an inability to get onto another PhD programme.
Could I reuse my 2016 MMath degree references in the event of a bad reference from my current university?
I don't think I can stick to the full PhD programme. I doubt I could make the confirmation from MPhD status to PhD status following my next supervisory panel meeting, even, especially if things continue with my sense of fatigue.
My goal is to become an academic.
Update: I have taken a Leave of Absence.