So, to start with my question... PhDs/research are undoubtedly hard/stressful, but how much is too much? Should I leave my PhD in my 6th year or just take a bit of a leave to try and regroup? (I'm 31 if that makes any difference.)
As with most, my path through grad school has not been straightforward and I apologize in advance for the lengthy background/question.
I received my MS and was planning to continue for a PhD at University A (contingent upon me getting funding + suitable project). Got both of those figured out, but my advisor was told my project would not help her tenure case and had an awkward advisor switch. Got fed up with politics at A then transferred to University B (in year 4) where I have a fantastic and super supportive advisor.
I just started my 6th year, but have not yet taken my qualifying exam. Many reasons for this, but mostly the program at Univ A was more interdisciplinary (better matched to my research) while the program at Univ B is much more traditional/focused on fundamentals. I need to relearn a lot of material which is not really relevant to my research and have been at a complete loss of motivation for months now. Being daunted by oral exams certainly plays a role, but also feel that a PhD is no longer required as my career goals have also shifted.
All of this, switching schools, etc. etc. has taken its toll on my emotionally/mentally to the point where my research progress is practically non-existent. This has all triggered pretty severe anxiety/depression (yes, I am getting help elsewhere too), but even so, I am seriously questioning whether it is really worth putting myself through this any more.
I love my research topic (on good days), but at what point is the stress of a PhD not worth it anymore?