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I am a master student and currently finishing my master's thesis.

Ever since the beginning of COVID I have been experiencing depression and anxiety. This resulted in not being able to work as hard as needed on my thesis and led to a few delays of intermediary (but not compulsary) deadlines during this year. At the beginning of summer, my promotor, assistant and me made a raw time schedule to make sure I would be able to finish and hand in my thesis before the deadline.

About three weeks ago, I was supposed to send them a mail with my progress but due to the lack thereof and a multitude of anxiety attacks, I convinced myself it would be better to wait to send an email until I have something to show for. This anxiety related situation dragged out and now, with two weeks to go until the final deadline, I have most of my thesis written, except for the discussion of some results of my experiments (which I partly still have to create), and which is the most important chapter of my thesis.

My intent is to send an email on Monday, but I have no idea on how to address the situation. In my mind, they, my promotor and assistant, probably think I have given up on making the deadline of my thesis. I basically went radio silent for a couple of weeks and the guilt is eating me up. In addition, I don't even know if it is still possible to do the amount of work that is still needed to complete my experiments as I have not started my last one yet.

Could anyone give me some insight on how to handle my situation? Thank you.

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In my experience, this situation is pretty common, so even if the advisor/promoter aren't happy about it, they likely have dealt with this situation before. I think you can let your guilt go for now. The best course of action is simply to acknowledge the lateness without dwelling on it, and try and resume normal communications going forward. I think you know your mistake here, but it is always better to send an e-mail with an update when you hit a deadline, even if you don't have "enough" progress to show. Your advisor likely wants to help, but they might feel like they don't know where to start if they haven't heard from you.

A simple statement such as: "I apologize for the tardiness of this e-mail, I know we had originally discussed a deadline nearly a month ago. Due to the pandemic situation, I have not been able to make progress on my thesis as quickly as expected. Here is my current progress. [description]. My plan for the next few weeks is as follows...." If you have concrete suggestions for how they can help, I would put them in your e-mail. Otherwise, let them take the ball from there on how to support you going forward.

In the meantime, if your situation allows you to access mental health support services, I think they would be useful in helping you find more healthy coping strategies in the future.

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