I hate my research project. I hate myself for thinking I could do this, and chucking it in and graduating with a postgraduate diploma is looking ever more attractive. The latest blip is that it turns out I’ve been data collecting without ethics approval (I thought I’d got the right piece of paper signed but that was actually something else) so now I feel like the stupidest, most incompetent postgrad student that ever lived and am worrying about what else I’ve missed. I do not want to spend my whole summer feeling like this, but I have a strong hunch that if I keep on with this, that’s exactly how I will be feeling.

 I’m fed up, pig sick and unable to discuss how I’m feeling with my supervisor. She’s awe inspiring: a great teacher, publishes, has kids….. I wish I could be more like her. I can teach pretty well, and I have children, but I can’t hold things together like she can, which is probably why she’s where she is and why I’m still a student at 40. I approach things emotionally and she doesn’t. She is a very sympathetic person in so many ways. If I’m moaning at someone in the department about how I’m struggling, they ask who my supervisor is and I tell them, and they always say ‘oh, you’ll be okay with her, she’s lovely’. And she is, but when it comes to discussions about my work she makes me feel like a five-year-old who still can’t get the hang of potty training. I give myself a hard time when I make mistakes as it is; I can’t cope with anyone who makes me feel even worse.

So the answer so far seems to be: work harder, read more, then you won’t screw up. But I don’t think I can. I cannot take more attention away from my husband, children and home.

I don’t know what to do.