Category Archives: Ramblings & Updates

My Identity Crisis: Getting Diagnosed with a Chronic Illness in Grad School

I’m the type of person who throws herself into a new identity. For example, I recently picked up knitting. Yet, in my mind, knitting is now and will forever be “my thing”. I am Krystal, the knitter and no one will convince me otherwise! I look forward to the day I’m good enough to make myself some fancy ass shirt or blanket or something, despite the fact I’ve only made one scarf.

It’s an odd personality trait, I know, but I think it has served me well throughout my life. Minus those weird adolescent years, I’ve always had a pretty strong sense of identity. I knew who I was and who I wanted to be. And sure, those two things changed a bit over the years as I matured and learned more about myself. But that never changed my end goal: get from one end point to the other. Should be easy enough, right?

Well, last summer, I started to not feel like myself. At first, it was subtle. I was constantly tired and had trouble sleeping–two things that could be easily chalked up to stress and overworking myself. Then, I lost all interest in my research. But, then again, I’d always heard about that “grad school slump” that occurs around your third or fourth year. Maybe I was just going through that? But soon enough a host of other bizarre symptoms started appearing slowly, then all at once. And then, finally after many doctor visits and a (rather scary) trip to the ER, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a chronic condition characterized by chronic pain, fatigue, cognitive issues and other fun things…

Now, when I imagined who I wanted to be in the future, a badass female scientist who loves her job and still has time for her family, never did I ever imagine that badass future me would have to do all that while dealing with a chronic illness. I wish I could say I jumped into my new identity and am trying to make the best of my situation, but that didn’t happen. Instead, I am very much in the midst of an identity crisis.

And yes, I’m pretty sure anyone would have an identity crisis after getting life-changing news like that. That’s normal. But for me, at least, it’s been extra hard because I’m a grad student. I belong to a group often defined by long hours, heavy workloads and high expectations. But what happens when my body can no longer live up to that criteria? What happens when overworking myself even the slightest bit lands me in bed and in pain? Well, my brain starts feeling sad, ashamed and guilty and I begin to relate to tweets like the one below.

I’m obviously very new to this and don’t have any insights on how to navigate any of this. Maybe one day I will. I’m sure this blog will be the first to know. But now that the dust has settled and I have an official diagnosis, I’m slowly trying to put myself back together. My future may not look how I originally imagined, that’s for sure, but I know that the limitations of my body don’t take away from my contributions of a scientist. Besides, the internet has been able to connect me to so many badass scientists that also deal with chronic illnesses. So if nothing else, at least I know I’m not alone.

A post-candidacy update!

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Oh hello there! I just thought I’d stop by and remind everyone that I still exist. Hope the new year is treating everyone well!

The last time I was here I was freaking out about my upcoming candidacy exam. Well, I’m happy to announce that I passed! 😀 I am officially a PhD candidate! And, I also have the great news of announcing that I won an NSF fellowship too! 😀 It’s a pretty good month if I don’t say so myself. Now if only my instrument and data would agree and give me nice results. O:

Anyway, as I’m trying to get back into the swing of things, my posting schedule may be a little bit hectic. I’m hoping that I’ll get an actual blog post up by next week talking about some of the grad school pro tips I’ve accumulated across this crazy adventure. I am also planning to talk about proposal writing, literature reviews, how to make a good powerpoint for a science talk and how to create a great NSF application packet!

Any objections? Or anything in particular you want me to talk about? Let me know! I hope to be back to (non-academic) writing soon enough.

 

Mini-Hiatus

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*waves* Hi there! And happy holidays to whoever is celebrating them!

It has come to another point in my life where I must throw in the towel and take a short hiatus from blog writing. Which, honestly, makes me really sad. Because this blog is something I take a lot of pride in and it’s become something I look forward to doing during the week! But lately, it’s been a bit difficult to write up quality posts on a weekly basis, while also keeping up with all the other things going on in my life right now. So, rather than forcing myself to churn out weekly material, I figured it was time for a break and for me to focus on, oh I don’t know, passing my candidacy exam.

Continue reading Mini-Hiatus

First Year Thoughts, Summer Adventures & Future Blog Updates???

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Oh hi there… Uhm… Crap. Can you give me a moment?

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Sorry. Okay. I’m good now.

Well, hello there! The quarter has officially ended in terms of classes! Yay! So, despite the fact that research is, of course, never ending, I can officially say I survived my first academic year of grad school! 😀

I can say without hesitation that this year has been soooo intense. I have gone through so many emotional rollercoasters and have learned so much about myself as a person. And this was just year one… I have like…five more to go? Craaaap. But I definitely don’t regret my decision to attend grad school (yet), and I don’t feel like quitting anymore. So, that’s promising, I guess. Continue reading First Year Thoughts, Summer Adventures & Future Blog Updates???

Adulting Fails

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So recently, a lot has been happening in my life. Not just with grad school, but real actual adult life too. And I can honestly say that some days just end up being complete and utter chaos. It’s so frustrating! I curse the day when tiny Krystal in pig tails said she wanted to “grow up.” 0/10. Would not recommend.

Anyway, I have recently watched this video by Jenna Marbles and this video by Grace Helbig (because Youtube is my guilty pleasure) and I really liked the idea they had about expelling all that negative energy in hopes that some good vibes will replace them. So that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m releasing all my recent adulting fails to the internet universe and hope that this will result in me becoming an actual functioning adult. (Or at the very least make someone feel better that they’re a better adult than I am…which isn’t hard.)

Will it work? Who knows. But enjoy the pictures, gifs, weird emojis and pathetic failures along the way!
Continue reading Adulting Fails

Things I wish I knew before I started “adulting”

e6043ac6c2dafd1ce43b4061d98f89bbHello everyone! I hope the new year has been treating you well so far!

So, I’ve realized that 2015 consisted of a lot of “growing up” and learning how to “adult.” It was weird, and sometimes scary and confusing, but I got through it. And, what better way to celebrate surviving another year than by sharing knowledge in hopes it can help you all survive another year too!

Below is a list (in no particular order) of things I wish I knew before I really started “adulting.” Now, I use the term “adulting” because doing adult things starts at different points of life for everyone. For some, it’s moving away from home to the dorms for college. For others, it’s getting a job after graduation. For me, it was putting on my big girl pants, moving out of my mom’s, renting an apartment with my boyfriend and starting grad school.

Either way, no matter what “adulting” means to you, here are some things that I wish I knew before I entered the “real world.”

Continue reading Things I wish I knew before I started “adulting”