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”

Grad School Thus Far…

Hi everyone! I haven’t done a more personal post since…well…a month ago maybe? Woops.

But a lot of things have happened since then! For instance, I joined a research group! Wooo! As of November 2nd, I have officially become a graduate researcher. I even have a small project right now which involves looking at old data and confirming trends seen in Houston in order to try and compare it to what happens here in So. Cal…or at least that’s what I understood when it was explained to me. It has thus far involved reading papers I don’t really understand deeply enough and learning MATLAB which is a whole obstacle on its own…(No prior software experience except for LaTex.) I also now spend my days plotting random variables together to see if anything makes sense. Or, at least I would if I even knew what made sense in the first place…

Heh. Well this post isn’t off to a good start, huh?

Continue reading Grad School Thus Far…

Grad School Goals!

Image from Google

So this year, I decided it was time to make a list of goals that I wanted to accomplish throughout my time at grad school. I figured it was easier to separate them into individual quarters at this point. So, in case you were interested, here are my goals for Fall Quarter!

1. Join a Lab

I mean, that’s the point of going to being a chemistry grad student right? Though this is a bit more than just joining a lab. I want to join a lab that I can call family for the next 5.5 years of my life. It’s a big decision, but my goal is to find a lab that does research I love with people that are amazing. 🙂

2. Be more Social

So I have a problem of shying away from people and sticking to those I’m comfortable with. However, since this is a new university, I don’t have anyone I’m comfortable with. Therefore, I need to open up and be more social so I can actually make friends and have a bit of a life outside of school. O:

3. Be more Confident

I really need to work on this one. I once had a professor I really respect say that he expects me to do great things once I gain the confidence I need to launch myself at whatever task I have. I want to live up to his expectation.

4. Stop Doubting Myself

This kind of goes hand in hand with gaining more confidence…

5. Join a Dance Class

I like dancing but I always find an excuse to not go to classes. I’m too busy. I’m too tired. Well no more! Sometime this quarter I shall join a dance class and attend regularly!

6. Read More

This means both reading for fun and reading scientific journals. Both are going to be beneficial as I move forward with my career. O:

7. Save Money

Now I’m not a big spender in general, but I do make a lot of unnecessary small purchases such as that starbucks coffee I could have made myself, or that lunch that I could have made at home. So this quarter I hope I can change my spending habits for the better!

So there are my goals for the semester/quarter! What goals do you have?

❤ K

My Favorite Books

Well, since this blog is still pretty new, I wanted you guys to get to know me a bit more. I already updated my about me page, so you can head there for the basics. However, recently I feel that the easiest way to peek into someone’s mind is to see what their favorite books are.

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So voila! In no particular order, the books that I hold dearest to my heart are:

  1. Solanin by Inio Asano
  2. The Manifesto on how to be Interesting by Holly Bourne
  3. Boy Proof by Cecil Catstellucci
  4. The Martian by Andy Weir
  5. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
  6. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
  7. The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  9. The Compound by Stuve-Bodeen

I’m still looking for one more book to so this list can officially be a top 10. Any suggestions?

Have a good day!

❤ K