I’ve said it once (many times, actually) and I’ll say it again: academia can be a really shitty place when it comes to your mental health. Yes, your academic adventures can result in a variety of extremely rewarding experiences–there’s no doubt about that–but when your forced to survive this high-stress environment that expects you to juggle heavy workloads, long hours and high expectations on top of the rest of your adult life… Let’s just say that even the most dedicated students can start succumbing to the pressure.
I was warned, even before I started grad school, that there will be at least one point during my five-year PhD where I would get stuck. It might be because a key experiment won’t work for weeks on end or the data I manage to get simply isn’t adding up—whatever it was it would be a very obnoxious rough patch and getting over it definitely wouldn’t be easy. In fact, I might find myself even tempted to quit.
But young, naïve little Krystal kind of just shrugged off the thought. That won’t happen to me, I assured myself. Besides, even if it does, I’ll get over it because I’m doing what I love! That’ll be enough to pull me through, right? I just have to keep the end goal in mind! Right?
I feel stuck and I don’t know why.
Everything is telling me that I should be having the time of my life.
I’m going to my dream grad school. I’m working in a discipline that I love. I’ve successfully survived my first year. And terms such as “intelligent”, “smart” and “successful” have been used to describe me–to describe my life. I mean, I suppose if I were to look at my CV I could maybe shrug in agreement…
But I don’t feel it.
I don’t see it.
And here I am… Stuck. Anxious. In a rut. And scared that my life has been a horrible mistake. That I don’t really belong here. That I’m an imposter.
Disclaimer: Though this article mainly talks about grad school experiences, this topic is applicable to many different types of people and the advice is applicable to anyone who feels the expectation to be constantly working.
Grad school is an interesting beast. You’re neither a student, nor an Adult(TM) and as such, you really get none of the benefits from either category. That is, you don’t have the surplus of free time between classes that you once had in college, nor does work limit itself to 40 hours a week like it tends to do in Adult World. Continue reading
Though this blog post is directed towards those going through difficult grad school experiences, the advice given is completely applicable for anyone going through similar situations.
It was a bad quarter. Though I somehow managed to escape relatively unscathed and pass my classes… hell is not an adequate enough word to describe how low some days got. In fact, some days my mental health was in such peril that many times I felt like walking into my boss’s office and tell him to take me off the project I’m working on… or, on the worst days, tell him I’m quitting the program for good.
In the end, I did neither of these things and after a day or two the feelings passed. However, I remember that afterwards I just felt so guilty. Because, here I am. I’m the first in my family that has been given the opportunity to graduate from college and continue my higher education. I have a rare chance to pursue a career that I am so passionate for and possibly make a difference. Yet, for some reason, despite all this, I’ve thought of walking away countless times. Quitting. Continue reading
Disclaimer: This post is just a single anecdote of my experiences with feelings of anxiety and my personal way of coping with it. I am my no means an expert and highly recommend that if you think you may be dealing with feelings of anxiety or have an anxiety disorder, that you seek help from a professional.
I’ve been in grad school for almost five months now (holy crap, it feels like years!) and it has been quite an experience. Though I’ve bitched and complained both here and on my Tumblr, overall it’s been a positive experience. After all, it feels like everyday I’m learning something new about my research field, meeting fantastic people and getting more and more involved with the science that I love… Continue reading
At the time I’m writing this, I should be studying for my final exam that’s occurring two days from now. I should also be trying to wrap up my first mini research project so that I can present to my professor this week to see if I found anything remotely interesting. Even more, I should also be helping my boyfriend with laundry and cooking and chores and other house related things, because I’ve seriously been lacking at all these things, making him pick up the slack.
Life is hard. Grad school makes life harder.
When this post is published, I would have finished the first quarter of my grad school career. It’s a great feat and pretty awesome in the grand scheme of things. But, I am in no mood to celebrate because goddamn it was such a challenge! Worse, it feels like I haven’t accomplished a damn thing and am not a single step closer to that degree I’ve been dreaming about for years. Talk about a motivation killer, right?
Hello, my fellow students. Unfortunately, I greet you during that dreaded time of the year: finals week. And yeah, sure, the long nights of studying are pretty bad, admittedly. But, in my opinion, what can be even worse is that little voice in you head that that starts speaking up right before the final. You know the one. It says horrible things such, “You studied the wrong material,” or even, “I bet you’re going to forget everything you studied the moment you sit down!” Gosh. What a jerk that voice is. 😦
Anyway, I feel that a lot of the time, it’s this test anxiety that makes finals week so nerve-wracking, scary and stressful! However, over my test-taking years I’ve found a few techniques that have helped me reduce my anxiety and go into the exam room feeling focused, awake and confident! Listed below are my techniques in hopes that this helps you all have the best finals week ever! Kick those test’s butt! ❤