Friday, July 07, 2006

grad school depression

someone defended today.

this is always both a sad, and encouraging event.

it's always nice to see someone get out. (make it out alive, with degree intact, that is.) but it's also sad and frustrating to realize that one is not there yet.

with the beginning of july comes the realization that i'm now a fifth year grad student. gah. when i came i felt like i didn't even need to get to know the fifth years because they'd be gone soon. of course, that was also when i still believed the lie that the "average" time to graduate was five years. try six. maybe six and a quarter. with a significant number of seven (and a few eight) years.

i don't write much about grad school. and there's a reason for that. i hate it.

not that i hate science. in fact, i love bench work. i love figuring out problems and solutions and doing the experiments to get there. it's just the whole set-up of the program.

the idea of grad school is basically to demoralize grad students. before i started i heard someone joke about how grad school makes you paranoid. i thought (at the time): how could that possibly be true? i still wonder how it could be true. because you know what they say: it's not paranoia if they really are out to get you.

granted, i work at a small research university, with few grad students, few options, little money, and poor resources. to make it worse, i'm in a (fairly) new lab. the first grad student will graduate in a few months. which will be especially sad. to lose an integral part of our lab, which is small anyway. he is someone i rely on for support: scientifically and mentally. it will be a long two years without him.

but such is life. especially life in grad school. high turnover. although it doesn't necessarily feel like that when you're the one going through the wood-chipper.


At 12:44 PM GMT-5, Blogger Joolya said...

grad students are a self-selected population of people who, in addition to or linked to the fact that they (we) actually enjoy research, are often predisposed to being mentally a little off kilter - prefectionist, somewhat introverted, maybe a little Aspergersy, over-analytical. therefore it can be no surprise that doing this really hard thing that everyone around you has also done already can induce depression in a large percentage of grad students.
they should give out zoloft/paxil/wellbutrin in the orientation folders.

At 1:27 PM GMT-5, Blogger catswym said...

i'd settle for just a little more free alcohol to drown our sorrows in.

At 1:35 PM GMT-5, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

Argh, I feel your pain! Been there... got through in 5 years through a series of random events, most of them horrible, that somehow ended in me graduating sooner rather than later. I think one of the key factors for me is that when things get really tough, I set my mind on how to get out. That meant, in my case, working 6-7 days a week, very long days, and dragging my advisor kicking and screaming to the finish line.

Try not to let yourself get too depressed yet- there's plenty of time for that when you're a postdoc. Try, if you can, to get angry. It's a much more useful emotion.


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