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I feel like I am running out of momentum life wise

  1. Sep 11, 2013 #1
    I feel like I am running out of momentum life wise. The last year has been so difficult for me that I see everything different. I still enjoy work and learning, but I don't enjoy school anymore. I have no confidence in myself academically despite actually making some good progress in an idea I had to approach turbulence modeling problems. I guess I have no faith; I just don't expect things to work out in my favor no matter how hard I work or how much I care.

    So with that attitude I find myself walking through the halls or working on homework (even though homework relaxes me quite a bit) asking myself "why?". I guess I want things to stop and be easy for once. I'll be honest I'm really tired of putting up a fight in my life. It's been like that for a very long time and I think I am getting to the point where I just want to move on or stop and take a rest. Older people tell me I'm too young to feel burned out...well then they can take up some of my responsibility and get my life back on track while I go vacation in Hawaii for two weeks and come back refreshed. If someone is going to give me dumb advice like that they better provide me a means to execute it.

    Don't get me wrong I still love science and math. I have all kinds of crazy new ideas popping in my head all the time! I just feel like my "time" has run out. Whatever potential, opportunities and dreams I had has been whisked away in a brief three months (starting almost a year ago to date) and I am left in a wake of....garbage. I know it's not true logically, but I feel like I wont make out good this time. Almost as if they'll be a significant "scar" on my "lifeline" that will forever mess up whatever path I will take.

    The only real good thing about having been: diagnosed with BP disorder, withdrawing from school, losing a fellowship opportunity, losing $20000 worth of aid, having to withdraw from a summer class again (costing $2000), losing trust in faculty members, and gaining about 20lbs is that::

    I have more "character" ha!! What joke!! What good is character if you live in a cardboard box under a bridge in NC

    I have learned more about myself. Another joke the ignorant masses in the USA value in a person. What good is knowing yourself if you end up......mopping floors till your 30!

    I learned what I truly want to pursue for a PhD - random processes in engineering and science. But...I am so scared to get a PhD now having experienced being unemployed for 6+ months and in so much debt. I have no doubts about my talent, passion and work ethic...I have doubts about every other force in the world.

    The university allowed me to re-enroll in the program provided I take the minimum course load to see how I do.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 11, 2013 #2


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    I'm right there with you, buddy.
  4. Sep 12, 2013 #3


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    Hang in there! Try to see your opportunities and take small steps towards them, many people don't even have a dream they want to achieve. The future can be scary, thus try to live in the moment and make the best of it.
  5. Sep 12, 2013 #4


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    You've been through a lot, it's no wonder you feel run-down. But you're still making progress, at least! A weaker person might have just given up.

    Maybe you need to incorporate something totally, completely different into your life? Something non-scientific to let the part of your brain rest a bit. Like making art, or volunteering with little kids?
  6. Sep 12, 2013 #5


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    I really *feel* for you. I was in a similar position once and in some sense, am stilling digging myself out of a hole. Perhaps the most difficult thing about it, and you know this feeling, is that this is a hole I dug myself. And what's worse, is we watched ourselves digging this hole. Deeper, and deeper. Something told us to stop, but factors beyond our control just kept pushing us to dig further down.

    And suddenly we hit rock bottom.

    I know a lot about loss, and the one thing I learned is that if you can recover from the worst, nothing is a challenge anymore. You can rise from this.

    What's important now is to piece yourself together. To work on completing yourself as a whole person. Not just your goals (and consequently school). Take the time to develop a hobby. Recover.

    I've been clawing at the dirt to find the light since I was born. In a sense, we all have.

    Make your difficulties your own and rise from them. Trust me, if you're not dead-- there's still time.


    Also, if you ever need anyone to talk to, feel free to PM me. Sometimes even the strongest of us just need someone to talk to. Even just some random stranger.
  7. Sep 12, 2013 #6


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    Aero, you have been advised to take up some sort of hobby. Might I suggest that if you do so, make sure it is a hobby that you can pursue in increments of time that fit your schedule, and that you can put down any time. I like tying dry flies but have no place to permanently set up my gear, so if I want a break from that, I have to clear up all my supplies and materials and put them in a storage tub - not a good hobby for those who have small slices of time here and there.

    Good luck.
  8. Sep 12, 2013 #7
    You have a diagnosis of bipolar so it follows you're going to be prone to depression.

    I singled out the above quote as an example of a kind of thinking that makes depression worse. What's behind the two sentiments you express is a cognitive distortion usually called "All-or-Nothing" thinking. I get the impression that in your mind, you only see two alternatives: complete success or complete descent to the bottom. You have specific goals, which is good, but it seems you're pretty inflexible about the thought of any life outside reaching those goals. That life, in your mind = failure. Thinking like that jacks up the pressure to succeed, and jack up your alarm when smaller and smaller things go wrong. The internal friction of the whole system goes up and, yeah, you start losing momentum.

    You have to manage your depression by isolating and challenging automatic cognitive distortions. Perfectionists are thrown into deep depression if they get 2nd prize instead of 1st prize. In their minds, anything that isn't 1st prize is as bad as being pelted with rotten eggs and hooted off the stage. All or nothing.

    Your situation is obviously a lot worse than merely getting 2nd prize. It's more like you fell and broke your leg on the way to the competition and couldn't enter that year. You're obviously freaked out by learning first hand that anything like that could actually happen to someone. The fact it could makes you "hypervigilant" about the possibility of things not happening in your favor.

    It's absolutely true that we all are dependent on a mass of things that we can't control going according to expectation. The fact is, that never happens all the time for anyone. The people who fare best are those who cultivate flexibility in what they'll find acceptable.

    I'm always inspired by Feynman's story of becoming "The Chief Research Chemist of the Metaplast Corporation." He'd graduated MIT and needed a summer job, but there was just no such thing to be had in physics. He really wanted to get hired at Bell Labs, but it didn't happen. By chance an old friend offered him a job as a chemist. What I like about Feynman, and where he shows character, is that he didn't dismiss it, he went for it.

    The whole story is here (scroll down 5 paragraphs to "The Chief Research Chemist of the Metaplast Corporation"):


    The point of posting that here is to demonstrate that the alternative to getting on a track and riding it straight to the end does not have to be ending up in a van down by the river. If you're flexible and quick thinking you can find ways to plug the skills you've learned into all kinds of other occupations that are not mopping floors.
  9. Sep 13, 2013 #8


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    Any normal person occasionally feels overwhelmed by school. It's part of the education experience. A degree tells people you not only are knowledgeable, but, have the ability to multi task and manage adversity.
  10. Sep 13, 2013 #9


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    Crap, I got no hope then...
  11. Sep 13, 2013 #10


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    You're reaching out to people and that is a great thing.

    One thing you should keep in mind is that studying and acquiring knowledge and can be really really stressful.

    There is a reason that many bright hard working people end up in mental hospitals (and not just once) when they are studying and doing a full time load in undergraduate studies let alone graduate studies.

    Some people cope through alcohol, drugs, lots of socializing, and through other means (job, wife, kids, etc). For those who don't have an outlet, it can really not only be exhausting, but it can burn you out and make you go crazy. Some people cope with exercise and sport as well (which is why universities have massive sports facilities like pools and gyms).

    If you need to take a break do it: it's not your job to have to explain yourself to everybody else why you are not currently in work/study/whatever. You know yourself better than other people after all.

    I don't know your situation, but one thing I want to tell is that you are not a failure: you made to grad school once (I read your story in the other thread) and that is quite an achievement. You should be proud of that achievement (grad school is not something that everybody has the stamina or the drive for).

    My suggestion is try to find some kind of outlet: I mentioned a few above, but there are many more (example musical instruments, drama, dancing, the list goes on). Try and make that outlet something that is non-academic where you don't have to do a lot of analysis and thinking.

    It could be something you never thought you would do like gardening, art, or many other activities.

    Just remember about the mental health issue and that the stress/needs of education (especially graduate school) don't make it any easier.
  12. Sep 13, 2013 #11
    As a person who is 30+ and has to mop the floors every night after close I can tell you, it certainly could be worse. I was also unemployed for over a year, and I am saturated with debt. I am ecstatic to be employed at all.

    I don't have any magic advice of course. Life is hard. Everybody gets a completely different set abilities, opportunities, adversaries and struggles. My not-so-magic advice is to be plastic and adaptive, don't pigeon hole your life and plans otherwise you will inevitably be disappointed. Also, beware your self-talk. The things you say to yourself every day in your head effect you and influence you. Though you cannot always control how you feel, you can sometimes control the self-talk you have which in turn does change how you feel.
  13. Sep 14, 2013 #12
    I tried something different today and went out to my appartment complex's swimming pool and talked to people. it was nice and even though we only talked for an hour or so it was incredibly relieving just to talk to someone besides my same old crowd.

    Are you talking about the one posted almost a year ago that got to 3 pages long?


    I think we may be familiar with the same author :), Burns? I read a good fraction of his book and it did help, but I am so damn disorganized I cant commit to anything that isn't enforced by something or I am extremely passionate about. I read Feynman's excerpt. I really liked it. I always thought he was overrated, but I realize people like him so much because he is a pretty down to earth and personable individual.

    I'll be honest with you I made out pretty good for myself despite quite a bit of adversaries. What happened was that my coping mechanisms we no longer needed in everyday life. When you're brought up a certain way (read: in chaos) and you develop an essentially life saving mind set, exacerbated by a latent mood disorder, you (well, at least I and I'm sure others) develop a lot of anti-social behavior. To this day I compulsively anticipate stressful scenarios that will never happen according to the laws of statistical mechanics. Every time I say hi to someone, unless I am extremely close to them, I get violent thoughts. People think I am really shy and afraid to talk, they don't realize its very stressful for me to control those urges and still remain an everyday fellow.

    Right now my hobby is this turbulence project I have been working on. But that is some pretty intense work. I have always wanted to break dance...
  14. Sep 15, 2013 #13
    What's to commit to? His book is always there when you feel depressed/upset. And you know it's going to make you feel at least, at least 10% better.
    He literally could and would talk to anyone. He was curious and enthusiastic about everything.
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