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My life hasn't exactly gone as planned.

  • Thread starter Physics_UG
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Physics_UG
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Main Question or Discussion Point

My life hasn't exactly gone as planned.......

I graduated in 2008 with a double major in electrical engineering and physics and had always wanted to go to graduate school in electrical engineering and get a PhD so I could one day become a professor. Well, I got accepted to a good grad school and moved across the country. I did poorly in my classes (~3.2 gpa with three B minuses) and I was not interested in my research. I got depressed and was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder (I don't know if I got depressed because I was doing poorly or if I was doing poorly because I got depressed). I started getting paranoid in my research group and struggled a great deal. I ended up taking a one year leave of absence and moved back home. During this time I spent the whole year in my room freaking out. I looked for a job during this time but I couldn't find anything. A year later I went back to the same grad school but to a different research group and in a different research area. I picked up where I left off, but I felt like I did not have the ability to understand the research my new group was working on. The first group I was in the research was fairly simple but I just found it boring. In the second research group I found the research to be too abstract and I felt like I didn't have the ability to understand it. It was very theoretical. I sunk into a deep depression again only a couple months after going back and started having anxiety attacks and my confidence was low. I was sleeping up to 16 hours per day and I lost all of my motivation. I moved back home for a second time and decided grad school just wasn't for me.

I spent about 5 months looking for a job and I finally found a 6 month temp-to-hire contract job as a semiconductor process engineer. This job is very boring and not challenging and I hate going each day. The pay is fairly low as well. I have been at this job for 3.5 months. The first 3 months I was absolutely miserable. I'd sleep 12 hours per day and my motivation was very low and I was still very depressed. However, recently I switched to a different anti depressant and my motivation and general disposition improved dramatically. I still hate my job but at least outside of work I am happier. I am starting to think I want to return to the same grad school and I am thinking I want to do integrated circuit design instead of the research I was doing before. However, I am not sure if I need to reapply to the school or not. If I can just return without reapplying I can go back this fall but if I need to reapply I won't be able to return until fall 2012, if I get accepted again at all. I just really hate my job and I want to get back into grad school ASAP. I think I would fare a lot better now that I am doing better.

I know my parents won't like it if I tell them I want to go back after dropping out twice already but I think this is the right thing to do. I will probably have to pay my own way for my first semester or two in order to prove myself since nobody will want to give me RA/TA funding after dropping out twice already. I will have to volunteer with a prof for a semester or two to prove that I am ready.

So how do I convince my parents that I am ready to go back? Should I even go back, or should I just give up the dream of being a professor and stick with my job? Should I just find a different job that I like more?

Also, the good thing about my job is I can start paying off the 30K in student loans I have from undergrad. I just absolutely hate my job.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Please continue to seek medical attention for the on-going depression. After recovery, I would consider a different graduate school to avoid re-occuring issues.

Good luck with everything.
 
  • #3


So how do I convince my parents that I am ready to go back?
If you're old enough to have graduated three years ago with an engineering/physics double major, you're old enough to tell your parents your decision. Their opinion should only affect you if you let it -- unless, of course, they're paying for it, in which case you should probably not be doing engineering/physics grad school regardless.
 
  • #4
Physics_UG
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If you're old enough to have graduated three years ago with an engineering/physics double major, you're old enough to tell your parents your decision. Their opinion should only affect you if you let it -- unless, of course, they're paying for it, in which case you should probably not be doing engineering/physics grad school regardless.
My parents are not paying for it, but I will probably need their help to move back out there. I have a lot of stuff to move. Actually, hopefully it will be paid for through an RA position after a ear or so.
 
  • #5
Physics_UG
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Please continue to seek medical attention for the on-going depression. After recovery, I would consider a different graduate school to avoid re-occuring issues.

Good luck with everything.
It's more like bipolar than depression, actually. I go through periods of mania and depression. However, the anti-depressant I have been on lately has been working pretty well. I think it is helping a lot

And if I am going to have issues I will have issues no matter where I go. The grad school I was at is in a sunny climate which certainly helps my depression. Also, I am already familiar with the area and have friends out there already. This is better than starting over at a completely new school.
 
  • #6
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i think what he's saying is that maybe being in a similar environment might be a bad thing for you, especially if you're starting to feel better.

How long has it been since you last felt depressed and whatnot? It's important to give yourself enough time with these things. You can always take some time and read on your own to catch up on what you've missed.
 
  • #7
Physics_UG
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Bah. I finally got an email back from the department and they said I will have to reapply. I don't think it's fair that when you get a medical withdrawal you have to reapply to return. Sometimes people get sick. They should cut people some slack.

I have a phone meeting with the EE department chair so maybe he can extend the Fall 2011 application deadline so I can be admitted for this Fall. The school also allows Spring admission so I can apply for spring 2012 as well.

Oh well. This isn't ideal but this is how it has panned out for me.
 
  • #8
Physics_UG
Gold Member
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i think what he's saying is that maybe being in a similar environment might be a bad thing for you, especially if you're starting to feel better.

How long has it been since you last felt depressed and whatnot? It's important to give yourself enough time with these things. You can always take some time and read on your own to catch up on what you've missed.
hadsed, it's been about 2 weeks since I have been seriously depressed.
 
  • #9
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Wow... that is really no time at all. I'm not a psychiatrist, but I've read about cases like yours and the typical advice is to chill and not move so fast. The important thing is that you're healthy, so taking an extra couple of months or a year to make sure of that is perfectly fine.

Of course it's your decision though, and only you can assess yourself best, but just be careful of your own biases.
 
  • #10
chiro
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Bah. I finally got an email back from the department and they said I will have to reapply. I don't think it's fair that when you get a medical withdrawal you have to reapply to return. Sometimes people get sick. They should cut people some slack.

I have a phone meeting with the EE department chair so maybe he can extend the Fall 2011 application deadline so I can be admitted for this Fall. The school also allows Spring admission so I can apply for spring 2012 as well.

Oh well. This isn't ideal but this is how it has panned out for me.
Dude I wish you all the best. You sound like an ambitious young man (typical of people here on PF), and I think you will make it.

With regard to depression, it is not just a mental thing, its also physical. I've had depression medication in the past, and sometimes its necessary to have some so that physically you feel different. It does have side effects though, but there are different types so you can speak to a doctor about those.

Also remember you can get off them later when your circumstances change.

One thing that other people told me that I should have listened to at the time is to get around other people. You don't have to be a socialite of course, but even being in the presence of people can take your mind off things, even if its brief. Either that or keeping yourself busy (both is good).

Like I said, this is a physical thing as well as a mental thing, so just be aware of that.
 
  • #11
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Are you sure the sunny climate will make you feel better? Research in this area indicates that climate has no effect for most people. I would talk to a mental health professional about your plans.
 
  • #12
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I would say to stabilize your mental and physical health before you make any major career decisions. Talk to a psychiatrist about your goals and make sure you are truly ready for any big changes. Best of luck.
 
  • #13
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Your health and well being are more important than your career; I went through something similar and came out of my "darkness" realizing that enjoying the simple things in life and living each moment as if it was the last were more important than any professorship or career. I now am working on a masters degree in physics (which is what I always have wanted to do-then continue to a phd in astronomy) but am always fighting myself to keep myself grounded and with a perspective on life in general (not just on my career).

Your mind, body, soul and family are what comes first. Everything else is secondary. If you can successfully achieve some balance in these areas, you will definitely feel happier and more fulfilled with your life- no matter what kind of career/grad school/job you may have.

My thoughts and prayers go out to you and I hope you can achieve this balance in your life.

God bless
 
  • #14
6,814
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So how do I convince my parents that I am ready to go back?
I'd worry less about your parents than about yourself. I'd be careful about going back to graduate school. If you wait a year to make sure that everything in fine, you don't lose anything. If you try to go back to soon and it blows up, this is very bad.

Should I even go back, or should I just give up the dream of being a professor and stick with my job? Should I just find a different job that I like more?
One thing that you should definitely do is to rethink your dream of being a professor. The problem is that the odds are stacked so highly against you, that if you think that it is likely that you are going to be a professor, then it's going to hit your mental health hard, once things fall apart.

I said "rethink" and not necessarily "give up." It's OK to have a wild, crazy, probably unattainable dream as long as you realize that it is wild, crazy, and probably unattainable. On the other hand, maybe you'll be better off if you "give up" trying to be a professor, and just are satisfied with getting your Ph.D. or Masters.
 

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