Tag Archives: Student Life

“Depression drives me to gaze into abysses.”

I’m quoting Jake Jackson, from this article at phdisabled, which I skimmed when it was published but read more closely yesterday, on the subway, legless and crawling before the realities of health care. Again it brought me to the edge of tears, as words do when they tell my experiences back to me in a form I was previously unable to grasp.

This is my current abyss.

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Too little coffee, even less time.

This was my overarching impression of my first year as a Ph.D. student: too much reading, too much coursework, too much busy work, for any real reflection outside of class sessions.  Forget integration with preexisting or current research, or time spent with the subject of research.  There was too much insistence on fast turnaround and constant production, the same old reliance on the inescapable “publish-or-perish” adage, with the added pressure to present at conferences, seek out internships and future funding opportunities, collaborate, research, endure.

This is what I found so startling, this emphasis on endurance over enjoyment, on gritting your teeth through coursework to reach the relief of quals and the dissertation process, what should ostensibly be the most depressing, isolating portion of the Ph.D. experience.  But the most repeated (and dare I say soundest) piece of advice I received all semester was the vague encouragement that “it does get better.”  I’m still not convinced.

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