New to PhD candidacy and tanking fast - academics of MeFi, help me figure out how to get through this mess.
posted by SNWidget to Education (21 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
There are a ton of details, but I'll try to keep this as brief as possible.
I'm a 28/m PhD Candidate in a social science area (check my profile for specifics). I'm married to a non-academic, awesomely supportive woman (27/f). I did my Masters at the same place I'm doing my Doctorate.
I did the written parts of my qualifying exams this summer. I was nervous, of course, but I got mostly positive feedback with just a few questions. I set up my oral defense of my quals for this past Monday.
Unfortunately, in the last month, I've had the worst depressive episode of my life. I haven't been able to do anything, I've looked like a complete mess, and I haven't produced anything. I've always had problems with depression, ADHD, anxiety, perfectionism, and other things, but all of a sudden, my world came crashing down.
My advisor thought that my orals would be no problem, even feeling crappy, so I kept them. I got there, they asked me a question, and I froze. I couldn't think, I couldn't speak. Everyone at the table was a professor with which I had a great relationship, and I still couldn't do it. They tried to walk me through the questions, but I was shut down. They let me out, discussed, and said that they'd passed me.
Ok, fine. I felt awful about it, but everyone kept tell me that a win was a win, and that this was just a hurdle I had to get my ass over.
I still feel depressed, but I've been coming out of it. That is, until today. I go to my advisor, and she says that I should consider another advisor for my dissertation, because she doesn't think she can handle my self-efficacy issues. She says she wants whats best for me, and she doesn't think she's equipped to help me, get me through my dissertation, and guide me to what's best in my professional life.
I'm in the social sciences - she's one of the few people in the department that does quantitative work like I do. There are two other people who are working with her (2nd years), and they're happy, bubbly, and productive. And then there's me.
I want this. God, I want this. I want to finish this and work with her and fix everything. I'm trying therapy, I'm trying medication, I'm trying everything I can think of. I have a crazy schedule with a bunch of non-research but field related commitments (teaching music).
Here are my questions - she says she still believes in my talent. She still likes my writing and my work. I just feel like she thinks I'm broken. She didn't tell me to get another advisor; she would have said it flat out if that's what she'd meant.
How do I get back? I was one of the stars of the department, and now I'm getting zoomed past. I need to get back in this race. I have to get back in this race.
What would you do, academics of MeFi? I know this is so specific from situation to situation, but I need guidance. If my ideal outcome is to work with my current advisor through my dissertation (starting this spring) and get back into the good graces of the department, what do I do? How do I start making inroads and fixing what I killed while in my depressive slide?