Anybody in grad/PhD school?

Hi everybody. I used to post here in my early twenties, some fifteen+ years ago.

Is anybody here in graduate school, going for the PhD or working in academia?

My breakdown happened when I was in college when I was twenty. I was an honors college student, and it was really hard on my self image to not be able to complete a degree. Afterwards I tried to work but my symptoms made it impossible. I got diagnosed, and a doctor told me I probably wouldn’t ever work and gave me disability paperwork. Receiving 400 dollars a month and living with my parents, it seemed like I’d never be able to go back to school. But in my thirties my then-partner encouraged me to go to community college. Grants were available, and I could essentially go for free. I did very well, transferred to the nearest university, graduated there with honors, and completed my master’s there. Now I’m going for my PhD, in my third year of my program.

School hasn’t been easy. I don’t have good social skills, and I rarely ever speak. I completed my undergraduate degree without having said a word to anybody that wasn’t mandatory. My positive symptoms are generally well-managed, although voices come and go in intensity, particularly when I’m under stress.

But now I find myself in a role I could’ve never anticipated being in. I’m teaching a class at my university. It’s the most demanding thing I’ve ever done, for so many reasons. I feel like I’ve never had a consistent identity, have always felt unreal and alien, a bunch of fragments, not something solid. Nothing that I did or said really mattered, even to me, because it wasn’t really real. But now I have to be a person, have to occupy space, be consistent, responsible. And it requires language, something I’ve always been fascinating with, but which my relation to has always been difficult, having such problems in articulating myself, in producing any speech at all, in feeling that I’m being coherent. And it requires socialization, which is something that for a decade of my life I didn’t do at all. The teaching part of my workload is just one component, and I do find it rewarding, because I’m developing skills in things I thought were impossible for me, but it often requires absolutely all of my energy in terms of both preparation and recovering, that I’m finding it very difficult to work as intensely on my research as I have in the past, which is stressful and disconcerting.

I’m just wondering if there’s anybody out there in a similar situation. I feel like I’ve achieved so much that a decade ago would’ve been inconceivable to me. But there a lot of specific pressures to being in a PhD program, or to be doing work in which speech, communication, and facing a public take center stage for someone with schizophrenia. It’d be great to connect and talk about it, strategies and techniques, coping mechanisms, or maybe just a bit of perspective.

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Welcome @Lautreamont .

If you find yourself in need of help, just tag a moderator. Type the @ symbol, then our names

@ZombieMombie , @ninjastar , @Moonbeam, @rogueone, and @Bowens

Enjoy your stay with us!

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Welcome to the forum. :spider::spider::spider:

I think @ninjastar is doing a PhD.

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I never really recovered after failing to get my degree.

I’m glad you did. That’s a great and hopeful story.

Welcome to the forum! :sunny:

Isn’t @ninjastar going to pursue a PhD? Maybe they’ll have some input when they come online.

Edit: sorry, @Jonathan2 beat me to it.

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Thanks, everhopeful. It was so difficult. I was basically suicidal and a recluse for all of my twenties, and I developed intense social phobia over that time period. It was really difficult and surreal at first just to be in a room with so many people. And there were a lot of bumps on the road, once I was on it. Somehow I persevered.

I’ve been in school for like 7 years now in my thirties, and I’ve seen people of all ages, backgrounds and conditions. Maybe school seems impossible right now. But maybe at some point you can take a single class in something that interests you at a community college (or maybe something just offered in your community, if you have access to those kinds of things). Or enroll in a MooC. When I was finishing up my associate’s degree, the community college I attended was starting to accept MooC certificates as credits. It’s something I would’ve probably tried had I known about it before, because the social aspect of college is what was the hardest adjustment for me, and you could do a MooC in your home. You’d have the space and time to process things, and you could probably pick something you have interests in.

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Hi! I relate to a lot of your post. I’m also in the third year of my PhD. I’m in my mid twenties. Frankly my mental health issues really messed up my first two years of grad school - in particular, hypomania and delusions of grandeur led me to make poor choices. I’m currently on a leave of absence to work in industry (starting my new job on Monday). I’ve basically given up on academia at this point for a variety of reasons, the stress, low pay, and likely need to relocate chief among them. However, I think it is definitely possible. You might be interested in Elyn Saks’ memoir - she has SZ and is super successful in academia. Best of luck to you, feel free to message me if you ever want to talk!

I also relate to the lack of consistent identity. Research used to be almost my entire identity. For the sake of my mental health I’m really trying to diversify my identity so professional success isn’t the main determinant of my happiness.

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It’s definitely possible. I’ve seen a lot of success stories via googling.

I’m at college atm studying music & sound production, its mostly for fun and to build up my resilience, my main goal is to get a job

Welcome to the forum!

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Glad to see others are doing it. I’m not in grad school yet. I have a BA and am back in undergrad doing pre reqs for a masters program. Taking next year off then applying.

Att159, I don’t have messaging privileges yet, but I will when I can. I actually interviewed Dr. Saks during my first semester of my master’s program, for a project of pedagogy and schizophrenia. She has a unique position where she does research and does things like grading but is not required to teach. During my first semesters of grad school I was jealous of this, but, as much of a time demand teaching can be, especially if you have to lecture, I’ve come to appreciate, and I’ve learned to be vulnerable and not so concerned with saving face/hiding my schizophrenia. But I was just so enthusiastic, because there are so few professors out there who publicly state they have SZ. It’s good to see precedents and people who have been through similar things but who have also achieved things you aspire to.

Moon, congrats on your degree and good luck.

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