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Talking to Professors

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in grad school, i'm in the dis/ability program through the university, went through half a year of unofficial leave Oct - May and now i'm on official leave of absence.

i never made connections with my profs. i have no committee. they have no work from me yet to base anything on. no one is interested. i have no committee. this is a problem, it's one of the first things that has to happen. before proposals can be approved, before research can be conducted. no supervisor, no committee members. i need three profs. just three, but i am estranged from all of them.

i mean the ones i have made connection with (in undergrad, over 3 years ago), since ill i haven't felt able to talk with any of them (never mind ones i don't know so well) academically, without going crazy, in one way or another.

at times it's just going away from conversation and replaying again and again and cringing, other times it's actually breaking down in front of them, as i completely fall apart under stress of the conversation, or the actual conversation that takes wind out of my sails, .. i on and off wonder whether i should even do this degree..

maybe i have issues with authority. i wonder if its just sheer nervousness or impostor syndrome, or that i don't think i have anything good to offer anyone..

i don't know but i go back in september and i'm quite worried about getting myself in there.. not 'back' in there, but in there.. to begin with.. all the old papers i still have to do.. gar...

i know i can do it but i'm doubting all the same, and then i wonder, maybe i'm fooling myself, maybe the drugs sucked my brain out, i'm kindling now that i'm off meds, and i really can't handle it anymore. half kidding about the drugs.

i don't know how to ask for accommodations around this, or enlist help to do it, or otherwise force myself into some personality that i am not in order to do it. Or which one to try. k, maybe not the last one.


(pulled out anthropology theory last week and got nasty-feeling, but maybe a bit of sexy foucault would work)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I asked for accomodations when I first started grad school.  Bad news for me.  The social stigmas are alive and well and I had to pretty much take a sabbatical after the first year, er, last year.  I'll eventually finish up later on, but at a different school most def.  That's just my experience with it...I can't offer any advice, obviously.

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Guest Pedro

Browsing, first post here:

At some point you've gotta tell and at some point you have to give in to how they run things; that is all I have figured out years into a PHD.  I went through years of not telling about bipolar and substance abuse, alcohol problems, and when I did, when I admitted needing a measly 6 months extra for a proposal exam, I had to send a letter in from my doctor and now no one mentions it and they leave me alone, don't annoy me as much, but they also just stay away (I am still pissed I had to send that letter in about bipolar).  So it helped but it also helped to alienate even me even more- professors look at me like I am made of china. 

I have similar issues with professors and committees but I just have to remind myself that, for me, a lot of my excuses are just excuses- I am bad at what a lot of other people are good at yet I am also really good at what a lot of other people are bad at (difficult texts, languages, etc.).  It is a trade-off and the social arena is just hard work for me and, even in writing this, I know I do not work hard enough at it. 

As for your committee, force it.  That is all you can do.  We don't get jobs without good recommendations or help from the professors we have worked with- and I only emphasize this so much because it is one of my biggest school-related issues.  Being a grad student is weird enough as is and anything else, like mental illness or drug addiction, whatever, makes it even weirder- sometimes the loneliness and inner direction required by our studies is unfortunately the worst thing for our illnesses. 

But hang in there, talk to people, do the work even if it takes more time because you can barely read on your meds, meet the profs, and it will be sweet.  Trust me.  And if this comes off as condescending, please excuse me- I am giving myself a pep talk here more than you or anyone else.

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thank you for your replies, i am still off meds and actually feeling almost ready to start writing, and hope to be back september, which is the time when i'll be full on getting the committee together. i hope the papers i have overdue can be done by that time. I'm reading this morning, and sort of reeling at writing theory, but i know i can do it..

i have a phd friend struggling lately about disclosing her bipolar to profs, she is off meds and felt so scared about meeting with supervisor because of emotional volatility. i'm not so concerned about breaking down in front of them, although there is the lingering concern of seeming like i'm 'made of china' (well put pedro).

mostly, concern that i'll prop myself up enough to continue studies only to get so stressed out and depressed again that i'll have to stop.

so what  i'm hearing is that it's important to disclose as a strategy for getting through, but it's harming as well as helpful and i just have to suck it up and take the punches with the accommodations. i guess i can live with that. i mean, i'm already there, just that i'm not actively going to school or interacting with anyone so the punches aren't being felt. i have some chicken wire in the cupboard, maybe i can make some papier mache armour  ;)

i'll probably add to this thread as i navigate through the committee stuff in a month or so (sooner if i work up the gall to pursue it in Aug)

thanks again


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