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Grad school makes me want to kill myself


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There are times grad school wasn't as bad - like when I accidentally do my work correctly. Then I feel smart and useful for about half a second. And heck, even though I likely can't afford it and it w

Yup - I've felt that way ever since I started last year. Don't know about you, but I'm in grad school against my better judgment. It's not as much the work that stresses me out as much as the debt it

That's what I've been trying to get across, but let me re-iterate: You can get married, have children and enjoy life while working on a PhD. You don't need to spend 70-80 hours in the lab each week, a

At the moment, I'm thinking that is probably normal. But only because I'm having so much trouble getting my thesis up off the ground.

You have posted on here before about grad school not being a good experience for you. Have you talked to anyone about it yet? It might help.

Edited by robot_hamster
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Um.

If you are talking about killing yourself as in you're waxing hyperbole and are not REALLY thinking of killing yourself: this is normal, but you should talk to someone (perhaps a trusted professor or friend) and find ways to alleviate some of the stress.

If you are talking about REALLY killing yourself: this is not normal and you need to seek help immediately.

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I will assume you are not being serious...but if you are, I agree with dimanche here, you should definitely talk to someone. But I do agree that graduate school can be stressful. What aspect of graduate school is bothering you right now?

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Judging by the troll face, I'm assuming you aren't serious. Don't "an hero" on us though. If you are having suicidal thoughts, it's in your best interest to talk to someone.

I'm of the (somewhat radical) position that everyone has a right to their own lives, including the right to end it. But you should seek professional help before so doing.

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Yes. And No. It's normal for grad school to be stressful at times. And it can have a way of sucking the (rest of your) life out of you, if you let it. Some periods of stress are to be expected and there is not much you can do against them. But if it's a continuous thing that you don't anticipate will improve and is making you unhappy, you need to figure out a way to change something about your situation. If grad school is making you seriously unhappy all of the time, that is not normal. Often when you're really tired and things just look all around depressing, it helps to take some time off and do nothing, just to get some perspective on things (I like to watch whole seasons of America's Next Top Model or Project Runway on such occasions, but to each her own). But to address the more general problem, developing some time management skills along and learning to be assertive and say 'No' when you can't handle everything that is being asked of you is crucial. Also, I find it helps me to actively block out time in my schedule for "other" things - that is, non-grad-school fun, workouts, or just time off. You may need to evaluate everything that you are doing at the moment - maybe you need to step out of a project you're involved in? or slow down the progress of a project? or stop meeting with faculty who are drain your energy? or move office if its your officemates who are making your life more difficult? Maybe you should take a break from grad school altogether if you're just not enjoying the experience anymore. As others suggest, seeking someone's advice may be beneficial - it can be a trusted professor or friend or else someone outside your department. If you can identify the sources of your unhappiness and take active steps to correct them, that should lead to at least some improvement.

Edited by fuzzylogician
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I hope the OP posts again in this thread to give us a little more or answer some of the questions asked, because otherwise I'm entirely unsympathetic. If you're absolutely serious, you have every opportunity to simply leave. The above posters are right: if it's making you feel this way all the time, you need to seriously re-evaluate your situation. Grad school isn't the be-all and end-all of what will make your life satisfying.

if you were merely being hyperbolic, I'm actually rather annoyed. I have personal reasons for being sensitive to such flippant claims of intention to suicide. I don't know your situation, obviously, but I'm skeptical, especially with your citing grad school as the reason, that you have any idea of what it's like to deal with the realities of suicide and depression and mental illness. Please forgive me if it's otherwise; I don't mean to downplay your suffering but put it in perspective.

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Yup - I've felt that way ever since I started last year. Don't know about you, but I'm in grad school against my better judgment. It's not as much the work that stresses me out as much as the debt it will put me in. I'll have about $80K from undergrad by the time I'm out of grad school, and then possibly $50K more from grad school. I've considered suicide as a way to kind of escape the forced college, the debt, and everyone who lives my life for me on a regular basis.

But the people who I actually do care about are the ones who keep me going. I have grown resentful of higher education due to it being forced in me for the last six years, and I truly feel the student loan debt I have been forced to take on will make me live in poverty for the rest of my life. Talking can help if you talk to the right person - if you're truly serious about feeling suicidal, many people will just tell you to grow up, get over it, you're being dramatic, etc. That's common when you tell someone you're suicidal because they think you're attention-whoring (and I admit, some people like emo kids ARE doing just that). I suggest confiding in a close friend rather than any strangers because they'll just tell you you're crazy and doing something wrong.

Grad school is a very depressing place, though, so it makes sense. You have to do loads of incredibly difficult work, you hardly have time to even use the bathroom let alone have down time to watch a movie or read a non-academic book, you may often be exhausted and pushing yourself to be awake every single day, you might eat less. It's basically nothing but go go go, now now now with no time to rest. You might not even get a full night's rest for the whole time you're there. So believe me, I can understand how being in grad school can be so depressing - it's because it IS depressing, even if you want to be there. It's not like undergrad where you get a month to do one assignment and can have a little playtime here and there. There's none of that when you go for your master's.

Others may say otherwise, but my own experience has been depressing and has made me suicidal, upset, and turn to alcohol at times to cope. The worst part is if you choose to major in the arts or humanities, you are very unlikely to ever be able to even use your degree anyway, so that may make your studies even more depressing. I am only speaking from what I have personally experienced, though.

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Grad school is a very depressing place, though, so it makes sense. You have to do loads of incredibly difficult work, you hardly have time to even use the bathroom let alone have down time to watch a movie or read a non-academic book, you may often be exhausted and pushing yourself to be awake every single day, you might eat less. It's basically nothing but go go go, now now now with no time to rest. You might not even get a full night's rest for the whole time you're there. So believe me, I can understand how being in grad school can be so depressing - it's because it IS depressing, even if you want to be there. It's not like undergrad where you get a month to do one assignment and can have a little playtime here and there. There's none of that when you go for your master's.

Others may say otherwise, but my own experience has been depressing and has made me suicidal, upset, and turn to alcohol at times to cope. The worst part is if you choose to major in the arts or humanities, you are very unlikely to ever be able to even use your degree anyway, so that may make your studies even more depressing. I am only speaking from what I have personally experienced, though.

Just me, please take the advice you've been given here many many times by now and seek professional help. Your grad school experience is anything but normal.

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Alright, let me open up a little more. I feel like I've been struggling from a major combination of things over the past six months or so that make me question even being in Grad school. Growing up, I've always been the best student, and I've always loved learning. Going to Grad school seemed like such a natural thing for me, especially studying something I've been passionate about all my life. I left my girlfriend, my family, my church, and overall my home to pursue this. I'll confess that giving up so much seriously has given me a bad attitude to begin with. But then all I see is the need to give up more and more and more, and frankly, like our government, I've reached my limit. Unlike our government however, I haven't had the ability to raise that limit, and I've realize that it's because although I'm passionate about what I do, I'm not passionate enough about it to leave behind everything that has blessed me so much in life. Seeing as I'm in a Masters program, I've told myself that "it's only a short time, and then I'll be done." But even just today, my advisor is putting a ton of pressure on me to continue for my PhD, because she ultimately thinks that's what will make me happy. But another six to seven years away from those I care about, only to end up trapped in a lab for 100 hours a week working for someone like Erick Carriera when I should be getting married, maybe having children, and enjoying life (granted, I'll still have to slave for somebody; but if it meant I could still be around those I love, it would be worth it) is the opposite of happiness to me at this point.

I can't put down anyone who is passionate enough to work 80-100 hours a week and forsake others if it's truly what they are passionate about, but at this point, I'd be fine with flipping burgers if it meant I could truly be happy and with those I love. I'm just not sure if I'll even use the degree I'm working for now anymore. I seriously love what I am doing, and would love making a career out of it... if I could still enjoy the other things in my life. There's more to it than just that. I've realized that my advisor is very passive-aggressive and manipulating, and frankly, I'm not as interested in their research as I should be.

I'll finish with this; my statement was in many ways perfectly accurate and in other a hyperbole. I feel trapped right now, and at times, I wonder if dying would be the solution. I'm on anti-depressants and seeing a therapist. I feel like if I can't do what I love (and that's more than just school), then maybe I'm not cut out for this world. I wonder if I'm even going to be able to survive in the real world. BUT, I'm too chicken to do anything about it. When I get these thoughts, I feel the need to be real about them. I would rather die than be a lab rat for Dr. Carriera (or whomever my PhD or Postdoc advisor would be), because there are too many other things that are important to me. Frankly, I just feel stuck.

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Just me, please take the advice you've been given here many many times by now and seek professional help. Your grad school experience is anything but normal.

Don't think Just me will take your advice, fuzzylogician. Unfortunately, she will use every thread as a soapbox for her self-perpetuated difficulties. I wonder what happens when graduate school can no longer be blamed for her problems.

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Don't think Just me will take your advice, fuzzylogician. Unfortunately, she will use every thread as a soapbox for her self-perpetuated difficulties. I wonder what happens when graduate school can no longer be blamed for her problems.

Insanity: repeating the same behavior and expecting different results?

My experience in life has been that sometimes important but hard to digest advice needs to be repeated over and over again, sometimes over years even, before the addressee can internalize the advice and act upon it. I know Just me is being very negative and is drawing a lot of negative attention because of that, but I still hope that repeating the advice to seek help will eventually sink in, if we repeat it often enough. Because whatever you think of Just me's behavior and attitude on TGC, there's obviously something very wrong in her life, which I hope she can take steps to repair. If not, at least I know I tried my best.

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Alright, let me open up a little more. I feel like I've been struggling from a major combination of things over the past six months or so that make me question even being in Grad school. Growing up, I've always been the best student, and I've always loved learning. Going to Grad school seemed like such a natural thing for me, especially studying something I've been passionate about all my life. I left my girlfriend, my family, my church, and overall my home to pursue this. I'll confess that giving up so much seriously has given me a bad attitude to begin with. But then all I see is the need to give up more and more and more, and frankly, like our government, I've reached my limit. Unlike our government however, I haven't had the ability to raise that limit, and I've realize that it's because although I'm passionate about what I do, I'm not passionate enough about it to leave behind everything that has blessed me so much in life. Seeing as I'm in a Masters program, I've told myself that "it's only a short time, and then I'll be done." But even just today, my advisor is putting a ton of pressure on me to continue for my PhD, because she ultimately thinks that's what will make me happy. But another six to seven years away from those I care about, only to end up trapped in a lab for 100 hours a week working for someone like Erick Carriera when I should be getting married, maybe having children, and enjoying life (granted, I'll still have to slave for somebody; but if it meant I could still be around those I love, it would be worth it) is the opposite of happiness to me at this point.

I can't put down anyone who is passionate enough to work 80-100 hours a week and forsake others if it's truly what they are passionate about, but at this point, I'd be fine with flipping burgers if it meant I could truly be happy and with those I love. I'm just not sure if I'll even use the degree I'm working for now anymore. I seriously love what I am doing, and would love making a career out of it... if I could still enjoy the other things in my life. There's more to it than just that. I've realized that my advisor is very passive-aggressive and manipulating, and frankly, I'm not as interested in their research as I should be.

I'll finish with this; my statement was in many ways perfectly accurate and in other a hyperbole. I feel trapped right now, and at times, I wonder if dying would be the solution. I'm on anti-depressants and seeing a therapist. I feel like if I can't do what I love (and that's more than just school), then maybe I'm not cut out for this world. I wonder if I'm even going to be able to survive in the real world. BUT, I'm too chicken to do anything about it. When I get these thoughts, I feel the need to be real about them. I would rather die than be a lab rat for Dr. Carriera (or whomever my PhD or Postdoc advisor would be), because there are too many other things that are important to me. Frankly, I just feel stuck.

Definitely understand how you are feeling Worn Out Grad....I have had the feeling of being stuck in a specific situation and not knowing if you will be able to get out of it. From what you are saying, it seems as though going into a doctoral program would not be for you, especially since you are having such a difficult time getting through a M.A program. A doctoral program will be a lot more intense and being a doctoral student will require a lot more responsibilities.

I'd say that if you truly don't see yourself going into a doctoral program, than don't do it. Despite your adviser pressuring you to go into another graduate program, you know yourself better than she does...you know what will make yourself happy, and like you said, you know your limits. So if you know for sure that you don't want to go into a doctoral program, set your foot down and don't let anyone try to dissuade you from your decision. I would then start talking to others in your field to figure out what jobs you could consider going into after you finish your M.A degree.

I do take a little offense to your statement that those pursuing a doctoral program are somehow "forsaking" their loved ones...I don't think that is really fair to categorize a whole group in that way. For the most part, going into a PhD program opens up opportunities for people, and though I can't speak for anyone else, my family, friends, and church all support my desire to better myself and create more opportunities for myself. They don't see my choice to begin a graduate program out of state as a move on my part to "forsake" them. Life is all about changes, and in my opinion, you can't really live a fulfilling life if you are always hesitant to change....and change also includes moving away from loved ones and those you truly care about. Moving away from people you care about is always tough, but just because you move away doesn't mean you stop caring about these people...you just have to find new and different ways of maintaining these relationships. So if your fear of moving away from people is at the root of your unwillingness to take on a doctoral program, I would really sit down and think about what opportunities you might be giving up.

However, if you really just don't want to be in an environment where you are "slaving" away hours and hours on end for 5-8 years and you think you need more free time in your life to do what you want to do, then I would say that yes, a doctoral program is not for you, and that is definitely okay. Academia is not the end all be all in this life...you can definitely be happy outside of it and have a fulfilling life.

Edited by ZeeMore21
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ZeeMore, I owe you an apology. I did not mean for that statement about foresaking others to generalize all PhD students. I have seen many do so, but I've also seen the opposite as well. No, not all PhD students forsake those they love, in fact, I strongly doubt even a majority do so. But I fear being in a position of working with or for one who does.

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Insanity: repeating the same behavior and expecting different results?

My experience in life has been that sometimes important but hard to digest advice needs to be repeated over and over again, sometimes over years even, before the addressee can internalize the advice and act upon it. I know Just me is being very negative and is drawing a lot of negative attention because of that, but I still hope that repeating the advice to seek help will eventually sink in, if we repeat it often enough. Because whatever you think of Just me's behavior and attitude on TGC, there's obviously something very wrong in her life, which I hope she can take steps to repair. If not, at least I know I tried my best.

I definitely appreciate your steadfastness fuzzlogician, no doubt. I have been one of many posters on this forum who have given Just Me heartfelt advice, and I guess it is just sad to see someone continually refuse to take it. I do agree that whatever Just Me is going through must be terrible, but she is not really in the right state of mind to be giving others advice on this forum.

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ZeeMore, I owe you an apology. I did not mean for that statement about foresaking others to generalize all PhD students. I have seen many do so, but I've also seen the opposite as well. No, not all PhD students forsake those they love, in fact, I strongly doubt even a majority do so. But I fear being in a position of working with or for one who does.

Definitely understand where you are coming from WornOutGrad. Like you said earlier, you know your limits...if you think you wouldn't be happy dividing your time between a doctoral program and your loved ones then perhaps a doctoral program is not for you. And again, this is definitely okay! You shouldn't be hard on yourself at all if you decide that you have had enough.

Edited by ZeeMore21
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WornOutGrad...seriously, you clearly have a lot more to live for than just grad school or academia...give yourself some time to sleep on this and reflect on your situation, how you feel about it, and try to imagine taking both courses of action. Try to imagine what it would feel like leaving grad school behind, going back home and doing something else, if that feels good and right then maybe that what you should do. Think about yourself staying in school and examine the feelings that brings up. People try things that don't work for them all of the time, this isn't any different, it's just a very big investment that might be rather difficult to give up, but that doesn't mean sticking it out to the point you're contemplating suicide, it's just not worth it. If you're saying that you can be happy doing something else then consider that a positive thing, some people just trudge through life never figuring out what makes them genuinely happy. Maybe you need to put academia on hold for a little while, give yourself a break and allow yourself some time to decompress. You might find that grad school is something that you just can't let go of because you're so passionate about your studies or that you really are fine and happier pursuing something else, either way you can take comfort in the fact that you've figured it out. We all go through these trial periods of doubt and uncertainty, our interests and priorities change along the way, of course the anxiety caused by this is great and unsettling, but not a cause for ending your life. You're just at a point in your life where it's time to make a decision, granting yourself the time to reflect on your next course of action would probably be one of the best gifts you can give yourself.

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And my previous point (one of them) is already being proven: tell strangers you're suicidal and they tell you you're crazy. Good to know. ;)

Unfortunately,the more schooling you seek, the more you must be willing to sacrifice in order to get the coveted degree. You need to give up years of your life, time with loved ones, put off things you want to do and places you want to go, lose money that could have been spent on other pressing things. It can make you feel resentful. It's kind of like when a parent has to sacrifice something they want for their kids, and then they go and resent their kids secretly because of it. Trust me, that's normal. I've had to give up a lot of things not only for grad school, but over the course of my whole life (and I know I am not the only one to do this). And I was/am bitter toward those who made me give those things up.

It's definitely good that you're already talking to a therapist and on medication - I'm never one to immediately suggest pills to solve problems, but if nothing else helps, then by all means do what you must in order to stay relatively sane. Unfortunately, sometimes in order to dedicate all passion toward studies and subsequent careers, you need to neglect important people and things in your life and if this is something you cannot do for a Ph.D, then I gotta say don't do it. Sometimes it's possible to find a balance between what you love doing and those you love, but sometimes this is not possible and one or the other suffers.

Even if you do want to pursue your professional passion in grad school, there will be times you have the occasional nervous breakdown or fit of depression. Trust me, I had those even in undergrad. I cannot count how many times I broke into tears, wanted to drop out and die because I got a B on something I poured my heart and soul into. Many times I cried myself to sleep because I wanted to see my friends and my boyfriend, and my cats too...but I couldn't. If I could have, I'd have thrown all that school BS away in a second to just be with those I loved. Even if I had to work a shit job for minimum wage, if I could do it and be happy, that's all that would matter. But I was talked into (and more or less forced) to stay in school and get my degree. It was fun, but not worth it in the slightest. However, this is only from my own experience - I know not many find themselves in my position.

It's your life and you only get one, so do with it what you want. Not what your adviser wants or anyone else. Letting someone else make your choices for you sucks - I know because I deal with it every single day. Let me ask this...is your passion something that requires a master's degree in order to pursue as a career? Or is it something you could study on your own? What about maybe taking part-time online classes from home so you could still spend time being around people you love and doing things you enjoy while continuing your education? It might take a decade to get that degree, but maybe you need a slower pace and the comfort of home? Grad school moves about at mach speed, so I know it leaves little to no time for anything fun or interesting. Yes, I agree that every student has their times of doubt, sadness, uncertainty, fear, anger and frustration while pursuing a degree. But I think if those moments outnumber the neutral and positive moments, that means it's time to get the hell out of Dodge.

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No one is telling WornOutGrad that he's crazy, we're telling him to reflect for a while in order to come to a decision that will either make him feel better about his current situation or allow him to pursue something that doesn't make him miserable. He's someone that's probably willing to make changes in order to be happier in life and just needs a little encouragement and advice on how to do it. Willingness to make a change is the opposite of insanity.

Edited by Mal83
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I do agree that whatever Just Me is going through must be terrible, but she is not really in the right state of mind to be giving others advice on this forum.

I completely agree.

Just me, no one is calling you (or WornOutGrad) crazy. But you really should not be giving anyone advice.

WornOutGrad, maybe grad school is not the place for you to be in right now. If it's making you so unhappy, clearly there's something wrong with it. Maybe it's just the specific program or advisor, or the way other things are stacked up in your life, or maybe it's school altogether. You don't need to figure it all out now - even if you stop attending your current program you can always go back to school later on, when things improve in your life, because grad school shouldn't have to mean giving up on everything and everyone else that you have. There are healthy ways to balance work and life. It's difficult, but possible, and there is no reason school should take over everything all of the time. It really doesn't have to be like that. I think a wise move at this point is to take a step back; take some time to think about the situation. Have a clear idea of what is bothering you, and then try to think of ways to fix the problem. Maybe a local change will be all that you need, maybe it's quitting school altogether. You'll figure it out. Just don't stay trapped and do nothing.

Edited by fuzzylogician
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Thank you all for your responses. I think for me, it's not just the hell I feel right not, but it's realizing that if I continue on this track, that hell will only get worse in a PhD, Postdoc, and Faculty position. This career path has the potential to wreck me, and I don't think I'm willing to do that.

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Grad school is a very depressing place, though, so it makes sense. You have to do loads of incredibly difficult work, you hardly have time to even use the bathroom let alone have down time to watch a movie or read a non-academic book, you may often be exhausted and pushing yourself to be awake every single day, you might eat less. It's basically nothing but go go go, now now now with no time to rest. You might not even get a full night's rest for the whole time you're there. So believe me, I can understand how being in grad school can be so depressing - it's because it IS depressing, even if you want to be there. It's not like undergrad where you get a month to do one assignment and can have a little playtime here and there. There's none of that when you go for your master's.

The statement in bold is what I particularly wanted to respond to. How could you know that if you've never experienced it. I'm going to go into grad school soon. I'm sure I'll be stressed out but I'm going to guarantee you that I will never feel depressed. I can also guarantee you that I will still have time to eat, go to the bathroom, play sports, spend time with loved ones, travel, etc. That's because I choose to.

To the OP, is it possible for you to pursue your program from home? It sounds like it's not academia itself that is depressing you, but the combination of being away from the familiarity of your hometown and the somewhat unsupportive nature of your program/advisor.

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So believe me, I can understand how being in grad school can be so depressing - it's because it IS depressing, even if you want to be there. It's not like undergrad where you get a month to do one assignment and can have a little playtime here and there. There's none of that when you go for your master's.

I'm following ktel and calling "bullshit!" on this. As evidenced by your posts on this website, your grad school experience has been depressing, but it's because you *don't* want to be there and have spent the majority of your grad school experience bemoaning trite things that are ubiquitous in grad school (you have to maintain a B average, etc). It's impossible for you to state that "it is depressing, even if you want to be there." You have no idea what it's like to enjoy grad school, and unless you change your attitude, you never will.

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Thank you all for your responses. I think for me, it's not just the hell I feel right not, but it's realizing that if I continue on this track, that hell will only get worse in a PhD, Postdoc, and Faculty position. This career path has the potential to wreck me, and I don't think I'm willing to do that.

There's a lot to be said for making a conscious choice about your priorities. When I started grad school, I decided that it was something I wanted to do, but it wasn't, nor did I ever want it to become, the most important part of my life. Going along with that, I understood that it might mean I wouldn't wind up at an R1 school, or even in academia- but none of that was something I liked enough to give up 5-15 years of my life to obtain it.

So I make sure I'm home in time for dinner with my wife most nights, I take long lunches with friends when I can, and I make sure I keep up on my hobbies.

If you don't want to get a PhD, don't let anyone convince you that you should- and also remember that you can come back and do the PhD later, when you feel like you have more control over the rest of your life.

Don't feel like you're trapped in your degree, either- you can leave at any time- and that's true for an MS or your PhD. It's your education, and your choice, no matter how much other people might make you feel like it isn't.

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There are times grad school wasn't as bad - like when I accidentally do my work correctly. Then I feel smart and useful for about half a second. And heck, even though I likely can't afford it and it will cause my grades to plummet even more, I am actually looking forward to going to New York in October...mostly because I can see the few people in class I like talking to, and I can go to some cool stores and do some familiar sight-seeing, but it's a start.

And honestly, lack of time to to things or be around others is only from my own experience. My program is pretty jam-packed because it's made for working people - basically cram a whole semester into 4-10 days so people can go back to their jobs without getting fired. I digress.

WornOutGrad, people here think I am a substandard member, student, and human being because I hold a different viewpoint than them, but I truly only speak from experience and I do try and not allow my resentment and bitterness show through in all my posts (sometimes it does). But within much of my griping are really just some realistic and practical words. No one sees that, though, because I've been labeled high-school-style as an abnormal emo who should not be taken seriously. It's kinda cute.

Anyway, this isn't about me, this is about you. Grad school will drain you in every sense of the word, and if you don't like being there, the effects will worsen ten-fold. For those who are head over heels (this phrase doesn't even make sense, but you understand what I mean) about being grad students, the sacrifices and loss of money and time and such are all worth it and may make you feel accomplished at the end of the day. I still stand by my suggestion of slowing down to part-time or taking classes online (if possible) to maybe lift some of the burden. I think that may allow for enough wiggle room in your day-to-day schedule to pursue what you want without losing out completely on a social life. Or if need be, take a break, catch up on things in real life, and really sit down and think about if you are getting more out of grad school than it's taking away from you. People have already said that, but I do concur with those sentiments. I'm sure that is wrong, though, since I am just too unstable in the head to offer advice on anything. :wacko::rolleyes:

No career (or time spend pursuing it) is worth it is if's going to destroy you. I hope you're able to find whatever answer is right for you. (hugs)

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