Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Why don’t ovens come with pizza settings and other musings upon my return to Grad School

It’s been over 1 year since I last wrote here. Two since I left Purdue. It feels like not enough time has gone by. I won’t mince words – my departure from the Grad School beta was fraught with highs and lows. Mostly lows.

Depression being the lowest.

No one talks about mental health and graduate school. If you’re failing your classes – it’s because you can’t hack it. If you feel alienated from your cohort – you didn’t try hard enough to make friends. If you cry, sometimes for no reason – it’s because you’re emotional. And, when you sort of bury all of that emotion under a thick layer of “let’s ignore this” and practically live in your room for a month – CONGRATULATIONS. You’ve won.

No one talks about this shit. At least no one talked to me about it. Then I met an amazing woman who became a mentor and, I think, is becoming a friend. She was honest about her experiences as a graduate student. And she was the first person, in 2 years, to be up front with me about the toll that her graduate education took on her mental health. I’m hoping to be just as honest with you, dear reader, whoever you may be.

I worry constantly that it’ll all come back – the depression, the feelings of loneliness. And, trust me, doing this work – work that seeks to open people’s eyes to the oppressive injustices that occur around them every day – is fucking LONELY.  The things I study now and the things that I’m vocal about – racism, misogyny, homo/transantagonism, etc – tend to alienate people. But I at least I’m choosing it this time. 
And I’m armed with the love of my life, with a mentor that rocks, understanding of the importance of self-care (especially for Black women) and a growing inner circle of support. I’m working out 3-4 times a week now and doing some pretty meditative (and ass kicking) yoga.

Oh, and there’s the tequila.

Which, oddly enough, brings me to my next point. Raise a glass. I made it through day one. I was anxious, sweaty even (though I’ll blame the humidity for that). I was worried that people would see “graduate school dropout” tattooed across my forehead when they looked at me. But, after a long day of working my assistantship, running to and from class and running around campus – I no longer have the energy or desire to dwell on past events that I can never change. At least those things made me stronger and more equipped to handle take 2.  

Oh…and then there’s the tequila.


  1. Welcome back. As somebody who also battles with depression and the stress that comes with academia, I was physically unable to type an exclamation point on there. Good post and good luck!

    1. Thanks Brandi! It really is something that we don't discuss enough. People are quick to tell us to deal with the stress, but they don't discuss coping with depression.