Depression Destroyed My Academic Career

This is for encouragement, ideas, and support for people going through a faith transition no matter where you hope to end up. This is also the place to laugh, cry, and love together.
Post Reply
User avatar
achilles
Posts: 383
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2016 6:17 pm

Depression Destroyed My Academic Career

Post by achilles » Sun Jul 08, 2018 1:34 pm

Hey folks. Something has been on my mind lately, and I feel like I need to get it out there into the universe...

About eleven years ago I started a PhD program. I was coming out of my third career burnout as a public school teacher. I loved the program, and ate up the courses. After three years I got a job as a college professor, full-time. I had to start the first year of that job while also finishing and defending my dissertation. The kids were brutal on my evaluations--and I thought I was doing a good job. I was living completely on my own and trying to make a last go of full church activity. I was very discouraged. I started to spend a lot of time in my bed. Work, eat, sleep, bed. Whole weekends in bed. I let my apartment go, and started to develop a small hoard. My second semester I was stressed out trying to finish my dissertation and didn't prepare as well for class as I should have. Even more brutal evals followed. I was surprised that they reappointed me, but they did.

I worked hard to finish my PhD that first summer, and tried to recover emotionally from the hell of the first year. For the next four years, I was reappointed (as many times as they could, per the faculty constitution). I enjoyed my classes, but hated the evals. I feel like I did a decent job, but every semester I ended up getting extremely discouraged and fell behind on giving the students feedback. Lather, rinse, repeat. I couldn't bear the thought of getting any research started (even though I love research), and I did nothing but survive. I lived alone. I felt like the only way I could stay in the church was to continue to deny my homosexuality and deny myself of any companionship or friendship of the kind I wanted. Then, my mom got sick--halfway across the country and there was nothing I could do. My closest friend basically dumped me because I was questioning the Brethren too much.

I became suicidal. After a few months of looking for painless ways to die, I finally realized what was going on, got help, and stopped going to church (it was contributing to my suicidality because I felt like there was no hope of my life ever getting better in the church--I would never be anything more than a second-class citizen whose thoughts and behavior the Church had to control to make itself feel OK about me). I knew how close to death I had come, and every day after that I felt happy just to be alive. Of course, during this time I couldn't do anything more than teach my classes. No research. No creative activity. I did as much university service as I could. But I was still terribly lonely and depressed, and was barely surviving.

I didn't search for another academic job. I went home to spend time with my parents and recuperate. It took me over a year to get out of bed and look for a new job. I eventually decided to go back to school to completely change careers. I am hopeful, but I still have another two semesters before I can start working in a medical laboratory, and another five to get the degree I need. I feel like my life is going to waste. I am finally realizing just how brutal depression has been on my life, how much I've lost because of it. And the Church made everything much worse. I was never good enough. It didn't matter how good a person I was because I was a) gay, and b) masturbating. It didn't matter how much I towed the line as a good member, it would never be enough.

I have help, I'm taking medications, I have plenty of coping skills. There just isn't a whole lot you can do about neurotransmitter imbalance-triggered depression. And it doesn't help that I've lost my religion. I am happier now that I have pretty much left the church and have accepted my sexuality. But I'm still depressed. Does that make any sense? I borrowed a lot of money to get my PhD, and now I don't even think about that field anymore. I'll make more money in this new field, and I'll be able to leave my work at work. When I'm deeply depressed (like in the wintertime), I don't have to be creative or be in charge--I can just go to work, do my job, and come home.

Depression is a brutal thing.
“For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

― Carl Sagan

"The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek."

-Joseph Campbell

User avatar
deacon blues
Posts: 861
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:37 am

Re: Depression Destroyed My Academic Career

Post by deacon blues » Sun Jul 08, 2018 2:28 pm

I agree, depression is devastating. It derailed my education, ended my teaching career, and probably contributed to the end of my first marriage. Medical help was essential for me. The church seemed to confuse the issue, because I got a message that my problems were due to a lack of faith. Fortunately, I was able to rebuild with the help and support of a wonderful wife and family, and what I often perceive as help from God. I still have many questions, but my medication and exercise and kept me on an even keel for almost 19 years now. I hope for the best for you Achilles, and appreciate how much you do for this board.
God is Love. God is Truth

Reuben
Posts: 742
Joined: Sat Oct 28, 2017 3:01 pm

Re: Depression Destroyed My Academic Career

Post by Reuben » Sun Jul 08, 2018 2:52 pm

Solidarity, friend. I wish I were close enough to drive out to see you, but I would end up underwater if I tried.
achilles wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 1:34 pm
I have help, I'm taking medications, I have plenty of coping skills. There just isn't a whole lot you can do about neurotransmitter imbalance-triggered depression. And it doesn't help that I've lost my religion. I am happier now that I have pretty much left the church and have accepted my sexuality. But I'm still depressed. Does that make any sense?
It does.

I don't know what depression is like for you, but for me, it mostly has to do with how I feel about myself and my own competence. I can be happy during an "amber" day. It's just... tentative, I guess, as if I'm waiting for the next roadblock to show up, or the next inevitable thing that knocks me down, or the next reminder that today, I'm not quite okay. On "red" days, though, happiness is beyond reach, and it takes a lot of effort to remember that tomorrow might be different. I just watch Netflix and chill, and wait it out.

(I guess I'm fortunate that for me, pulling out if it mostly comes down to getting enough quality sleep. But I have two sleep disorders...)

It's weird, having left the church. I feel more free to explain the past and present, but my future feels less certain. I have to do less mental gymnastics, but more verbal gymnastics. I worry a lot less about my kids sinning, but a lot more about their safety. I'm more comfortable with myself, but less comfortable with other people. It seems that I've mostly traded internal struggles for external ones.

My last big "ah hah!" moment was when I discovered that I had been missing out on self-transcendent experiences since I left. If you're interested and missed it, I wrote about it in another thread:

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=3179&p=42375#p42344
Grieve. It's your right and inheritance as a human being.

User avatar
deacon blues
Posts: 861
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:37 am

Re: Depression Destroyed My Academic Career

Post by deacon blues » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:15 am

Reuben, your posts were interesting. I tend to have transcendent experiences while I'm alone, although some happen when I'm with my family.

Even before my shelf broke, my most transcendent experiences were usually triggered by music and/or nature. Hikes in the canyons of Southern Utah or in the Tetons works wonders on my soul. I think each of us is different, and so we likely respond to different stimuli. I am so grateful that I have survived two suicide attempts, for despite the aches and pains on aging, I am enjoying the best times of my life. Never give up my friends. :)
God is Love. God is Truth

User avatar
RubinHighlander
Posts: 943
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2016 7:20 am
Location: Behind the Zion Curtain

Re: Depression Destroyed My Academic Career

Post by RubinHighlander » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:35 am

deacon blues wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:15 am
Reuben, your posts were interesting. I tend to have transcendent experiences while I'm alone, although some happen when I'm with my family.

Even before my shelf broke, my most transcendent experiences were usually triggered by music and/or nature. Hikes in the canyons of Southern Utah or in the Tetons works wonders on my soul. I think each of us is different, and so we likely respond to different stimuli. I am so grateful that I have survived two suicide attempts, for despite the aches and pains on aging, I am enjoying the best times of my life. Never give up my friends. :)
Having the shelf down and out of the way has greatly expanded and enhanced my transcendent and metaphysical/emotional experiences; not just because I have Sundays to explore and get out more, but because of the mental freedom from attribution to some white haired old man on a throne in fantasy world. Getting out more in the natural world has always been an essential part of my life, but now the experiences are better than ever before. I had one serious brush with suicide as I faced my first divorce, feeling like a complete loser priesthood patriarch, unable to hold the eternal unit together. Those past feelings of guilt still bring on feelings of anger toward the church and my past indoctrination in it. Being human in this society is hard enough without all the crap a religion can bring down on a person.
“Sir,' I said to the universe, 'I exist.' 'That,' said the universe, 'creates no sense of obligation in me whatsoever.”
--Douglas Adams

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzmYP3PbfXE

User avatar
MoPag
Posts: 1404
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2016 2:05 pm

Re: Depression Destroyed My Academic Career

Post by MoPag » Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:18 am

Hugs!
Hugs4Achilles!.png
Hugs4Achilles!.png (53.34 KiB) Viewed 448 times
achilles wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 1:34 pm
I am finally realizing just how brutal depression has been on my life, how much I've lost because of it.
This is the crazy thing about depression. You don't realize how destructive it is until you are out of it and can really examine your life. I remember each time I would get back on Zoloft and things would start to clear up, I would look back and think "wow." I felt like I was waking up from a bad dream. Except I still had to deal with the consequences of the bad dream. :(
...walked eye-deep in hell
believing in old men’s lies...--Ezra Pound

User avatar
moksha
Posts: 1956
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 4:22 am

Re: Depression Destroyed My Academic Career

Post by moksha » Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:29 am

I have also experienced depression. It sucks.

What helped me was both medication and finally hitting upon philosophy therapy. Now instead of being a patterned arrangement of molecules that is sad all the time, I am now a patterned arrangement of molecules who is able to write and rewrite my own narrative. Just wish the script was not getting so old and wrinkly.

Best wishes on your career change and education, Achilles. Staying in school for so long shows you have determination. For me, school was a stressful place. A lot of people avoid that stress by getting a non-academic job in something like sales or management, as well as occupying their time perusing the internet, saving mankind from mutant creatures in Fallout 4, and being around their families. However, that does not make for a solid background in medical laboratory work if you want to do more than scour various morgues and graveyards for Dr. Victor Frankenstein.

Just make sure you have fun along the way. :D
Good faith does not require evidence, but it also does not turn a blind eye to that evidence. Otherwise, it becomes misplaced faith.
-- Moksha

User avatar
achilles
Posts: 383
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2016 6:17 pm

Re: Depression Destroyed My Academic Career

Post by achilles » Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:17 pm

MoPag. OMG. I have three basset hounds, and I don't know what I'd do without them. I just wish I could have had them all as puppies--they're all rescues...
“For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

― Carl Sagan

"The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek."

-Joseph Campbell

User avatar
Just This Guy
Posts: 503
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2016 3:30 pm
Location: Almost Heaven

Re: Depression Destroyed My Academic Career

Post by Just This Guy » Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:49 pm

My wife went though something similar last year. She has been adjudicating foff and on for several years. She has always gotten good evals.

In Spring of 2017, her boss recommended that she put in for a full time, tenure track position that was opening up. Her boss make it out like she would be very high in the running for this position, possible top condenser, depending on who else applied.

That semester she got some real bad kids in one of her classes. Her evals were average for the school, but bad by her standards. This turned into cyber-bulling and cyber-stocking, with the worst of it on Ratemyprofessors.com. On top of that, management in the school changed the hiring process, so what she was told she would be a top contender for, they never even gave her an interview. And the worst was summer classes that she was promised we taken down by the school as well. She took it pretty hard.

Her depression got pretty bad. I eventually had to block her access to Ratemyprofessor on her computer, phone and tablet to keep her form obsessing over it. She got professional help, and she left academia, getting a job she really likes in a new field.

One thing I can say is academia sucks! It may be bad for students, but it's even worse for the low level faculty.
"The story so far: In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move." -- Douglas Adams

User avatar
Red Ryder
Posts: 1733
Joined: Sun Oct 16, 2016 5:14 pm

Re: Depression Destroyed My Academic Career

Post by Red Ryder » Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:18 pm

Any chance you've bumped your head or suffered from a concussion in the past?

I've been listening to a lot of stuff by Dr. mark Gordon as he works through this with patients who suffer mainly from PTSD related to traumatic brain injuries.

He suggests that many people have unknowingly had minor brain trauma from something as simple as bumping your head to riding a roller coaster that can impact and trigger depression and anxiety levels.

While his focus has been on wounded soldiers working with Andrew Marr and the Warrior Angels Foundation, the information opens the suggestion that depression and anxiety could be reduced through a hormonal therapy protocol.

I'm not a doctor and don't understand everything but have been fascinated by this. Look up Andrew Marr's story or listen to them on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. It's episode #1056.
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

User avatar
Random
Posts: 414
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2017 8:44 pm

Re: Depression Destroyed My Academic Career

Post by Random » Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:48 pm

Red Ryder wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:18 pm
Any chance you've bumped your head or suffered from a concussion in the past?

I've been listening to a lot of stuff by Dr. mark Gordon as he works through this with patients who suffer mainly from PTSD related to traumatic brain injuries.

He suggests that many people have unknowingly had minor brain trauma from something as simple as bumping your head to riding a roller coaster that can impact and trigger depression and anxiety levels.
Whoa! I've never heard of this. Interesting idea.

Depression sucks, big-time, achilles, and it's even worse when you're suicidal. It scares me, sometimes, when I see how close I came to committing suicide in the past. Best of wishes with your plans. I hope they work out great.

When you have depression, then are convinced that you're going to hell no matter what you do, big problems can crop up. (I felt that way, and I am not gay, but I did commit the unpardonable sin of not killing myself to prevent a sexual experience with a man when I was three*. And I really did feel that way when I discovered I had sinned in letting the man lure me away and do things.)





*Referencing Miracle of Forgiveness.
[They] which knew me from the beginning . . . would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
Acts 26:5

User avatar
Lithium Sunset
Posts: 151
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 8:11 pm

Re: Depression Destroyed My Academic Career

Post by Lithium Sunset » Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:38 pm

Red Ryder wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:18 pm
Any chance you've bumped your head or suffered from a concussion in the past?

I've been listening to a lot of stuff by Dr. mark Gordon as he works through this with patients who suffer mainly from PTSD related to traumatic brain injuries.

He suggests that many people have unknowingly had minor brain trauma from something as simple as bumping your head to riding a roller coaster that can impact and trigger depression and anxiety levels.

While his focus has been on wounded soldiers working with Andrew Marr and the Warrior Angels Foundation, the information opens the suggestion that depression and anxiety could be reduced through a hormonal therapy protocol.

I'm not a doctor and don't understand everything but have been fascinated by this. Look up Andrew Marr's story or listen to them on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. It's episode #1056.
My son suffers from depression, anxiety, and ideation. He hit his head pretty hard at basketball practice before all the trouble started. This was four or five years ago. It doesn’t help that his father is a narcissist and his brother is the golden child (anyone who knows about narcissism knows how the golden child is being groomed to become a narcissist so it’s not a complement). I will definitely look up this information!

Achilles, although I don't know what you’re going though, I have experienced my own living hell. I know the feelings of not thinking I could go on.. and yet we did. Thank goodness.
In this moment my heart is yours. I wish I could make it better for you. I think it doesn’t matter when you reach your academic goals as long as you have food in your mouth and a roof over your head. Keep working on it, you will get there (that is not just talk.. I’m forty going for my associates!) And animals can be such a comfort. I don’t have dogs but my two cats are not jokingly called therapy cats for nothing. They have made all the difference for my sons and me in the day to day.
It’s a strange thing being lonely... wanting to be alone, not wanting to be alone... depression is an odd creature, a monster to those who have and those who love those who have it. Combine that with religion.. well, you said it all, it’s painful to say the least.
I married a non-member and was shunned by the ward I grew up in. The bishop wouldn’t attend my reception on principle. I can’t even imagine what you went though... Stories like yours and all the suffering members have really helped me open my eyes. I even joke that maybe I will start dating women to my sons. They are totally accepting now of LGTB and we focus on kindness in this house.

I hope you get some comfort from these posts and they carry you for as long as possible. I know my post is a bit of a mess but it’s pretty late. Anyway, we have to keep going for now, keep moving forward, and have hope in tomorrow.

Hugs. I would try and cheer you up (or annoy you) in real life if I could. I know you need something deeper than that but you are doing to best you can so that’s probably the best I could do haha. Hang in there.
"The real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong." -Laura Ingalls Wilder

User avatar
Mormorrisey
Posts: 533
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2016 6:54 pm

Re: Depression Destroyed My Academic Career

Post by Mormorrisey » Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:56 pm

So sorry you have gone through these things, and it's been a triple whammy of a faith crisis, a church that doesn't want to acknowledge LGBTQ individuals within its ranks, and a career destroyed. Depression is just brutal, as you noted.

I suspect from all of your posts that you recognize the first two challenges can be laid largely at the feet of the church. The last challenge, it's great that you moved on. I worked for about a decade in academe - I loved my students, the work hours, the research and the pay, but hated the politics, administration bullcrap and the general lack of respect towards the student body from faculty and admin. There's a huge world outside academe, and it's great that you've simply moved on. That helped me too. Kudos to you on the job front, and more importantly, that despite your depression, you are coping as best you can. All we can offer you is our support and internet good vibes. Keep on truckin'.
"And I don't need you...or, your homespun philosophies."
"And when you try to break my spirit, it won't work, because there's nothing left to break."

User avatar
achilles
Posts: 383
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2016 6:17 pm

Re: Depression Destroyed My Academic Career

Post by achilles » Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:52 pm

Everybody--thank you for your encouraging words and commiseration.

I don't have any traumatic brain injuries. I'm just one of those folks with a chemical imbalance. I don't make enough serotonin, or some such. The meds help: this-atonin and that-amine reuptake inhibitors. Yay for neurotransmitters!

I definitely have had some situational triggers for depression and anxiety, but most of those have been resolved. I love that I can rewrite my narrative, and it is very helpful. But I'm a creature of habit...it's so easy to just stay in bed, have another slice of pizza, not leave the house... Especially since I don't have an SO to point these things out to me.

I'm looking for another counselor to talk some things out. I do it fairly regularly--it's like an emotional tuneup.

It's summer, and I don't have classes. So it's easy for me to just not see other people for days. My intention was to study and make lots of oboe reeds. I still have another six weeks or so...maybe I can do it.
“For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

― Carl Sagan

"The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek."

-Joseph Campbell

User avatar
moksha
Posts: 1956
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 4:22 am

Re: Depression Destroyed My Academic Career

Post by moksha » Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:03 pm

Red Ryder wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:18 pm
Any chance you've bumped your head or suffered from a concussion in the past?
Don't forget whiplash from too rapid of eye-rolling in Gospel Doctrine class.
Good faith does not require evidence, but it also does not turn a blind eye to that evidence. Otherwise, it becomes misplaced faith.
-- Moksha

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest