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Author Topic: Can I get a Ph.D in Chemistry despite my mental illness?  (Read 4506 times)

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ALonelyMacromolecule

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Can I get a Ph.D in Chemistry despite my mental illness?
« on: May 02, 2018, 08:23:35 PM »

Hello everyone.

I am a seventeen year old Chemistry aspirant from India. But I am not a normal one. I am very different. Because of my illness and childhood. Let me explain (I am very sorry for the involuntary creepypasta tone. I can't do anything about it.) If you cannot understand what I wrote, write below and I will happily try to explain what you didn't understand. I am very sorry for the disorganized speech.

I am a person suffering from generalized anxiety disorder, and possibly schizophrenia. (My psychiatrist will never tell me his diagnosis no matter how much I beg, but according to the tablet strip, I am on Aripiprazole, Risperidone, and what not, I don't remember.)

I have had a terrible childhood and still am a victim of on-going parental abuse. It's not that my parents sexually abuse me or well physically torture me. It's that their IQ is quite low, have no science education (they are both M.A holders in English and History respectively.) And are absolutely ignorant of how to parent.

They isolated me as a child from the outside world, resulting me in having psychotic episodes whenever I go outside (rarely aside from college and tuition -- they still pick me up and drop me, how wonderful, on a two wheeler.) My social "skills" are nothing. I mean, I don't know how to talk to people.
They just call me retard in front of me and then laugh at me because of my health and social skills. The isolation led to me having no knowledge of the outside world.

Got it? Good (I was isolated as a child and don't know how to interact with people still.)

The next thing is my mental abilities (cognition) being destroyed two years ago when I found out I have psychosis (my internist, yes internist, referred me to a neuropsychiatrist.) I used to above my science class with at least above 80%. At least. Right from fifth grade (start of high school here) to the end of it (End of high school here.) You may not believe but I was at least always in the top three (mostly top) in my science class. I did terrible in mathematics but at least I was good in General Science and Biology.

Biology.

As soon as I  got my biology textbook for class XI (now as I was in the science stream), I searched the internet for "Physics vs Biology" for my own intellectual fun. Then I found out that "Mathematics is the language of science." Little did I know, because of the fact that there wasn't much maths up till tenth. But I wasn't even slightly discouraged by it.

I passed my eleventh class with 53% despite me having bizarre delusions back then (My psychiatrist came at night, removed my hippocampi and a lot of other scary things.) The highest percentage in geology was 62%. The lowest was physics 35% (I was promoted in physics.) and in chem I got in between 55-60.

You wouldn't believe the fact. I was constantly hallucinating (hearing voices of my doctors, strangers, etc. In my delusions my doctors tortured me when I went asleep) but I still passed the eleventh grade examination. Not what I used to be three or four years ago of course. I used to get above 87 in the science subject.) But I still passed. That's what matters....

I found out the cause now.
Ever since I  got "C" (Last division) for Fifth grade, my parents, being overly ignorant, used to attack me verbally for the fact hat "You are a failure", "We wouldn't hope your sister becomes what you are", "You don't know anything", and as my dad put in fifty minutes ago, "You can't even stand in a decent manner."

It really destroyed me mental abilities, you know...

My parents think that me reading a textbook will magically change everything. That's not true as we all know it. Little importance is theoretical knowledge in the world of science (unless of course you are a theoretical physicist or a less-commonly known "Theoretical chemist." What matters is the skill of preparing chemicals. I never can have that skill? Why? I instantly forget about the laboratory methods we all use (include titration.)

I have given my class XII Board exam now (I did fairly, fairly well this time though.  All my journals were completed, I gave each and every practical exam, I never copied during exam, and gave oral, project reports, etc. so I think I will pass in first class. I am still waiting for results though.

So if you now agree that I suffer from schizophrenia (I didn't write like this on purpose.) My mom is a psychotic (or perhaps way-too-much neurotic) who feels nothing but anger. Literally. As I am writing this, she called me an abusive word and told me to turn off the computer.

Anyway, enough about my abuse....

I am a schizophrenic, academically nothing I used to be, can I get my doctorate in chemistry and work as a pharmaceutical scientist? I have many neuropsychiatric conditions.  I am emotionally numb, feel nothing except fear and shame (shame to a lesser extent.) I am suffering from exotopia. Muscle knows due to stress all over the upper arms,  suffering from malnutrition, etc.

If I work hard (in the lab of course, not just with my theoretical books.) can I fulfill my dream of becoming a pharmaceutical scientist?

Reason for being a pharmaceutical scientist : I as myself suffer from the disorders of the nervous system, I have come to know that there are no drugs available for many conditions like Depersonalization, ALS, etc. I may not be able to cure the conditions but I hope I make the world a better place by trying to enhance our understanding of mental and neurological disorders.

I would have been a doctor instead but my psychiatrist told me I will just waste my time.

Edit : More about parental issues.

They never really taught me anything except what is wrong. Never taught me how to ride a bike (although I do ride a scooter now), how to study, how to interact with people, etc. and now they complain that I don't know "anything." "Can't do anything."

They expected me to be isolated from society and still behave like normal people do. That's not scientifically possible. Although both of them are very irrational (in my opinion) I never have surrendered to their irrationality. I have a very scientific mind and I will worship only science. Because it is in my veins. Logic is the only way to live for me.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Now, on a more academic note...

I am still terrible at math (didn't opt out for it in  college) but I want to do research in drugs. Is it possible? I am very passionate about reading chemistry and solving more conceptual problems, but my poor cognition worries me. Everyone I meet outside just calls me a retard or "crazy." (Crazy) Which I frankly am (suffering from schizophrenia) I am ready to improve my math skills (by buying Chemistry books on Amazon) but do you think I can be a pharmaceutical scientist?
« Last Edit: May 02, 2018, 08:38:44 PM by ALonelyMacromolecule »
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Borek

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Re: Can I get a Ph.D in Chemistry despite my mental illness?
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2018, 10:21:10 PM »

I don't think anyone will be able to help you with a single "yes" or "no" answer.

For sure you won't know till you try.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2018, 02:36:05 AM by Borek »
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Arkcon

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Re: Can I get a Ph.D in Chemistry despite my mental illness?
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2018, 01:08:33 AM »

As our technology advances, more and more people are being "diagnosed" with serious afflictions, when they used to be simply dismissed as "dummies."  Unfortunately, which of those two extremes is the cruelest is now a polarized debate based on how each individual has what axe to grind.  Of course, with a good diagnosis, there's advancements in treatments that we can apply, for good or ill.

One thing you can do.  You should work harder on interpersonal relationships.  Some people have developed them all their lives, and you haven't.  This can be a combination of your development environment and also your biology.  However, you will have to work on this, as surely as you will have to improve your mathematics and biology ability.  Every day.  These will be your tasks.

Example:  This forum has a rule: see Forum Rules{click}.  You already accepted the rules when you signed up for our forum, and you have to follow them, whether you agree with them or not, or even if you're unaware of them.

Long blocks of breathless text aren't good ways to communicate on a threaded forum.  There's too much to work with, and a thread with a block of text becomes too long and unwieldy. 

I'm going to share an opinion with you, based on my secondary school experiences -- your behavior in your posting is inappropriate.  I already said it was against this forum's rules.  But now I'm going to add ...  as my secondary level psychology professor explained ... your long diatribe about your personal problems means essentially, you've stood up, in front of the group, and demanded we love you.  You have no right to behave in such a way.  You are asking too much, and will alienate some people, although most adults will ignore it. 

Please remember, this is secondary school level psychoanalysis, so please don't take this as a mental health diagnosis.  Our world has changed sine I was in secondary school  -- internet forums, talk shows and twitter feeds have made such behavior more commonplace.  I maintain that it still alienates people, and they may still react negatively.

This is why large blocks of breathless text aren't allowed here, frankly.  They're not really postings that want help, they are postings that want some sort of advantage over other forum members.  And its behavior that alienates people.
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Mitch

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Re: Can I get a Ph.D in Chemistry despite my mental illness?
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2018, 01:29:12 AM »

@ALonelyMacromolecule. You could become a PhD chemist if you found the right drug to manage your mental disorders. But as you described it now, you couldn't.

If you can't remember the last thing you did in a lab, your are a safety risk to others around you. If you have social anxiety, you will not be able to collaborate with other chemists, report your findings to the scientific community, or navigate through the social aspects of being a part of the chemistry community.

I'm happy you have a goal in life, but you need to treat your mental disorders first, before going down a path that isn't a good fit for your current mental state.
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ALonelyMacromolecule

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Re: Can I get a Ph.D in Chemistry despite my mental illness?
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2018, 05:58:21 AM »

As our technology advances, more and more people are being "diagnosed" with serious afflictions, when they used to be simply dismissed as "dummies."  Unfortunately, which of those two extremes is the cruelest is now a polarized debate based on how each individual has what axe to grind.  Of course, with a good diagnosis, there's advancements in treatments that we can apply, for good or ill.

One thing you can do.  You should work harder on interpersonal relationships.  Some people have developed them all their lives, and you haven't.  This can be a combination of your development environment and also your biology.  However, you will have to work on this, as surely as you will have to improve your mathematics and biology ability.  Every day.  These will be your tasks.

Example:  This forum has a rule: see Forum Rules{click}.  You already accepted the rules when you signed up for our forum, and you have to follow them, whether you agree with them or not, or even if you're unaware of them.

Long blocks of breathless text aren't good ways to communicate on a threaded forum.  There's too much to work with, and a thread with a block of text becomes too long and unwieldy. 

I'm going to share an opinion with you, based on my secondary school experiences -- your behavior in your posting is inappropriate.  I already said it was against this forum's rules.  But now I'm going to add ...  as my secondary level psychology professor explained ... your long diatribe about your personal problems means essentially, you've stood up, in front of the group, and demanded we love you.  You have no right to behave in such a way.  You are asking too much, and will alienate some people, although most adults will ignore it. 

Please remember, this is secondary school level psychoanalysis, so please don't take this as a mental health diagnosis.  Our world has changed sine I was in secondary school  -- internet forums, talk shows and twitter feeds have made such behavior more commonplace.  I maintain that it still alienates people, and they may still react negatively.

This is why large blocks of breathless text aren't allowed here, frankly.  They're not really postings that want help, they are postings that want some sort of advantage over other forum members.  And its behavior that alienates people.

I do know a little bit about history of medicine (history of psychiatry especially.) Psychiatrists used to be called as "alienists." And people who didn't believe in God or actual science were used to be confined to prisons and were subject to horrible treatments like ECT (at that time.) I think you put in double quotes because you don't believe my diagnosis. That's not a bad way to put it. My psychiatrist didn't tell me his diagnosis and I am left only to my imagination. However terrible it might be. But as I am on meds for more than two years, I think I do have a serious mental affilations (I do not know how I know that I once was delusional, but this may be a possibility.) I have a good friendship with my internist.

I appreciate the fact that you have given me advice to improve my mathematical abilities. I  will work on it ASAP (when my Organic Chemistry book get delivered, I will order Physical Chemistry : Seventh Edition by Peter Atkins and Julio De Pola.) I will also try  to go through some books on Chemical Calculations. I am a little bit confused here. Do you mean that my biology (i.e., my health) should improve or that I should take an interest in biology and work towards memorizing biology?

I am very sorry you felt it this way. I never said "you should love me." Yes; while it's true that I expected some heartwarming replies, I never demanded anything like that. It's the internet and I wouldn't expect myself to win hearts by writing threads like this. I am here to ask some advice about my career, because of my illness, I have some doubts on those who provide me such a kind of advice. Then again I am sorry if it all sounded like this. You can warn me via a PM if I am too much of a nonsense. Which I do not think I am. As for the term "Psychoanalysis" it is no longer used and neither do I humbly think we should do psychoanalysis here as you cannot form a good opinion of people based on their wording alone.
I apologize if you thought like this. I am not here for feeling better above myself.
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Mitch

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Re: Can I get a Ph.D in Chemistry despite my mental illness?
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2018, 06:10:52 AM »

@ALonelyMacromolecule as you work through the books you ordered feel free to ask for help, and we will provide you with what support we can in your studies.
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ALonelyMacromolecule

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Re: Can I get a Ph.D in Chemistry despite my mental illness?
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2018, 06:17:27 AM »

I don't think anyone will be able to help you with a single "yes" or "no" answer.

For sure you won't know till you try.
Sir, neither am I expecting any sort of "yes or no" answer. I wanted to explain my situation (i.e., how a childhood abuse victim can possibly get a doctorate in chemistry) and get some feedback around it. As you are professional chemists, you do know a lot of more than me.

I am trying but there are a lot of obstacles. Some are

-- How was I supposed to successfully socialize with my peers.
-- How was I supposed to get good grades
-- How was I supposed to go from college to home and from home to college.
-- How was I supposed to drive from college to home / vice versa if my cognition is less than ideal. It'd be like a life-death situation there. Every day.

The last point worries me so much. I cannot expect my dad to pick up and drop me every single day without being called a joke independently of it.

@ALonelyMacromolecule. You could become a PhD chemist if you found the right drug to manage your mental disorders. But as you described it now, you couldn't.

If you can't remember the last thing you did in a lab, your are a safety risk to others around you. If you have social anxiety, you will not be able to collaborate with other chemists, report your findings to the scientific community, or navigate through the social aspects of being a part of the chemistry community.

I'm happy you have a goal in life, but you need to treat your mental disorders first, before going down a path that isn't a good fit for your current mental state.
Thank you for your opinion.

I don't think (as per as my limited knowledge), drugs alone will eliminate everything. You need a good life style, physiotherapy/psychotherapy, a good mindset and essentially a good environment around you to successfully recover from schizophrenia. They all sound like luxury to me. I am trying to convince my parents to let me live in my aunt's house but they won't allow for God knows reason.

I know, as I am going through all of this, I had a massive doubt that I should be able to get a doctorate. It's not that I am NOT forgetful (I am) but since I passed my eleventh class I think there's hope. I am doing average, and if my cognition wasn't destroyed, I could have actually gotten a doctorate. I do not have social anxiety (my opinion) but have GAD instead which encompasses all aspects of life.

You know what? I could have gotten a job as an assistant professor in a reputed research center and have had lived a pretty normal and socially exciting life if it weren't like this. It's not that, please understand, my parents would accept anything less of a white-collar profession. It's not that I am not interested in being a white-collar professional (especially in the healthcare field) but I am mostly doing it to make the world a better place and only partly so I could get benefit as a scientist/doctor. It's not that I want big money, prestige (I do want to be viewed as respected by my colleagues though) or celebrity-like fame, it is the sheer possibility of the scientific revolution I could have helped to be become a reality, that's actually helping people live better lives. Living like Bill Gates isn't my dream. But giving something to the world, especially to the chronically ill (I know how it is like to be), is my dream.

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ALonelyMacromolecule

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Re: Can I get a Ph.D in Chemistry despite my mental illness?
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2018, 06:25:33 AM »

Also, in which field should I do my M.Sc in if I am interested in discovering drugs?

As far as I know, there are three options

-- Organic Chemistry
-- Biochemistry
-- Medicinal chemistry.
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Mitch

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Re: Can I get a Ph.D in Chemistry despite my mental illness?
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2018, 07:05:22 AM »

Medicinal would be the best.
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Re: Can I get a Ph.D in Chemistry despite my mental illness?
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2018, 04:07:26 PM »

I see this post is quite old, I hope you still see this.

Personally the fact that you are so determined to study science is a fantastic sign and a brilliant start. I am guessing that your parents and other people constantly bullying you about your mental afflictions has destroyed a lot of your self confidence and your personal image. I have no idea what your parents were thinking when they decided to do that to you, how is that meant to help? I could continue but I'm sure you already aware of all those things.

But quite frankly you are determined enough so heck just give it a go! I too am interested in chemistry and would like to pursue  Pharmacology. I was prescribed heavy drugs from a very early age (8-9) which kept me from socialising and has made me emotionally numb (I'm now 20 and still on them). My maths is also terrible, and thus far in my second year of University Chemistry that hasn't been as big as a problem as it may seem.

I think university is a good option for you, you'll have to do many years before your PHD, so you don't have to decide right now if it's right for you. You will have time to figure all that out when you are at a University. I suggest just enrolling in a University and see where life takes you from there. Universities are a place of open mindedness, free thinking and knowledge. I find it unlikely that you will be bullied there, and if the University is far away it means you won't have your parents over your shoulder telling you everything you do is wrong which will probably be a pretty big help.

Universities always offer help and support to their students.

In summation, I believe uni is a good option for someone with your determination, I see you are determined also to not let your afflictions get in the way (which is great). You don't have to decide if a PHD is right for you, in fact I'm more than certain that is an impossible decision to make until you actually get into a uni. Hell I'm in my second year and am still unsure of what I am going to do. Also name for me one great scientist who wasn't at least a little bit loopy ;)

Best of luck!
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