Young Scientist Depression, Part II
So, I'm actually in a decent mood right now, I've been hacking away at some stuff I really needed to get done, and it has been relatively enjoyable. And, I'm almost done. That helps, too.
That said, I'm not sure why I was in a good mood at all, because I woke up this morning and turned on the tv, as has been my habit since 9/11, to see if anything catastrophic had happened in the world.
The tv happened to be on a station that was showing Life or Something Like It, starring Angelina Jolie.
Now, I love Angelina, and I had seen this movie before and liked it. They happened to be at the part where Angelina goes to see Monk, who's playing a homeless prophet, and he says "Oh, you're already up to Bargaining?"
He was referring to the Five Stages of Grief, aka:
And I realized, I think I've been going through these stages, leading up to accepting the idea that I may not have it in me to put up with the crap long enough to have my own lab.
Denial is what we're all in when we go to grad school.
Anger is where I spent the best years of my life, e.g. most of my 20s.
Bargaining was what I did when I said "I'll do a postdoc, and if it sucks, I'll quit."
Depression is where I've been lately, because it's such a zero-sum game. I don't have anything left to bargain with.
In other pop culture references, last night I watched V for Vendetta on DVD. At first Natalie Portman's posh rendition of a British accent annoyed me, but then I had to appreciate the Phantom of the Opera-esque mask business. And the parts where they reference The Count of Monte Cristo, you can imagine, really appealed to me.
I especially liked the sequence where they keep torturing her, and torturing her, and she keeps saying "I don't know". Finally they say they're going to execute her, and she says "Okay, fine."
I realized in grad school that, as in all negotiations, life is a big negotiation. If you're not willing to walk away at any point, you're never going to get anywhere.
Evey's character in the movie says she's willing to die, and V says: "Now you are truly free."
This is not a new concept. Fearless people really do have the most interesting lives.
I think what's been bugging me lately is admitting what I am afraid of.
I've always subscribed to the saying that brave people are just as afraid as everyone else, they just handle it better.
And I've always been pretty brave, until lately, when I've started to worry that once the denial and the anger wear off, you've lost your two best weapons.
I guess I thought the anger would never go away, or that it would at least last me until I had my own lab. But it does eventually just give in to sadness.
Oddly, though, work can be its own reward, more so than getting credit for it. It's just really hard to remember that every minute of every day.
It matters more that you try, than whether anybody knows about it.