Dropping out of vet school after 3 years (and very depressed)

somevetstudent

2+ Year Member
Jul 28, 2016
5
1
Hey guys,

I'm new here and facing unfortently a very hard decision in my life.

I'm a vet student, male, 25 years old living in europe (foreign student here) and i'm thinking deeply about dropping school after 6 semesters, because i'm became depressed and unhappy with my degree and can't imagine my self as a vet anymore.

I started vet school being motivated, but after 2 years faced the hard reality and it hit me hard - the long working hours, the bad payment (at least where i live), no free time - giving up your life for animals.

So back then (end of 2nd year) i thought to my self - lets give it a try, maybe the clinical years will be better, right? but it became very obvious for me that i can't do it.
So i thought OK, i dont have to practice right, but even then i cant think of anything that i would want to do when i have the degree, i've looked literally every option and i feel like throwing up knowing i have to do it all my life.

In the last month i can't wake up in the morning anymore, i can't read and can't study... I get panic attacks daily. I breath heavily and i'm very unpleasnt to be with because i'm angery that it didn't turn right for me.
It makes me think, do i really want to give up my health for something i dont even want to do anymore?

I mean - sure everyone has their moments when they ask themself if that really the right choice? but at the moment im very much beyond that. i basically started to HATE it. I only go to the courses that i have to go, and always try to avoid anything that has anything to do with animals. how did it happen to me?

So whats next? i have no idea. i got no money left (but got no debt), if i quit i can no longer continue (we all know that) and honestly i dont think i want to continue. My parents are disappointed at me and i wake up every morning feeling like crap. I'm still enrolled for the next semester, but i have 2 major tests coming up next week and i havent even read one page for them.

I'm really fed up with this profession, and i havn't even started with it, which makes me think that sooner or later i will probably give up as a vet or get a heart attack because of it or even worse, maybe comitting suicide because of it, but at the same time i can't give up these 3 years so easily, i've worked so hard.

How do i approach this, should i finish my degree and hate it? should i quit and face something else, somehow?
 

CalliopeDVM

7+ Year Member
Nov 21, 2010
948
736
Toronto, ON
Status
Veterinarian
The first thing you should do is get yourself to a doctor and get yourself checked out medically -- various medical issues can manifest themselves emotionally and mentally. Then consider seeing a counselor for depression and trying some anxyolytic or antidepressant drugs. You may choose to leave instead, believing that removing yourself from that situation will improve your emotional state and that may well be the case......but just be aware that the answer may not be that "simple".
 

DVMDream

DVMNightmare
10+ Year Member
Jul 15, 2009
38,665
26,188
The Dragon School
Status
Veterinarian
The first thing you should do is get yourself to a doctor and get yourself checked out medically -- various medical issues can manifest themselves emotionally and mentally. Then consider seeing a counselor for depression and trying some anxyolytic or antidepressant drugs. You may choose to leave instead, believing that removing yourself from that situation will improve your emotional state and that may well be the case......but just be aware that the answer may not be that "simple".
This. You can also ask your school for a one year deferment while you take care of yourself instead of completely dropping out. That gives you the opportunity to address any medical issues without making as permanent of a decision as dropping out. You may still decide that dropping out is right for you after that year of deferment but it gives you the opportunity to be sure your judgement isn't being clouded by anxiety and/or depression.
 
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Lab Vet

Clinical Veterinarian, Global CRO
7+ Year Member
Aug 6, 2011
744
871
Massachusetts
Status
Veterinarian
Hey guys,

I'm new here and facing unfortently a very hard decision in my life.

I'm a vet student, male, 25 years old living in europe (foreign student here) and i'm thinking deeply about dropping school after 6 semesters, because i'm became depressed and unhappy with my degree and can't imagine my self as a vet anymore.

I started vet school being motivated, but after 2 years faced the hard reality and it hit me hard - the long working hours, the bad payment (at least where i live), no free time - giving up your life for animals.

So back then (end of 2nd year) i thought to my self - lets give it a try, maybe the clinical years will be better, right? but it became very obvious for me that i can't do it.
So i thought OK, i dont have to practice right, but even then i cant think of anything that i would want to do when i have the degree, i've looked literally every option and i feel like throwing up knowing i have to do it all my life.

In the last month i can't wake up in the morning anymore, i can't read and can't study... I get panic attacks daily. I breath heavily and i'm very unpleasnt to be with because i'm angery that it didn't turn right for me.
It makes me think, do i really want to give up my health for something i dont even want to do anymore?

I mean - sure everyone has their moments when they ask themself if that really the right choice? but at the moment im very much beyond that. i basically started to HATE it. I only go to the courses that i have to go, and always try to avoid anything that has anything to do with animals. how did it happen to me?

So whats next? i have no idea. i got no money left (but got no debt), if i quit i can no longer continue (we all know that) and honestly i dont think i want to continue. My parents are disappointed at me and i wake up every morning feeling like crap. I'm still enrolled for the next semester, but i have 2 major tests coming up next week and i havent even read one page for them.

I'm really fed up with this profession, and i havn't even started with it, which makes me think that sooner or later i will probably give up as a vet or get a heart attack because of it or even worse, maybe comitting suicide because of it, but at the same time i can't give up these 3 years so easily, i've worked so hard.

How do i approach this, should i finish my degree and hate it? should i quit and face something else, somehow?
Hi Somevetstudent,

My heart goes out to you. Your sentiments echo my own, not in reference to veterinary school, but rather in connection with graduate school. In my fourth year of undergrad, I had to make a difficult decision- should I attend veterinary school, or pursue a PhD in physiology and a career as an academic scientist. I went the graduate school route, and ended up leaving the program with a Master's Degree after 8 years of investment. Walking away was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make.

I knew I wanted out of academic science by around my 2nd-3rd year in the program, but didn't have the gumption to walk away at that earlier juncture due to a variety of factors. There is a lot of self-doubt that goes along with making a decision like this. First, you end up asking yourself "Am I unhappy because I truly don't like this" or "Am I unhappy because I'm incompetent, and just need to try harder." Or, "Maybe I just don't have what it takes to be successful in this field." Then there's the inertia of investment already made that plays into the decision- "I've already put in x number of years, surely I can continue to tough it out." Finally, there's the fear of "What will people think of me if I walk away?" "Will people think I'm a failure at life, that I can't cut it?" All these questions and more went through my head too many times to count for years before I made the commitment to walk.

I distinctly remember the moment I decided to leave my PhD behind for good. I was sitting at my desk in the lab, reading yet another manuscript that I had to slog to get through. An incredibly clear voice rang through my head- "I don't want to do this anymore." By that stage, I had lost 20 lbs, wasn't eating correctly, was plagued by migraine headaches and never slept well. I was more exhausted and strung out than I had ever been before.

When I told my graduate advisor that I was leaving, tears streamed down my face as I handed over ownership of 8 years of work- 10 research notebooks and 5 CDs worth of data. He and I had a challenging relationship, but were still close. I distinctly recall him telling me that he couldn't imagine how tough it was to make the call that I did. He affirmed my intelligence and tenacity, and told me that I could be successful in any endeavor that I chose (I had the raw talent and drive), but I had to want it. Academic science had lost its shine for me years before that moment, for a variety of reasons. He knew it, and more importantly, I knew it. We parted ways on good terms. There was no malice or judgment on his part directed towards me for exiting my PhD.

After that, I was at a loss. The PhD goal had defined my identity for so long that I didn't know what to do with myself. I met with career counselors and psychologists, and got my life back on track. I worked in private industry for a number of years (in a technical capacity with research animals), and then went back to academia as a staff scientist to manage the in vivo research program of a successful PI.

I never lost sight of my goal to become a veterinarian. While pursuing my PhD, I became very close with the attending veterinarian of the institution. I was inspired by his work, and set my sights on following in his footsteps. Five years out of grad school, I did exactly that. I'm now about to begin my third year of vet school, and couldn't be happier. My career has truly come full circle. My PhD advisor was one of my most ardent supporters when it came to my vet school applications. He wrote one of my letters, and he and I communicate frequently. I never would have known anything about lab animal medicine had I not attended grad school. My veterinary mentor from that chapter of my life and I still talk often. He now works for private industry, and I just attended a professional conference where we had the chance to meet in person. It was wonderful to reconnect with him face to face.

Given that backstory, here is my advice:

-Never let let anyone else decide the conditions of your happiness. You are the one who needs to live with your life. Make decisions that move you in the direction of this goal.

-If you leave, leave on good terms. Never burn bridges. It never ceases to amaze me how small the world truly is.

-I once received an excellent piece of advice from one of the faculty in my graduate program. I was complaining about the fact that I thought I had ruined my life. He simply said: "You'd be amazed at what you can recover from." It's the truth. Human beings are incredibly resistant. Life will go on and the sun will rise in the morning. What you choose to do with the promise of a new day is up to you.

-Look for the good. Even though you're in a very dark hole right now, I would hazard a guess that not everything about your experience in vet school was negative. There were many, many positives about my life in graduate school. I made some wonderful friends, did some awesome science, and forged relationships with mentors that have influenced me for life. That was time well spent. When people ask me if I would do my life differently a second time around, I answer that I would alter my responses to situations, but not the situations themselves. Such is the wisdom of age, hard won with experience (much of it challenging). Those 8 years shaped me. I'm a better person for having lived through them.

-Realize that actions have consequences. Accept and come to terms with this fact. I'm currently 37 years old. The youngest student in my class is 21, and the mean age is likely 24-25. I'm 'way behind' in the calculus of an efficient veterinary career. I'm in mountains of debt, and I'll be paying off my loans until I die. I'll never have the letters 'PhD' next to my name, even though I did a crap load of work in grad school. All of these consequences were as a result of my decisions. No one forced my hand. As such, I can live with those realities.

-Get a clear idea of what you really want out of life. If job is important to you, think about the function of the job role rather than the title. What do you want to do as part of your day to day? What type of people do you want to surround yourself with? In what environment are you the most comfortable?

-Talk to professionals- mental health, career direction, and folks who have been there/done that before. This will be great support for you as you move forward with your decision.

-Get solid with your own decision before breaking the news to friends and family. I didn't tell my Mother that I had walked away from my PhD until a month after the deed was done. I wanted to be 100% sure that the decision I was making was mine, and not influenced by the well meaning intentions of others.

-Have confidence in your abilities to retool and be successful. You're a smart guy. Remind yourself of that with evidence from your past as you mount your next job search. Cast your experience in a flexible light (push transferable skills). After leaving grad school, I applied for over 50 jobs. I had never worked in corporate, and was hired into a supervisory role in a field with which I had no direct experience on the strength of my cover letter, CV, and interview. I should also mention that there was no official job posting at this location. I was interested in working there, researched the company, got myself connected to a person with the power to hire, and had a job created for me. Your success is up to you. Getting there takes lots of effort, a thick skin for rejection, and a little luck.

At the end of the day, you are responsible for your own happiness and contribution in this life. Most mistakes aren't permanent. As a scientist, I tend to chalk these up to 'research' for future endeavors. Think long and hard about why you're leaving, and what you want to do next. Never make life-altering decisions at a crisis-point.

Best of success! You've only got one life. Make your trips around the sun your own. You never know which day will be your last. Make each day count.
 
Last edited:

Lab Vet

Clinical Veterinarian, Global CRO
7+ Year Member
Aug 6, 2011
744
871
Massachusetts
Status
Veterinarian
The first thing you should do is get yourself to a doctor and get yourself checked out medically -- various medical issues can manifest themselves emotionally and mentally. Then consider seeing a counselor for depression and trying some anxyolytic or antidepressant drugs. You may choose to leave instead, believing that removing yourself from that situation will improve your emotional state and that may well be the case......but just be aware that the answer may not be that "simple".
I should mention as an addendum to my longer post that this is good advice. I was seeing a psychologist weekly and had tried various SSRIs before I made the decision to walk away. OP may find that drugs and talk are all he needs to turn his situation around.
 

saeidvet

5+ Year Member
Feb 11, 2012
16
7
Vancouver
Status
Veterinarian
Don't be stupid man. there is no other choice. if you have no money ask help from your parents or find a part time job. I drive a taxi 5 days a week (night shift), make OK money, take care of my mortgage, feed my family and beside it I passed the BCSE and NAVLE. right now I am preparing myself for the last step which is CPE. see... there is a will, there is a way. be strong.....
 
OP
S

somevetstudent

2+ Year Member
Jul 28, 2016
5
1
Wow, i can't even describe how grateful i'm for you support.

My dream is to work in the veterinary pharmacology field and to develop new drugs or suppelements... maybe a degree in pharmacy were a better idea, but i dont want to work at the university, and i'm not interested in human pharamcology....The thing is that maybe 1% of all vets are working the industry which makes my dream maybe impossible to pursue.

Yesterday i've called the ministry of health and told them i wont be doing the state exams this summer, because i'm depressed. they have put me on "hold" and told me to call them once i feel better. next tests are in december (in the next semester) or in next year. I've also went to a psychotherapist which told me to just take so time off and gave me some herbal drugs for my depression.

Today my Girlfriend broke up with me, and told me that im "not a man anymore" and that she cant be with me anymore because i'm depressed. ironicly she had a depression her self couple of months ago an take SSRIs, and i've been there for her the whole time. I'm only depressed for 2 weeks and she dumbs me like a piece of crap.

I'm corrently working as the manager of the student department in a medium size company and making O.K money for the very little i got to do and for the for the amount of hours i'm there, so its not about the money at all...

the only thing that sucks is that i don't have enough money to "start a new adventure", if i want to study something else and got to relocate to another city, i will lose my job and will not have any money to support my self... My parents are not that rich and they already support me all they can, but i dont think they will be able to support me if i relocate.

Not studying at all is not an option, because then i have to leave this country and go back home (im a foreign here..).
 
Aug 6, 2016
1
0
Status
Veterinary Student
Hi, somevetstudent,

I am sorry to hear your story. I was wondering if you have any updates or received any new advice? I find myself in a similar situation. I just finished my first year of veterinary school, but I didn't enjoy it and I am dreading the start of second year. I have never pictured myself working as a traditional, clinical veterinarian, but I have since explored alternative careers (public health, government, lab animal, research), and I also don't find them exciting or view them as jobs I could have for the rest of my life. I worked for several years after getting my undergraduate degree before applying to veterinary school, and I am second-guessing my decision to return to school. Quite frankly, I am disappointed in myself for not coming to the realization sooner. I thought it would be a good investment in my future, but I am not passionate about it (sure, I like animals, but that's not a good reason). As everyone on here knows, there is a TON of money, time, and effort required before you can even apply to vet school, and then there is even more required to complete the degree. I'm in a crisis- I am an older student and feel like I am wasting my time and everyone else's. At this point, I am struggling with whether or not I would regret leaving somewhere down the road. Unfortunately, I don't know what I would do if I left. I would obviously find a job, but in what field, I am not sure. I have a lot of interests, but there is nothing in particular that is drawing me.

Bottomline: My heart is not in this. Are there other careers that use a DVM that I am not thinking about?

P.S.
My fiance left me in the middle of midterms this spring, only 3 months before we were supposed to get married. My heart goes out to you, somevetstudent. Depression also played a role. If you ever want to talk, please message me. I have not recovered, but I do find talking with people who have been through that same thing to be helpful, even if only temporarily.
 

Lab Vet

Clinical Veterinarian, Global CRO
7+ Year Member
Aug 6, 2011
744
871
Massachusetts
Status
Veterinarian
Hi, somevetstudent,

I am sorry to hear your story. I was wondering if you have any updates or received any new advice? I find myself in a similar situation. I just finished my first year of veterinary school, but I didn't enjoy it and I am dreading the start of second year. I have never pictured myself working as a traditional, clinical veterinarian, but I have since explored alternative careers (public health, government, lab animal, research), and I also don't find them exciting or view them as jobs I could have for the rest of my life. I worked for several years after getting my undergraduate degree before applying to veterinary school, and I am second-guessing my decision to return to school. Quite frankly, I am disappointed in myself for not coming to the realization sooner. I thought it would be a good investment in my future, but I am not passionate about it (sure, I like animals, but that's not a good reason). As everyone on here knows, there is a TON of money, time, and effort required before you can even apply to vet school, and then there is even more required to complete the degree. I'm in a crisis- I am an older student and feel like I am wasting my time and everyone else's. At this point, I am struggling with whether or not I would regret leaving somewhere down the road. Unfortunately, I don't know what I would do if I left. I would obviously find a job, but in what field, I am not sure. I have a lot of interests, but there is nothing in particular that is drawing me.

Bottomline: My heart is not in this. Are there other careers that use a DVM that I am not thinking about?

P.S.
My fiance left me in the middle of midterms this spring, only 3 months before we were supposed to get married. My heart goes out to you, somevetstudent. Depression also played a role. If you ever want to talk, please message me. I have not recovered, but I do find talking with people who have been through that same thing to be helpful, even if only temporarily.
Technical sales rep? Grant-writer for/management of a non-profit (i.e. shelter?):

You've painted vet med with a very broad brush. It is indeed a broad degree, but there are several job roles within the categories you've listed. Let's take 'Public Health' as an example. Within this category, a vet could work as a food safety inspector, complete epidemiology studies (and really be on the forefront of emerging disease research- that's pretty exciting), could work as the go to PH resource in any given state....all very different roles. Lab Animal is my field of interest, and there are a whole host of roles you can have within this specialization as well.

The most common mistake I think people make when deciding on a career is the title of the position, rather than the role. Role = the day to day, boots on the ground function of a specific job. You can love animals all day long, but if you don't get a kick out of clinical problem solving, you're going to struggle as a veterinarian (at least in a job requiring clinical responsibilities). All veterinary jobs will require this to some degree, because that is what vets do.

I'm curious what inspired you to pursue a career in vet med in the first place. If you could reconnect with that initial spark, it may fuel your drive to push forward. Folks typically don't choose a career in Vet Med in a vacuum- something/someone draws them to the profession. What was that for you? Can you connect that initial passion to a specific job role/specialty within the profession?

Are you clear on what you don't like about Vet Med and why? Are the reasons related to personality fit, role, or both? If you haven't done so, I'd recommend taking a few self-assessments to help you to gain insight into what makes you tick, and how these natural interests/abilities can be matched to a job. A career counselor can help you here.

I wish you the best of success with your discernment process. Knowing what you want out of a job is the hardest part. If you truly dislike Vet Med (and have a clear understanding of why that's the case), I urge you to consider making decisions in favor of your happiness. Life is short- too short to waste on making yourself miserable in a career that's the wrong fit.
 
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somevetstudent

2+ Year Member
Jul 28, 2016
5
1
Have i made any progress? no. i'm just taking time off, but when i think about what is waiting for me back there in vet school i feel digusted, i really dont want to go back to vet school anymore, i can't look at the sad face of the most (if not all) of the vets in our clinic, including the professors that are just miserable from their job. i've yet to see even one vet or professor here that is happy with their jobs, i swear.
I think one of the things that made me "wake up" was a sentence a professor said in one of the lectures "you students have no idea how hard the life of vets are, you should be enjoying your time at the university" this made me feel like sh1t. "enjoying?" i thought to myself - i'm studying days and nights with no social life with 24/7 stress that wont go away (even now when i'm not doing anything im stressed!!), this made me think, do i really want it?

the harsh reality is, that it took me A LOT of time to realise what i've gotten into, i think it was because school was so hard, i've never even thought about the future, i just wanted to survive the test and the one after and the 200 after that one...

my heart tells me to stop, because i'm not enjoying my life anymore, but my brain tells me to go on and just finish with it, and then we'll see what we get. when i look at pictures of me from "back then" like before 4 years ago i look happy and looked like a guy who enjoyed his life.

When i'll know where im going with this, i will be writing here agian, but as it seems right now, staying in vet school will be a mistake for me. i'm not enjoying it, im not looking into finishing school, being a vet does not excites me, there is however, nothing that excites me and that what worries me.

i dont know if i've mentioned it but the major issue for me - if i drop out of school i have nothing in my pocket. this is because of the stupid degree system they have here for medicine. if you drop out of med school you got no bachelor degree or something like that, even for me after 3 years, i just wish i had SOMETHING in my pocket, somekind of a degree - lets say "premedical degree" or whatever.
 
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Jun 8, 2014
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Have i made any progress? no. i'm just taking time off, but when i think about what is waiting for me back there in vet school i feel digusted, i really dont want to go back to vet school anymore, i can't look at the sad face of the most (if not all) of the vets in our clinic, including the professors that are just miserable from their job. i've yet to see even one vet or professor here that is happy with their jobs, i swear.
I think one of the things that made me "wake up" was a sentence a professor said in one of the lectures "you students have no idea how hard the life of vets are, you should be enjoying your time at the university" this made me feel like sh1t. "enjoying?" i thought to myself - i'm studying days and nights with no social life with 24/7 stress that wont go away (even now when i'm not doing anything im stressed!!), this made me think, do i really want it?

the harsh reality is, that it took me A LOT of time to realise what i've gotten into, i think it was because school was so hard, i've never even thought about the future, i just wanted to survive the test and the one after and the 200 after that one...

my heart tells me to stop, because i'm not enjoying my life anymore, but my brain tells me to go on and just finish with it, and then we'll see what we get. when i look at pictures of me from "back then" like before 4 years ago i look happy and looked like a guy who enjoyed his life.

When i'll know where im going with this, i will be writing here agian, but as it seems right now, staying in vet school will be a mistake for me. i'm not enjoying it, im not looking into finishing school, being a vet does not excites me, there is however, nothing that excites me and that what worries me.

i dont know if i've mentioned it but the major issue for me - if i drop out of school i have nothing in my pocket. this is because of the stupid degree system they have here for medicine. if you drop out of med school you got no bachelor degree or something like that, even for me after 3 years, i just wish i had SOMETHING in my pocket, somekind of a degree - lets say "premedical degree" or whatever.
It is sad and upsetting what are you going through. Many people around the world feel they are not enjoying their life, yet some of them found another route, the rest waste their life whining and gained nothing.
May your professor was looking into vet life as how much money goes into his pocket by the end of the day which is fine, but life has more profits than just be rich. I would rather be a person with moderate income and help pets in need or even people. The smile or the thank you you receive after your hard work is more rewarding and worth every minutes you suffer through vet school.
A degree is not important there are so many successful persons in this life with no high education. They are basically just smart and did what they love.
My advice to you if you dont do what you love, then love what you do.
Good luck with every decision you make
 
Jan 18, 2006
16,885
14,992
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Wow, i can't even describe how grateful i'm for you support.

My dream is to work in the veterinary pharmacology field and to develop new drugs or suppelements... maybe a degree in pharmacy were a better idea, but i dont want to work at the university, and i'm not interested in human pharamcology....The thing is that maybe 1% of all vets are working the industry which makes my dream maybe impossible to pursue.

Yesterday i've called the ministry of health and told them i wont be doing the state exams this summer, because i'm depressed. they have put me on "hold" and told me to call them once i feel better. next tests are in december (in the next semester) or in next year. I've also went to a psychotherapist which told me to just take so time off and gave me some herbal drugs for my depression.

Today my Girlfriend broke up with me, and told me that im "not a man anymore" and that she cant be with me anymore because i'm depressed. ironicly she had a depression her self couple of months ago an take SSRIs, and i've been there for her the whole time. I'm only depressed for 2 weeks and she dumbs me like a piece of crap.

I'm corrently working as the manager of the student department in a medium size company and making O.K money for the very little i got to do and for the for the amount of hours i'm there, so its not about the money at all...

the only thing that sucks is that i don't have enough money to "start a new adventure", if i want to study something else and got to relocate to another city, i will lose my job and will not have any money to support my self... My parents are not that rich and they already support me all they can, but i dont think they will be able to support me if i relocate.

Not studying at all is not an option, because then i have to leave this country and go back home (im a foreign here..).
Is there any better psychotherapist or counselor you could see? It sounds like you have some pretty significant depression. "Time off" and "herbal drugs" doesn't sound like it is going to cut it (take it from someone in the field who has struggled quite a bit in the past with issues like this). Is there anyone more....professional you could see? I think it would do you the world of good.

And **** your ex-girlfriend. She sounds like a very self-centered and unsupportive person. Anyone who speaks like that to someone else isn't worthy of your time and attention. In a way, it's probably a good thing she is now an ex, because you honestly don't want to be with someone who treats you like that.
 
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DVMDream

DVMNightmare
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Jul 15, 2009
38,665
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Is there any better psychotherapist or counselor you could see? It sounds like you have some pretty significant depression. "Time off" and "herbal drugs" doesn't sound like it is going to cut it (take it from someone in the field who has struggled quite a bit in the past with issues like this). Is there anyone more....professional you could see? I think it would do you the world of good.

And **** your ex-girlfriend. She sounds like a very self-centered and unsupportive person. Anyone who speaks like that to someone else isn't worthy of your time and attention. In a way, it's probably a good thing she is now an ex, because you honestly don't want to be with someone who treats you like that.
This. 1000 times this. Herbal drugs aren't going to cut it. And your now ex girlfriend is ****, you are much better off without her.
 

RadRadTerp

5+ Year Member
Mar 15, 2011
308
47
Antarctica
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Veterinarian
I think in our modern world we have put a lot of pressure on ourselves to "achieve" degrees and titles to somehow guarantee success and happiness, but life doesn't really work that way. I have met many middle class individuals who think of achievement only in terms of status and making sure their kids become doctors, lawyers, or big shot business people, but that's not what life is about.

Before I went to veterinary school, I finished my baccalaureate in molecular biology with the goal of becoming a research scientist. I spent my last year of high school working in an oncology lab, and then I did research every day for 4 years while in college. Then I got into a post-bac program at the NIH to prepare myself for applying to graduate school. During the last 2 years of my research experience I had an awakening. I had been in a bad car accident when my van flipped on the highway with 5 of my friends on our way to a rock concert and we all went to the hospital. I almost died. After that I couldn't study, I couldn't write my research papers, and ultimately I gave up on obtaining an "honors" status on my degree. I felt like a disappointment, and yet I continued to pursue research science. But then I slowly realized it wasn't for me. I couldn't see myself working in a lab for the rest of my life. I couldn't see myself writing grant proposals as the head of my own laboratory. I couldn't see myself studying so much and yet not having a direct impact on the world around me. Being in research felt far too removed from the world I wanted to experience. Some people like that, but I did not. So what did I do?

I had a good paying job at the research institute earning a good pay and health benefits, but after I quit my dream of studying molecular biology? I worked for minimum wage in restaurants and bars. I tutored kids. I had a plan with a friend that we were going to open a restaurant. I dedicated 2 years of my life to this plan. Then the economy crashed in 2007 and my friend took all the money for our business. There was nothing left. I had gotten so desperate that after doing research for years I volunteered to be a research subject to take high doses of various drugs to support myself. It was a wild time! I got tattooed, played music in bands, traveled to different countries on the cheap, and then I found a job working at an animal shelter. That's when my life changed. That's when I decided to pursue veterinary medicine.

What's my point? Your life is not over! You have many years left to live and you don't even have graduate school or medical school debt. Trust me, working from the bottom is not that bad! Sometimes when I have a difficult case at my small animal practice I look back fondly on my days working in a kitchen at a bar serving food at 2 am to drunk rock fans. It was a thrilling time for me! It wasn't easy and I earned a lot less then, but I was happy. Happiness can come from many different avenues. Unless you try out the world as best you can, it's going to be hard to find what's right for you. But if you know that school is killing your soul, then get out. Maybe you will study something else. Maybe you have to go back home and work for a while before you find your next path. Just because you have to start over doesn't mean your life is over. You can find another path that will fulfill you. It may not be the next path you take and it may not be the third path you take, but that's okay. Keep trying!

And please seek professional help if your depression is getting in the way of your motivation to experience life. You deserve happiness.
 
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Gemgrrrl

5+ Year Member
Dec 3, 2012
319
253
Status
Veterinary Student
I'm so sorry that you're going through this hard time. Veterinary school is really hard. I also sometimes feel like it's just sucking the life out of me and everyone is miserable. You're not alone in that. Or in wondering if this is what you really want to do with your life. I'm sorry that a faculty member gave such a grim report of what it's like working in veterinary medicine. But please don't take the word of one person as gospel. There are lots of veterinarians who love what they do. Is it hard sometimes? Are there things that make them want to pull their hair out sometimes? I'm sure it is. But that's going to be true for ANY job that you choose. No matter what you do, or how much you love it, or how much money you make - there are going to be things about it that you hate, and days when you want to quit.

I agree with what LabVet said - that connecting with that spark that made you passionate about veterinary medicine would be of benefit. Last semester was hard for me, and I was feeling really burnt out and frustrated at the end. I started to question if this was really what I wanted to do with my life, and if it was all worth it. Then I spent part of the summer at an ER & referral clinic. I was again in love with vet med - I looked forward to getting to the clinic every day, stayed late when there was a cool case. I loved every minute of it. Veterinary school and veterinary practice are much different. Just because you're miserable with the slog of school doesn't mean you'll be miserable in the job. It might be worth spending some time in a clinic and seeing if you feel differently about it than you do about school.

A couple of things you said stood out to me:

" i'm studying days and nights with no social life with 24/7 stress that wont go away (even now when i'm not doing anything im stressed!!)" We all know how much you need to study to be successful in vet school. But you really need to make time for some social life. Everyone needs to blow off steam sometimes. Last semester I started taking one day off of studying every week. I made it a rule that I won't even look at any of my material. Instead went out and did things that made me happy and reminded me of who I was, other than just a vet student. I found that I was a lot less stressed, and the time I spent studying was more effective than when I studied all. the. time. Self care is a necessity.

"maybe the clinical years will be better, right? but it became very obvious for me that i can't do it." I was curious, when I read that, if something happened that made you feel like you couldn't do it? Or a general feeling of not being good enough? One thing I know about depression is that it lies. It doesn't hurt to "reality check" the things you're feeling. If it's something specific, is there a way to improve? If it's a general feeling of not being good enough - could that be more to do with your depression than you actual ability?

Hang in there. I know it's hard right now. Maybe none of the choices you see in front of you seem like they're great choices - but you never know where life might take you. Sometimes things happen that seem like the worst thing in the world, and they end up being the best thing because they take you to places you never thought of going before.
 
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Lab Vet

Clinical Veterinarian, Global CRO
7+ Year Member
Aug 6, 2011
744
871
Massachusetts
Status
Veterinarian
I think in our modern world we have put a lot of pressure on ourselves to "achieve" degrees and titles to somehow guarantee success and happiness, but life doesn't really work that way. I have met many middle class individuals who think of achievement only in terms of status and making sure their kids become doctors, lawyers, or big shot business people, but that's not what life is about.

Before I went to veterinary school, I finished my baccalaureate in molecular biology with the goal of becoming a research scientist. I spent my last year of high school working in an oncology lab, and then I did research every day for 4 years while in college. Then I got into a post-bac program at the NIH to prepare myself for applying to graduate school. During the last 2 years of my research experience I had an awakening. I had been in a bad car accident when my van flipped on the highway with 5 of my friends on our way to a rock concert and we all went to the hospital. I almost died. After that I couldn't study, I couldn't write my research papers, and ultimately I gave up on obtaining an "honors" status on my degree. I felt like a disappointment, and yet I continued to pursue research science. But then I slowly realized it wasn't for me. I couldn't see myself working in a lab for the rest of my life. I couldn't see myself writing grant proposals as the head of my own laboratory. I couldn't see myself studying so much and yet not having a direct impact on the world around me. Being in research felt far too removed from the world I wanted to experience. Some people like that, but I did not. So what did I do?

I had a good paying job at the research institute earning a good pay and health benefits, but after I quit my dream of studying molecular biology? I worked for minimum wage in restaurants and bars. I tutored kids. I had a plan with a friend that we were going to open a restaurant. I dedicated 2 years of my life to this plan. Then the economy crashed in 2007 and my friend took all the money for our business. There was nothing left. I had gotten so desperate that after doing research for years I volunteered to be a research subject to take high doses of various drugs to support myself. It was a wild time! I got tattooed, played music in bands, traveled to different countries on the cheap, and then I found a job working at an animal shelter. That's when my life changed. That's when I decided to pursue veterinary medicine.

What's my point? Your life is not over! You have many years left to live and you don't even have graduate school or medical school debt. Trust me, working from the bottom is not that bad! Sometimes when I have a difficult case at my small animal practice I look back fondly on my days working in a kitchen at a bar serving food at 2 am to drunk rock fans. It was a thrilling time for me! It wasn't easy and I earned a lot less then, but I was happy. Happiness can come from many different avenues. Unless you try out the world as best you can, it's going to be hard to find what's right for you. But if you know that school is killing your soul, then get out. Maybe you will study something else. Maybe you have to go back home and work for a while before you find your next path. Just because you have to start over doesn't mean your life is over. You can find another path that will fulfill you. It may not be the next path you take and it may not be the third path you take, but that's okay. Keep trying!

And please seek professional help if your depression is getting in the way of your motivation to experience life. You deserve happiness.
GREAT story! What a great life! I'm glad that you've found happiness, many times over. Good for you :)
 

Lab Vet

Clinical Veterinarian, Global CRO
7+ Year Member
Aug 6, 2011
744
871
Massachusetts
Status
Veterinarian
I agree with what LabVet said - that connecting with that spark that made you passionate about veterinary medicine would be of benefit. Last semester was hard for me, and I was feeling really burnt out and frustrated at the end. I started to question if this was really what I wanted to do with my life, and if it was all worth it. Then I spent part of the summer at an ER & referral clinic. I was again in love with vet med - I looked forward to getting to the clinic every day, stayed late when there was a cool case. I loved every minute of it. Veterinary school and veterinary practice are much different. Just because you're miserable with the slog of school doesn't mean you'll be miserable in the job. It might be worth spending some time in a clinic and seeing if you feel differently about it than you do about school.
Yup. This was my summer as well, in a different environment. The practical experience proved to me that I love the job, but don't love quizzes and exams. That's ok, vet school isn't forever. Reconnecting with the flame of passion will do wonders for your morale. Try it and see :)
 

JoeUSA

7+ Year Member
Dec 20, 2009
123
64
Status
Attending Physician
Hey guys,

I'm new here and facing unfortently a very hard decision in my life.

I'm a vet student, male, 25 years old living in europe (foreign student here) and i'm thinking deeply about dropping school after 6 semesters, because i'm became depressed and unhappy with my degree and can't imagine my self as a vet anymore.

I started vet school being motivated, but after 2 years faced the hard reality and it hit me hard - the long working hours, the bad payment (at least where i live), no free time - giving up your life for animals.

So back then (end of 2nd year) i thought to my self - lets give it a try, maybe the clinical years will be better, right? but it became very obvious for me that i can't do it.
So i thought OK, i dont have to practice right, but even then i cant think of anything that i would want to do when i have the degree, i've looked literally every option and i feel like throwing up knowing i have to do it all my life.

In the last month i can't wake up in the morning anymore, i can't read and can't study... I get panic attacks daily. I breath heavily and i'm very unpleasnt to be with because i'm angery that it didn't turn right for me.
It makes me think, do i really want to give up my health for something i dont even want to do anymore?

I mean - sure everyone has their moments when they ask themself if that really the right choice? but at the moment im very much beyond that. i basically started to HATE it. I only go to the courses that i have to go, and always try to avoid anything that has anything to do with animals. how did it happen to me?

So whats next? i have no idea. i got no money left (but got no debt), if i quit i can no longer continue (we all know that) and honestly i dont think i want to continue. My parents are disappointed at me and i wake up every morning feeling like crap. I'm still enrolled for the next semester, but i have 2 major tests coming up next week and i havent even read one page for them.

I'm really fed up with this profession, and i havn't even started with it, which makes me think that sooner or later i will probably give up as a vet or get a heart attack because of it or even worse, maybe comitting suicide because of it, but at the same time i can't give up these 3 years so easily, i've worked so hard.

How do i approach this, should i finish my degree and hate it? should i quit and face something else, somehow?

I understand.

I would get a medical and psychological evaluation as previously suggested. Medicine might be needed for your brain health.

I would complete the program. Once you have your degree you can go into other areas of veterinary medicine other than direct care. Veterinarians are involved in research at pharmaceutical companies, they work for government agencies, they work in public health, etc. There are other choices. Your education and your degree are highly valuable and will create opportunities for you that you might not otherwise have.
 
OP
S

somevetstudent

2+ Year Member
Jul 28, 2016
5
1
Wow, you guys are just amazing.

its very encourging to hear your stories and this helps me a lot to get back in track.

I've decided, not to pursue my veterinary degree for now. i'm exploring new interests and trying to relax (Man, i didn't relax in a long time). The reason i do it is because if i will finish vet school, i know that i won't be happy with what i do. Life is short and i should get the most of it, doing something i genuinely love.

@RadRadTerp and @Lab Vet and @Gemgrrrl, i really cant describe how much your posts have inspired me. i've went back to my country and got a job offer in a software firm to be a programmer. they gonna pay for my education if i will prove my self to get a long term job. the best part is, the job offer is still open and i might take it, just to take some time off, maybe i'll do another degree later, maybe i won't, who knows, who cares, i just want to start enjoying my life. i'm still thinking about that job offer.

I need to get my sh1t together, then i will make a plan on what i wanna be, and how i get there.

The only question i have, espcially for @Lab Vet is - how to you get over those X years you have invested? i've invested 3 years, and even though i had a lot of experiences, i cant get over the fact i could have been in thiland the whole time with a cocktail in each of my hands... or get a bachelor degree in that time. All my friends have already got their bachelor and its kinda make me feel like a loser. Do you think a psychologist could help with that?
 

Lab Vet

Clinical Veterinarian, Global CRO
7+ Year Member
Aug 6, 2011
744
871
Massachusetts
Status
Veterinarian
Wow, you guys are just amazing.

its very encourging to hear your stories and this helps me a lot to get back in track.

I've decided, not to pursue my veterinary degree for now. i'm exploring new interests and trying to relax (Man, i didn't relax in a long time). The reason i do it is because if i will finish vet school, i know that i won't be happy with what i do. Life is short and i should get the most of it, doing something i genuinely love.

@RadRadTerp and @Lab Vet and @Gemgrrrl, i really cant describe how much your posts have inspired me. i've went back to my country and got a job offer in a software firm to be a programmer. they gonna pay for my education if i will prove my self to get a long term job. the best part is, the job offer is still open and i might take it, just to take some time off, maybe i'll do another degree later, maybe i won't, who knows, who cares, i just want to start enjoying my life. i'm still thinking about that job offer.

I need to get my sh1t together, then i will make a plan on what i wanna be, and how i get there.

The only question i have, espcially for @Lab Vet is - how to you get over those X years you have invested? i've invested 3 years, and even though i had a lot of experiences, i cant get over the fact i could have been in thiland the whole time with a cocktail in each of my hands... or get a bachelor degree in that time. All my friends have already got their bachelor and its kinda make me feel like a loser. Do you think a psychologist could help with that?
I'm glad that you made a decision in favor of your happiness.

The question you ask is an excellent one, doesn't have an easy answer, and likely differs from person to person.

I was angry and bitter for a number of years when I left; angry at the program for not having the oversight I expected, angry at my adviser for not supervising me the way I wanted him to, angry at myself for not being capable of adapting to the system that existed (versus what I expected it to be), angry that I didn't live up to the expectation and goals that I had set for myself. What lifted this burden of negativity was a slow-growing awareness that I made the decision to attend grad school under false pretenses. Way deep down, at heart, I didn't want to be an academic scientist (with all that the job entailed). I didn't love ALL of the work that academics do (chiefly grant and manuscript writing) sufficiently to push me to be successful in the role over the long haul. What I really wanted out of grad school was a master-apprentice relationship that would teach me the 'art' of science. My undergrad research adviser was somewhat like this, but my grad adviser was not. He showed me the lab and all of its equipment, followed by a telling statement: 'Good luck- do your PhD and I'll be here to back you up.' That's exactly the way it was, for years. He expected complete independence, with only minimal technical support from him, and that crushed my spirit.

For the longest time, I was very self-righteous in my anger. I believed I had a right to be angry, and that the world (especially my adviser) owed me something and had wronged me. The truth was, this wasn't the case. My adviser did his job, and did it well: He provided me with all of the necessary resources I needed to teach myself how to be a scientist. He was a master politician, and was heavily invested in his students understanding how the academic game is really played: through networking, at meetings and conferences, and in the halls of the study section, where funding decisions are made. Too bad for him and for me that I wasn't interested in learning those skills. I did, begrudgingly, but it wasn't what I had moved my life across the country for. I had visions of my adviser and I working on projects side-by-side, day-in and day-out. This was a a fantasy that was unrealistic, and simply didn't happen. Holding out for it (instead of accepting what was) only made it worse.

What I'm trying to say is that a difference between expectation and reality was the problem in my case. My expectations were unrealistic, and if I'm truthful, impossible for any human to meet.

My adviser wasn't my father, guru, or best friend....nor should I have expected him to be. I think he realized my struggle with this long before I really understood what my problem was, but didn't know how to help me. I had essentially hog-tied him by forcing him into an expectation he could never meet. That's too much pressure for any human being to live up to. I set him up to fail from the outset.

Once I realized that, and recognized that my expectations were the cause of my suffering, my recovery went much more smoothly. I forgave my adviser for not being what I wanted him to be. Now when I think of him, I have only fond, happy memories of my interactions with him. I now remember only the good times in grad school, instead of the bad. The painful memories have faded far into the background.

In terms of moving forward with my career goals, it was a slow process. Accepting responsibility for your own happiness and success is a big step. Once you realize that you have the power to change your life, setting goals and reaching them becomes a matter of technicality.

As I mentioned previously, I wouldn't change a thing about how my life worked out. Those were some painful years, but I learned a ton about myself that I couldn't have learned any other way. My adviser and friends from grad school are still important people in my life, and I never lost my love of science. I also have grad school to thank for introducing me to my current career passion- lab animal medicine. Overall, it was a huge win. It really doesn't matter to me (now, at this stage) that I don't have the degree. I got something way more important (personal growth and self-actualization), and no one can ever take that away from me.

Would a psychologist help? It depends. It depends a lot on you and whether or not you're ready to invest the hard yard into personal change. It depends on your relationship with the psychologist, and whether his/her treatment modality and style match your personal goals. I've been seeing a psychologist weekly for the past 5 years. When I relocated geographically for vet school, my therapist and I made the joint decision to continue my sessions via Skype. I'm glad we did, as the continuity in treatment is important for outcome. Therapy doesn't work for every person and every problem. I, however, am a big believer. The process has helped me in a number of ways. If you go down this road (and expect it to be successful), be prepared to put some hard work into introspection. Often times, you may not like what you see within yourself. Therapists aren't magic- they don't wave a wand and make your life better for you. What they can do is illuminate areas in your life that you have the power to change. They push you to confront debilitating patterns, and help you to overcome fear. At the end of the day, though, it is you that must change.

Best of success! I hope that you find the happiness that you seek. This is a journey ubiquitous to the human condition. No matter who you are or where you come from, this question must be confronted. Consider yourself fortunate that you have the opportunity to pursue a career choice. Many people aren't so lucky, and need to frame their idea of happiness in the context of resources available to them. Keep us updated as to how things work out.
 

dyachei

vet robot pirate zombie
Staff member
Administrator
10+ Year Member
Mar 9, 2007
24,791
18,187
Status
Veterinarian
I'm glad that you made a decision in favor of your happiness.

The question you ask is an excellent one, doesn't have an easy answer, and likely differs from person to person.

I was angry and bitter for a number of years when I left; angry at the program for not having the oversight I expected, angry at my adviser for not supervising me the way I wanted him to, angry at myself for not being capable of adapting to the system that existed (versus what I expected it to be), angry that I didn't live up to the expectation and goals that I had set for myself. What lifted this burden of negativity was a slow-growing awareness that I made the decision to attend grad school under false pretenses. Way deep down, at heart, I didn't want to be an academic scientist (with all that the job entailed). I didn't love ALL of the work that academics do (chiefly grant and manuscript writing) sufficiently to push me to be successful in the role over the long haul. What I really wanted out of grad school was a master-apprentice relationship that would teach me the 'art' of science. My undergrad research adviser was somewhat like this, but my grad adviser was not. He showed me the lab and all of its equipment, followed by a telling statement: 'Good luck- do your PhD and I'll be here to back you up.' That's exactly the way it was, for years. He expected complete independence, with only minimal technical support from him, and that crushed my spirit.

For the longest time, I was very self-righteous in my anger. I believed I had a right to be angry, and that the world (especially my adviser) owed me something and had wronged me. The truth was, this wasn't the case. My adviser did his job, and did it well: He provided me with all of the necessary resources I needed to teach myself how to be a scientist. He was a master politician, and was heavily invested in his students understanding how the academic game is really played: through networking, at meetings and conferences, and in the halls of the study section, where funding decisions are made. Too bad for him and for me that I wasn't interested in learning those skills. I did, begrudgingly, but it wasn't what I had moved my life across the country for. I had visions of my adviser and I working on projects side-by-side, day-in and day-out. This was a a fantasy that was unrealistic, and simply didn't happen. Holding out for it (instead of accepting what was) only made it worse.

What I'm trying to say is that a difference between expectation and reality was the problem in my case. My expectations were unrealistic, and if I'm truthful, impossible for any human to meet.

My adviser wasn't my father, guru, or best friend....nor should I have expected him to be. I think he realized my struggle with this long before I really understood what my problem was, but didn't know how to help me. I had essentially hog-tied him by forcing him into an expectation he could never meet. That's too much pressure for any human being to live up to. I set him up to fail from the outset.

Once I realized that, and recognized that my expectations were the cause of my suffering, my recovery went much more smoothly. I forgave my adviser for not being what I wanted him to be. Now when I think of him, I have only fond, happy memories of my interactions with him. I now remember only the good times in grad school, instead of the bad. The painful memories have faded far into the background.

In terms of moving forward with my career goals, it was a slow process. Accepting responsibility for your own happiness and success is a big step. Once you realize that you have the power to change your life, setting goals and reaching them becomes a matter of technicality.

As I mentioned previously, I wouldn't change a thing about how my life worked out. Those were some painful years, but I learned a ton about myself that I couldn't have learned any other way. My adviser and friends from grad school are still important people in my life, and I never lost my love of science. I also have grad school to thank for introducing me to my current career passion- lab animal medicine. Overall, it was a huge win. It really doesn't matter to me (now, at this stage) that I don't have the degree. I got something way more important (personal growth and self-actualization), and no one can ever take that away from me.

Would a psychologist help? It depends. It depends a lot on you and whether or not you're ready to invest the hard yard into personal change. It depends on your relationship with the psychologist, and whether his/her treatment modality and style match your personal goals. I've been seeing a psychologist weekly for the past 5 years. When I relocated geographically for vet school, my therapist and I made the joint decision to continue my sessions via Skype. I'm glad we did, as the continuity in treatment is important for outcome. Therapy doesn't work for every person and every problem. I, however, am a big believer. The process has helped me in a number of ways. If you go down this road (and expect it to be successful), be prepared to put some hard work into introspection. Often times, you may not like what you see within yourself. Therapists aren't magic- they don't wave a wand and make your life better for you. What they can do is illuminate areas in your life that you have the power to change. They push you to confront debilitating patterns, and help you to overcome fear. At the end of the day, though, it is you that must change.

Best of success! I hope that you find the happiness that you seek. This is a journey ubiquitous to the human condition. No matter who you are or where you come from, this question must be confronted. Consider yourself fortunate that you have the opportunity to pursue a career choice. Many people aren't so lucky, and need to frame their idea of happiness in the context of resources available to them. Keep us updated as to how things work out.
Just sent @Lab Vet a $10 Amazon gift card for this extremely helpful post. :)
 
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