In my early years of graduate school, I was told by one of my advisers that I should leave with the terminal masters because I did not think in the way that would be conducive to receiving a degree in my field. She told me that I would be flagged, which to my knowledge meant that no one would want to work with me or be associated with me. This experience stayed with me for years as I never gained confidence as a scholar and researcher. Every time I felt like I failed, her words haunted me. Every time I felt I succeeded, I never believed it because her words still haunted me. I became depressed and developed anxiety over the years. I eventually hit a point where my quality of life was completely stunted. My body would not allow me to leave the house because I was dealing with issues related to my reproductive health. What was even more difficult is the embarrassment of having to explain these issues related to my reproductive health over and over again in my department because physically, I looked healthy.
After two years of dealing with my health issues, I finally had surgery (thankfully covered by the university health insurance), but the surgery also has some other consequences. The department provided some support to allow me to heal. However I think some of the health issues I had in graduate school was directly related to my negative experiences as a graduate student. I wonder if my experiences would have been different if I was in a more supportive space. In graduate school, I have dealt with one health issue to another and I really believe that once I finish, these health issues will also disappear. Graduate school wasn’t a place for me as a woman of color to feel safe, to feel intelligent or to feel that I was living up to my potential. At this point, I don't feel like it is a space for me to thrive due to what I've already mentioned and number of other encounters in graduate school and that's why I am choosing to leave it.