I'm at the end of my second year in a top chemistry Ph.D. program in the US. Unfortunately, I've been struggling a lot with depression and low energy: I'm having a lot of personal issues, no support system, barely any family/friends, my home country is at war, and to make things even worse, I picked a terrible project. I’ve even started seeing a therapist even though normally, I’d never do something like that. I feel like my mental struggles contributed to this situation…
Anyway, I've been working on this project for 2 years, and almost all the results I have are either negative or not quite what we wanted. Frankly, I think my PI is chasing research goals that are not feasible and that this project is a fool’s errand, which is basically what my candidacy committee said too.
My PI talked with me recently and said that he doesn't see a path forward and that not all people are meant to get a Ph.D. He only casually talked to me about the things he wanted me to improve before, but he never communicated it was THAT serious. I was trying to fix the things he wanted me to fix, but with everything that was going on, it was problematic. It came as a shock also because he said that he knows this project is hard, that I’d been working hard, and that my research progress is fine. The issue is not my research progress though, but rather a combination of other things - both minor and not. For instance, I spilled a liter of solvent once, and I forgot about a one-on-one meeting once or twice over these 2 years (because I was focused on the labwork or writing something up). But his major concern apparently, is how I prepared my research prospectus (for the qualifying exam) and some of the internal research presentations (each member of his research group prepares a research presentation every couple months). With how I’ve been feeling and with how the project is going, I didn’t have enough energy to streamline them. So my last internal presentation for the group meeting was pretty bad (although in my mind, 0 results is 0 results regardless of how nice my presentation looks). And my prospectus…Well, I had to redo it. This is my 2nd time fixing it. I had to retake my candidacy exam and got a conditional pass after the second attempt. The committee didn’t like the project, and here, I 100% agree with them. They said I have a stellar GPA and told me I’m super smart and all, but none of that matters here since this doesn’t help. I should submit the prospectus (proposal basically) this week, but I’m kicked out of the group regardless.
What now? If they do pass me, I can try to find another lab at this university, but should I? And if I have to apply to another Ph.D. program, it creates visa issues: I can’t go back to my home country while applying. Any advice?
I apologize if this is incoherent: I’m still kinda shell-shocked.