My story begins some years ago. Seven years ago I started my studies and did Physics and Mathematics. At the time i suffered depressions on and off, and the symptoms really told; I could vary between acing my exams and failing miserably depending on which state I was in. I told the head of department about the situation (lets skip the reason why). As a result, it was spread around and today most departments know about it, either from him or having seen it themselves. My studies failed; this culminated in me having to interrupt my Masterstudies in the middle of the project. (The bachelor project in itself went rather well). Some courses were unfinished.

My grades vary but are nowadays mostly good; after a while I learned that while in the slumps there is no use to take the exams and so I took them only when feeling good. As a result I have today, with some few exceptions, what must surely be a honors degree (mostly A- och B-grades and some Cs, one or two Ds). (This after cleaning up some old unifinished courses when I was in a better shape some two or three years later.)

Since two years or so, I have been essentially depression free and my life is good. I function, handle school, the social life and everything well. Within some months I will finish a Masters project in Mathematics and I feel good about it. My supervisor always gives me alot of good critizism/feedback about how I write my work and I get the feeling that the work is converging towards something of a quality that is not bad at all.

However, as most departments have heard, I have had the depressions, and I by chance ran into/overheard when one senior employee passed this information along as I went from one department to another. As a result I have some enemies and no department would take me in for a PhD. I was told by my supervisor that I should forget a PhD at my current Mathematics Department. He was however, optimistic when I mentioned studying abroad. I have not talked too much with other people about studying abroad for a PhD (although now when I am essentially healthy, this is what I want). I think about consulting the other people about LOR for abroad PhD studies.

My questions:

  • What are my chances of getting a PhD with this back-ground? If my adviser writes me a LOR, will he be forced to mention my depression background? (He is well aware of it). Do you expect general reluctance towards recommending a student like me?

  • Is it ethical of them to pass this information on? Should I decide that I want to report this, what are common venues to pursue this?

closed as off-topic by xLeitix, gman, jakebeal, user6726, Enthusiastic Engineer Oct 8 '15 at 16:53

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "The answer to this question strongly depends on individual factors such as a certain person’s preferences, a given institution’s regulations, the exact contents of your work or your personal values. Thus only someone familiar can answer this question and it cannot be generalised to apply to others. (See this discussion for more info.)" – xLeitix, gman, jakebeal, user6726, Enthusiastic Engineer
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    A couple questions: twice you say that "most departments know" about you. Could you please scope that statement? For instance in my mathematics department in Georgia we have not heard the story of the undergraduate mathematics / physics major who alternates between....Second you write "As a result I have today, with some few exceptions, what must surely be a honors degree". You've lost me here. Either you have an honors degree or not. I don't know what it means to have a degree "with some few exceptions". – Pete L. Clark Oct 8 '15 at 13:35
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    And a third question: "What I see with this is mainly the ass-kissing between departments and many employees that are between the junior and senior level and want to make professor would probably want to scratch some backs by reporting this." I have no idea what reporting a student's health problems has to do with ass-kissing, social climbing or back scratching. I get maybe a small whiff of paranoia from this. "To what extent would the lie in the courts about this?" Here I am completely lost. – Pete L. Clark Oct 8 '15 at 13:38
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    A question whose first sentence is "My story begins some years ago." has a very high chance of being too localized. I feel this is the case here (and even if not, there is a whole lot of personal backstory that should be removed before this becomes suitable for this site). – xLeitix Oct 8 '15 at 14:56
  • I made some changes to bring the question more in line with the focus of Acad. SE (subjective guesses and judgements are not). If you are unhappy with the changes, you can roll them back to your old version. Kindly consider tightening the main body up too, while addressing @Pete 's clarifying questions. – gnometorule Oct 8 '15 at 16:22
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    The details still do not make much sense to me, but maybe you are coming from a very different part of the academic world. Universities that I know have dozens of academic departments; the percentage of departments at my university for which I have conversed with any faculty member about anything is maybe 10-20%. Even if you do have a reputation in, say, the Slavic Languages department, I don't see how that could be relevant to you. You should certainly apply to PhD programs in other universities than your own. I promise that your reputation will usually not precede you. – Pete L. Clark Oct 8 '15 at 20:25

I assume institutions will want some background on your past 7 years. It may be hard to get into higher ranked institutions, but perhaps lower ranked institutions may be more accommodating. I'm not sure what you mean by "abroad' though, and you didn't mention your career goals. There are many great institutions around the world in mathematics and physics, such as in various EU/Nordic countries, USA, Canada, Australia, India, Pakistan, Gulf Countries, Russia, Korea, and Japan. I've heard from a prospective PhD student, although have not verified, that sometimes institutions in various countries will be willing to reduce the application standard for Western applicants.

  • @gnometorule Thanks for mentioning that, I misread the question. I appreciate the catch. – user42055 Oct 8 '15 at 16:34
  • My current career-goal is a PhD in mathematics. In the long run I would like to do research in pure mathematics. – Vertex Oct 8 '15 at 17:27

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