Sidebar: Am I the only one who didn’t know about post-grad depression BEFORE I graduated?
There are so many at that post-undergrad age that seems to have everything figured out as per social media. There’s an even bigger number of people that are trying to get it all together. I’m a part of the latter squad. With all the uncertainties that come with adulthood, it’s no surprise that post-grad depression is a real thing that is alive and well.
Undergrad was golden. For most people, it’s your first taste of “independence”. Your main responsibilities included passing your classes, maybe picking up a part-time job or internship and trying not to end up in a drunk tank come the weekend. For 4-ish years we worked hard and played harder. Then the time we waited for so long comes–graduation. Besides landing a job (maybe) I don’t think we fully thought about what life as an adult was going to be.
I feel like my post-graduate depression was delayed a bit. I was one of the people who left undergrad and went right into working full-time. My everyday reality wasn’t stalking recruiters on Linkedin or creating 6 different versions of my resume to send out 20 times a day. However once, I took the time to ask myself why I was working a stressful job that didn’t interest me, it hit me hard. My mind pretty much ran in “what if” mode especially after I decided to leave my borderline depressing job.
Post-graduate depression hits you like a ton of bricks. Not all depression looks like someone walking around sulking all day like Eeyore. There are so many recent grads that are all smiles, working their “dream job” but deep down inside are freaking out over what’s next. Or working jobs outside of the field that they actually love all the while pretending everything is all good. My personal narrative: I worked a job I pretty much hated for a year and now I’m pressing reset trying to figure it all out. Yes, I planned a bit to make sure I don’t go crazy while figuring out but it is a depressive, anxiety filled process.
Now that I reflect on my own experience with post-grad depression, I came to the following conclusions.
Structure is essential for human sanity
When you were in undergrad no matter how much you turned up, you knew that they were things that had to be done regardless. School, work, internships don’t take but so many excuses. The uncertainty of what your day will hold will hit you particularly hard if you’re not working or doing something that requires structure.
Parents telling us to stop wishing to be grown was actually a warning and not an annoying parent thing
I sure understand why. I actually don’t even want to talk about it.
It is totally okay not to be okay
And we need to stop thinking otherwise. Instead of acting like our shit doesn’t stink we need to be comfortable with sharing our experiences. It’s so refreshing to know you’re not alone in the struggle. Adulthood doesn’t mean that you don’t have right to seek guidance from someone or be ashamed of not having it all together.
Self-Care is a must not a luxury
You beat yourself up enough by being a worrywart. Take a little time to treat yourself kindly. Wash your hair which currently looks like a birds nest. Take a calming bath instead of the rushed shower. Do something to show yourself that if anyone cares, you do.
Talking about it may be difficult
But you need to do it. Yeah, the person on the other end may not fully get it. Or you may not even be able to put it in words. Either way, there’s no harm in trying at all. As difficult as it may be, try putting your thoughts in words. Even it’s on paper.
Channel these negative vibes into something
The key is to get out of your own head. Picking up a hobby is a great way to do that because if anything you get some times out of your bag. Start a blog, grab an adult coloring or even go to church outside of Easter Sunday. Add some joy back into your life.
No choice you make right now is the end all be all
You’re probably about 21-27 at the moment. Do you really think if you make ONE bad decision right now that your life is over? Absolutely not. The great thing about your 20’s is that that you have quite some time to fuck up without being a fuck up overall. Use it to your advantage.
I’m happy to have peers and friends that can so openly speak about our post-grad depression, anxiety, and struggles without judgment. Just know, that YOU are not alone in this fight. This is the process before the progress.
A a recent (or fairly recent) college grad, have you experienced this?