Post Graduation Depression Ruined My Life (and other stories for graduates)
This is a long post where I dive into how post graduation I felt super depressed and ended up quitting my job and lying on the couch and crying everyday. It’s going to be long, it’s going to be real, and it’s going to shed some light on what happens when the colour drains from your life and you feel trapped in a situation you put yourself in. Then I shed some light on how I got the colour back into my life, and how there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s get stuck into it, with the first thing I asked myself when I graduated.
What happens after you graduate?
Well, in my case, post-grad saw me move to London with my boyfriend and start work as a marketing and communications intern! All the pieces of my life seemed to be falling into place and, from the outside, seemed pretty idyllic - and for a few months they totally were. Getting the keys to our first home together was a great day and moving in with George was super fun. Then work started and I was so excited to share all my ideas with the company I was working for and really kick-start my career. Then after a few weeks, the summer sun started to fade away. Summer fades into autumn and a graduate fades into a functioning adult. Well, somewhere along what was meant to be the fade into adulthood I got stuck. I felt like I was stuck in some kind of time-loop. My job was not as fulfilling as I was expecting it to be and I was beginning to feel very trapped. I wasn’t really sure what to do, but after a few discussions with George and my parents, I came up with the ultimate 6 step guide to curing my post-grad depression.
Step One: Find a job you actually love
The job hunt for a position that would bring joy back into my life was step one. I was one of the lucky few who didn’t have to look too long before finding my dream job! I couldn’t believe my luck at my circumstances and I was told that after graduation you should take any opportunity that comes your way because when you’re young you have all the time and energy in the world for it! So I applied and got offered this dream job. I cried the day I got it because I was so happy that things were finally falling into place. I was going to start on Monday and everything was going to be great.
Monday comes and I’m on my way to my dream job. Life is great. This continues on for a few weeks and then one day I’m typing away on my laptop and something just gives. I began to cry uncontrollably and I had to excuse myself for some air. I stood outside on the streets of London bawling my eyes out because I felt like I didn’t belong here. The once colourful streets of Central London turned grey right before my eyes and I couldn’t stop it. I knew what was happening and immediately texted my therapist. This wasn’t my first rodeo. We spoke for a while and set up a session. I thought I was over this. The anxiety ridden days of high school and university should be over by now. So what the FUCK is going on? How did I get here?
Step Two: Wait, What the fuck?
I woke up everyday wanting to get hit by a bus so I wouldn’t need to go to work. What the hell. I thought this was my dream job and now my life feels like a fucking nightmare. This went on for weeks and I began to actually get physically ill. Runny noses, fevers, and nausea came and went like the days and whatever water I put into my body came out as tears because the perfect life I thought I was living was not so perfect after all. I stopped speaking to my friends, leaving the house when it wasn’t for work, or doing anything other than sit on the couch and watch YouTube videos because what else was there to do? In my head, there was nothing other than the grey days and restless nights.
For any armchair psychologists, I’m sure this kind of desaturation of everything just screams depression to you and oh boy, it was. I became absolutely awful at my job, I became a worse partner and roommate, and I was probably the worst friend I could be. I didn’t know what to do or where to go or anything.
Step Three: Quit
I think it was decided that since I couldn’t be trusted to safely walk to and from the train station by myself, it was time to call it quits and focus on fixing my brain. It’s the most important organ in my body and it was not doing so good and I wasn’t helping. I quit the “dream job” after just 2 months and powered through my last month there with the last few fucks I had to give. Then it was all over.
In just 6 months post-graduation, I had managed to fuck it all up. I went through 2 jobs and left them in less than ideal ways and I has just shut down as a person because what was the point. I was back in therapy and I felt like I had regressed years. Then it started to get a little easier. After a few weeks of therapy and a lot of crying on the couch and watching cartoons, things started looking up.
Step Four: New Year, New Me
January 2019! As with each new year it was time to reevaluate and figure out what happens now. After a turbulent 6 months and no idea what was going on it was time to actually figure it out. The plan was to head back to London and look for an actual dream job and go from there. So I hopped on a plane and got to try again.
This was all well and good for a while, but I still felt trapped. I had royally fucked up the months before and who is really going to hire someone who couldn’t hold down a job for more than 3 months? Turns out no one. Job hunting is gruelling and from January to March, that grey cloud started to hover back near me. Imposter syndrome was setting in alongside my old pal, anxiety. It was becoming another nightmare.
Step Five: Rinse and Repeat
Sooooo it was back to some tried and true self care techniques. I looked over some self-help books that really helped me out. I played some games. I slept earlier, ate better, and pushed myself to go back to the gym more regularly. And then it started to get better.
Step Six: Slow and Steady
Here we are at present day. Things are slow and steady and all the good habits I picked back up again in step five have more or less stuck, albeit with a handful more cheat days because I decided to just pour myself into my blog and YouTube and anything else creative that resembles the kind of work I’d like to be doing full time. I’ve been looking into online courses and trying to self-teach myself a few more skills that according to research would be useful for my dream career. Since we’re almost a year out from graduation, sweet summer internship spots are opening up again so I’ve been applying, expecting the worst, and hoping for the best.
At the end of the day, my journey with post-grad depression is likely not quite over yet, but I can take the days as they come and maybe for once listen to my mum when she says that everything is going to be fine. For any of my graduate pals out there who are feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. For me it felt like the end of the world when I couldn’t commit to what was originally planned because I really thought I was going to be a failure of a human being if I didn’t do everything “by the book”. But here I am, almost a year later, mentally 1000x better than I was back then and learning to build up healthy habits so that I can put my best self forward every single day.
SO, that is my story about post-grad depression “ruining my life”. When I was in the thick of it, it really did feel like my life was over and that because of a couple of mistakes I would never be able to come back from it, but now looking back I can tell you that desaturated brains will never be able to see how colourful life actually is. I’m glad I took the time to go back to therapy when I recognised I needed it and I’m glad I actually reached out to my friends and listened to them when they said they cared. I’m hoping by sharing my story like this, if you’re going through something particularly tough, you recognise that it’s just a rough patch and not the end. You can do it.
Until next time,