One of the things that I have seen people post and write about lately, is post-grad depression. Now at first I know that might seem kind of strange, after all, isn’t graduation supposed to be a happy time and all the celebration, and things like that happening. While that’s true, I think post-grad depression is something that settles in later and is something that people don’t really talk about.
Obviously, it’s easy to talk about the depression that comes into play with the job hunt. Or the depression that comes from being underemployed or being away from your friends. But what about the depression that comes from the loss of routine, the loss of structure?
The way the education system is set up, and the way that we are primed to go right into college and then right into grad school for some folks, means that most of our lives and most of our really formative years of and then early adulthood are spent with these set routines. Sure, some choices are freely made such as the college you choose to go to and your major, but the rest of it is carefully routined, so much so I don’t think we think about it much. No one ever stops to talk about the fact that we take classes in a certain order or that the school year repeats a certain calendar or the fact that school events take place around the same time every year. Our lives become so programmed, do this, do that, eat now, that we don't always realize it.
Then graduation happens, and for the first time ever really for some of us, all of our choices are our own. All of a sudden there is no set routine, no more of do this-then that, no secchdule that is pre-planned for us, and while at first, that is so exciting, it can quickly become scary and downright depressing. Add into this, a job search that may come up empty, and an individual is ripe to experience a depression.
Personally, I know that this is what happened to me. After being in school for all of my life and taking the straight-through path, I didn’t know what to do with my time or my decisions. I found that retreating home and starting a job search that has had many ups and downs became what I was doing for better and for worse. Although I know my head is clearer, I think for awhile I was experiencing a post-grad depression, due to the loss of academic routines and stimulation, compounded by a lackluster job search and becoming underemployed.
So with people talking more, and rightfully so about this reality, and my own experiences with it, here are my tips for dealing with post-grad depression.
Recognize what’s happening - As always, the first step with things like this is to recognize what is happening. Now, this can look different for different people and may not be what you think. Perhaps, it looks more like irritability or annoyance. It could look like anger or being testy. It could look anxious and jumpy. It could look like anything out of the norm for you that is causing an effect on your life and daily. Before you can deal with post-grad depression, you have to know that you are post-grad depression compared to experiencing something else.
Keep in touch with your friends - Seriously, as hard as it can be with new things in the way, like distance. One of the best things that you can do is to keep in touch with your friends. In a real authentic way, more than just watching them live their lives on social media.
Get a hobby - Hobbies are life savors! Seriously, post-graduation is the time to try out some of those things that you wanted to try out but never really had the time to do before. Now it is your time to do it! Time to start that blog, try that new exercise, read that book you’ve had your eyes on. Getting something to do is one of the best things you can do for yourself in the time when the bored seems endless.
Set Goals - Set goals and realistic expectations for yourself. Life is a series of choices, and now more than ever before all the choices are your own. What do you want your life to look like? What do you need to do to get there? What is the first step to take? I’m all about setting realistic goals, and you can see more goalposts here and here.
Wait it out- Lastly, wait it out. Post-grad depression is a real experience and it sucks just as much as any other experience of depression or a depression period. It takes some time, but time and as your life regains routine through work and starts to take the shape that you want, the depression is likely to begin to recede.