9 tips for college graduates coping with post graduate depression
you struggled. adapted. purchased books. lost your way. googled answers to take-home quizzes. struggled some more. emailed professors for extensions. found your wolf pack. joined a couple clubs. found love. made questionable fashion choices. partied. broke up. found ways to get around purchasing books. made enemies. found your way again. mixed dark and light. got back together with bae. dropped some classes. splurged on that refund check (you know which one I’m talking about, too). got serious about your grades.
and graduated. like a boss.
but the pomp and circumstance of it all was short lived.
your diploma hadn’t even been signed, sealed and delivered to you in the mail before everyone was asking “so, what’s next?” mama. daddy. grandpa. nana. pookie. everybody wanted to know. and you were left there struggling to make it all make sense.
for many of us, that was then. but for some of us, that time is now.
post graduate depression, for the sake of this piece, is the self doubt, unhappiness and overall feeling of hopelessness many students experience after graduation — a time when many of us are transitioning from a life of structure and clarity to a life of ambiguity and strife.
i’m not a therapist or counselor, but through personal experience and that of people i know, i’ve picked up on a few tips for combating post graduate depression. and here they are.
9). know the signs.
as with anything in life, you can’t expect to conquer what you don’t confront. and if you’re serious about conquering post graduate depression, you have to be able to recognize the signs. things like increased feelings of helplessness or hopelessness, becoming consumed by your perceived faults and mistakes, a loss of interest in former hobbies, high levels of irritability and an overall loss of energy are some of the many symptoms you could experience after graduation. and the truth is… you’re not the only one. lots of students (myself included) have experienced these things after graduating, but a lot of us weren’t aware that what we were facing at the time was actually something plaguing students across the country. many of us ignored the signs, opting instead to chalk it up to “adulting” as we struggled to make sense of it all. don’t be like those people, though. there’s too many professional resources out there for you to have to deal with this on your own. and that takes me to my next point…
8). try therapy.
if you’ve followed my blog for some time, you probably already know that I am a strong supporter of therapy. i think that, especially within the black community, therapy hasn’t always had the best reputation because we’ve attributed it to something that’s for “crazy” people. and for many of us, we were taught at an early age that we needed to “keep our business” in house which has, in my opinion, prevented us from achieving true healing long term. but it’s 2019, ya’ll. we gotta stop using church as the scapegoat for all of our issues. therapy is the new bag. and with post graduate depression, a therapist may not be such a bad idea. if you’re working and have insurance, you should hit up your provider to see if therapy is covered. and if it’s not, you can low key reach out to your local national alliance on mental illness (nami) for help with finding free (or close to free) mental healthcare in your area.
7). don’t let social media rush you.
i’ma say this.… social media is a wonderful tool when used appropriately. however (comma), it will also send you into a downward spiral if you let it. you have to remember that everyone’s journey after graduation is different. and most importantly, you gotta remember that what we typically post on social media are merely the highlights of our lives (i.e. the things we want you to see). social media has amplified the realization that we aren’t as boastful about our tragedies as we are our triumphs. so, don’t trip. just focus on you. and if you’re in a space where you can’t scroll through your timeline without being affected by what you see, here’s a thought: stop logging in (dramatic pause). it takes a certain level of insanity to continuously subject yourself to something that you know is going to hurt you immediately after. and if you keep on playing, social media will have you out here accepting a job you don’t want for a wage you can’t live on. just so you can post it to on social media for people who don’t matter to give fake credit to a God you don’t serve. yikes.
6). be mindful of who you share your plans with.
if you’re currently experiencing post graduate depression and you’re unable to go to therapy, be extremely mindful of who you choose to go to for help. in most cases, a good place to start would be your parents, a mentor, your pastor, or someone else who has proven to have a vested interest in your success. talking to the wrong people could do more harm than good because everyone with their hand stretched towards you ain’t tryna pull you up. some of them are tryna to keep you where you’re at. and you know the ones i’m talking about, too. they’ll try and talk you outta your plans of achieving more and being better because the things you want to do might be things they can’t do, which brings me to my next point…
5). be intentional about how you spend your time.
college is probably one of the most structured times of our lives. we wake up. we go to class. we grab lunch. we go to more classes. we do homework. we hang out. and repeat. after you’ve gotten used to such a structured life, it’s understandable how venturing into a life after graduation that lacks the structure we were used to may be enough to trigger post graduate depression in a lot of folks. but in the absence of structure you have to create it. choose to spend your time wisely. and no, that does not mean go and apply to graduate school because chances are, if that wasn’t part of your original plan, you’re just going because you have nothing else to do and you don’t want it to seem like you’re falling behind everyone else. that’s not a good enough reason to go to grad school, trust me. you can learn a new hobby, study a new language, whatever. just take the time to get to know yourself a bit and treat your time with the same respect you would of someone you admired. because you, too, are admirable.
4). determine what it is you want to do.
and a part of getting to know yourself entails deciphering what it is you actually want to do. you’d be surprised how many of us went to school and studied something that we’re no longer interested in. that’s ok. your degree is not a life sentence to the field of work you have to do for the rest of your life. if what you studied doesn’t interest you anymore, join the club — we’re always taking new members. but in all seriousness, all that means is that you should give some thought on what it is you want to do. it’s important you do this because if you don’t know what it is what you want, you’ll ultimately allow your circumstances and family to coerce you into a profession that will heighten (rather than alleviate) your post graduate depression. and it ain’t even worth all that. figuring out your [new] goals in life should be one of your first steps in making it all make sense in the long run. and once you have an idea of what you want to do, you can then…
3). prepare for the job that you want.
it takes a certain level of vision to see yourself in a place that has yet to actualize itself in the natural realm. and with the vision, comes provision. you may not have the job experience you want, but you can still get your linkedin together and update that resume. you may think that there’s anyone in your circle that has the capacity to help you, but you can still brush up on your networking skills in preparation for circles you’ve yet to enter. the internet is an amazing tool. use it. because it would be a shame if an opportunity presented itself and you blew it because you didn’t do your part on the front end. feeling sorry for yourself and focusing too much on things beyond your control won’t help you go forward. you’re gonna need to get up, get out and get into it.
2). be thankful for where you are in the journey.
it could always be worse. and there’s someone out there who’d trade places with you in a heartbeat. good or bad, remember that where you are now is not where you’ll be forever.
1). be nice to yourself.
you is smart. you is kind. you is important. and you gon’ be alright.