Dealing with Post-Grad Depression

Friday, February 22, 2019

If I can be candid, it has taken me months to write this as a follow-up to my very first post on my Post-Graduation Waiting Period. It's not because I didn't want to share my experience; rather, it was because I was convinced that everyone would think I was silly for admitting that I was going through depression as a result of not being in school. Yes, I have been experiencing post-graduation depression for the last several months (it feels like a relief to say that).

Simply put, post-graduation depression is triggered by the lack of structure that a life in academia provides. For those that don't know, I went straight into my Master's program immediately after getting my Bachelors degree; so, I've had the structure of school for my entire life. My identity always included school; thus, despite the excitement of graduation, losing that part of my identity hit me pretty hard.

Sure, I was/am relieved to not be bound by deadlines and group projects and evening classes; but, I left all of that behind to step into a world overwhelmed by student loan debt, living paycheck to paycheck and adulting. Sure, I now have the job that I was praying for everyday for 3.5 months after graduation; however, that transition from working and going to school full-time to a full-time career has not been easy.

I no longer have the security that I'd found in school and that makes me uncomfortable and quite frankly, sad. I have been eating non-stop (so I've gained a lot of weight), I haven't yet gotten back into a consistent workout routine (so I've been unable to lose said weight) and, in place of a busy academic calendar, I have continuously added task on task and event on event to my schedule to keep myself busy - I started this blog at what was also the start of Fall semester (that wasn't by coincidence). Because I've been in school for so long, it feels wrong to sit still and I'm constantly questioning "what's next?"
 or "what should I be doing?"

Amongst other things, our professors and advisors neglect to prepare us for the reality that will come for our ENTIRE lives once we graduate. So, I want to share with you a few things that I have learned in the last few months and offer some practical steps you can take if you find yourself experiencing post-graduation depression.

Don't reset, adjust. Don't feel obligated to reset to social standards of time. My supervisor gave me a great suggestion to continue operating in academic increments. Meaning, rather than trying to adjust to fiscal years and such, allow yourself to continue flowing within a system that has worked for you. You might not have the same things to do; but, you can still utilize the structure of an academic calendar. Work with what you know.
Be present where you are. Don't overwhelm yourself with the pressure of "what's next?" There is no need for you to stretch yourself thin as you journey through this season of transition. Take each day as it comes and let tomorrow worry about itself. 
Set short term goals...and celebrate every. single. one. A sister of mine, Lo, told me that right now I have to intentionally take pride in what I've done, and what I am currently doing well. It may not look like the accolades and certificates we got in school; but, celebrate and appreciate where you are. Trust that when your territory expands (and it will), you will have all you need in order to continue doing well. 
Give yourself some grace. You are doing your very best. Extend the same grace to yourself that you extend to others daily. I am constantly reminding myself to do this. Healing is not linear so trust the process. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you've made. Praise yourself for getting out of the bed every morning. Speak love and positivity over yourself constantly and be patient with your journey.
Release. TALK ABOUT IT. It took me months to articulate how I was feeling and by the time I could, it felt silly to say it out loud. Don't be silenced by the pressure of all you're going through and the fear that no one will hear you. You are not alone. Find a therapist, confide in your tribe. Lean into your support system. 
Rest. You have to protect your vessel. This means that you don't have to accept every invitation on your off-days and you don't have to always be doing something. Allow your body to rest without feeling guilty about sleeping in or laying on the couch all day. Sure, I know you're amazing at a lot of things; but, you do not have to be doing those things every minute of every day. You are no good to yourself, or your talents, if you do not allow yourself to rest. Be still.

With Blessings & Imperfections,

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“You have always been a blessed thing, and goodness has no trouble finding you because goodness is what you deserve." – Upile Chisala