Depression in College Graduates
It’s amazing how your life can change in a matter of months. One day you are a happy college graduate full of faith and optimism and almost five months later you look in the mirror and don’t recognize who you are. Despite having a very public blog, I’m a very private person. I don’t share things about personal things like my relationships, finances, and personal struggles. I always alluded to the fact that I struggled with an eating disorder but when I shared a personal letter that I’d written to my body, I got so much positive feedback. I received emails from other women…mostly black girls who found comfort and support in me sharing my experience as a minority with a disorder not often talked about in our communities. So after weeks and weeks of me creating then deleting this blog post I decided to share my bout with depression. Millions of Americans suffer with this disease including a population that is often overlooked…recent college graduates. Depression is so variable. It doesn’t look the same in any two people. There are people who show the typical symptoms of a depressed person and there are those who are able to hide it without other’s knowing, That’s the thing about depression, it’s a silent disease. And a lot of people don’t want to talk about it. But I do.
I’ve always been a high achieving person both personally and academically. At my graduation party my mom displayed every award, certificate, and tangible achievement that I’ve ever had from pre-K to senior year of college. It’s definitely something for me to be proud of. I’m a perfectionist and I’ve found my identity in my achievements so when I graduated without a decent job offer, that was really hard for me. I was sad but I convinced myself that it was okay. Tons of recent graduates don’t get jobs right away. I just needed to trust God and be faithful. It was going to be fine. I went to Vegas to celebrate and when I came back I started a short term contract event planning position for a non-profit. I made sure to continue to interview and network so that I could easily transition from one position to the next. May ended. I was okay, sad sometimes, but happy others. June came and I really begin to feel like a failure. My birthday came (June 19) and I mentally evaluated where I was in my life and I wasn’t pleased. I got sad. I told everyone…and I was adamant that I didn’t want to celebrate in any way, but part of me did. My family and friends respected my wishes and I didn’t have any kind of celebration or receive one gift. That made me even sadder. July came and still no job. By now the money that I saved to help aid in my transition was depleted. The money that I made from my contract position barely covered my rent and basic utilities. My credit card balances were scary. I quit going to church. I got sadder. I found myself crying at random times and I was angry at God. I was also angry at my school. Here I was, the student who did exactly what they told me to do; be involved (I was…sometimes too involved), get an internship (I had 6), work if you can in your industry (I always had at least 2 jobs at a time) and I was still unemployed.
August came . My contract ended and by then I was completely broken. I cried all times of the day. I slept in late. I barely ate..but I still gained weight.I began to get jealous of former classmates who got jobs. My credit card balances were terrifying. And I became the queen of the payment plan. My friends and family really started getting on my nerves. No one understood…and they tried which made it worse. I started a job doing Digital Marketing for a local home design company. I felt positive at first, like everything could be turning around. That was short lived. The work environment was toxic and unrealistic and going there everyday made me even sadder. My first check was decent enough that I decided to stick it out until I found something else but it was so hard to work in office where management literally yells at you and creates project after project…that isn’t even remotely related to your job. After my second check I had to quit. No literally, I had to. My second paycheck returned. I was so mad and so sad. It was fixed within a day or so but still when you are struggling to pay credit card minimums and bills any delay in your pay can cause major issues. It did. Late payments and fees, disconnect notices, and all the other things that’s associated with living check to check. So it’s mid September and I’m back at home, sleeping in, crying, applying for jobs, and interviewing…everyday. I’m really sad.
I started seeing a Christian therapist. This helped tremendously. I was able to talk to someone who didn’t know me, who didn’t offer me stupid advice, and who was able to give both a professional and Christian prognosis of what I needed to do going forward. Tomorrow is October 1. I’m still seeing her…once a week. I’m probably going to start taking an anti-depressant..but that’s okay, because I want to be better. Slowly but surely I feel like things have gotten better. I’m re-affirming my beliefs and faith in God. I’m not mad at my school. I’m still doing small freelance jobs in event planning and digital marketing. And I’m doing an online certificate program online that keeps me busy and gives me a little money.
Depression is so real and I never really understood it until I was diagnosed myself. I feel good somedays…other’s not so much. I still cry randomly…like last night when I had to excuse myself from a fashion show but I think I’m going to get better now that I’m actively working on the issue. There are so many faces of depression…and although mine is different we are all struggling with the same disease. It’s important to make sure that we don’t make this subject taboo. It’s very common…especially among college graduates those unemployed (feeling like a failure) and those that are employed (feeling lost, stressed, or overwhelmed). Post collegiate life is such a big transitional period and it’s a tough one. I’m praying for those who are in similar situations to mine, that we are able to get the help we need and that things turn around.
I wanted to share this with my readers (and advertisers) because it will somewhat explain my inconsistent all over the place posting for the past few months. I almost quit blogging because I didn’t see the point anymore… but I know that me sharing my story can help others and and remove stigma associated with depression. I’m also posting on Linkedin today about dealing with Post Graduation Depression.