HOW TO OVERCOME POST GRAD ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION

Two weeks before landing my first job after college, I remember lying in bed crying because I was convinced that I was never going to get a job, it was over for me.

Two months into that job, I was so miserable that I felt as if I did not quit, I would die.

Life after college has not been easy for me or the 46% of college graduates in the UK who admit to their mental health deterioration after college according to a study done by the City Mental Health Alliance. 

What is post grad depression/anxiety?

Post graduation depression/anxiety is not a clinically diagnosed mental illness. It is however a condition common among recent graduates associated with feelings of disappointment, purposelessness, loneliness, anxiety and confusion.

The first few months after my graduation were the most intense months of my life. I begun with life after college with so much optimism, dreams and motivation.

I had good grades and secretely I actually thought I deserved a job for that alone. I had read all the self improvement books they tell you to read and so I thought I had a good handle on life. None of that was true.

A few months on, after failing at starting a business and getting rejections from my first choice jobs, my world came crushing down.

I was greatly discouraged. I was afraid that this would always be my life. I had people I wanted to succeed for and success was taking too long.

All this happened and I felt like there was no one I could talk to. All my friends seemed to either have it so much better or so much worse that I felt bad about complaining.

So I slept almost all day and binge watched TV Series almost all night with short bathroom and social media breaks.

What are the symptoms of post grad depression/anxiety?

The symptoms of post grad depression/anxiety are often deep and intense feelings of frustration and anxiety over the future, a diminishing motivation to do anything productive often because of discouragement and instead spending more and more time sleeping, binge watching, scrolling on social media or partying if they have the friends and money to.



In my case, I would have small panic attacks just because of how uncertain everything seemed. I was so afraid that I would fail at life and let everyone down that my blood pressure actually rose.

I remember spending my days sleeping, watching TV and eating whatever I could get my hand own. I put on a lot of weight and gave myself another thing to be unhappy about.

Yet no one in my family knew because I presented to them a happy face and told them I needed time to sort some things out.

In reality, my confidence and my spirit had taken a very hard hit. I was so discouraged that I did not even want to apply for another job or keep working on the business I had started some time back. I was just so sick of failing and of rejection.

What are the causes of Post grad depression/anxiety?

A lot of different factors may cause post graduation depression/anxiety including the disparity between the graduates expectations and the reality of life after college, the overwhelming life altering decisions that the graduate needs to make, isolation from friends, rejection from potential employers, being broke and unable to take care of oneself, lack of purpose and many more.

Overwhelming life decisions

The first decision you have to make is where to go (or stay) after graduation. Do you move back in with your parents?

Do you go to New York and pursue a dream career that is not guaranteed? Do remain in Utah and try to make a life for yourself there? Do you get an apartment or move in with a friend? Roommates or no roommates?

At the time it often feels like the decision you make will affect the entire trajectory of your life and will box you into it forever and that is just the question on location.

There seems to be a million little daily choices that suddenly hold more weight than just your grade at the end of the semester.

If you are lucky, you are picking between two job offers, each with its own set of pros and cons. The big question of what is your purpose in life and are you on its path is driving you insane.

Here is some advise I wish I had been told much sooner. Just weigh the options and pick one, it's called the Decision Deadline Technique.

Make a pros and cons list, see what you are willing to sacrifice and keep it moving. If you stay too long, the decision will be made for you.

Another thing is this, pick a side and see it through. Do not keep jumping from side to side, it is always harder or easier on the other side, but winners are finishers.

I realised a bit too late that I quit one too many jobs far too soon. On the last job, I quit to focus on a business that did not take off at all. It was a very painful lesson to learn but it wasn't fatal.

I found a work around. I moved in with my aunt and starting freelancing. You will make mistakes and the consequesnces may even be ghastly embarrasing but they will not kill you.

So stop over analysing, you will not get any of the guarantee of safety that you are loking, and make a choice.

Failure and rejection

There are only so many job applications you can fill without getting a job before your spirit is crushed. There are only so many things you can fail at before starting to assume you are a loser. I understand.

The beauty of life is that you can choose to learn from every rejection and use every failure to rebuild. If you hear about the stories of incredible failure by very successful people, they will really encourage you. 

Think about all the actors that waited tables in Hollywood for years before breaking through. I learned to always get up, asses where I can make a change and move on.

How can you overcome post grad depression/anxiety?

To overcome post grad depression/ anxiety you need to first manage the unrealistic expectations you had about life after college, learn to be patient and stop comparing yourself with other people, create some structure in your life again and find something to be motivated about even if you haven’t gotten a job yet.

1. Managing expectations versus reality

Do not panic about the future because things are taking time to materialize. This is your life and if you work smart, consistently and wait, there is no limit.

Eliud Kipchoge proved that no human being is limited by running the first marathon under 2 hours. Eliud Kipchoge had attempted to that before and failed spectacularly with the whole world watching.

But Eliud Kipchoge went back to train, and Eliud Kipchoge called the world to witness it again and Eliud Kipchoge smashed through that barrier with time left to spare.

Do not panic about the future just yet. You will make it happen.

We live in the age of social media and so we are accustomed to seeing people who have seemingly attained overnight success.

There are sixteen year olds with successful YouTube channels making millions and there are other sixteen year old graduating from Ivy League Universities.

It is so easy to forget that these are the exceptions, not the norm.

When it comes to things outside of our control, we have no right to expect to be the exception.

We are not better than everybody else who has to work smart and consistently for more than a hot minute before attaining success.

Often times, if we knew the real price of what seems like overnight success, we would shrink back, just ask any child actors.

It is not our fault that we are so addicted to instant gratification. We were raised in the age of airplanes and Facebook and Amazon and Tinder.

However, getting a good job, getting your own place, driving a better car or even making your first sale is not yet an expedited process. 

Life takes time. Look away from the instant success stories you see online and ask the real people in your real life about how long or what it took to get where they are and you will be surprised.

Throw away those impossible time-lines you set for yourself, take a breathe and do everything within your control to progress and wait.

2. Reach out to family and friends. Make new friends.

I was loosing my mind and I had no one to talk to. A few months after graduation, I was barely talking with most of my close friends.

All of us were busy with careers and I had a business on top of all that. No one was reaching out to me, so I reached out. I started calling my parents on a weekly basis, almost everyday with my mom. I joined a Bible Study group that was meeting a building near mine.

I invited my friends for a sleepover and even went for a few myself. I reordered my social life and so can you.

As human beings, we are made for community and after college, unless you put an actual effort into it, you will not have any.

That is why I joined a Bible Study with strangers. I wanted to be part of a community again. That was back in July and right now, I am very good friends with some of them.

I started making the effort to make plans with my friends from college especially because I was broke and wanted to pick cheap activities, but also because nobody else was stepping up.

Isolation is the one problem you have control over. You may not be able to employ yourself or to make money online quick and easy, but you can reach out to people in your life and even invite new people in.

So please, for the sake of your emotional well being, do so. Stop canceling plans and start making them. Show up to things and call people. Let them in and be there for them as well.

3. Create structure and purpose in your life

You do not have an early morning class or a deadline. Maybe you do not even have a job to wake up early for.

You still need to work towards something bigger and to order your days around it. You need a loose or rigid routine, depending on your personality. 

I work from home and I can pretty much work at whatever time of day I want but I don’t. I have a routine or I will not work at all and go broke.

I wake up at 6:30 in the morning, use the toilet, brush my teeth , wash my face, have about an hour to pray and read the Bible then I just start working. It is the same every day.

Even on days that I do not have any freelance writing scheduled or anything to work on on this blog, I wake up and repeat the routine before replacing work with binge watching TV or YouTube videos.

When I got a routine, it made me feel more stable and become more productive.

I am a firm believer in defining success according to what you can contribute to humanity. What this means is that you do not need to wait around for a job to become successful.

You do not need to feel unsuccessful because of what you consider a dumb data entry job. It is okay for your job to be just a source of income and nothing more.

However you can balance it out by doing fulfilling work outside the office. You can build a sidehustle, you can make the world a better place. You can be a loving and thoughtful roommate or son/daughter.

 As you continue to apply for jobs, you can involve yourself in doing things for others.

You could volunteer at a hospital, a shelter, a charity or even babysit for a couple so that they can have their first night out without the kids for the first time in a decade.

If you spend your whole day watching TV and scrolling down social media, you will go to bed feeling worse.

Find a really small corner of the world you can fix for a start and just tend to it.

I may not have the time right now to volunteer anywhere, but by making sure the house is clean and there is food on the table every evening when my aunt comes home from work, I know I am making her day just a little happier (okay, a lot happier, she really loves home cooked meals).

Do you know why we are obsessed with super hereos and Leornado DiCaprio? It is not just the good looks. They are saving the planet.

We want to see the planet saved but we don’t think we have the capacity to do anything significant. Well, you can, by helping out just one person who is struggling.

I know a young man who spent two years after college, everyday after works, visiting and motivating recovering alcoholics at a local rehab. Every weekday at six without fail he was there.

Sometimes only one of the recovering patients showed up, other times none of them but many of them came and went away inspired and touched, not by his words, but by his devotion to them.

4. Stop comparing yourself to others

I know it is really hard to stay calm when everywhere you look there is evidence that life is passing you by.

Another friend just got engaged, another person just landed an amazing job, another person just got a scholarship for their MBA and so on and so forth.

Being happy for them and wishing it was you are not mutually exclusive. It is okay.

The problem is when you begin comparing their achievements to theirs and diminishing yours.

Even if it seems like you have not yet achieved anything, you should not expect to have similar paths with everyone else.

The life of a fish and a bird are very different and a fish and a bird should never compete in swimming or flying, the one will always beat the other depending on the sport. 

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