Post Grad Depression? How to Get Out of a Rut!

Graduation is often thought of as a wonderful moment in your life. You finally achieved your goal and earned your degree after studying for so many years! You should be happy right? Sadly, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, post-grad depression hits with full force and knocks down recent grads who are trying to find their footing in life. They feel lost with no sense of direction because they don’t know what the next step in their life is going to be. They’re having a hard time landing their first entry level position and find themselves back home with mom and dad, feeling like a failure. I went through this after my graduation for about a year. I was unemployed, really depressed, and highly anxious about my future because I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. 

If you find yourself relating to me at all, I want you to keep on reading to find ways you can overcome post-grad depression. 

Stay Away from Distractions 
Binging Netflix, sleeping, playing video games, drinking, smoking...there are so many things that people do for instant gratification when depressed. They’re great distractors from what’s really happening inside you and we often abuse these things because it temporarily takes away the pain that we feel about ourselves and the world. So long as you keep avoiding it, that pain isn’t going anywhere and you will find yourself in the same place you’ve been in for many more months-even years- if you don’t confront it head on. Are you sad, angry, disappointed, embarrassed, anxious? All of the above and more? Then you must realize this and be honest about how you feel. Be honest with yourself about your current situation and let yourself feel your raw emotions. I did this through journaling and having conversations out loud with myself when I was alone. You may have looked crazy, but it was an amazing way to come to conclusions and important realizations! Then you need to start thinking of how you are going to overcome this. Don’t forget, your life is in your hands and it’s your responsibility to create the life you want. 

Have Small Goals and Build from There 
Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to get a thousand things done every day. Oftentimes, we have too many goals we want to accomplish in a single day and it ends up being overwhelming. We might end up getting nothing done because it was just too much. Take a breath and realize that you are human. You’re not a machine and what you’re going through isn’t easy. Now think of ONE major goal that you’d like to accomplish, yes I said ONE! Focus all your energy and intent on achieving that goal and create small milestones for it. These milestones should be small, specific goals. 

 Example: If your goal is to find a job in your major, you can have the following milestones: 
-Research ways to network and make a list of people and groups I can connect with 
-Update the Work Experience section on my resume 
-Create a list of companies I’d like to work for and save job openings I find online 

These are just examples. You have the freedom to choose any milestones you see fit, but make sure they are specific and small. Give yourself a realistic timeframe to complete them too. I suggest one milestone over 1-2 days, but do what’s best for you! Overtime, you’ll find that you’re able to achieve things and your confidence will boost. You’ll feel like you’re actually capable of reaching your goal. 

Get Out Of Your Head 
Somewhere along the way, you might find yourself stuck in bed in the morning thinking about all the things that aren’t going right in your life. There were many days where I would stay in bed for hours on end, thinking about my failures and hating myself while wallowing in self pity. So many negative thoughts would race through my head and it would keep me unmotivated and depressed. You must will yourself out of those moments and stop your brain from going down that negative route. Be optimistic and say something positive to yourself like, “Today I will be okay and I can get through this,” even if you don’t believe it. Then force yourself to get out of bed, brush your teeth, take a shower, and have some breakfast. If you can, be around people and talk about anything so you can get your mind off of what’s upsetting you and be reminded that there’s more to life than what you’re going through. If there’s no one to talk to, get out and go on a walk and blast your favorite music the whole time. Could your house use some cleaning? Do some errands like laundry or dishes and blast music while you do that too. The goal here is to distract yourself from your negative thoughts and get your body moving at the same time. What do you think you’d like to try? 

Do What You Are Passionate About 
It helped me immensely when I would will myself to do the things I used to enjoy. I reminded myself not to put any pressure on myself with thoughts like, “How is this activity helping you get a job?” I had to keep actively reminding myself of that while I did things just for the fun of it. You don’t have to have a fierce passion for what you choose to do either. Choose activities that you think you would enjoy or have been curious about in the past. Trying something new is fun and it could get your mind off of what’s bothering you. You may discover something that ends up giving you a strong sense of joy and enthusiasm, or it could even lead you to discovering something else entirely that you are truly passionate about. Growing up, I was pretty good at drawing and loved art class, so I chose to create some paintings just for the fun of it. It wasn't an exciting thrill ride the whole time, but it kept my mind off things and it was nice to be creative for once. Plus, the results were pretty good and that made me feel a bit proud of my work. In turn, I felt proud of myself for doing it in the first place and taking an active role in getting myself out of my rut. 

What Have You Always Wanted to do? 
Overtime, several moments of clarity led me to getting out of my depressive state and overwhelming negative self-talk. I realized I had a choice in every moment to Choose to be Optimistic or Pessimistic about what was occurring. I realized the importance of gratitude for everything I had in my life-good and bad. The good because those were obvious blessings, and the bad because those were oftentimes life lessons in disguise. I realized there were things I was passionate about and have always wanted to do, but up until then I was too afraid to even acknowledge how much they meant to me. Once I made the choice to go after my biggest desires, I felt an immense sense of relief and I finally felt like I had direction in my life. I was terrified of my goals, and I still am, but I felt better everyday knowing that I was brave enough to fully face them anyway. You can feel this way too-it’s as simple as a choice. I choose to be optimistic about reaching my goals. 

 All in all, I want you to take things day by day. Take a deep breath and say to yourself, “I got this,” because you do! This is a hard journey full of so many tough lessons, but you will find yourself on the other end. What are you choosing to do TODAY to get out of this rut and start realizing your goals? 

DISCLAIMER: This information is based on my personal experiences only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition. If you are in crisis or you think you may have an emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. If you're having suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area at any time (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). If you are located outside the United States, call your local emergency line immediately.

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