The short end of this story is that yes, I am currently dealing with post-grad depression. I think it’s important that as a Woman of Color, I am candid in sharing moments when I am sad or when I feel alone. In so doing, I learn that there is a community of women out there who share similar sentiments or who can feel comfortable enough to open up about their struggles. These feelings are valid.
A few of my readers have noticed that I’ve been MIA from my blog and have reached out to me. Honestly, I grappled with the thought of baring my business on the Internet and fully articulating my thoughts. But, I finally mustered up the courage to share. The long end of this story is that there are many factors that contribute to my current state. One of my biggest fears about graduating from my Master’s program was developing the blues. I experienced quite an anxious period in my life after finishing undergrad a few years ago and worried that a similar pattern would emerge after completing graduate school. And the pattern did repeat. These are the main challenges that I am working through:
I am battling with major feelings of inadequacy
Post-grad depression can start with comparing oneself to others. The search for a job after graduating can be one of the most overwhelming, grueling, stressful, and exhausting experiences, even for graduate students. I don’t know how many times I have silently cried up to this point or wrestled with God to change my situation or to make sense of what seemed like this waiting game. I normally don’t share or acknowledge the shame I feel about comparing myself with others, but I will own it. After taking my certification exam in early February, I started tirelessly looking for post-grad employment. I even took frequent social media sabbaticals so that I wasn’t inundated with news of my classmates’ job offers or fixated on what everyone else was doing.
Of course, that was met with challenges. It seemed as though that even when I wasn’t looking, I’d receive news that someone received a job offer or achieved a new milestone. And though I was ecstatic to see others thriving, I wondered why I felt suck. I still do. Coupled with the toxic competitiveness of my cohort and experiencing countless micro-aggressions at work, I was extremely down on myself. It was difficult expressing my concerns without someone volunteering advice. I just wanted to vent and I did not always feel like I had the space to do so. I spent the last few months battling with feelings of worthlessness, rejection, and questioning my purpose…and yes, even God’s care for me.
Though I hate to admit it, my growing obsession with “securing the bag” also led me to ignore things I enjoyed doing like blogging, hiking, or simply creating new recipes. Last month, I felt very withdrawn and I lacked motivation. It wasn’t until my best friend from high school brought to my attention that I can focus on what I enjoy doing, instead of allowing what hadn’t happened yet to steal the joy that I have in doing what I love.
I often get really, really lonely
I was enrolled in a program that literally took up most of my weekdays/ends. I was also working as a graduate assistant to fund my tuition. At times, it was difficult to balance a social life with a full-time grad program.
I think much of the loneliness stems from having to transition from a grad student to a working professional. I have also developed fears about making friends as an adult and connecting with new people. Sometimes, a good cry helps me to cope with my anxieties around this. I will definitely be exploring this in therapy. I’ve definitely increased my efforts to reach out to those I want to connect with, but it doesn’t make the process any easier. This is a challenge that we also don’t talk about after graduating.
I have to re-define my identity (over and over again)
I am one of those people who simply refuse to allow my work to cloud my ability to create. Though I am passionate about my profession, I also don’t want it to define who I am. It is only an extension of me. I think it’s easy to lose yourself in work, especially if you’re in an industry that requires you to invest so much of yourself in helping others.
I remember talking to a fellow black girl that I admire because of her wittiness and unapologetic personality. I told her that I could see her launching a podcast. She told me that she’s considered it, but hesitated because she was in education like me and didn’t think that she could be as authentic as she’d like to be. I often get anxious about having a social media presence and also being an educator. I don’t like feeling as though I am being judged, but that’s a reality. I am thankful though that I have people who I can share this challenge with. It has definitely not been easy.
I am constantly working through ups and downs
When dealing with post-grad depression and anxiety, moods are quite fickle and unpredictable. Some days, I have incredible energy. Other times, it takes a while for me to feel my absolute best. I experience days where I wake up panicking about my future or thinking about my ever-growing to-do list. Quite honestly, I do not remember the last time I’ve had a full night’s rest. What has helped during these moments of panic is taking the time to pray, focus on my breathing, and to use positive self-talk.
At this time, I’m not 100% where I would like to be, but I am moving along. In this season, I am learning to trust God more, open up to those I trust, and to be kinder and more patient with myself. I am doing much better than I think I am. I know that I am loved, supported, and resilient. This is my unique journey. I find so much comfort in knowing that this season of my life will pass and that there is a testimony on the other side of this struggle. For anyone with similar experiences, believe that the same will happen for you.
Are you currently experiencing some blues after a major life adjustment or even post-grad depression? What are you doing to cope with these changes?