Post-graduation Depression: The Struggle No One Talks About
Post-graduation depression, despite being an unpopular term, is a real struggle. Many graduates go through this phase of life unknowingly. You’d be surprised at how leaving school doesn’t take away the presumed stress you are cutting ties with.
It took me a handful of days to accept the fact that I had graduated. There is nothing new, just me being glad. I wouldn’t have to worry about a test or an exam, at least for the time being. Four years in school, and it wasn’t as I pictured; it was nothing near rosy. I’m going through a more demeaning phase. I thought leaving school would give me all shades of butterfly feelings. But truth be told, the feelings died after my last paper.
If you’ve never heard of post-graduation depression, I hope this article enlightens you enough. To some people, post-graduate depression is a real struggle, while it’s non-existent to others. A few people may call it a mindset, but it’s more than just one’s mind and the thoughts within.
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If there is a better description, I’d love to replace the word “anxiety and confusion”. There is so much to worry about. Your life after school and the achievements you dreamed of. Now that you are in the real world, you’ll get tired of staying dependent. You don’t even know how to start achieving your life goals.
What Do People Think About Post-graduation Depression?
Depression is real, and it comes in all forms. Some people quickly fall into a dark spot a few days after their certification, while others manage to contain the feeling for months or up to a year.
Because I do not have a vast knowledge of this discourse, I asked a few friends to give their opinions on Post-graduation depression. Below are the responses gathered from my mini survey.
Post-graduation depression results from the persistent feeling of being rudderless experienced by fresh graduates. Loss of self esteem in my opinion is a major effect of this malaise. It’s something I feel our health services should take seriously. In most extreme cases, thoughts of suicide crosses the mind of the afflicted.
PGD makes you feel like you have wasted 4 or 5 years and resources. There is a feeling of emptiness because you don’t have necessary labour demands.
I think post-graduation depression is normal in a country with employment problems like Nigeria. Apart from that, leaving one stage of life to another always brings about anxiety especially when your future is 80% uncertain.
Post graduate depression is a normal thing to students because they are used to the school environment (lecturers and colleagues) compared to the new life of staying at home and waiting for call ups or before taking that one step in looking for a job.
Post-graduate Depression is real. You finished school finally, thinking you are coming back to something big, but boom! You come out and even your relatives that promised you jobs (with words like “just graduate first”) are nowhere to be found. You are told by a few good relatives and friends to go for the compulsory youth service that everything will be alright when you are back. They promise the job of your dreams, only for you to find out that the few good ones too are no where to be found.You have to cater for your needs by any means because no one is willing to keep offering you allowances. You are all grown up. Depression sets in, especially when you can’t pay your bills and you are just another advocate of “legal money”. People still mock you, even though they don’t know all you are going through.
Post graduate depression is a real experience which may result from nostalgia of old friends or poor grades due to regrettable mistakes or awful experiences or even not meeting up with an expected target. It leads to moodiness, withdrawal, dejection and even suicidal thoughts.
First, I firmly believe it’s a real issue. The gap between graduating from the university and the next phase is sometimes larger and deeper than anticipated. Individuals who were hitherto very active unsurprisingly find it more difficult to cope with the sudden absence of activities.
Personally, I have resounded to myself the fact that I feel like a failure. Sometimes I debunk it the African way, most times I simply let my feelings leak out. No one wants to stay dependent on family and friends. But then, even the dream job you look forward to and the amazing ideas you once had seems like child’s play.
Signs of Post-Grad Depression
You are confused about everything
Most Nigerian students do not know what they want to do with their lives. Everyone wants a job after school, but many can not tell the kind of job they look forward to.
Social Media Is Your New Home
Social media is supposed to be a place to stay in touch with family and friends. These days, it has become a place to compete with everyone else. Sometimes, people visit social media platforms to compare their lives with others. Life is getting more and more complicated with the new social media craze.
You Feel Less Enthusiastic About Life
You get out of school only to realize that the labour market before you is saturated. Everyone is struggling to do the same thing! Where is the job? You do not even know where to begin.
People’s Opinion: Managing Post-graduate Depression
In my mini survey, my friends offered possible tactics for addressing post-grad Depression or other possible emotional challenges that fresh graduates go through.
- I did an introspective evaluation and realised that my situation (a graduate not qualified to work due to not having undergone NYSC) would not be permanent and it would be only for a short while.
- I read a lot. mostly novels.
- I took some classes/trainings on information technology. This helped to stay busy and while away time.
- I’ll advice anyone going through this phase to restrict social media ‘viewings’. This is due to the downside of being depressed by seeing friends/family having so much ‘fun’ and ‘overachieving’ whilst you are ‘left out”
I skilled up, increased my connection, volunteered for free internship and started a small side business.
- I am focusing on the moment and doing my part. I guess after college comes NYSC in Nigeria and services in some other countries.
- I want to use the few months for personal development.
- You can talk to your parents about learning a trade, learning a skill etc.
- If you don’t have the means of learning a skill, then do stuff like reading as much as you can.
- Learn as much as you can (especially about the workplace and labour market), stay updated etc. It doesn’t guarantee anything but I know just improving myself for myself counts a lot.
- Looking for jobs before NYSC.
- Make new friends and try to adapt to the new environment.
- Reading books
- I made sure, I stayed closer to God and close to people that had positive mindsets, that will encourage me.
- I did any job I could find. Be it teaching or anything else, I did with my heart, because anything worth doing at all is worth doing well.
- Never stay idle, always keep yourself busy, either with books or any hand work. Just for something. Build yourself always. The world has gone past where we wait for the government or anybody to help or employ us.
- Try something new be an entrepreneur, remember you can start small, because a little drop of water makes an ocean.
- Build your capacity with books, go for seminars, etc. Make sure you know God, most importantly.
Reassuring myself that I’m not the worst yet and would not want to be by accepting depression and giving up. Assuring myself that it’s only a phase which I will pass.
I mostly involved myself with writing and scribbling about my future plans. More so, jumping from one interview to the next was quite some work.
Positivity Challenge: Overcome PGD
Depression affects you to an extent that you’ll lose interest in everything that once mattered. Leaving school can be one hell of a great deal that affects you positively or negatively. In my opinion, It all depends on which part you let have the stronger hold on you.
Although my friends have given valid points to managing post-graduation depression, I am chipping in a few important ideas that can help you stay stronger and positive.
- Start by becoming realistic. Understand that life after school is no bed of roses. Most things do not work out as planned.
- Learn a skill. I’d recommend digital skills. Google is one place to learn a digital skill for free.
- Do not get carried away by what you see on social media. If you can not stand the heat, take a long break.
- Pick a new hobby
- Start a small business
- Don’t expect too much from job hunting
- Create a positivity mantra
- Confide in someone “Wise”.
- Seek professional help!
Post-graduation depression is real. It seems so irrelevant until you’ve sunken totally. No one wants or deserves to be in this circle; the group battling a form of depression they don’t know exists.
Whatever it is you think you’re going through, I want to remind you that you’re not alone. There’s someone out there who’s going through similar struggles. That person could be a neighbour next door or me!