Conversations About Post Grad Depression
My battle with post graduate depression was often one I chose to fight silently. But there have been moments where I finally was brave enough to discuss it. These are snippets from the conversations that changed my life.
Me: Let's start with the elephant in the room
Y: “What's that?”
Me: You're wondering how I can seemingly have it all and still be so sad.. you don't understand how I can have a college degree and a support system and that not be enough..
Me: Jim Carrey once said he wished everyone could be rich and famous so they’d know that’s not the answer.. I think a college degree is a real-life example of that.
Y: “What do you mean?”
Me: Well.. society tells us being rich and famous would solve all of our problems.. just like how our parents and schools tell us that getting a college degree is the key to life. Getting a college degree isn’t the answer. A lot comes with that degree.
Y: “Like what?”
Me: Post graduate depression, more questions than answers, and a crushing amount of debt.
1: “How does post graduate depression feel?”
Me: Most days.. it feels like being a kind of tired sleep doesn’t fix.
1: “You don’t look tired”
Me: The bags under my eyes are a result of the demons I stay up all night fighting; the $25 concealer and $38 brightening powder hides the evidence of those battles.
1: “You don’t look depressed”
Me: Thank God; thank God, the make-up conceals the hell I’m walking through, too.
1: “You don't seem broken."
Me: I know. I put myself back together again each morning before work, but I am broken.. I just wait until no one's around to fall apart.
1: “Why do you wait to fall apart?”
Me: Who’d wanna put their demons on display for the world to see? I am the strong friend. Nobody wants to see the strong friend publicly fall apart.
1: “I’ve been reading all of the “yall looked so happy at homecoming. Everyone looked amazing!” comments and crying alone in my car. I wish we were as happy as we looked”
Me: Who wants to be the one to reply and say “we look great because we spent paychecks from the jobs we hate in an effort to stunt like we’re not functioning in depression?
1: “We over-dressed and over-drank at homecoming trying to pretend post-grad life is as lit as everyone makes it seem”
2: “From masters of the turn up to masters of looking happy as hell while fighting like hell just to get outta bed in the morning”
Me: You think we’re the only miserable ones?
2: “Nope. We all toasted to more life while silently crying on the inside as the tequila went down.”
1: “And they ask why we love happy hour so much”
Me: We’re just trying to out-drink the pain.
1: “because depression is easier to swallow when chased with tequila”
Me: I'm sorry that I can't be a source of light anymore..
Y: “Stop apologizing for that. Stop saying sorry for your darkness. Stop apologizing for the days you don't have the strength to be light, stop being sorry for the times you can’t even see light. Stop apologizing for the days when your smile can’t be found. Stop apologizing for not having it all together. Stop apologizing for your demons. Stop apologizing for being a human.”
1: “I’m proud of you.”
Me: For what? I didn’t do anything special.
1: “Navigating the complexities of life is hard. I’m proud of you for trying. And look, you’re here.. Every Monday you probably wake up and tell yourself that you can’t make it through another week and yet here you are, you did it. I’m proud of you.”
Me: I don’t think any rejection, no, or beating could compare to the way I beat myself up.
1: “Look around at all that you’ve accomplished in this dark space you’re in.. you’re still being the shoulder to cry on even though you cry on cold bathroom floors at 3 AM, you’re still showing up to that job you hate—even when you have to drag yourself out of bed to do, you’re still paying those bills –even when you have to make $10 last 10 days, you’re still filling out applications and sending resumes—even when the “nos” and “we regret to inform yous” have piled up.”
Me: You make me sound stronger than I am.
1: “I know you feel yourself breaking, but please be gentle with yourself. The world is already taking a shit on your happiness, it’s already kicking you in the ribs and punching you in the throat.. the least you can do is be gentle with yourself.”
Y: “What would you say to someone battling post graduate depression?”
Me: Please don't be like me, please don't deny or run from your healing in an attempt to side-step it. Please don’t try to escape yourself, you’ll only end up trapped in the cobwebs of your demons later. You must heal. You must dissect this. You must deal with it. Or trust me, it will destroy everything in your path.
1: “Anything else?”
Me: Oh! And don’t use people as coping mechanisms, when they're gone, the depression is still there…tapping you on your shoulder at 3 AM.
1: “How do you heal?”
Me: There’s a degree of forgiveness that comes with healing.
1: “What do you mean?”
Me: You must forgive yourself for not being the person you told yourself you would be. Forgive yourself for not walking effortlessly into adulthood. Forgive yourself not being immune to post grad depression. You have to forgive other people too.
1: “Forgive other people?”
Me: You have to forgive the people who aren’t checking on you, because they’re fighting their demons too. They’re suiting up for silent battles too. They may not have been who we thought we needed, but they did the best they could, too. They’re hurting, too.