Yes, you read it right; I want to talk about post graduation depression. Though it may sound weird to a lot of people, and some people may label it as ‘an excuse to hide the mood swings’; but post graduation depression is a common thing for a lot of students who have just completed their studies.
As students we are often told to focus more on our studies and not waste time on ‘fun things’ so that we can get a job or earn a livelihood after graduating. The ‘fun things’ can wait until then. So everyone work hard, attending classes, completing assignments, late night studies and giving so many tests per semester; and we hope all will end after final exams, our hard work will pay off with a good job at our hands and a big pay check every month. But this thought process can be misleading sometimes, not all graduates or post graduates land a job immediately. And those who do get a job; not all of them are satisfied. But post graduation depression is not only about getting or not getting a job. It is something much deeper. It is the first transition in the life of a person from the time of his birth.
Hinduism speaks about four ‘ashramas’ i.e. four age based life stages which a person goes through during his/her lifetime – Brahmacharya(student), Grihastha(householder), Vanaprashtha(retired) and Sanyasa(renunciate).
After birth, the first stage a person enters is the stage of being a student, starting from pre- school to graduation or post graduation, a person lives around 20 years of his life as a student. After completing studies, the lifestyle of almost two decades just vanishes; we are asked to act as ‘mature adults of the real world’ and not as a ‘student’. This sudden transition is bound to leave an effect on the minds of many students. So while graduating or completing studies are supposed to be a happy and proud moment; some find it very difficult to cope with this sudden change.
Suddenly we become a ‘member of the society’ from being a ‘student’, we grow physically apart from all our friends and close associates, change in lifestyle and rejections from many places leave the newly passed out students in a state of stress and anxiety and feeling like a ladder less boat. Feeling of isolation, mood swings, feeling de-motivated, loss of interest in pleasurable things, a sense of disorganization, sleep deprivation or over sleeping etc. are some of the symptoms which a person may feel during this transition. It is important to deal with these symptoms in order to avoid any long term effects.
At times like these, it is important to remember that this phase is ‘temporary’ and you are ‘not alone’. It took me a few months of feeling de-motivated and unorganized before I finally understood what was going on with me. And honestly there are many things that can be done to cope with these changes.
• For starters, finding interest in new things instead of staying glued to your phone or laptop helps a lot. A lot of students must have been hit by the sudden change in the lifestyle after completing studies. From being busy with regular classes, assignments, projects and various tests; the lifestyle changes to less busy days with no college work and a lots of free time. Many of us feel a little clueless about how to spend this free time; and so some of us end up ‘killing time’ instead of ‘spending time’, which in turn, at some point may trigger the feelings of loneliness and hopelessness. So it is important to keep yourself engaged; pick up the old hobbies which got buried under the loads of books and assignments, or find a new one. Learning new stuffs can often alleviate our mood and confidence and help in getting rid of the feeling of ‘hopelessness’.
• Next up is staying physically active. The more you spend your days staying physically inactive, the more lethargic you will become. And as they say, ‘A healthy mind resides in a healthy body’. So take out your running shoes and go for a walk or run, hit the gym or stretch to your favorite yoga poses, or play some music and dance to it. Just stay ACTIVE!
• And of course, nothing can be more calming than meditation. Keeping your mind stable and calm is the key to deal with any kind of stress or anxiety. After all, our mind is faster than anything and in a split second of time it can come up with lots of thoughts. But over thinking and anxiety are like a cycle; both are the cause and effect of each other. Our minds may become swamped with thoughts of the unseen future, the fear of not being able to do anything; but it is important to remember that over thinking will only result in chaos. So it is important keep the mind stable and grab a hold of your thoughts; and to do that meditation can help a lot.
• The most important of all is ‘communication’. Many people often feel shy and scared to talk about depression. They feel scared whether they will be properly understood or not, they fear of being judged and so on. But it is important to TALK. Communication is the key. Talk with your family or friends; and if needed consult with a counselor. And if no one, then keeping a journal can also help.
As someone who has recently completed post graduation through online because of the pandemic, I understand how the changes hit us. And I know that almost all of us, at some point will go through this phase. It’s a transitional phase, not a permanent one; but that doesn’t make it less important. To all of my friends, who have felt this way for the last few months, to all those who opened up to me about this, ‘It is going to be okay’ and ‘You will figure it you’.