I‘m Forgiving Myself for Going Through Post-Grad Depression:
A Not-so-Personal Essay on Closing a Shitty Chapter— 2 Years Later:
This story isn’t going to be something unique to me, and if you’re reading this — you may be in the middle of a rough season or just finding your balance once again after life knocked you down once you walked across the graduation stage. For the past two years of my life, I felt like there were many moments where I was moving on auto-pilot; I went to work, I had drinks with friends, I saw my girlfriend, I spent time with family — but I always felt this sense of disconnect. There was always this looming, grey cloud that would keep showing up. I felt like I was never present in a moment long enough to enjoy whatever was happening. I was always thinking about what’s next — mainly because everyone makes such a big deal about what a recent grad is going to do next. Will you get a Masters? Will you go to Law School? Will you get a corporate job that you hate, but still go to for the next 30 years to provide for your family?
I had no idea, and it was easier to ignore it.
I’d always heard people talking about how tough graduating from university could be, which made a lot of people become professional students because in some way — being a student was easier than being thrown into the dark, cruel world. I thought that it would never happen to me, I had my life planned out and I’d seen depression before and I thought it happened to other people, not Chris Lawrence. I was unique. I did great things in my life so far, it’s only a given that I’d move on to do even greater things when I didn’t have to spend 75% of my time with my nose in textbooks and my butt in a lecture hall.
My Final Year Kicked Packed a Punch:
My Final year of Undergrad in 2017/18 was by far one of the hardest years of my life, and every day felt like having a reoccurring dream where you jump out of a plane, feel the wind dancing on your skin, the rush of energy that shoots through your spine as the anticipation of pulling the chute to take in the view gets higher and higher.
But you realize you forgot to put on the parachute before you jumped.
You hit the ground face first and jump out of bed — thanking God that it was just a dream.
The last year of university was an uphill battle every day; my parents were splitting up and my childhood home was sold, halfway through the year — I found out that I had kidney stones, I lived with an alcoholic roommate who would throw parties 6/7 days a week so I got no sleep, and I was having difficulty with a professor who was failing me for seemingly no reason. I had a tough time making it to the lectures because I was consistently going to doctors visits and the ER, and would provide doctors notes but there just was no getting through to this prof. Tenured profs, am I right? I remember having days where I completely felt like I was just seeing who I was disappearing; I wasn’t a risk-taker, I wasn’t outspoken, I didn’t have energy, I didn’t have the passion to fight for Social Justice causes I used to have, I didn’t know what was wrong with my body and it took a while to find doctors who could help. One thing after another and by the time my last year ended — I was depressed.
I Was Scared, so I Ignored How I Felt:
When something new is going in our bodies, we tend to notice it pretty quickly. If you have a toothache, the nerves send stress signals to through the nervous system and to your brain and it tells you that somethings not right. That’s what it first felt like when I noticed that something was going on, except instead of telling myself something was wrong — I always found an excuse to justify how I was feeling. It’s just a lack of sleep was my favourite. When I thought about how I truly felt, it was terrifying and I didn’t know how to bring it up; I didn’t know how to start having that conversation because I would barely give myself a moment to process how I was feeling. However, the longer that I could see who I was slowly fading away. As someone who was very outspoken, I would be more reserved and to myself, I felt like I couldn’t make decisions clearly, I would be driving and feel myself zoning out, and I was always drained. I’d wake up every day and have a great time but as soon as those dark feelings crept up, I was a different person.
I forgive you, Chris:
Often times when we think of forgiveness, we forget that forgiving ourselves can be one of the most powerful actions that we can take in our lives. I beat myself up at my graduation because I felt like I couldn’t enjoy a moment I couldn’t wait for from that day I moved into the dorms. My friends and loved ones were so proud of me, but I felt like I was so distracted thinking about what’s next. Do I get a Masters? Is my family proud? How am I going to pay those loans when I can barely land an interview? Two years later, I started reading more books and I’m really into self-development. As cliche as it seems, I realized that I had to forgive myself for going through a rough patch; I’m only one man, and it’s totally okay to feel anxious because I wasn’t sure what was next — life is a fairytale, but I’m always the main character in the story. Regardless of big bad wolves and houses being blown down, things usually turn out okay.
While the Canadian Government may not forgive my student loans, I’m choosing to forgive myself.
You should, too.